Car Insurance in South Carolina
South Carolina may boast a better year-round beach scene than its bordering state North Carolina, but when it comes to car insurance, it’s North Carolinians who are laughing all the way to the bank.
Research shows South Carolina drivers on average pay a whopping 88% more for coverage than their neighbors. This, however, doesn’t mean you should up sticks and move into the Old North State at first opportunity.
Plenty of carriers in The Palmetto State deliver a great bargain — and you can learn all about them in this review.
We gathered car insurance quotes SC from multiple players to find out the most affordable providers. Not only this but we also checked how top-ranking insurers stack up against each other in customer service, financial strength, online tools, and other departments. Furthermore, we have demystified South Carolina’s auto insurance laws and offered tips that can slash your premium rates by as much as 60%.
Continue reading if you want to save big time on car insurance in South Carolina.
The Best Car Insurance in SC
- GEICO: Overall Winner
- Progressive: The Cheapest Option
- Allstate: Best for Coverage Options/Discounts
- Liberty Mutual: Best for Car Replacement
- USAA: Best for Military
The Overall Winner: GEICO
GEICO’s commercials claim you can save 15% or more on auto insurance when you switch over. But is that really the case?
To find out the truth, we grabbed multiple car insurance quotes in SC from GEICO. Our research shows it is indeed among the more affordable carriers in the state.
However, GEICO didn’t climb to the top with competitive rates alone. It also stands out in the financial health department, earning the highest rating of “A++” from A.M. Best.
The insurer also boasts one of the most user-friendly and feature-rich mobile apps. You can even use it to chat with a company’s representative or search for the cheapest gas station in your area.
Also, GEICO’s regional customer service ratings, while not the best, are better than most car insurance South Carolina providers featured on our list. The insurer was placed 7th (out of 16 players) in 2019’s J.D. Power regional customer service study (Southeast region).
However, GEICO has one obvious drawback. It doesn’t offer GAP insurance. If that’s not an issue, GEICO is a great option.
Choose GEICO for its reasonably-priced premiums, decent customer service, and excellent financial strength.
Look elsewhere if you want the lowest rates.
The Cheapest Option: Progressive
If you’re on a tight budget, Progressive should be at the top of your list. It offers the lowest car insurance rates in South Carolina, for young and experienced drivers alike.
However, it’s not just competitive rates that make it such a great pick. As a well-established company, Progressive offers some really cool features, such as the Name Your Price Tool. It allows you to quickly find which coverage options are available at a particular price point. In short, you no longer need to look for discounts, crunch numbers, and tweak coverages to find the best car insurance available to you.
Progressive, like GEICO, another company that offers cheap auto insurance in SC, is rock-solid financially. It earned the second-best rating of “A+” from A.M. Best. However, the insurer has a poor record in customer service. It could only manage two-stars in the regional customer study conducted by J.D. Power.
In the end, the decision to pick Progressive boils down to one thing — whether you’re willing to compromise in customer service or not.
Choose Progressive for its cheap car insurance quotes in SC.
Look elsewhere if experience matters more than low rates to you.
Best for Its Variety of Coverage Options/Discounts: Allstate
If there were awards for offering low-cost auto insurance in South Carolina, Allstate would get none. However, if there were prizes for having a wide selection of coverage options, Allstate would grab a bagful.
The insurer offers more coverage options than all other car insurance South Carolina providers we reviewed. Whether you want classic car insurance, sound system insurance, or rental car insurance, Allstate has got you covered.
Also, Allstate has more discount programs running in The Palmetto State than other players. Therefore, certain drivers may well be able to get a good bargain, in spite of Allstate’s higher-than-average premium rates. For instance, safe drivers may find their South Carolina car insurance rates to their liking since it rewards them generously with its Allstate Reward Program, Safe Driving Bonus, and vanishing deductible.
We were also impressed with Allstate’s claim satisfaction guarantee. Again, not many auto insurers make such a promise. Allstate guarantees you a credit of up to 6 months of your premium in case you didn’t like the way it handled your claim.
Furthermore, Allstate boasts one of the most user-friendly sites. Want to quickly grab car insurance quotes for South Carolina? Not a problem. Just enter your details, and its online tool will throw up a figure in two winks.
As far as financial strength is considered, Allstate is doing pretty well, as confirmed by its “A+” rating from A.M. Best.
However, just like Progressive, Allstate falters big time in customer service. It could only manage two stars out of five and was placed second to last in the J.D. Power regional study.
In the end, if you can make the most of Allstate’s various discount programs, it is definitely worth a shot. Allstate is also an appealing option for drivers with unique needs. However, if your priority is cheap auto insurance in SC or top-notch service, consider Progressive or GEICO.
Choose Allstate for its wide selection of coverage options and discounts.
Look elsewhere if you want affordable rates or top-shelf service.
Best for Car Repair Insurance: Liberty Mutual
Like Allstate, Liberty Mutual can be a good option for certain drivers. The insurer offers some unique add-ons and features, such as new/better car replacement coverage, Liberty Mutual deductible fund, and Lifetime repair guarantee.
If you want one or more of these, you may want to add Liberty Mutual to your shortlist, even though it doesn’t offer cheap auto insurance in SC. Another major drawback is its customer service rating, which is as bad as it gets. The insurer came last in the J.D. Power regional study, with just two stars out of five.
Thankfully, Liberty Mutual’s financial strength rating is much better. A.M. Best gave it the second-best rating of “A+.” This basically means you can trust the insurer to not leave you high and dry when you are in the middle of a claim.
To sum it up, Liberty Mutual is not for you if you’re someone who wants cheap auto insurance in SC or awesome customer service. Nevertheless, if you need special add-ons or features and don’t mind paying extra for them, Liberty Mutual is worth checking out.
Choose Liberty Mutual for its unique features and add-ons.
Look elsewhere if your priority is low rates or top-shelf customer service.
Best for Military: USAA
USAA sells its insurance products only to military members and their eligible family members. If that sounds like you, you might want to consider USAA ahead of other insurance companies in South Carolina.
USAA offers the complete package — excellent service, competitive rates, and unsurpassable financial strength. The insurer earned the second rank in J.D. Power regional study and the highest rating of “A++” in A.M. Best survey. No other insurer we reviewed excelled in all the three departments. Furthermore, USAA also has one of the most versatile and easy-to-use mobile apps.
In short, USAA offers eligible customers great value for their money.
Choose USAA for its splendid service and pocket-friendly rates.
Look elsewhere if you don’t qualify.
Cheapest Auto Insurance in SC (By City)
We requested a quote from multiple auto insurers in four major South Carolina cities to find out which one has the lowest premium rates. Our quote was for full coverage limits for a 40-year-old male with a spotless driving record.
Columbia is the capital and the second-largest city in The Palmetto State with a population of about 133,400. It is famous for the Columbia Museum of Art, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, and the South Carolina State House.
To find out which companies offer a good bargain in Columbia, we gathered quotes from different insurance companies in Columbia, SC. Here’s what we found.
Best for 21-year-olds
It’s a well-known fact that young drivers crash more frequently than adult drivers. Consequently, they pay more for car insurance coverage. The average monthly premium rate for young drivers in Columbia is $250 — 35% more than what experienced drivers pay. GEICO emerges as the low-price leader for this age group, followed by SC Farm Bureau, Liberty Mutual, and Progressive.
Best for 40-year-olds
The average rate of car insurance in Columbia, SC for this age group is $162, with Progressive and Allstate offering great value for money. However, both have a spotty record in customer service. If that’s a concern, give GEICO a shot. Other notable options include SC Farm Bureau and Liberty Mutual.
Best for 70-year-olds
Senior drivers pay a roughly 11% higher premium than 40-year-olds. If you are looking for companies that offer low-cost auto insurance in Columbia, SC, look no further than Progressive. GEICO, on the other hand, appears to be an appealing option for all those who want an affordable insurer with a decent customer service record.
Greenville is the sixth-largest city in The Palmetto State with a population of over 68,000. The city is named after a Revolutionary War Hero, Nathaniel Greene, and it’s a great place to work and live, thanks to a vibrant economy and the low cost of living.
Looking for affordable auto insurance in Greenville, SC? Here are some names to keep in mind.
Best for 21-year-olds
Progressive is the most cost-effective option for this age group. However, since its customer service track record is below-par in The Palmetto State, you may want to consider GEICO ahead of it.
Best for 40-year-olds
When it comes to providing low-cost car insurance to experienced drivers, Progressive makes others look like amateurs. Its average rate for car insurance in Greenville, SC, is nearly half of its nearest competitor — GEICO — and the city’s average. However, if you’re put off by Progressive’s two-star rating in customer service, check out State Farm or GEICO.
Best for 70-year-olds
Senior drivers in Greenville fork out $30 more every month on average for auto insurance. Like in Columbia, Progressive delivers the best bargain to this class of drivers in Greenville. However, if you’re looking for dependable coverage that’s easy to manage on the go, Esurance in Greenville, SC, is a good option. Other names deserving of your attention include SC Farm Bureau, GEICO, and Allstate.
Located on the East Coast of the United States, Myrtle Beach is best known for “The Grand Strand,” a 60-mile long stretch of continuous beaches. Thanks to its lovely subtropical climate and beautiful beaches, Myrtle Beach attracts millions of visitors every year — 14 million to be precise. The city is home to over 32, 700 people.
To find out the players that offer cheap car insurance in Myrtle Beach, we grabbed quotes from multiple carriers.
Best for 21-year-olds
Progressive is miles ahead of the competition when it comes to providing low-cost auto insurance. At $135 a month, its rate is roughly 41% lower than its nearest competitor in Myrtle Beach — GEICO. However, Progressive doesn’t excel in customer service. If that’s a priority, add State Farm to your list of top providers of auto insurance in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Best for 40-year-olds
Progressive emerges as the low-price leader for not only young drivers in Myrtle Beach but also experienced drivers as well. Don’t look beyond it if the price is the biggest factor for purchasing auto insurance for you. Other cost-effective options include GEICO, SC Farm Bureau, and Allstate.
Best for 70-year-olds
Progressive tops the list of most affordable auto insurers for senior drivers as well. No other car insurance company in Myrtle Beach can match its rate. That said, Progressive record in customer service is pretty poor. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, check out State Farm or GEICO.
Situated on the Charleston Harbor, Charleston is the largest and the oldest city in South Carolina. Founded way back in 1670, the city today boasts a strong tourism industry. Travel + Leisure magazine rated it as the best city in the world in 2016. Charleston is famous for its rich history, elegant architecture, and great food.
The average rate for auto insurance in Charleston, SC, is a little on the higher side, compared to Columbia or Greenville. Nonetheless, several insurers offer a great deal here. If you want low-cost coverage from a prominent carrier and enjoy all the bells and whistles they offer, Progressive is your best bet. Among regional players, SC Farm Bureau stands out on account of its affordable rates. State Farm, on the other hand, excels in the customer service department.
South Carolina Car Insurance Laws
Associated Auto Insurers Plan of South Carolina (AAIPSC)
Can’t get car insurance in the standard market?
You’re not alone. Carriers frequently turn down applicants with a less-than-pristine driving record.
Nonetheless, all is not lost. You can knock on AAIPSC’s door for help. It strives to make life a little easier for drivers like you.
However, before you dial AIIPSC’s number, here are a few things that you must know.
- AAIPSC is not a car insurance company. Instead, it’s an entity that assigns ‘rejected’ applicants to existing auto insurance companies in SC.
- All carriers writing car insurance in The Palmetto State must participate in the plan.
- To get coverage through the plan, you must meet three requirements: (1) You should hold a valid driver’s license. (2) You should have a car registered in SC. (3) You should have been turned down coverage in the standard market within the past 60 days.
- If you qualify for the plan’s help, AAIPSC will randomly assign you a carrier that will cover you for 3 years, provided you pay your premiums on time.
- Lastly, insurance through AAIPSC costs more than standard insurance.
South Carolina Car Insurance Requirements
Every driver in The Palmetto State must have the following bare minimum auto insurance coverage:
$25,000/$50,000 Bodily Injury Liability Insurance — It pays for expenses such as medical bills and wage loss incurred by other people who were injured in a crash caused by you.
$25,000 Property Damage Liability Insurance — This coverage kicks in when you damage someone’s car or property in an auto accident.
No-Fault Car Insurance Laws in SC
As per South Carolina car insurance laws, the insurance company of the at-fault driver must take responsibility for the damages or losses. Such a system for dealing with car accidents is called the “at fault” system.
In this system, you can sue a negligent driver. However, to get compensation, you must prove the other driver was at fault.
But how much fault? South Carolina uses a modified comparative negligence scheme. That is to say, to file a successful legal case, you must show the other driver was 50% or more at fault. Also, damages will get reduced by your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were 20% at fault, you would only receive compensation for 80% of your damages.
SR22 Insurance in SC
SR22 is a legal requirement that you may require after a DUI citation or some other serious traffic violation. What many people call SR22 insurance is actually a form or a certificate of financial responsibility.
So, how do you file SR22? Does it affect your premium rates? If so, by how much?
You can request your carrier to file SR22 with the local DMV, the fee for which usually is $15–$25. Though, remember your South Carolina car insurance provider can turn down your request since not every insurer files SR22.
In that case, you must find one that does and buy new coverage. Mind you, you’ll have to cough up more than what you paid earlier and be limited in your choice of carriers. Drivers with an SR22 requirement typically pay higher rates than other drivers on the count of their less-than-pristine record.
How much more? That largely depends on the seriousness of the violation that necessitated SR22 filing. All the same, scouting around for the best deal can help you make the best of a bad situation.
Car Insurance in South Carolina for New Residents
According to AAA’s guidelines on South Carolina car insurance laws, new residents need to register their car within 45 days of establishing residency.
Military personnel, however, may retain their out-of-state vehicle registration.
Price Optimization in South Carolina
What kind of shopper are you? Do you frequently search for the best bargain before buying something online?
If not, your carrier may be using this information against you and hiking your premium rate a little every year.
Car insurance companies factor in your shopping behavior, besides other personal details, while setting rates — a practice that goes by the name of price optimization. For instance, if your SC car insurance company thinks a 3% hike will not scare you off, it’ll happily bump up your rate come policy renewal.
Some states have put a lid on this practice, but not South Carolina. That’s why it is all the more necessary for drivers here to play smart. Shop around for a new policy every now and then, even when you don’t intend to switch carriers. That should be enough to convince your provider to not test your patience.
How to Get Cheap Car Insurance in South Carolina
Check Car Insurance Reviews
Comparing premiums of different providers can help you find the lowest rate. However, you can’t judge how a company treats its customers, handles claims, or performs in the financial strength department from its quote alone.
To know these details, you must research or else read car insurance reviews. Fortunately, we’ve done all the legwork, so you wouldn’t have to.
Look at our car insurance rankings, which includes many names not mentioned here, to find out which player offers you the best bang for your buck.
Compare auto insurance quotes in SC
Comparing car insurance quotes may not be much fun, but it can save you a lot of money. Rates vary wildly from one provider to the next, and shopping around is the only way to ensure you don’t overpay.
See who provides the highest discounts
Car insurance companies in The Palmetto State offer a number of rebates. Tack on as many of these discounts as possible to reduce your insurance cost.
Some of the common discount programs on offer in South Carolina include bundle discount, multi-line discount, safe driving discount, good student discount, and retiree discount.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How much is car insurance in South Carolina?
The average monthly premium rate for auto insurance in The Palmetto State is $175, according to our research. Our sample policyholder was a 40-year-old male with a spotless driving record.
2. Can you drive without insurance in South Carolina?
You can’t legally drive in South Carolina without car insurance. If you are caught, you will have to pay hefty fines and even risk losing your driving privileges.
3. Why is car insurance so expensive in South Carolina?
Increased risk of traffic accidents is the main reason why car insurance costs more in South Carolina, compared to a fair number of states in the country.
4. Is SC a no-fault state?
5. Who has the cheapest car insurance in South Carolina?
Progressive came out as the most affordable carrier in our research, with an average monthly premium of $105. That said, no single insurer is the cheapest for all drivers. To get the best deal, grab car insurance quotes in SC from multiple carriers and compare them.
6. How does car insurance work for rental cars in South Carolina?
We recommend you check your auto insurance policy or contact your insurer to learn which coverages apply to your rental car.