From Charleston to Sumter, Myrtle Beach to Rock Hill, Spartanburg to Goose Creek, South Carolina has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from downtown Columbia to the shores of Lake Marion, up to the Blue Ridge Mountains and down to coastal salt marshes. They’re used by more than 3.2 million licensed drivers, who each average over 10,400 miles a year. Along the way, they’re involved in thousands of traffic accidents, including many that result in serious injury or death. Wherever you live and drive in the Palmetto State, carrying adequate car insurance is both a legal requirement and commonsense protection. This is your guide to South Carolina’s basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
South Carolina state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties that may include monetary fines. South Carolina has a tort system, which means that if you are found to be at fault in a car accident, you can be sued for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damages (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering.
The bare minimum car insurance requirement for South Carolina drivers is:
$25,000 /$50,000 bodily injury
$25,000 property damage liability
$25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
$25,000 with $200 deductible uninsured motorist property damage
South Carolina does not require you to carry additional coverage such as personal injury protection or Collision and Comprehensive. However, if you own property or other valuable assets, supplementing the minimum requirements can help you protect yourself from monetary loss.
Penalties for Failure to Carry South Carolina Auto Insurance
If you own a car in South Carolina, you are required by law to keep proof of insurance in your vehicle and show it if a law enforcement officer asks to see it. Penalties for driving without insurance can include fines and suspension of your registration and driver’s license. You can be charged $5 a day for each day your vehicle is uninsured up to a maximum of $200.
South Carolina requires insurers to notify the DMV of any policy lapse or cancellation. You will be notified by mail and asked to provide proof of insurance. If you fail to provide proof of insurance within 20 days of notification, your license and vehicle registration can be suspended indefinitely. There may be a reinstatement fee of up to $550.
South Carolina Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the South Carolina Department of Insurance. Insurance companies are allowed to charge premiums and award discounts based on a number of factors that can include:
The type of car you are insuring
Prior auto insurance coverage
How much you drive
Your driving record
Your marital status
Your geographic location
How long you’ve been driving
Whether or not you use your car for business
South Carolina also allows insurers to consider your credit history to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest South Carolina Car Insurance Policy
You may be able to lower the cost of your premiums in the following ways:
Ask about available discounts for good driving habits, anti-theft devices, multiple cars on one policy, bundling your car insurance with your homeowners or renters policy, automatic or online payments and driving a hybrid or electric car
Compare quotes from a variety of providers on this website
Eliminate unnecessary coverage
Check to see if you qualify for any low-cost auto insurance program your state may offer
New South Carolina Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in South Carolina. The following laws have recently been enacted in South Carolina and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
There are no laws against distracted driving or regarding the use of cell phones or handheld communications devices in effect in South Carolina as of February 2014.
South Carolina has an annual Driver Suspension Eligibility Week each March that allows drivers who have lost their driving privileges for specified reasons to reduce or clear the remaining time of their suspension. Details are available at the South Carolina DMV website.