Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that exis...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Aug 29, 2020

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South Carolina Auto Insurance Overview
South Carolina StatsDetails
Miles of Roadway 76,301
Vehicles Registered3,902,945
Population5,084,127
Most Popular VehicleF150
Uninsured % / Underinsured % 9.40%
Total Driving Related DeathsSpeeding: 416
DUI: 313
Full Coverage Average PremiumsLiability: $527.09
Collision: $265.07
Comprehensive: $180.94
Cheapest ProviderState Farm Mutual Auto
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South Carolina, or “The Palmetto State”, is home to a little over 5 million people. Named in honor of King Charles I of England, South Carolina has a rich Antebellum and Civil War history. When it comes to what South Carolina is known for, South Carolina bases its staples and economy on farming, trade, and tourism.

A state known for its palm trees brings up a comparison for auto insurance:  sometimes you are not able to see the forest for the trees.

For help with navigating through this forest, we have put together this guide, full of every piece of auto insurance information you can think of:  coverage and rates, auto insurance providers, state laws, and more.

Want to start comparing rates and saving money? Start today with just your ZIP code.

Table of Contents

South Carolina Auto Insurance Coverage and Rates

So much information out there about auto insurance coverage and rates.

Read on, for we have put all the information together in a nice, neat package for your convenience.

South Carolina Minimum Coverage

An organization known as the Insurance Information Institute says that South Carolina ranks 37th in the nation for people who are not insured. This puts it between the states of Iowa and Connecticut. About 10 percent of the entire state of South Carolina is driving without auto insurance.

Minimum coverage for auto insurance in South Carolina require that you carry liability insurance, which covers you in the event you are in an accident and there are bodily injuries or property damage.

South Carolina is an at-fault state. This means that the person who was at fault in the accident is the one who has to pay for any damage or injuries sustained.

In South Carolina, you are required to carry at the very least the minimum amount of liability auto insurance coverage:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person.
  • $50,000 for bodily injury per accident.
  • $25,000 for property damage per accident.

This minimum liability coverage is known as 25/50/25.

If stopped by a police officer, you must show your proof of insurance, as required by state law. South Carolina does have electronic means of checking your registration as well. What a police officer is not authorized to do is to stop you specifically to check and see if you are insured.

It only takes minimum coverage to avoid these penalties. These costs can vary from state to state.

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Something to know:  if you are an uninsured motorist in South Carolina, you may be eligible to apply for an Uninsured Motorist Fee that allows you to drive and operate an uninsured vehicle while on South Carolina roads.

Required Forms of Financial Responsibility in South Carolina

According to the South Carolina Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act, the following are acceptable forms of financial responsibility:

  • Surety bond.
  • Real estate bonds with a combined value of $150,000 or more.
  • Cash/Security Deposit in the amount of $35,000 or more.

Premiums as Percentage of Income in South Carolina

First off, you will want to know what the term disposable personal income means.

That is the amount you have left to spend after you have taken care of your necessary expenses and after taxes have been paid.

Over the course of three years, from 2012 to 2014, South Carolina in terms of disposable income has stayed steadily in the range of $31,000 to $33,000. This is only about $1,000 to $2,000 less than its sister state, North Carolina.

CalculatorPro
American Consumer Credit Counseling suggests saving 20 percent of every paycheck. Use the calculator, Calculator Pro, above to find out how much DPI you would have each month, and then times that amount by 20 percent to know how much you would need to save each month.

Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates in SC (Liability, Collision, Comprehensive)

The below table illustrates the most recent data provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners on the average insurance costs in South Carolina.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Coverage Type in South Carolina
Coverage TypeAverage Annual Rates
Liability $497.50
Collision$247.62
Comprehensive$165.38
Full Coverage$910.51
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National average insurance costs are as follows:

  • Liability:  $516.39
  • Collision:  $299.73
  • Comprehensive:  $138.87
  • Full Coverage:  $954.99

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South Carolina is running slightly below the national average on all counts, so this is a good sign. And South Carolina, like every other state, has minimum auto insurance requirements. However, experts suggest purchasing more than the minimum coverage required in at-fault states, if at all possible.

Additional Liability

The data from the table below is from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, in regards to the average costs of additional liability loss ratios in South Carolina.

Additional Auto Insurance Liability Coverage in South Carolina
Additional Liability Coverage InfoDetails
Medical Pay (Med Pay) 84.33
Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage 73.79
% Uninsured and Rank 9.4% (37)
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What in the world is a loss ratio?

A loss ratio means that a company is paying out a certain number, or percentage of claims. If a company’s loss ratio is over 100 percent, the company is losing money. If the loss ratio is too low, the company is not paying claims.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage is required in South Carolina “in an amount equal to the minimum required liability coverage” of 25/50/25. This coverage protects you and your passengers if the other driver is at fault and has no insurance.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

What if you want to add additional coverage to your policy, but do not want to pay an astronomical amount?

Good news: there are powerful but cheap extras you can add to your policy.

Here’s a list of useful coverage available to you in South Carolina. 

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
  • Non-Owner Auto Insurance
  • Modified Auto Insurance Coverage
  • Classic Auto Insurance
  • Pay-as-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance

South Carolina Commerical Automobile Insurance Plan

The South Carolina Commerical Automobile Insurance Plan helps provide insurance to high-risk drivers who cannot get auto insurance through the usual channels or have a hard time finding it on their own.

Other factors come into play, besides high risk, when it comes to the price of your auto insurance.

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Average Monthly Auto Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in SC

Myth:  Men pay more than women for auto insurance.

Fact:  In some states, this myth is actually a reality.

What is the truth and what is a myth in South Carolina?

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Let us take a look at the following table:

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Marital Status, Age, and Gender
CompaniesMarried 35-year old female Annual RateMarried 35-year old male Annual RateMarried 60-year old female Annual RateMarried 60-year old male Annual RateSingle 17-year old female Annual RateSingle 17-year old male Annual RateSingle 25-year old female Annual RateSingle 25-year old male Annual Rate
USAA$1,836.27$1,842.82$1,688.20$1,690.25$7,341.34$8,041.03$2,414.03$2,544.18
State Farm$1,938.66$1,938.66$1,755.90$1,755.90$5,564.16$6,994.35$2,175.82$2,447.27
Geico$2,292.59$2,292.59$2,092.47$2,092.47$5,552.76$5,685.15$2,674.55$2,741.48
Nationwide$2,469.20$2,501.59$2,223.66$2,308.30$5,970.02$7,692.64$2,792.80$3,045.71
Progressive$2,477.19$2,286.14$2,128.88$2,225.14$10,287.93$11,361.20$2,848.88$2,969.28
Allstate$2,575.42$2,575.42$2,462.77$2,462.77$6,662.45$8,518.45$2,858.85$3,111.28
Bristol West Select$3,198.86$3,212.56$3,054.08$3,319.19$8,424.07$9,324.42$3,486.65$3,514.99
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For the most part, married males and married females, no matter the age, pay about the same in South Carolina. Across the board, single males, no matter the age, are paying more for auto insurance than single females.

So the answer is partially yes:  single males pay more than married males in South Carolina.

Cheapest Rates by ZIP Code

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Search for your ZIP code in the tables below to find out how much you’re paying, on average, annually.

25 South Carolina ZIP Codes With the Cheapest Auto Insurance Rates
ZIP CodesCityAverage Annual Rate
29672SENECA$3,115.58
29630CENTRAL$3,145.58
29665NEWRY$3,149.62
29675RICHLAND$3,155.03
29691WALHALLA$3,166.58
29631CLEMSON$3,197.43
29676SALEM$3,206.09
29696WEST UNION$3,217.19
29384WATERLOO$3,225.08
29678SENECA$3,243.62
29664MOUNTAIN REST$3,249.79
29649GREENWOOD$3,265.18
29360LAURENS$3,274.83
29686TAMASSEE$3,281.99
29693WESTMINSTER$3,282.69
29653HODGES$3,282.69
29634CLEMSON$3,284.03
29632CLEMSON$3,293.34
29685SUNSET$3,297.56
29689TOWNVILLE$3,300.96
29332CROSS HILL$3,305.73
29645GRAY COURT$3,306.89
29670PENDLETON$3,307.03
29646GREENWOOD$3,307.52
29370MOUNTVILLE$3,320.32
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There is over a $1,000 difference between the most expensive and cheapest ZIP codes in South Carolina.

25 South Carolina ZIP Codes With the Most Expensive Auto Insurance Rates
ZIP CodesCityAverage Annual Rate
29933MILEY$4,519.05
29810ALLENDALE$4,504.34
29918ESTILL$4,499.47
29939SCOTIA$4,493.57
29913CROCKETVILLE$4,449.78
29433CANADYS$4,434.52
29827FAIRFAX$4,412.90
29921FURMAN$4,405.94
29934PINELAND$4,396.05
29944VARNVILLE$4,386.30
29481SMOAKS$4,369.12
29911BRUNSON$4,363.46
29923GIFFORD$4,338.69
29932LURAY$4,338.69
29924HAMPTON$4,333.58
29916EARLY BRANCH$4,295.75
29486SUMMERVILLE$4,291.55
29922GARNETT$4,252.93
29046ELLIOTT$4,248.92
29430BETHERA$4,239.55
29104MAYESVILLE$4,229.63
29836MARTIN$4,215.45
29450HUGER$4,214.87
29476RUSSELLVILLE$4,179.21
29468PINEVILLE$4,174.40
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Cheapest Rates by City

Look at the tables below to search for your city’s rates.

25 South Carolina Cities With the Cheapest Auto Insurance Rates
CitiesAverage Annual Rate
Central$3,145.58
Newry$3,149.62
Richland$3,155.03
Walhalla$3,166.58
Seneca$3,179.60
Salem$3,206.09
West Union$3,217.19
Waterloo$3,225.08
Mountain Rest$3,249.79
Clemson$3,258.27
Laurens$3,274.83
Tamassee$3,281.99
Westminster$3,282.69
Hodges$3,282.69
Greenwood$3,286.35
Sunset$3,297.56
Townville$3,300.97
Cross Hill$3,305.73
Gray Court$3,306.89
Pendleton$3,307.03
Mountville$3,320.32
Fair Play$3,323.71
Long Creek$3,333.92
Mount Carmel$3,352.98
Simpsonville$3,354.24
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Rates in Central City are about $1,300 less than rates in Miley.

25 South Carolina Cities With the Most Expensive Auto Insurance Rates
CitiesAverage Annual Rate
Miley$4,519.05
Allendale$4,504.34
Estill$4,499.47
Scotia$4,493.57
Crocketville$4,449.78
Canadys$4,434.52
Fairfax$4,412.90
Furman$4,405.94
Pineland$4,396.05
Varnville$4,386.30
Smoaks$4,369.12
Brunson$4,363.46
Gifford$4,338.69
Luray$4,338.69
Hampton$4,333.58
Early Branch$4,295.75
Summerville$4,291.55
Garnett$4,252.93
Elliott$4,248.92
Bethera$4,239.55
Mayesville$4,229.62
Martin$4,215.45
Huger$4,214.87
Russellville$4,179.20
Pineville$4,174.40
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Best South Carolina Auto Insurance Companies

So many companies, so little time. And we know you want to find the one that is the best fit for you.

Read on and find out what is the best auto company in South Carolina.

The Largest Companies’ Financial Ratings

To best measure how a company is doing financially and what their financial strength is, there is something called the A.M. Best Financial Rating.

Financial Rating of Largest Insurance Companies in South Carolina
CompaniesA.M. Best Financial Rating
State Farm MutualA++
GeicoA++
AllstateA+
USAAA++
ProgressiveA+
NationwideA+
Liberty MutualA
Travelers Group A++
Southern Farm Bureau CasualtyA+
Auto-Owners GroupA++
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If you would prefer to read customer reviews on companies and what customers had to say, then the next sections are the sections for you.

Companies with Best Customer Ratings

J.D. Power and Associates gave a study to auto insurance customers in multiple U.S. Regions in 2018 asking them:  how would you rank auto insurance companies?

The results of the survey are below.

J.D. Power 2018 Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking – Southeast Region
ProviderRankingJ.D. Power Circle Rating™
Farm Bureau Insurance - Tennessee8845
Auto-Owners Insurance8424
Geico8393
North Carolina Farm Bureau8393
Allstate8303
Progressive8303
Alfa Insurance8293
Kentucky Farm Bureau8243
Nationwide8233
Travelers8223
State Farm8213
Safeco8203
Liberty Mutual8142
National General8102
Metlife7962
USAA8945
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When it comes to the Southeast Region states, where South Carolina falls, Farm Bureau Insurance – Tennessee has a rank of 8884 on a 1,000 point scale, which means customers consider it “among the best”.

Companies with Most Complaints in South Carolina

If a company has a lot of customer complaints, it might be worth checking into to see what the complaints are about.

Here is the most recent data, as found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website, one of the leading data authorities. The order on this list goes from most complaints to the least amount of complaints:

Auto Insurance Companies with the Most Complaints in South Carolina (2017)
CompaniesNumber of Complaints
State Farm1,482
Geico333
USAA296
Liberty Mutual 222
Allstate163
Progressive120
Auto-Owners Group31
Nationwide25
Southern Farm Bureau Casualty3
Travelers Group2
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State Farm, by far, has the most complaints. The popular company has more than four times the amount of complaints compared to Geico, which has the second-highest number.

Cheapest Companies in South Carolina

If a reasonable price is what you are after, State Farm is the cheapest, on average, in South Carolina.

Cheapest Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates in South Carolina
CompaniesAnnual Average
State Farm$3,071.34
Geico$3,178.01
USAA$3,424.76
Nationwide$3,625.49
Allstate$3,903.42
Progressive$4,573.08
Bristol West Select$4,691.85
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State Farm’s rates are 23 percent lower than the average auto insurance rate of South Carolina.

Commute Rates by Companies

The distance you drive to and from work can also affect the cost of your insurance.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Commute Distance in South Carolina
Companies10-Mile Commute25-Mile Commute
State Farm$2,994.90$3,147.78
Geico$3,160.90$3,195.12
USAA$3,388.56$3,460.97
Nationwide$3,625.49$3,625.49
Allstate$3,821.76$3,985.09
Progressive$4,573.08$4,573.08
Farmers$4,691.85$4,691.85
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Whether you have a 10-mile commute or a 25-mile commute, State Farm offers the most reasonable rates for both. If you are looking to pay the same no matter the commute, Nationwide offers the same average annual price for both 10 and 25-mile commutes.

Take a look at other factors that will affect your rates.

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If you have several negative factors that drive up your rates, you can offset some of the costs by lowering your coverage level.

Coverage Level Rates by Companies

You can bring down your insurance rates by lowering the amount of coverage you have.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Coverage Level in South Carolina
CompaniesHigh CoverageMedium CoverageLow Coverage
State Farm$3,298.48$3,070.05$2,845.49
Geico$3,426.18$3,146.50$2,961.35
USAA$3,621.98$3,419.89$3,232.43
Nationwide$3,670.77$3,627.10$3,578.60
Allstate$4,147.71$3,885.29$3,677.28
Progressive$4,975.38$4,512.27$4,231.59
Farmers$5,200.86$4,688.90$4,185.80
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State Farm seems to be popular when it comes to certain categories. Whether you want high, medium, or low coverage, State Farm offers reasonable average annual rates.

Credit History Rates by Companies

Your credit history also impacts your insurance rates.

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Credit History in South Carolina
CompaniesGood CreditFair CreditPoor Credit
Geico$2,079.82$4,545.16$4,847.10
State Farm$2,116.65$4,464.31$4,406.26
USAA$2,299.10$2,691.12$5,347.18
Nationwide$3,071.00$2,607.11$4,309.08
Allstate$3,113.11$4,904.52$4,904.52
Farmers$4,148.55$3,692.64$5,381.84
Progressive$4,164.27$3,496.39$5,090.67
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Geico offers the best annual rates for those with good credit ratings. Nationwide, if you have fair credit, it will give you the best deals. If your credit is not that great, you will find the best rates, once again, at Nationwide.

Driving Record Rates by Companies

No one driving record is perfect. Slip-ups happen, and the companies that are the most forgiving: Geico (cheapest rates for speeding violations and one accident on record) and State Farm (cheapest rates for one DUI on record),

Average Annual Auto Insurance Rates by Driving Record in South Carolina
CompaniesClean Driving RecordOne Accident on RecordOne DUI on RecordOne Speeding Violation on Record
Geico$2,429.04$3,134.80$4,719.15$2,429.04
USAA$2,706.69$3,341.10$4,618.87$3,032.40
State Farm$2,789.17$3,416.22$3,039.99$3,039.99
Nationwide$2,891.90$3,727.79$4,701.43$3,180.84
Allstate$2,942.78$4,662.04$4,121.23$3,887.64
Progressive$3,751.71$5,451.21$4,555.95$4,533.45
Farmers$3,921.33$5,418.24$4,508.61$4,919.23
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Geico also has the cheapest rates for a clean driving record.

The companies that are not as forgiving when it comes to rates:  Progressive (most expensive rates for one accident on record), Nationwide (most expensive rates for one DUI on record), and Farmers (most expensive rates for speeding violations).

Farmers is also the most expensive company for those who have a clean driving record.

Largest Auto Insurance Companies in South Carolina

When it comes to market share, State Farm controls almost double the market share of Geico, the second-largest insurer in South Carolina.

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Top 10 Auto Insurance Companies by Market Share in South Carolina
CompaniesDirect Premiums WrittenMarket Share
State Farm$949,69223.88%
Geico$523,21713.16%
Allstate$473,09411.90%
USAA$365,4769.19%
Progressive$340,8558.57%
Nationwide$283,0867.12%
Liberty Mutual$206,4345.19%
Travelers Group$176,2194.43%
Southern Farm Bureau Casualty$134,6393.39%
Auto-Owners Group$68,4691.72%
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With almost $1 million in direct premiums written, State Farm has a commanding control of South Carolina’s auto insurance industry.

Number of Insurers by State

When it comes to the difference between domestic and foreign insurers, the difference where the home office is located.

Domestic simply means that the insurer is a local company whose home office is located in the state of South Carolina, while foreign means a company whose home office located in another state.

There are 19 domestic insurers and 993 foreign insurers in South Carolina.

South Carolina Laws

So many laws, so little time, and so much legalese.

We break it down and make it easy for you to understand the different laws in South Carolina.

Auto Insurance Laws

You can read up on the laws, and then read further to get the laws of South Carolina in further detail.

How State Laws for Insurance are Determined

The South Carolina Department of Insurance is the main regulator for the insurance industry in the state of South Carolina. Through them, you can deal with issues like insurance fraud and ask them any insurance-related questions you may have.

Windshield & Glass Repair Laws

Good news! When auto insurance companies consider South Carolina windshield insurance , according to Car Windshields, “There is no deductible for windshields for private passenger vehicles if you have comprehensive insurance.”

It might be worth it, to you, to get comprehensive insurance for this reason alone.

High-Risk Insurance

The high-risk insurance plan in South Carolina is the South Carolina Automobile Insurance Plan.

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Low-Cost Insurance

South Carolina does not have a mandated low-cost auto insurance program, but you can ask your insurance provider if they provide any kind of discount.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in South Carolina

In 2016, South Carolina came in seventh in the nation when it came to state accidents and was at the top of both the list of states when it came to the least amount of money spent to fight insurance fraud. However, South Carolina is taking steps to make sure insurance fraud is combatted.

In South Carolina, the penalties for insurance fraud vary depending on the amount of money involved in the fraud, and also whether it was your first or subsequent offense.

For first offenses, the penalties are as follows:

  • Less than $1,000:  Misdemeanor, $100 to $500 fine, and up to 30 days in prison.
  • $1,000 to $10,000:  Misdemeanor, $2,000 to $10,00 fine, and up to 3 years in prison.
  • $10,000 or $50,000:  Felony, $10,000 to $50,00 fine, and up to 5 years in prison.
  • $50,000 or more:  Felony, $20,000 to $100,00 fine, and up to 10 years in prison.

For subsequent offenses, the penalty is as follows:

  • All amounts:  Felony, $20,000 to $100,000 fine, up to 10 years in prison.

If you feel you are the victim of insurance fraud it can be reported to the South Carolina Attorney General’s office.

The Statute of Limitations in South Carolina

The statute of limitations is an amount of time that you or the other party have to file charges. It is a form of protection for both you and the other party by giving each of you a set amount of time. Once that time limit passes, no one can file charges.

In South Carolina, the statute of limitations is three years for a personal injury case and a property damage case.

South Carolina Specific Laws

There are some interesting and strange driving laws in the state of South Carolina.

For instance, driving your golf cart at night is illegal unless you’re on a barrier island. You also want to avoid taking your pig out for a midnight drive, which can incur a $100 fine.

If you own an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), keep the keys away from children. In South Carolina, the minimum age to operate an ATV is six years old with certain restrictions, namely that the driver must wear a helmet and complete an ATV safety course.

Finally, think twice before you place that naughty bumper sticker on your vehicle. You could incur a fine up to $200.

South Carolina’s Vehicle Licensing Laws

To drive a car in South Carolina, you will need a license.

Keep on reading to find out more about this and about the rules of the road.

South Carolina  REAL ID

Starting October 1, 2020, federal agencies will endorse what is known as the REAL ID Act, which requires you to have a REAL ID U.S. Passport or another federally approved ID to board flights or enter federal buildings.

South Carolina does not require a REAL ID to drive, but it is recommended if you fly domestically, or if you work in federal buildings.

South Carolina REAL ID. From the South Carolina DMV website.

How do you get a REAL ID?

Go to the South Carolina DMV website. You can check to see if you are eligible to buy a REAL ID on their website; otherwise, you have to go to your local DMV office.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Just because South Carolina has an Uninsured Motorist Fee, that does not mean you can get away with not having auto insurance.

Remember, the Uninsured Motorist Fee is only if you are eligible.

If you are ineligible for the Uninsured Motorist Fee and you are caught driving without insurance, you will pay the price.

  • First offense: $100-$200 fine and up to 30 days in prison.
  • Second offense:  $200 fine and up to 30 days in prison.
  • Third and subsequent offenses:  $5 fee for every day without insurance and 45 days to six months in prison.

For each offense, a $5 fee for every day without insurance is assessed, along with the suspension of your license and registration. You will also have to pay a $200 reinstatement fee and file an SR-22 with the state of South Carolina for three years from the date of conviction.

Have the required insurance and/or forms of financial responsibility in your vehicle at all times.

Teen Driver Laws

South Carolina, along with other states, practice a graduated driving system. To be able to drive and get a license in South Carolina, you have to be 15 and a half years of age.

You also have a holding period of six months and need supervised driving time equal to 40 hours, 10 of which has to be at night.

You cannot drive between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. When it is Daylight Savings Time, you cannot drive between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Also, no more than two passengers under the age of 21, unless transporting students to and from school. The restrictions lift 12 months after you have had your license.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures

The rules for older drivers and license renewal are straightforward, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

  • Older Population License Renewal:  you can renew every eight years.
  • Proof of vision required:  every renewal, no matter your age.
  • Mail or online renewal permitted:  yes, no matter your age.

New Residents

If you are moving to South Carolina from another state, you will need to get a South Carolina driver’s license and transfer your vehicle title and registration.

The steps to transfer title and registration can be found here at the South Carolina DMV website. You must follow all steps carefully to be able to drive in South Carolina.

License Renewal Procedures

You can renew your license every eight years. It expires on the eighth year, on your birthday.

You can also renew your valid South Carolina driver’s license up to nine months after it expires, either online or by going to the South Carolina DMV.

Rules of the Road

If you know the rules of the road, you will be a safer driver.

Read on to find out the rules of the road in South Carolina

Fault vs. No-Fault

Remember, South Carolina is an at-fault state. This means the person who was at fault in the accident is the one who has to pay for any damage or injuries.

Seat Belts and Car Seat Laws

Car seat laws in South Carolina are pretty standard. Seat belts are required for the driver and all passengers age 6 and older.

According to child safety seat laws in South Carolina, any child younger than two years old must be in a rear-facing seat; children two years and older must be in a forward-facing restraint. Children four years and older, when they outgrow the restraint, must be in a belt-positioning booster until the child is eight years or older.

Riding in the cargo area of a pickup truck is not permitted for persons under age 15 unless an adult is present.

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

In South Carolina, the laws are as follows according to AAA:

State law requires drivers to reduce speed and, if safe to do so, vacate the lane closest to stationary emergency vehicles, including tow trucks and recovery vehicles.

You need to keep right if you are driving slower than the average speed of the traffic around you.

Speed Limits

In South Carolina, the speed limit is 70 miles per hour on rural interstates and urban interstates, 60 miles per hour on other limited-access roads, and 55 miles per hour on all other roads.

Ridesharing

There are no specific state ridesharing services, but companies such as Uber and Lyft are nationwide. Check into those services to find out more.

Automation on the Road

As of May 2017, legislation has been passed for self-driving cars in South Carolina.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YURnJaqgIcM
Because of this new law, fleet managers need to review their liability insurance coverage.

Safety Laws

It is important to know the laws in South Carolina so that you can be a safe and responsible driver.

Here are the safety laws in South Carolina in regards to DUI, marijuana, and distracted driving.

DUI Laws

South Carolina does not let anyone drive while in an impaired state, no matter whether you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you have a BAC of .08 percent or more, you are considered under the influence.

South Carolina defines under the influence as “being impaired to an extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired.”

  • First offense: 48 hours to one year in jail. $400 to $1,000 fine, and license revoked for up to six months.
  • Second offense: five days to three years in jail. $2,100 to $6,500 fine, and two years with an installed ignition interlock device.
  • Third offense: 60 days to five years of jail time. $3,800 to $10,000 fine, and three years with an installed ignition interlock device.

If an officer stops you on suspicion of a DUI, you give implied consent, or what is called per se consent, for him or her to test you.

Other things to know:

  • Every conviction requires you to enroll in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program.
  • First-time offenders can be eligible to do community service instead of serving any jail time.
  • A BAC of .15 percent or more faces an additional one, two, and three-month suspension for a first, second, and third offense.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

No laws have been passed in South Carolina for marijuana usage. However, on June 2, 2014, “Julian’s Law” was passed by Governor Nikki Halley, “allowing patients diagnosed with severe forms of epilepsy to use cannabis oil derived from the cannabinoid ‘Cannabidiol’ (CBD).”

Also,  Bill S 212, proposed on January 10, 2017, would allow for the legal use of medical marijuana, if passed.

Marijuana use of any kind, however, is illegal in South Carolina, and South Carolina statutes “are generally more restrictive than other state marijuana laws”, where “possession of even small amounts of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”

The possession of marijuana carries the following penalties:

  • First offense:  misdemeanor: up to 6 mos. in prison, and/or $1000 fine.
  • Subsequent offense: misdemeanor, 1 yr. in prison and/or $2000 fine.

Distracted Driving Laws

Texting while driving is illegal in South Carolina. South Carolina was the 49th state to ban texting while driving.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_I8B2ZXje8

The maximum fine that can be imposed for texting while driving is $50. There is no handheld ban.

Now, if you cause an accident due to texting while driving, and the other party dies, you could be imprisoned for up to five years due to criminal recklessness.

Interesting fact:  In Greenville, you can’t hold your phone while driving, even if you are not using it. The fine for doing this is $100.

Driving in South Carolina

It is important to be aware of common dangers in South Carolina that you might face as a driver.

Here we will uncover the kinds of dangers you might face as a driver on the roads in South Carolina.

 Vehicle Theft in South Carolina

Owners of Ford pickup trucks need to be extra vigilant about securing their vehicles. It’s the most stolen vehicle in South Carolina.

Vehicle Theft in South Carolina
Type of VehicleYear Vehicle was Made Number of Vehicles Stolen
Ford Pickup (Full Size)2006586
Honda Accord1996458
Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)2004455
Ford Crown Victoria2003210
Toyota Camry2014183
Honda Civic2000176
Dodge Pickup (Full Size)2001172
Chevrolet Impala2008166
Nissan Altima2015155
Ford Explorer2002146
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The information listed above is as of 2015 from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

When it comes to the number of vehicles stolen by city in South Carolina, Columbia comes in first. Not the kind of first place anyone wants to be in.

Top 10 South Carolina Cities for Vehicle Thefts (2016)
CityVehicle Thefts
Columbia903
North Charleston645
Myrtle Beach371
Charleston261
Greenville198
Rock Hill154
Florence130
North Myrtle Beach115
Summerville105
Aiken97
Clemson97
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The information listed above is as of 2016 from the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division. If your city isn’t listed, you’re lucky. No vehicles were stolen in 2016.

 Road Fatalities in South Carolina

Below, we’ll break down all the factors that play a role in traffic fatalities in South Carolina.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

Weather and time of day can contribute to treacherous driving conditions.

Traffic Fatalities by Weather Condition and Light Conditions in South Carolina
Weather ConditionDaylightDark, but LightedDarkDawn or DuskOther / UnknownTotal
Normal37694326310827
Rain328426088
Snow/Sleet100001
Other212308
Unknown000000
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In South Carolina, most crashes tend to happen during the day under normal conditions. The second time crashes most occur is in the dark, under normal conditions.

Fatalities (All Crashes) by County

This shows the fatalities over the course of five years, with data from the NHTSA.

Traffic Fatalities by County in South Carolina (2013–2017)
County20132014201520162017
Abbeville76648
Aiken2523263739
Allendale43424
Anderson3345325744
Bamberg42474
Barnwell46558
Beaufort1323173026
Berkeley2740363434
Calhoun71210107
Charleston4447645471
Cherokee91517520
Chester109171815
Chesterfield12316912
Clarendon1110172119
Colleton1317212418
Darlington1813252415
Dillon7147119
Dorchester1716323217
Edgefield03234
Fairfield8871013
Florence3123382932
Georgetown13718615
Greenville7162738774
Greenwood67111210
Hampton35714
Horry5558817067
Jasper815152511
Kershaw1713181819
Lancaster516151418
Laurens1124222129
Lee46855
Lexington3935464347
Marion891198
Marlboro413998
Mccormick14344
Newberry74767
Oconee313131118
Orangeburg3428313028
Pickens1413161920
Richland6341456952
Saluda56017
Spartanburg3339755451
Sumter1726202018
Union35676
Williamsburg161181715
York2325183628
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During the five years, Greenville County had the most fatalities every year except for 2015 when it was third in the state.

Traffic Fatalities: Rural vs. Urban

Interestingly, rural areas have a lot more traffic fatalities than in urban areas.

Traffic Fatalities by Location in South Carolina (2008–2017)
YearRuralUrban
200887843
200987816
2010611198
2011694134
2012748115
2013614153
2014570253
2015555424
2016613407
2017687301
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This shows the fatalities over the course of 10 years.

Fatalities by Person Type

This shows the fatalities over the course of five years.

Traffic Fatalities by Occupant Type in South Carolina (2013–2017)
Occupant Type20132014201520162017
Passenger Car268327358367375
Light Truck – Utility94106121118133
Light Truck – Pickup110118105118116
Light Truck – Van1615343018
Light Truck – Other01032
Large Truck1010241717
Pedestrian100107123144154
Bicyclist and Other Cyclist1514162518
Bus10111
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Passenger cars and light pick-ups, along with pedestrians, have a high rate of fatalities in this five-year time span.

Fatalities by Crash Type

This shows the fatalities over the course of five years.

Traffic Fatalities by Crash Type in South Carolina (2013–2017)
Crash Type20132014201520162017
Roadway Departure473501541568575
Single Vehicle476503527575569
Speeding305307366393416
Rollover190194208215234
Intersection141150200233173
Large Truck646311410490
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A large number of crashes have to do with roadway departures in this five-year time span.

Five-Year Trend for the Top 10 Counties

As we mentioned before, Greenville County has had more traffic fatalities between 2013 and 2017 compared with other counties in South Carolina.

Top 10 Counties for Traffic Fatalities in South Carolina (2013–2017)
County20132014201520162017
Greenville County7162738774
Charleston County4447645471
Horry County5558817067
Richland County6341456952
Spartanburg County3339755451
Lexington County3935464347
Anderson County3345325744
Aiken County2523263739
Berkeley County2740363434
Florence County3123382932
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In 2015, Horry and Spartanburg counties surpassed Greenville in road deaths.

Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

Speeding often plays a role in fatal crashes.

Speeding Fatalities by County in South Carolina (2013–2017)
County20132014201520162017
Abbeville41246
Aiken9772020
Allendale21100
Anderson1015132117
Bamberg11320
Barnwell14323
Beaufort388610
Berkeley1116121515
Calhoun14546
Charleston1218231926
Cherokee49737
Chester63973
Chesterfield31536
Clarendon4671012
Colleton57677
Darlington11910138
Dillon210467
Dorchester589118
Edgefield01024
Fairfield61355
Florence116211213
Georgetown54526
Greenville2415142214
Greenwood54554
Hampton31201
Horry2016211526
Jasper347136
Kershaw94977
Lancaster28345
Laurens512151617
Lee10333
Lexington1810131416
Marion32745
Marlboro17636
Mccormick01131
Newberry32716
Oconee34528
Orangeburg126131516
Pickens884512
Richland2618142923
Saluda02012
Spartanburg1016351521
Sumter910599
Union15574
Williamsburg1043106
York1386169
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Charleston and Horry counties had the most speeding fatalities with both having 26 in 2017.

Fatalities Involving Alcohol-Impaired Driving by County

Drinking and driving is never a good mix. Not only is it against the law, but it is a leading cause of traffic deaths.

Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities by County in South Carolina
County20132014201520162017
Abbeville32210
Aiken14910138
Allendale21001
Anderson131981420
Bamberg12210
Barnwell01434
Beaufort7103108
Berkeley1314101211
Calhoun24222
Charleston1924152118
Cherokee36417
Chester63387
Chesterfield42934
Clarendon53665
Colleton371086
Darlington1031094
Dillon26252
Dorchester851187
Edgefield02010
Fairfield57053
Florence911101115
Georgetown54403
Greenville3522242621
Greenwood24635
Hampton22200
Horry2327231918
Jasper32363
Kershaw125586
Lancaster25454
Laurens665811
Lee31633
Lexington2116222021
Marion33431
Marlboro14111
Mccormick04020
Newberry32133
Oconee14447
Orangeburg181091111
Pickens58738
Richland2818162416
Saluda13011
Spartanburg1119241714
Sumter10124106
Union01412
Williamsburg732114
York11871113
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With 21 deaths each, Greenville and Lexington had the most alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2017.

Teen Drinking and Driving

Underage drinking causes more harm than good.

And in South Carolina, underage drinking causes many health issues.

Here are the facts when it comes to underage drinking in South Carolina:

  • Each year, 85 South Carolina teens die from alcohol use.
  • Underage drinking costs $1 billion per year, which is $2,309 for each teen in the state.
  • 71 percent of high schoolers in South Carolina have tried alcohol.
  • 35 percent of the above students had their first drink before age 13.
  • 40 percent of high schoolers drank alcohol in the past month.
  • Teens under 21 consumed 12 percent of the alcohol in South Carolina in 2010.
  • Liquor is the drink of choice among high school students.
  • One in nine students has driven while drunk in the past month.

When it comes to other statistics due to underage drinking:

  • 1.8 deaths per 100,000 residents. This is above the national average of 1.2.
  • 90 DWI arrests in the under 21 group, which makes South Carolina 26th in the nation when it comes to these types of arrests.

Talk to your children about the dangers of underage drinking and drunk driving. Talk. They Hear You.

EMS Response Time:  Rural vs. Urban

There is no data available at this time for EMS Response times in Rural and Urban areas in South Carolina. Once this data is available, we will make sure to update this.

Transportation

If you live in South Carolina, most likely you live in a two-car household, drive alone to work, and spend little time commuting!

The information that follows is from Data USA.

Car Ownership

Most people in South Carolina live in a two-car household.

Commute Time

With an average commute time of 23.4 minutes, South Carolina is under the national average of 25.2 minutes.

1.85 percent of South Carolinians report a super-commute, which is spending 90 minutes or more of your time commuting.

Commuter Transportation

81.8 percent of the workforce report driving in to work alone. 9.49 percent carpool, and 4.66 percent work at home.

Traffic Congestion in South Carolina

When it comes to the major lists:  the TomTom Index lists two cities in South Carolina as being traffic-congested:  Greenville and Columbia.

In Greenville, there has been a 4 percent increase in travel time since 2018. This is equal to 21 extra minutes a day, and 80 extra hours a year.

Travel time in the mornings is increased by 26 percent and in the evenings by 40 percent. On highways, travel time is increased by 8 percent, and on non-highways by 23 percent.

In Columbia, there has been a 2 percent increase in travel time since 2018. This is equal to 15 extra minutes a day, and 59 extra hours a year.

Travel time in the mornings is increased by 18 percent and in the evenings by 32 percent. On highways, travel time is increased by 7 percent, and on non-highways by 24 percent.

What is it like to drive in Greenville and in Columbia?

We hope this guide about auto insurance in South Carolina has helped you.

Don’t waste another minute. Start comparison shopping auto insurance rates today.