When driving a State of South Carolina registered vehicle, insurance is required:
South Carolina minimum car insurance requirements are:

  • Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least 25/50/25 – meaning:
    • Liability coverage
    • $25,000 of bodily injury to another person
    • $50,000 of bodily injuries to all other persons
    • $25,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident

Although personal injury protection is not required by the State of South Carolina, many
drivers choose to purchase it in order to cover any expenses they could incur if
they get injured in an accident.

Uninsured motorist coverage is required.

Required Proof of Insurance in South Carolina

Insurance Card provided by the insurance company including all of the following:

  • Name of Insurance Company
  • Insurance Policy Number
  • Effective Date/Expiration Date of Policy
  • Accurate description of year, make/model of registered vehicle
  • Name of Insured Driver

South Carolina State Department of Insurance
Director of the Department of Insurance – David Black
1201 Main Street, Suite 1000
Columbia, SC 29201
803-737-6160

Obtaining a Driver’s License

Here are the requirements to obtain your license for residents under the age of 18:

Conditional license for 15 year old drivers

  • Must hold a beginners permit for at least 180 days
  • Must pass a vision and skills test
  • Bring your parents or legal guardian with a signed application
  • Bring beginner’s permit
  • Submit a South Carolina PDLA form that certifies the person has completed a driver’s education course, has a satisfactory school attendance record and completed 40 hours of supervised driving with parent or guardian, including 10 hours of night driving
  • Upon receiving conditional license must adhere to state driving restricts for 15 year old drivers

Special restricted license for 16 year old drivers

  • Must hold a beginner’s permit for at least 180 days
  • Must pass vision and skills test
  • Bring your parents or legal guardian with a signed application
  • Bring beginners permit
  • Submit a South Carolina PDLA form that certifies the person has completed a driver’s education course, has a satisfactory school attendance record and completed 40 hours of supervised driving with parent or guardian, including 10 hours of night driving
  • Upon receiving conditional license must adhere to state driving restricts for 16 year old drivers

Regular driver license for drivers 17 years old and older

  • Must hold a beginner’s permit for at least 180 days
  • Bring your parents or legal guardian with a signed application if under 18 years old; if you are 18 years old or older, you do not need the signature of your parent or legal guarding
  • Must bring beginner’s permit
  • Must pass the vision and road skills test

Rules for new South Carolina residents licensed in another state New residents may use a valid driver’s license the driver’s former state for up to 90 days. If the driver’s name has changed since birth, they must provide all legal documents, such as adoption records, marriage certificates, certificate of naturalization or court ordered name changes that support the name change from birth to present day. Drivers who formerly licensed in another state, but has since expired, must pass a scheduled road test. For specific forms of identification needed to switch license from another state, and to schedule a road test, visit the South Carolina DMV website.

Completing Driver Education

The State of South Carolina does not require you to take a driver’s education course, although some choose to do so in order to become familiar with driving rules, traffic laws, and vehicle operation. Driving safely will increase your chances of enjoying the best auto insurance rates in South Carolina.

The South Carolina DMV provides a list of approved driving schools, complete with contact information for those who wish to undergo driver’s education. If you decide to take a driver’s education course, it is important that you select a driving school that is state-certified and DMV-approved that employs state-approved driving instructors.

These driving schools offer driver’s education courses that typically entail a combination of behind-the-wheel driving time and class time. Driver’s education focuses on teaching student drivers basic driving techniques, how to drive defensively, strategies for driving in heavy traffic and parallel parking.

Knowing the Rules of the Road

South Carolina provides their rules of the road online. Carefully obey these rules to ensure safe driving habits which can help drivers qualify for the lowest possible car insurance rates.

  • Driving without a license or with a suspended license – S.C. Code of Laws Section 56-120
  • Driving without insurance or with insufficient insurance – S.C. Code of Laws Title 56, Chapter 9
  • Driving without registration or with expired registration – S.C. Code of Laws Section 56-3-110
  • Illegal U-Turn – S.C. Code Section 56-5-2140
  • Leaving the scene of an accident/hit and run – S.C. Code of Laws Sections 56-5-1210 to 56-5-1260
  • Mechanical violations – S.C. Code of Laws Title 56, Chapter 5, Article 35
  • Reckless driving – S.C. Code of Laws Section 56-5-2920
  • Running a red light/stop sign – S.C. Code of Laws Section 56-5-950
  • Seat belt and child restraint violations – S.C. Code of Laws Article 47 and 48
  • Speeding – S.C. Code of Laws Title 56, Chapter 5, Article 11

Rather than using a no-fault system, South Carolina instead uses a tort system. The tort system uses three basic coverages. The three coverages sold are bodily injury liability, property damage liability and uninsured motorists coverage. Auto insurance policies are a legal contract and those insured can find the policy number, policy term, coverage limits, and information about the insured on the declaration page of their policy. There, you can also find descriptions of vehicles covered by the policy, and if the owner of the vehicle received a loan to pay for the vehicle and there is an outstanding balance, the lender is listed as the “loss of payee.” The policy will also contain a general insuring agreement consisting of a broad statement that defines what is covered under the contract and identifies exclusions that list events and circumstances the policy will not cover. The policy also contains a definitions page to help make the coverage as clear as possible to its owner.

Know Your Rates

Auto insurance rates are calculated by carefully considering all of the licensed drivers
in the household, even if they are not related to you by blood, such as permanent
roommates and spouses. The base rate that is used to evaluate all drivers is then
adjusted, according to several factors, including:

  • Age. Statistics indicate that drivers under the age of 25 are involved in more accidents than those aged between 25 and 65. For this reason, drivers under 25 years old are considered a higher risk, so insurance companies will charge households with younger drivers more for insurance due to the increased chance of risk. In addition, those who are older than 65 years of age are considered greater risks as well, according to the Washington State Office of the Insurance
    Commissioner.
  • Gender. Statistical evidence suggests that men under the age of 25 are involved in more accidents than women in the same age group, so male drivers typically must pay higher insurance rates than female drivers, who typically enjoy some of the lowest auto insurance rates in South Carolina.
  • Driving record and claims history. If you have had multiple accidents, tickets, and insurance claims, you are automatically considered a riskier driver to insure. For that reason, those with less than sterling driving records will see higher insurance rates.
  • Marital status. Statistics prove that married couples tend to have far fewer accidents than those who are unmarried, so married couples may be offered the lowest auto insurance rates in South Carolina when shopping around.
  • Geographical area. Those who live in a part of town where the crime rate is higher will likely see higher insurance rates as well. Likewise, those who live in an area that experiences regular traffic collisions will experience a higher insurance rate as well, as drivers living there will be more likely to damage their vehicles than those living in less hazardous neighborhoods. Make, model, and year of the vehicle. The general rule of thumb is that the more expensive and high-performance the vehicle, the more drivers will have to pay to insure them due to the fact that those vehicles are more likely to be stolen.
  • Credit history. This last factor is a tricky one, as Washington actively restricts insurance companies from increasing insurance rates solely due to a driver’s credit history. However, you should be aware that your credit history may play a part in the rates you receive.
  • Lower Your Rates. Speak with an insurance agent and find out exactly what your insurance plan will cover for the price you are paying so that you are getting the best price for the best coverage, as opposed to simply settling for the cheapest plan that may not offer much. Compare auto insurance rates in South Carolina by shopping around and talking to different companies. Remember to make sure that the company is permitted to do business in South Carolina. If you are suspicious about any insurance company, call the Office of the Insurance Commissioner at 803-737-6081. Inquire about discounts that a company may offer but not advertise, such as discounts for young drivers with good grades, drivers who have completed a driver’s education course, and drivers with a history of accident-free driving. In addition, pay close attention to your other insurance plans. Some plans, such as medical insurance, can overlap in coverage areas with your auto insurance plans.

Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker

Insurance agents with insurance companies aim to sell policies for commission. Insurance brokers, on the other hand, do not represent a company. Instead, they work with individual clients, assessing their clients’ needs and finding different insurance options to fit those needs. Like agents, however, they also receive a commission for the sales they make from different insurance companies. Both types of experts can help you find the best car insurance in South Carolina that will suit your needs.

Whether you use an agent or broker, make sure that they are licensed with the South Carolina Department of Insurance. In addition, you can request information from the Department of Insurance about how many complaints have been filed against a
particular agent or broker. The Department can also tell you how many times they have faced
disciplinary actions. South Carolina residents can for the number of complaints filed against a company or office by calling 803-737-6081.

The Department of Insurance also provides consumers with an online toolkit,
which will allow insurance shoppers and holders to search for an agent and find out his
or her contact information, past violations, and licensing record. You may also use it to
compare agents, and to determine whether a company is permitted to sell insurance in South Carolina. In addition, company complaints may be accessed in the online toolkit.

If you have had issues with an insurance company, file a complaint online. You can
request information on why your claim has been denied, why your insurer cancelled
your policy, or even if you simply have a question about your policy. To do so, fill out a Consumer Complaint Form and send it to The Department of Insurance. Once the form is received, The Department will investigate the matter and get back to you if any formal disciplinary actions will take place.

After an Accident

Accidents happen. If you have been involved in a collision, you must immediately notify
the South Carolina State Patrol, city police, or county sheriff. If you or someone else is injured, you may request emergency medical services at that time. Drivers should stay at the scene
of the collision until released by a police officer. To expedite procedures, be prepared
to give a thorough account of the events leading up to the collision to responding law
enforcement members, and also take down information such as the names of the police
officers and witnesses you spoke with for your own accident report. Failure to deliver an
accident report in cases where there is significant property or vehicle damage, or if
there is an injury or loss of life involved, could lead to the suspension of your license or
driving permit.

In addition, you must also report the incident to your insurance company as soon as
possible, closely following your particular company’s procedures for filing a claim. If your
collision involved another driver, you must obtain their name, address, phone number,
insurance information, driver’s license number, and the make and model of the car they
were driving during the collision, even if the other driver has no car insurance in South Carolina. You should also be prepared to report the extent of the
damage to both cars, how the accident happened, what occurred during the accident,
and the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene. Any police report
filed must also be copied and sent to your insurance company.

When all of your information has been received, your insurance company will
investigate your claim within 30 days and pay your claim within 15 days after settlement
papers are signed. If your claim is delayed, the insurance company must notify you
every 30 days until it is processed. In the event that your claim is denied, your insurance company will notify you in writing.

Your insurance company may also seek subrogation, which typically happens when
someone else was at fault for an accident you were in. Your insurance will cover the
costs of any medical or repair bills you had, but your insurance will then reach out to the
at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. During this process, you should
provide your insurance company with full cooperation to ensure that this process goes
smoothly. If you intend to settle with the at-fault driver or their insurance company, be
sure to notify your insurance company.

Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

Your driving record may prevent you from receiving the insurance coverage, especially
if you have a lengthy history of accidents, tickets, or drunk driving. However, the
state of South Carolina makes it possible for every driver to find insurance opportunities by offering the Associated Auto Insurers Plan of South Carolina. This plan specifically covers South Carolina drivers who cannot find coverage due to their driving records. In order to obtain the plan, applicants must declare and certify they are unable to obtain automobile insurance in South Carolina within the previous 60 days. Drivers are then assigned to insurance companies in proportion to the amount of voluntary auto insurance business each company writes in the state for each line of business. To apply for the AAIPSC, visit their website or call 866-560-4100.

You may also be asked to provide a SR 22 form from the Department of Licensing if
you were caught driving without insurance, caught driving under the influence, cause
an accident without insurance, have too many traffic violations and tickets within a short
time span, or have had your license suspended or revoked. Your insurance company
should do this for you, but not all companies provide this service. Therefore, be sure
that you’re the insurance company you pick provides this for you if you are required to
hold the SR 22 form.