When driving a State of South Dakota registered vehicle, insurance is required.

South Dakota 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
    • Medical Payments Coverage: covers the medical bills acquired by policyholders as well as their passengers following an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
    • Collision: pays for any repairs to your car when it is damaged in an accident.

Required Proof of Insurance in South Dakota

If you are ever requested to show proof of insurance, you may display one of the following:

  • A current insurance identification card, supplied by your carrier.
  • A Certificate of Deposit issued by the State Treasurer.
  • A Certificate of Self-Insurance.
  • A surety bond certificate.

South Dakota Division of Insurance
445 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
605-773-3563

Obtaining a Driver’s License

The first step towards earning your license is acquiring an instruction permit – to do so you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision and knowledge test.  An instruction permit is valid for one year, and it must be held continuously for 180 days (90 days if they have successfully completed an approved Department of Education driver education course) prior to upgrade of permit to a Restricted Minor’s permit or Operator’s License. If you are under 18 years of age and your instruction permit expires, you must obtain another permit for either the 90-day or 180-day requirement. Some restrictions of the permit is that a licensed driver 18 years of age or older with at least one year’s driving experience must be present in the seat next to you while you are driving with just an instruction permit. The documentation you will need to obtain your permit includes one identity document that proves your identity and date of birth. Acceptable documents include:

  • Certified U.S. birth certificate
  • Valid unexpired U.S. passport
  • Certificate of Citizenship

Additionally, you will need one document showing your Social Security number, preferably your Social Security card. Lastly, you are required to show two documents that prove your residential address – i.e. a utility bill or credit card statement.

The next step for a young driver to earn their Restricted Minor’s Permit – To be eligible, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge, and driving test, as well as complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit, and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months. An individual up to age 18 years of age may hold a Restricted Minor’s Permit as the permit is valid for 5 years. Upon turning 18, the permit converts to Operator’s License.

To obtain an Operator’s License, you must be at least 16 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge, and driving test.  If a minor is at least 16 years of age, but under the age of 18, they must complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit. The license is valid for 5 years and to renew your Operator’s License, you must pass the vision test.

Completing Driver Education

One of the primary advantages of taking an approved driver’s education course is that it can waive 90 days of the 180-day Instruction Permit required by law. The course is open to students ages 14 and above. To complete the program you will need a passing score of 80% or higher in the written and/or driving portions of the class. Thirty hours are spent in the classroom, with an additional six hours of behind-the-wheel driving. Ensure that the program you choose is state approved and that your instructor is licensed.

Knowing the Rules of the Road

South Dakota’s driver manual holds the state’s rules of the road as well as all other information present and prospective drivers should know. The better you know the rules and follow them, the more likely you’ll be a safe driver, which can help you get the best car insurance rates in South Dakota. The latest version of the manual is:

Note: the actual statue code for every rule of the road is not presented in this guide.

Know Your Rates

Auto insurance companies calculate your rates by taking into consideration a number of different factors, which can impact whether or not you’ll qualify for the lowest auto insurance rates in South Dakota. These can include:

  • Age. Evidence has shown that drivers under the age of 25, particularly males, are involved in more accidents than those aged between 25 and 65. This creates the perception that drivers under 25 are high risk, leading to insurers to charge more for insurance. Similarly, drivers aged 65 and older are also considered greater risks.
  • Driving record. When you have been in multiple accidents or received numerous tickets you are automatically considered a risk to insure. Safe drivers, on the other hand, will typically enjoy low cost car insurance in South Dakota.
  • Geographical area. Those who live in crime-filled neighborhoods or areas that experience regular traffic collisions frequently experience a higher insurance rate because these situations increase the chances of a driver damaging their vehicle.
  • Make, model, and year of the vehicle. Typically the more expensive or high-performance the vehicle, the more a driver will have to pay because there is a more likely chance it can be targeted by thieves.
  • Credit history. Credit history can be a powerful predictor of future auto insurance losses. It can either demonstrate responsibility or imprudence, so the better your credit history and score, the better your chances will be of qualifying for the best car insurance rates in South Dakota.

Lower Your Rates

Insurance companies make it possible for consumers to reduce their premium by offering discounts. While there are some that are required by law, others can encourage drivers to be safe and more alert. Discounts can cover a general subject, such as safe driver, or be very specific to one audience – i.e. a good student discount. The financial difference of a discount can vary depending upon the insurance company, but as you shop remain aware of which factors reduce your premium as it can save you a significant amount. Some of the more common discounts are related to:

  • Anti-theft devices
  • Multi vehicle
  • Multi policy
  • Credit score
  • Claim or ticket free

To ensure that you get a good deal, compare auto insurance rates in South Dakota by shopping around and asking about discounts.

Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker

Prior to choosing the right insurance coverage for you, speak with an agent or broker to find out what is available to you. These professionals have many helpful resources available to them that can educate you further on your options. Strive to contact multiple agents before settling on one. While many people prefer to deal with someone who is in their area, customer service needs to be considered. For instance, knowing how long an agent has been working in your area can be telling, giving you an idea of how productive an agent or broker is. Moreover, knowing how quickly an agent processes claims and the amount of complaints they have received can help you narrow down your search. While unbiased resources can be of assistance, your friends and neighbors can help you find the right agent for you, who in turn can help you find the best car insurance in South Dakota to suit your needs.

After an Accident

Accidents do occur. If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, knowing what to do can make the experience less frustrating and can prevent any further complications. This process begins by taking note of:

  • The name, address and license number of everyone involved in the accident, even if the other driver has no car insurance in South Dakota.
  • A description of the other vehicles as well as the damage to all vehicles involved
  • Details such as the weather conditions and visibility.
  • The names and addresses of any witnesses.

Your next steps include:

  • Contacting your insurance company or agent to report your claim.
  • Notifying the police if your vehicle has been stolen or if you are involved in a hit-and-run
  • Allow the insurance company to examine and evaluate the damaged vehicle prior to getting it repaired or discarded.

Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

The South Dakota Automobile Insurance Plan (SDAIP) was created to offer automobile insurance coverage to those who have had a difficult time obtaining coverage in the voluntary market. All insurers writing automobile insurance in South Dakota are required to participate in the SDAIP by subscribing to the Plan. Every agent holding a valid license to transact automobile insurance in the state of South Dakota is eligible to submit applications to the Plan. Applicants need to declare and certify that they have tried and failed to obtain automobile insurance in South Dakota within the preceding 60 days and have been unable to obtain such insurance at rates not exceeding those applicable under the Plan. All applicants must possess a valid driver’s license to be eligible.

Additional Help

South Dakota’s Division of Insurance offers assistance to anyone shopping for insurance. They are prepared to answer inquiries while reviewing any complaints with specific agencies or agents/brokers, and you will surely be educated on insurance law and procedures. Workers enforce insurance law on the consumer’s behalf when needed. You can contact them at 605-773-3563.

Online resources include: