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Best Cheap Car Insurance in South Carolina (2019)

When researching to obtain low cost car insurance in the State of South Carolina it pays to shop around and compare. Prices vary widely between different insurers. This article will lay out how to obtain the best and cheapest rates for lower cost auto insurance in the Palmetto State.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in South Carolina

The average driver in South Carolina paid $1,539 a year in 2019.

For a single 30-year-old man with an excellent driving record, a number of insurers are below the average annual rate of $1,539.

Here are some providers with better annual premiums:

  • National Grange Mutual: $1,274
  • Allstate:   $1,267
  • State Farm: $1,262
  • State Auto: $1,200
  • Southern Farm Bureau: $1,124. (The Southern Carolina Farm Bureau requires membership of $40 a year to join.)

In general, areas with higher crime have higher rates of auto insurance due to theft. The most expensive city is Dillon, South Carolina which is 13% more costly than average at $1,745 a year. Residents in Dillon have a 1 in 10 chance of being a victim of property crime.

South Carolina is considered the most expensive state for auto insurance in comparison to neighbors such as North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. In fact, North Carolina has an average rate of $816 a year, almost half that of South Carolina.

The least expensive areas of SC auto policies are in the western part of the state, near the Georgia border. Cities such as Aiken ($1,364), Simpsonville ($1,358), Walhalla ($1,345), Greenwood ($1,339) and Seneca ($1,322) are all bargains compared to the rest of the state.

Cheapest Car Insurance by Age

The youngest drivers are the least experienced and also have higher rates of accidents, speeding, and distracted driving.

So if you are a South Carolinian between 16-20 years old, expect to pay the highest rates for auto insurance. Below are the average annual premium of drivers of these ages.

  • 16-year-old: $6,372
  • 17-year-old: $5,273
  • 18-year-old: $4,260
  • 19-year-old: $3,189

South Carolina is the 29th Cheapest State in which to buy auto insurance for 16-year-old, about the middle for all states in our country. So finding bargains takes some work.

There are other ways to lower teen driving premiums: 

  • “Good Student” rates offer discounts to those who demonstrate high academic achievement. 
  • A “Distant Student” discount is available at some insurers if a student is enrolled and living in a school that is 100 or miles from home and needs a car. 
  • A student who completes a driving training course may get a discount.
  • Customers who have been with an insurer for more than a year are given a discount on their premiums when a “New Teen” is added to a family policy.
  • And Safeco has program called “Right Track” which monitors teen driving through an online device and offers discounts of between 5%-30% on teens based on driving speeds, braking and nighttime driving habits.

>>MORE: Finding the Best Cheap Car Insurance for Teenagers

As people age, their auto insurance rates become less expensive. In the State of South Carolina, for example, these are the average yearly car premiums by age:

  • 20s: $1,874
  • 30s: $1,350
  • 40s: $1,312
  • 50s: $1,245
  • 60s: $1,282
  • 70s: $1,560

As you can see the least expensive time to drive is when you are in your 50s. But as you become truly older, your rates climb again, and a driver in their 70s, who often becomes less nimble due to reflexes, eyesight, and hearing, will pay more than any age group except the very youngest.

South Carolina has many mature driver refresher schools which allow insurance discounts upon completion. I Drive Safely has an online course for only $19.95 and when completed they will mail you a certificate which you can present to your insurer to obtain a 5-10% yearly discount.

Cheapest Car Insurance for DUI Drivers in South Carolina

Nothing is worse than getting arrested and convicted for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).  Not only do you put your life at risk, but you may injure or kill others, so insurers are very tough on those who break the law by drinking and driving.

A median DUI policy is some $704 more expensive than average with a rate of $2,065 a year.  But shop around and you will find insurers with the following post-DUI conviction rates:

  • State Farm: $3,102
  • Nationwide: $2,564
  • GEICO:      $2,126
  • Progressive: $2,001
  • Allstate:   $1,811
  • USAA: $1,721

>>MORE: Best Cheap Insurance For Drivers With DUI Tickets

South Carolina DUI laws for a first-time offender include: 48 hours-30 days in jail or 48 hours of community service, some $400 in fines and a suspended license for 6 months. You might also need to have SR-22 insurance certificate.

>>MORE: What Is SR-22 Insurance in South Carolina and How Much Does It Cost?

For a second DUI expect 5 days-1 year in jail or 30 days of community service, $2,100-$5,100 in fines, a 1 year license suspension, and a required ignition lock to test for blood alcohol.

If you are stupid and reckless enough to get a third DUI, you will face up to 3 years in jail, $3,800-$6,300 in fines, a suspended license for 2-4 years and a required ignition lock device.

If you get a fourth DUI you will have earned a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license and never be legally allowed to drive in SC again. That’s after you spend 1-5 years in jail.

Don’t drink and drive. The consequences are awful.

>>MORE: How to Get Car Insurance After DUI?

Cheapest Car Insurance for Bad Credit Drivers in South Carolina

Car insurers use credit ratings of customers to determine risk. Unfortunately, bad credit scores raise car insurance rates because you are considered a “bad risk” if you haven’t paid your bills on time or are in a lot of debt.

The worst category of credit risk in SC pays auto insurance premiums of $3,127 a year, more than double the average of $1,539. The second worst category pays $2,733.

Adding misery to this is having bad credit and living in a city with higher than average crime. 

The crime rate in North Charleston is 139% higher than the national average. And $3,280 is the average car insurance rate in that city for those with bad credit.

But these insurers offer rates that beat the average for drivers with the worst credit scores:

  • State Farm $3,094
  • GEICO $3,026
  • Progressive: $2,911
  • Allstate: $2,363
  • Nationwide: $1,806

You cannot always help having a bad credit score, but when you shop for insurance remember to compare rates from several providers and be aware that age, your place of residence, your driving record, and yes, your credit score, all influence your auto insurance rates.

5 Cities in South Carolina for Cheaper Auto Insurance

Cheapest Car Insurance in Columbia, SC

With 133,000 residents, Columbia, the capital of the state, is the largest city in South Carolina. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a beloved botanical and zoological jewel.

The best rates for auto insurance here include: State Farm ($1,308), National Grange Mutual ($1,212), Southern Farm Bureau ($1,200) and State Auto ($1,092).

Cheapest Car Insurance in Charleston, SC

This elegant port city, of 130,113, founded in 1760, has long enjoyed a reputation for gracious living, fine architecture and superb food. Tourists flock here to experience true Southern graciousness and to immerse themselves in a unique climate where the ocean and the riches of the land bless all.

Auto insurance rates here are 7% higher than average at $1,641 a year. But these insurers offer better rates: Nationwide ($1,452), Allstate ($1,440), State Farm ($1,392), Southern Farm Bureau ($1,368) and State Auto ($1,308).

Cheapest Car Insurance in Greenville, SC

Located in the scenic, hilly, historic, NW upstate corner of South Carolina, the 68,219 residents of Greenville are living in a delightful region of gorgeous natural beauty roughly halfway between Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC. It is also one of the fastest growing places due to its fortuitous geography.

At $1,404 a year, the average cost of auto insurance is 9% under the SC mean. Beating that are these insurers: Encompass ($1,284), State Farm ($1,248), National Grange Mutual ($1,236), State Auto ($1,116) and Southern Farm Bureau ($1,092).

Cheapest Car Insurance in Florence, SC

Rated the #2 Most Expensive City in South Carolina for auto insurance, Florence averages $1,733 a year in premiums.

Crime rates are some 205% higher than national average. As a result, insurers consider the area high risk and auto insurance premiums are adjusted to reflect that.

But there are cheaper alternatives for auto insurance: State Farm ($1,440), National Grange Mutual ($1,392), Allstate ($1,320), State Auto ($1,224) and Southern Farm Bureau ($1,164) are all better values than average.

Cheapest Car Insurance in Seneca, SC

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the NW tip of the state, Seneca had a population of 8,340 in 2017. A railroad town, it was built at the intersection of the Blue Ridge Railroad and the Atlanta and Charlotte Air Line Railroad. Both lines are now part of the Norfolk Southern Railway.

The average policy in Seneca is $1,322 a year, but State Farm ($1,140), Allstate ($1,116) and Southern Farm Bureau ($936) all beat the median rate.

Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirements in South Carolina

There are some 3,810,962 drivers in the state of South Carolina.

But these drivers were rated the third worst in the nation, in 2017, according to a study by Car Insurance Comparison using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Numerous substandard rural roads, speeding, careless driving, driving without a license, failure to wear safety belts, intoxicated driving, all these pushed the statistics into bad territory and even made SC the first in vehicle fatalities.

Higher insurance rates are a reflection of the dismal statistics in the Palmetto State. Everyone who drives here pays a price.

The State Department of Motor Vehicles requires all vehicles to have the following minimum insurance:

  • Property Damage: $25,000 per accident
  • Bodily Injury: $25,000 per person; $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury: $25,000 per person; $50,000 per accident
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage: $25,000 per accident with $200 deductible.

These are the minimums, but you can also optionally purchase these additional two:  

  • Collision Coverage: for crashes with other vehicles, or an object such as a tree or light pole. 
  • Comprehensive Coverage: it covers damage to your vehicle from fire, vandalism, theft, falling objects and collision with animals. It will pay for broken glass and shattered windshields and cannot charge you a deductible for these according to SC law.

Advice to Get the Cheapest Insurance Quotes in South Carolina

  • Shop and compare rates. Get at least three quotes.
  • If you are insuring a teen driver, find out about student discounts, good grade discounts, loyalty rates and electronic monitoring devices to lower rates.
  • DUIs and Bad Credit are two of the biggest no-no’s in auto insurance.
  • You will pay higher rates if you live in a higher crime area.
  • Consider driver refresher courses if you are over 55. Discounts from 5-10% a year are offered upon completion.
  • Always carry proof of insurance, car registration and your driver’s license when you operate a vehicle.
  • SC has high accident rates due to many poor roads and rural highways. Living here means you pay higher to insure for these risks.
  • Consider buying optional collision and comprehensive insurance in addition to your minimum policies to provide greater protection from accidents, medical expenses and property damage costs.
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