Auto Insurance in South Carolina (SC)

If You Are Paying More Than $1,271.31 on Auto Insurance in South Carolina, You Are Paying Too Much.

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Auto Insurance Industry in South Carolina

  • An average consumer pays $1,561.00 on auto insurance
  • 285 of every 100,000 vehicles are reported stolen every year
  • Accident fatality rate of 1.82%
  • Of all accidents: 70% are road-way accidents, 21% are intersection accidents, and 10% of all accidents involve at least 1 truck.

Each state makes its own rules regarding ways for drivers to demonstrate financial responsibility for the privilege of operating a vehicle. This autonomy leads to similarities and differences related to auto liability insurance coverage and other forms of proof. While South Carolina requires auto liability insurance, it also expects residents who apply for a driver’s license to demonstrate financial responsibility upon vehicle ownership.

South Carolina's Minimum Requirements on Auto Insurance

Residents in South Carolina are required to purchase auto liability insurance for every vehicle they own. Insurance is still required if they drive a vehicle that they do not own to legally drive in the state.

In some cases, residents may register as uninsured motorists after paying an annual $550 fee. While you can drive a vehicle in the state without insurance, you are not protected by an insurance policy if you are involved in an accident.

Generally, drivers must purchase the minimum auto liability insurance requirements in South Carolina for private passenger vehicles. Before registering a vehicle and receiving license plates, you should have the following insurance coverage amounts:

  • Physical injury per individual: $25,000
  • Physical injury per accident: $50,000
  • Personal property damage: $25,000

You are required to keep proof of insurance in your vehicle. This information is required by a law enforcement official after an accident or traffic stop. Additionally, South Carolina requires that you show proof of insurance when you apply for a first-time driver’s license and for each renewal. If you do not own a vehicle, simply mark the appropriate box on the application.

As a vehicle owner, you are required to provide the name of your insurance company to register a vehicle. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will verify electronically whether you have adequate insurance.

Penalties will apply if you do not obtain auto liability insurance or pay the uninsured motorist fee. During a traffic violation stop, the police officer can issue a citation where you will face fines and possible imprisonment. To avoid these penalties, you must present proof of auto liability insurance within 30 days of the citation.

After 30 days, your license can be suspended indefinitely for failing to maintain financial responsibility. Reinstatement fees range from $100 to $550 based on different factors. Normally, the fee changes if you did not own the vehicle or you needed SR-22 insurance.

You will have 15 days after an accident for the insurance company to provide proof of insurance to the DMV. If the DMV does not receive proof, your vehicle registration and driver’s license can be suspended.

Cancelling an auto liability insurance policy may result in a $400 vehicle registration and license reinstatement fee. You can avoid this charge by providing proof of insurance or surrendering the license plate on your vehicle.

Consumer Car Licensing Information in South Carolina

First-time drivers and new residents to South Carolina must apply for a Class D driver’s license to legally operate a vehicle in the state. As a first-time driver, you must keep a beginner’s permit for 180 days minimum before applying for a regular license, regardless of your age.

The beginner’s permit is issued after you pass a written knowledge test at a local DMV. This test is given on a walk-in basis and costs $4.50 for the test fee and permit. Additionally, you must pass a vision screening test. While an appointment is not necessary, you must provide:

  • A valid social security number
  • Proof that you are a U.S. citizen and South Carolina resident
  • Proof of your legal identity
  • Proof of auto liability insurance

As a new resident of South Carolina, you are not required to take the road test if you have a current out-of-state driver’s license. If the license has expired, the expiration date cannot be over nine months from the date you are applying.

Motorcycle Licensing Information in South Carolina

South Carolina issues a Class M motorcycle license once you have passed a written, on-cycle skills and vision tests. To apply, you must be at least 15 years old and pass a driver education course. This course is not required if you are over 18 years old.

As an adult motorcycle license applicant, you must provide the following documentation to the DMV:

  • Proof that you are a South Carolina resident
  • Valid social security card
  • Certified birth certificate
  • Proof of auto liability insurance

South Carolina charges $12.50 for a five-year license and $25 for a 10-year license.

Motorcycle drivers under 21 must comply with South Carolina’s helmet law by wearing approved gear while driving or riding on a motorcycle. Drivers over 21 are not required by law but are encouraged to have on a helmet.

Commercial Vehicle Licensing Information in South Carolina

To receive a commercial driver’s license (CDL) from the state of South Carolina, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years old to drive a commercial vehicle within the state; 21 to drive a commercial vehicle outside the state and receive a hazmat endorsement
  • Submit a completed CDL application
  • Pass a medical examination
  • Pass a vision screening, knowledge written test and road skills test based on the type of CDL for which you are applying

South Carolina issues three classes of CDLs: Class A, Class B and Class C. For each class, you must pass a road skills test that covers obstacle course driving, pre-trip inspection knowledge and on-road driving. The on-road driving test is free for the first attempt. If you fail, you must pay $25 to retake the test, which includes all three sections of the road skills test.

Other fees for a five-year South Carolina CDL include:

  • $15 for CDL application
  • $2 per knowledge test
  • $12.50 transfer fee if you have a valid out-of-state CDL

More Resources on Auto Insurance in South Carolina

Department of Insurance

  • Post Office Box 100105 Columbia, SC 29202
  • Phone: 803-737-6160
  • Fax: 803-737-6205