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Best car insurance companies in South Carolina

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Article Highlights

From the historic streets of Charleston to the shores of Lake Keowee, South Carolina offers drivers a lifetime of scenic adventures. But before you get behind the wheel, you need to cover your vehicle with auto insurance.

According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (SCDPS), the state had nearly 4.6 million registered drivers in 2018. South Carolinians pay an average annual auto insurance premium of $1,568, slightly higher than the $1,555 national average.

Several factors may impact your South Carolina car insurance rate and the coverages you’ll need.

  • Urban dwellers in cities such as Charleston often pay more for auto insurance due to accident and crime rates.
  • South Carolina drivers in coastal regions may need greater auto protection due to the risk of tropical storms and hurricanes.
  • South Carolina motorists in some locations may pay more for car insurance than their neighbors in North Carolina and Tennessee due to higher DUI-related traffic fatalities.
  • South Carolina law requires all motorists to carry certain levels of liability and uninsured motorist coverages.

The price you’ll pay for South Carolina auto insurance will depend on several factors, including the types and amount of coverage you choose and your driving record.

Clean record1 speeding ticket1 accident
Full coverage$1,568  $1,920$2,297
Minimum coverage$537$666$810

Top car insurance companies in South Carolina

  • Auto-Owners: Best rates
  • GEICO: Best discounts
  • USAA: Best for military members
  • State Farm: Best usage-based insurance programs
  • Progressive: Best endorsements
CompanyJ.D. Power Overall Claims Satisfaction Score/5AM BestDiscounts offeredAverage rate
GEICO3/5A++ (Superior)Affinity, driver safety, military, student, employee$1,461
Travelers3/5A++ (Superior)Affinity, payments, safe driver, student, green car$1,402
Auto-Owners3/5A++ (Superior)Advance quote, favorable loss history, good students, safe driving, multi-policy$1,392
Progressive3/5A+ (Superior)Automatic payments and paid in full, paperless, student discounts, snapshot$1,603
State Farm3/5A++ (Superior)Accident-free and good driver, good student and student away at school, Steer Clear$1,560
USAA5/5A++ (Superior)Annual mileage, defensive driver and driver training, garage on base, new car, safe driver, vehicle in storage$1,650
South Carolina Farm BureauNAA+ (Superior)Bundled policies, claims-free, company vehicle, driver training courses (adult and young drivers), farm vehicle, student, loyalty$1,676

Auto-Owners: Best rates

Among the South Carolina insurers we reviewed, Auto-Owners offers the lowest average car insurance premiums — $284 lower a year than South Carolina Farm Bureau. Besides competitive rates, Auto-Owners backs its auto policies with sound financial stability and offers an impressive selection of discounts, including up to a 20% savings for students who maintain a “B” or higher GPA.

Geico: Best discounts

Although Geico doesn’t quite outmatch Auto-Owners low rates in South Carolina, it offers an excellent array of discounts to reduce your premium. You can enjoy up to a 40% discount if your automobile is equipped with certain safety and security equipment, like full-front seat airbags, and up to a 26% premium reduction if you remain accident free for five years.

USAA: Best for military members

USAA provides financial products exclusively for U.S. Military members, pre-commissioned officers, veterans and their spouses and children. If you qualify for USAA membership, you can enjoy one-stop shopping for auto and home insurance, banking services, dental and health coverage, as well as investment and retirement accounts.

State Farm: Best usage-based insurance programs

Usage-based insurance programs can help good drivers reduce their premiums, and State Farm’s Safe and Save program can help you save up to 30%. Plus, State Farm’s Steer Clear program, available to drivers under 25 years of age, helps young motorists improve their driving skills and possibly qualify for a premium discount.

Progressive: Best endorsements

Progressive’s endorsements provide added protection to your vehicle, with gap insurance that adds up to 25% to its actual cash value if totaled. Progressive also offers custom parts and equipment coverage (many carriers don’t offer this), which pays up to $5,000 to repair or replace customizations such as navigation equipment, stereo systems and custom paint jobs and wheels.

Car insurance in South Carolina by city

Your location can play a major role in the amount you pay for car insurance. Factors such as traffic accidents, DUIs and auto theft rates often impact rates for all drivers in an area. Likewise, auto owners in large cities often pay more than rural drivers, because population density can increase the risk of having an accident. The chart below shows how rates vary in South Carolina by major metropolitan areas.

CityFull coverage annual rateMinimum coverage annual rate
Charleston$1,675$601
Columbia$1,630$569
North Charleston$1,774$642
Mount Pleasant$1,555$557
Rock Hill$1,504$518

Charleston

On average, Charleston residents pay $107 more for car insurance than the state average. In 2018, Charleston County racked up the state’s second highest collision rate and the highest rate of collision injuries, according to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. In the same year, Charleston County also experienced the state’s highest rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities and the highest number of non-fatal DUI-related collisions. In 2019, Charleston automobile owners reported nearly 500 auto thefts, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Columbia

Residents of college town Columbia, located in Richland County, pay an average auto insurance rate $62 higher than the state average. In 2018, Richland County had the state’s third highest DUI-related traffic fatality rate, the third highest rate of non-fatal DUI-related collisions and ranked the third highest county for traffic collisions. Based on FBI statistics, nearly 900 auto thefts occurred in Columbia in 2019.

North Charleston

In 2019, 965 North Charleston automobile owners reported stolen vehicles. In 2018, the North Charleston Police Department investigated nearly 4,900 collisions, which involved more than 2,000 injuries, the highest collision-related injury rate in the state. These grim statistics underscore why North Charleston motorists pay annual auto insurance rates more than $200 higher a year than the state average.

Mount Pleasant

Although Mount Pleasant lies in Charleston County, which had the state’s second highest collision rate and the highest rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in 2018, residents pay an average of $1,555 per year for auto insurance, $13 below the state average. In 2016, Mount Pleasant automobile owners reported just 64 stolen vehicles, nearly 200 fewer than their neighbors in Charleston.

Rock Hill

Rock Hill residents pay an average annual car insurance rate of $1,504, $64 below the state average and $51 below the national average. While York County ranked the seventh highest county for collisions in 2018, fewer than 100 accidents involved serious injuries. York County experiences few DUI-related traffic fatalities – just eight in 2018 – and ranks 10th in the state for all fatal collisions.

South Carolina car insurance considerations

In 2018, 20.4 people per 100,000 died in South Carolina crashes, compared to 13.8 in North Carolina, 14.3 in Georgia and 15.4 in Tennessee, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The high likelihood of being involved in an accident punctuates the need for liability, collision and medical payments coverages.

But South Carolina automobile owners also face a high risk of storm damage to their vehicles. In 2018, Tropical storm Bertha slammed into South Carolina, producing heavy rainfall and 50 mph winds. The same year, Hurricane Florence raked across South Carolina dropping up to 24 inches of rain in some areas and producing wind gusts over 100 mph, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

The high risk of storm damage makes comprehensive coverage an important consideration for South Carolina car owners. If you’re still making payments on your vehicle, your lender will likely require you to carry comprehensive coverage. But even if you own your automobile outright, it may make good financial sense to protect it with comprehensive coverage.

South Carolina minimum liability requirements

South Carolina law doesn’t require you to purchase collision or comprehensive coverage, but certain liability coverages are compulsory, including:

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

South Carolina law also requires you to carry the same levels of uninsured motorist coverage. You’ll likely see these coverages expressed as 25/50/25, which represents the levels of coverages mentioned above. While South Carolina doesn’t require underinsured motorist coverage, it does require insurers to make the coverage available to all automobile owners.

How we chose the best car insurance providers in South Carolina

Insurance rates are important to all car owners, but you must also consider other factors when selecting a provider in South Carolina. We searched for providers that offer the best combination of rates, coverages, discounts and financial stability.

All our top picks have earned A+ or higher AM Best financial strength ratings — an important indicator of a carrier’s ability to meet its claims obligations.

We also chose providers that earned high claim satisfaction rankings in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Auto Insurance Study. Among our favorite companies, Geico and Auto-Owners both ranked particularly well.

Other car insurance providers in South Carolina to consider

Our five top choices for South Carolina carriers might not meet the needs of all South Carolina drivers. If you are looking for other options, consider one of these great insurers.

CompanyJ.D. Power Overall Claims Satisfaction Score/5AM BestDiscounts offeredAverage rate
Travelers3/5A++ (Superior)Affinity, payments, safe driver, student, green car$1,402
South Carolina Farm BureauNAA+ (Superior)Bundled policies, claims-free, company vehicle, driver training courses (adult and young drivers), farm vehicle, student, loyalty$1,676

Travelers

Travelers offers a full range of auto insurance coverages, plus a good selection of discounts to help reduce your premium. Traveler’s offers a fairly unique hybrid and electric vehicle discount, which rewards drivers who buy environmentally friendly automobiles. Travelers’ portfolio of insurance products can help protect your home, condo, boat and rental property.

South Carolina Farm Bureau

Besides protecting your everyday ride, South Carolina Farm Bureau can cover your antique or classic cars. Rural South Carolinians can turn to Farm Bureau for farm insurance, to protect everything from dairy operations to roadside vegetable stands. Farm Bureau also offers home and renters insurance, along with investment products to help you save money to buy a house or plan your retirement.

Methodology

Coverage Utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze quoted rates from thousands of zip codes across all 50 states, using the top 15 carriers by premiums written by state. Quoted rates are based around the profiles of a 30-year-old male and female with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage details:

  • $100k bodily injury liability per person
  • $300k bodily injury liability coverage per crash
  • $100k property damage liability coverage per crash
  • $500 collision coverage deductible
  • $500 comprehensive coverage deductible

Minimum coverages were applied to match state requirements. Both drivers used a new, financed 2018 Toyota Camry, commuting five days a week and driving 12,000 miles per year.

Michael Evans

Michael is an insurance writer for Coverage.com. He began writing professionally in the 1990s while working for the world’s first online mortgage broker, and today specializes in education, finance and retiring abroad. Michael has contributed to numerous digital and print publications, including Bankrate, Fox Business, International Living and Yahoo Finance, and is the author of Escape to Colombia, 1st Edition, a comprehensive guide to retiring to Colombia.

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