South Carolina Car Insurance Laws

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Renata Balasco

Senior Content Strategist

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

Auto insurance requirements in South Carolina

If you plan on driving in the state of South Carolina, you are required to carry the mandatory insurance minimums. These limits are put into place to protect both you and other drivers. Also, all drivers must carry proof of insurance when driving, which must be shown to law enforcement officials when requested. Have a look at the insurance required in South Carolina as well as a breakdown of what it covers.

Minimum Liability Coverage: 25/50/25 Uninsured Motorist Coverage: 25/50/25
$25,000 for bodily injury per person $25,000 bodily injury per person
$50,000 for bodily injury per accident $50,000 bodily injury per accident
$25,000 for property damage per accident $25,000 property damage per accident

Keep in mind that a leasing company or lienholder can require physical damage coverage — sometimes referred to as full coverage — to protect their investment by covering your vehicle.

Liability coverage in South Carolina

Liability coverage is legally required in South Carolina. This coverage is split into bodily injury and property damage coverages. Bodily injury coverage pays for injuries and lost wages that you cause to another driver or their passengers. Property damage coverage pays for damage you cause to the other driver’s property. Liability insurance never pays for your injuries or damages to your property. To cover these expenses, you would need to add further coverage. 

What are state-mandated car insurance limits in South Carolina?

Nearly every state requires a certain amount of insurance coverage for all motorists. Liability coverage limits are determined by each individual state and normally split into three categories. In South Carolina, the minimum is listed as 25/50/25. The first two numbers refer to bodily injury per-person and per-accident, respectively, while the last number refers to property damage.[1]

  • Per-person coverage is the most that a car insurance company will pay for a single person that you injure in an auto accident.
  • Bodily injury coverage per-accident is the most that your insurer will pay for all injured parties in an accident in an accident caused by you. 
  • Property damage per-accident refers to the maximum dollar amount an insurer will pay for damage that you cause to another party’s property in an accident.

These numbers reflect the minimum limits required in South Carolina. Higher coverage amounts are available via most companies.

Uninsured motorist coverage is split in much the same way. Therefore, it only covers bodily injury per person and per accident for you or those in your vehicle injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Do South Carolina’s required car insurance minimums provide adequate coverage?

Carrying only the state-mandated minimums is never recommended, as this leaves you and your assets at risk. South Carolina’s liability limits are roughly average when compared to most states, though this does not mean that you are adequately covered. Considering how quickly medical expenses can accrue, raising your limits is almost necessary.

It’s highly recommended that all drivers increase these limits in order to avoid being stuck footing the bill out-of-pocket. This can usually be done for a relatively small increase in your insurance premiums. Also, if you want to protect your vehicle, adding physical coverage is the only option.

South Carolina’s penalties for driving without proof of insurance

Those who drive without insurance in South Carolina are guilty of a misdemeanor and can face the following consequences. 

  • License and registration suspended
  • $100 to $400 reinstatement fee
  • $600 uninsured motorist fine

The state also imposes a fee of $550 dollars to register a previously uninsured vehicle. Furthermore, you must also pay $5 for every day in which your insurance coverage has lapsed.

Penalties increase after an initial offense, and if a driver continues to drive uninsured without paying the reinstatement fee of $550, they can be subject to a misdemeanor charge that may include jail time of anywhere between 30 days and six months.[2]

Optional car insurance coverage in South Carolina

South Carolina law requires liability and uninsured motorist coverage to be legal. However, you may want to consider these additional coverage options to expand your protection. 

  • ComprehensiveThis coverage protects your vehicle from non-collision perils such as theftweather damage, and even hitting an animal.
  • CollisionIf you collide with another vehicle or object, this coverage will cover damages to your vehicle.
  • Loan/Lease PayoffThis coverage is often referred to as gap coverage. It can be very helpful for those financing a vehicle that has been totaled, as it covers the difference between your vehicle’s actual cash value and the amount you still owe on the loan.
  • Medical PaymentsMedical payments coverage (med pay) steps in to help with medical expenses accrued by you or those in your vehicle in an accident. 
  • Rental Car ReimbursementIf your car is unable to be driven, this coverage helps cover costs associated with getting a rental until your vehicle is fixed. 
  • Roadside AssistanceThe companies that offer this coverage may differ in the types of coverage provided, but roadside assistance usually helps with things like battery jumps, towing expenses, and flat tire fixes. 

South Carolina is a diminished value state

South Carolina is a diminished value state, meaning drivers are allowed to recover diminished value from the at-fault party’s insurance company. When your vehicle experiences an accident, even if it is fully repaired to its pre-loss condition, the resale value decreases. The involvement in a collision makes your car’s value lesser than similar vehicles that have not experienced an accident. A diminished value claim allows you to recoup the losses you might experience when selling your car. 

Since South Carolina is one of the 15 states that offer compensation for diminution in value, you may file by contacting the at-fault party’s insurer. In order to file a diminished value claim in South Carolina, certain requirements must be met:

  • You are not entitled to compensation if you were the party at fault in the accident
  • Documentation will be required to process your claim. Make sure you can provide photos, records of repairs made, and proof of the value of your vehicle by a trusted source. 
  • In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a diminished value claim is 3 years. 
  • South Carolina does have uninsured motorist coverage for diminished value claims.

Why adhering to South Carolina’s car insurance requirements is important

While no one expects to be in an accident, being prepared is always a good idea. If you choose to go without insurance, you can expect to face legal penalties and will be held liable for any damages you cause. To avoid this, not only should you get liability insurance, but you should increase those limits as much as you can reasonably afford. Also, consider adding some of the above coverages to help with other possible expenses after an accident.

Shopping around is the best way to find an affordable policy that fits your specific needs. You can get free insurance quotes from The Zebra and compare prices and coverage options side by side, making your search much easier.

Protect your car with the right coverage at the best value.

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.