Auto Insurance Requirements in South Carolina

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South Carolina expects all drivers to carry auto insurance with at least the minimum coverage limits of $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident and $25,000 for property damage. This coverage protects other drivers if you're at fault for a car accident.

Once you register your vehicle with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), your information will be added to the state's Automobile Liability Insurance Reporting (ALIR) system.

South Carolina required car insurance coverage

Required min. limits

Bodily injury (BI)

$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident

Property damage (PD)

$25,000 per accident

Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)

$25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident
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South Carolina car insurance minimum requirements

A car insurance policy that meets the South Carolina requirements includes liability and uninsured motorist coverage, which protects you and other drivers.

Bodily injury (BI): This coverage pays for the other party's medical bills — up to $25,000 per person or $50,000 total, if more than one person is injured — when you cause an accident. Your policy will also cover legal expenses if the other driver sues you.

Property damage (PD): The other driver's car repair bills are covered by this if you cause an accident, up to $25,000. Your own car isn't covered, but you can choose to buy collision or comprehensive insurance to protect your own vehicle.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): Uninsured coverage pays for your own medical bills or property damage if you're hit by a driver who's uninsured. Drivers are required to get uninsured coverage when purchasing liability insurance. The coverage matches your BI limits — $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident — but carries a deductible.

Underinsured motorist: This coverage, which is optional, is used when the person at fault doesn't have enough coverage to pay for your expenses.

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South Carolina uninsured motorist registration

You can apply for "uninsured motorist registration." If approved, you won't need to buy car insurance to drive in South Carolina, but you will be required to pay a $600 annual fee. Also, you'll need to bear the financial burden of medical bills and property damage in the event you cause a car accident. As soon as you get a ticket or cause an accident, your South Carolina registration will be canceled, and you'll need to get a liability policy.

You'll need to meet a list of qualifications to get uninsured motorist registration, including:

  • You and any other driver in your household have been licensed to drive for at least three years.
  • You don't have an SR-22 (a document confirming you have purchased at least the minimum amount of auto liability insurance required by the state) on file at the time of the application.
  • You have not been involved in any accident nor had any traffic violations in the past three years.

Alternative proof of financial responsibility

The state may decide to suspend your license and registration if you're involved in an accident while uninsured. And, once you buy a policy, your insurer must file an SR-22 form on your behalf. If you don't want to purchase an auto insurance policy or register as an uninsured driver, here are some alternatives that the DMV may accept as proof of your financial responsibility:

  • Surety bond: You can purchase a surety bond that guarantees you'll cover liability expenses if you're at fault for a car accident. If you can't pay these expenses, the surety company will step in — but seek payment from you later. File a copy of the bond with the South Carolina DMV to get a certificate of insurance.
  • Real estate bond: You'll need to ask two South Carolina residents to sign a bond that says they'll pay for liability expenses if you cause a car accident. The residents will need to own property worth at least $150,000, and any property listed on the bond may be taken to satisfy a judgment. You'll need to get the bond approved by a county judge where the properties are located. When the court clerk officially files a record of the bond with the DMV, you will get a certificate as proof.
  • Cash/security deposit: You can file a deposit of $35,000 and earmark it for future liability expenses if you're at fault for a car accident. You may only use this as a means of proof if there were no prior unsatisfied judgments against you.

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