Auto Insurance Requirements in South Carolina

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: $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 in a car accident.

Once you register your vehicle with the state department of motor vehicles, your information will be added to the state's Automobile Liability Insurance Reporting (ALIR) system.

South Carolina required car insurance coverage

SC 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. Here's how that coverage 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 — when you cause an accident. Your policy will also cover legal expenses if the other driver sues you.

Property damage (PD): This coverage pays for the other driver's car repair bills if you cause an accident, up to $25,000. Your own car isn't covered — but you can choose to buy collision and comprehensive insurance to protect your own vehicle.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): This coverage pays for your own medical bills if you're hit by a driver who's either uninsured or doesn't have enough coverage to pay for your expenses. The coverage matches your BI limits — $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident — but carries a $200 deductible.

South Carolina uninsured motorist registration

You can pay a nonrefundable $550 annual fee and apply for an "uninsured motorist registration." If approved, you won't need to buy car insurance to drive in South Carolina. But you'll need to bear the financial burden of medical bills and property damage expenses 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 must get a liability policy.

You'll need to meet all of the following qualifications to get an uninsured motorist registration:

  • 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 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. The SR-22 is a document that proves your liability policy meets state requirements. 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 your proof of financial responsibility:

  • Surety bond: You can purchase a surety bond that guarantees you'll cover liability expenses if you're at fault in a car accident. If you can't pay for these expenses, the surety company will step in — but they'll 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 following a car accident you cause. 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 worth $35,000 and earmark it for future liability expenses if you're at fault in a car accident. You may only use this a means of proof if there were no prior unsatisfied judgments against you.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

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