Auto Insurance Basics

Who Has the Cheapest Auto Insurance Quotes in South Carolina?

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How much does car insurance cost on average in the Palmetto State, and how does it compare across different companies? We looked at quotes for two sample drivers as a benchmark across 45 major cities to see which companies had the cheapest auto insurance rates in South Carolina.

From Aiken to York, we found that average rates for our profiled drivers were $1,539 per year, but this ranged depending on which auto insurance companies we got quotes from. The cost to consumers was nearly $1,060 on average between the most expensive and the cheapest auto insurer in a city. That's why consumers should compare car insurance quotes - going with the most expensive company could have paid for three years of coverage at the cheapest company in SC. Type in your zip above for a list of auto insurance companies to begin shopping for the best rates.

Cheapest Auto Insurance in South Carolina

Which company had the best rates for car insurance in South Carolina? Our analysis looked at auto insurance quotes from 10 companies for a basic liability policy in 45 cities and towns scattered across the Palmetto State. Quotes were obtained based on a sample driver--a single 30 year old man with an excellent driving record in the past five years. Here are the companies with the 6  companies with the lowest auto insurance quotes:

This graph illustrates which car insurance companies in South Carolina had the best rates for our sample drivers.

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The companies mean for our sample driver was $1,225 a year for liability coverage, which is 26% lower than what the average company charged in the state. *To be eligible for Southern Farm Bureau's auto insurance services, drivers must join the South Carolina Farm Bureau, which has membership dues of $40. Here is the full list of companies we included in our analysis, and how their averages compared for our driver in SC:

RankInsurerAverage Premium 
1 Southern Farm Bureau $1,124
2 State Auto  $1,200
3 State Farm $1,262
4 Allstate $1,267
5 National Grange Mutual $1,274
6 Nationwide $1,409
South Carolina Average  $1,539
7 Encompass $1,561
9 GEICO $1,777
10 Safe Auto  $1,903
11 Bristol West $2,013
12 Safe Auto $2,136

Cheapest Car Insurance in South Carolina: by City

Overall, our top five cheapest cities in South Carolina had an average auto insurance cost of $1,345 a year for our sample drivers. Compared to the state average, costs were 14% lower among these locations, which were clustered in the western part of the state--close to the borders of Georgia and Tennessee. On the other hand, our top five most expensive places ran about $1,726 a year – that’s approximately 11% more expensive than costs in the average city in the Palmetto State. The five costliest cities cluster in the center of South Carolina, and tend to have higher crime than average compared to their neighbors. Nevertheless, regardless of where drivers live in South Carolina, they can obtain cheap car insurance simply by comparing quotes from three or more insurers underwriting in their neighborhood. This ensures a range of quotes that give consumers more information to avoid paying more than they'd like to for their liability coverage.

The table below shows which companies had the best rates for auto insurance in South Carolina, broken out by the 45 cities and towns. Keep in mind that the average annual rates and rankings below are based on our example drivers, which were used as to benchmark across the 12 companies we analyzed. 

CityTop 3 Auto InsurerPremium 
Aiken State Auto $1,008
Southern Farm Bureau $1,068
National Grange Mutual $1,140
Anderson Southern Farm Bureau $960
Nationwide $1,080
State Auto $1,116
Barnwell Southern Farm Bureau $1,164
National Grange Mutual $1,248
State Farm $1,248
Beaufort State Auto $1,152
Southern Farm Bureau $1,236
State Farm $1,296
Bennettsville Southern Farm Bureau $1,152
Allstate $1,248
State Auto $1,272
Bluffton State Auto $1,152
Southern Farm Bureau $1,164
State Farm $1,296
Camden Southern Farm Bureau $1,152
State Auto $1,248
National Grange Mutual $1,260
Charleston State Auto $1,308
Southern Farm Bureau $1,368
State Farm $1,392
Cheraw Southern Farm Bureau $1,044
Allstate $1,248
State Farm $1,308
Chester Southern Farm Bureau $1,152
Allstate $1,248
State Auto $1,284
Clinton Southern Farm Bureau $1,104
State Auto $1,104
National Grange Mutual $1,140
Clover State Auto $1,152
State Farm $1,164
Southern Farm Bureau $1,200
Columbia State Auto $1,092
Southern Farm Bureau $1,200
National Grange Mutual $1,212
Dillon Southern Farm Bureau $1,248
Allstate $1,284
State Auto $1,368
Edgefield Southern Farm Bureau $1,020
National Grange Mutual $1,176
State Farm $1,188
Florence Southern Farm Bureau $1,164
State Auto $1,224
Allstate $1,320
Fort Mill State Auto $1,152
State Farm $1,164
Southern Farm Bureau $1,188
Gaffney Southern Farm Bureau $1,140
State Auto $1,140
State Farm $1,200
Georgetown Southern Farm Bureau $1,200
National Grange Mutual $1,260
State Farm $1,260
Greenville Southern Farm Bureau $1,092
State Auto $1,116
National Grange Mutual $1,236
Greenwood Southern Farm Bureau $1,032
Nationwide $1,080
State Auto $1,128
Greer Southern Farm Bureau $1,020
State Auto $1,044
National Grange Mutual $1,236
Hartsville Southern Farm Bureau $1,176
Allstate $1,332
State Auto $1,356
Hilton Head Island Southern Farm Bureau $1,044
State Auto $1,140
State Farm $1,296
Kingstree Southern Farm Bureau $1,236
State Auto $1,260
National Grange Mutual $1,260
State Farm $1,260
Lancaster National Grange Mutual $1,272
Southern Farm Bureau $1,308
State Auto $1,308
Laurens Southern Farm Bureau $1,092
State Auto $1,128
National Grange Mutual $1,140
Lexington State Auto $1,032
Southern Farm Bureau $1,080
National Grange Mutual $1,212
Manning Southern Farm Bureau $1,128
National Grange Mutual $1,260
State Farm $1,260
Myrtle Beach Southern Farm Bureau $1,104
State Farm $1,260
State Auto $1,284
Newberry Southern Farm Bureau $1,008
State Auto $1,164
State Farm $1,188
Orangeburg Southern Farm Bureau $1,212
National Grange Mutual $1,236
State Auto $1,284
Allstate $1,284
Pageland Southern Farm Bureau $1,152
Allstate $1,260
State Farm $1,308
Pickens Southern Farm Bureau $960
State Farm $1,140
Allstate $1,164
Rock Hill Southern Farm Bureau $1,164
State Auto $1,164
State Farm $1,164
Saluda Southern Farm Bureau $1,056
State Farm $1,188
National Grange Mutual $1,236
Seneca Southern Farm Bureau $936
Allstate $1,116
State Farm $1,140
Simpsonville Southern Farm Bureau $984
State Auto $1,116
Allstate $1,236
Spartanburg State Auto $1,092
State Farm $1,188
Southern Farm Bureau $1,212
Sumter National Grange Mutual $1,212
State Auto $1,236
Southern Farm Bureau $1,260
Union Southern Farm Bureau $1,140
State Auto $1,200
State Farm $1,200
Walhalla Southern Farm Bureau $972
Allstate $1,116
State Farm $1,140
Williamston Southern Farm Bureau $996
Nationwide $1,080
State Auto $1,116
Winnsboro Southern Farm Bureau $1,212
Allstate $1,248
National Grange Mutual $1,308
York Southern Farm Bureau $1,092
State Auto $1,128
State Farm $1,164

Southern Farm Bureau offers auto insurance coverage for members of the South Carolina Farm Bureau, which requires registration and membership dues of $40.

Columbia, SC

Columbia is the state's most populous city, and is home to approximately 133,000 residents and 2,000 animals. The latter reside in the Riverbanks Zoological Park, which is one of the rare zoos to embrace cage-free natural habitats for their inhabitants. Nearly 50% of the U.S.'s soldiers have trained and lived in Fort Jackson at one point in their service. When it comes to auto insurance costs, our sample drivers saw quotes averaging $1,601 a year, which was only 4% higher than their statewide average.

Who has the best auto insurance rates in Columbia? State Auto and Southern Farm Bureau rank as the 1st and 2nd most inexpensive insurers. Getting quotes from from National Grange Mutual, State Farm and Allstate are also certain to get you a good deal, as they were the next three cheapest car insurance companies in Columbia, SC. Rates at these five companies averaged 1,280 a year, which was $321 or 25% less each year compared to what the typical carrier charged in the city.

This graph outlines the five companies in Columbia with the best rates for auto insurance

Charleston, SC

South Carolina has been heralded by many publications as one of the best travel destinations in the United States. From the city's historic significance in the Civil War to its beautiful architecture, there are a lot of attractions for visitors and residents alike. Among other notables, the first theater in the U.S. was established in Charleston, and that tradition of arts is still continued today, where a number of art and theater institutions are situated on Charleston's streets. Interstate Highways 26 and 95, U.S. Highway 17, and Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge are some of the main thoroughfares connecting the city's commuters from one end to another.

Cheap auto insurance in Charleston is attainable through some quote shopping. Our sample drivers saw on average annual rates of $1,641, which places the city 7% more expensive compared to the state average. Nevertheless, going with a quote from either one of the three companies with the best rates in Charleston could save our drivers 21%. Those three companies would be State Auto, Southern Farm Bureau and State Farm, whose policies cost a mean of $1,356 per year for basic liability coverage. 

This chart ranks the five companies in Charleston with the lowest annual rates, and compares them to the citywide average

Rock Hill, SC

With over 66,000 citizens living within its borders, Rock Hill ranks as the fifth largest city in the Palmetto State. A few natural disasters have fallen on the city, including Hurricane Hugo and the 2004 Blizzard, which resulted in costly damages to residents' vehicles or homes that insurance companies would have paid out. Luckily for Rock Hill, those catastrophes were a decade or three ago, and auto insurance rates in city are better off compared to the rest of the state. On average, our example drivers saw rates of $1,475 a year to insure an automobile with basic liability protection. That's 4% lower than the rest of the state!

When it comes to low-cost car insurance in Rock Hill, there are still opportunities to whittle down annual premiums. For example, the best auto insurance quotes for our sample drivers were $1,164 a year from three companies: Southern Farm Bureau, State Auto and State Farm. This represented a reduction of $311 or 25% against the going rate from insurers in the city. 

This chart lays out some of the car insurance companies in Rock Hill with the lowest rates for our sample drivers

Greenville, SC

Just forty miles away from Seneca, is Greenville, the city with the third lowest costs in our auto insurance study. Greenville has been similarly recognized for its rapid development, and strong job development. A number of major roads and highways intersect in the city including Interstates 85 and 385, and U.S. Route 276 and 29 which makes it convenient to commute around. The city's commuters also have access to the beautiful Liberty Bridge, which is a cable suspension bridge that almost appears to be floating mid-air. On top of that, the average cost of auto insurance in Greenville is a relatively low $1,404 per year, just 9% under the South Carolina mean.

Drivers looking for affordable rates for auto insurance in Greenville should include Southern Farm Bureau, State Auto and National Grange Mutual when they're looking for quotes. Together, the three companies' rates dented our typical drivers' wallets the least, and actually equated to a 22% discount compared to the going mean in the city. That figure is based on an annual average of $1,148 among the three companies, which is $256 better compared to the Greenville average. Bear in mind though, that to get a quote for auto insurance from the Southern Farm Bureau, you'll have to be a member of the South Carolina Farm Bureau, where dues are $40 out of pocket. 

Greenville's auto insurance providers with the five cheapest rates are displayed in this graph, and compared to the city average

Sumter, SC

More than 40,000 people and one of the largest gingko farms call Sumter home, placing the city as the among the top ten most populous places in the Plametto State. Sumter had its roots as a railroad repair center, and expanded into a major railroad transportation hub in the 20th century. The Shaw Air Force Base, site of the 20th Fighter Wing, is located in the northwest region of Sumter.

When it comes insuring insuring their vehicles, National Grange Mutual, State Auto and Southern Farm Bureau make up the three companies with the best rates for car insurance. Annual premiums for our sample driver was $1,236-- 26% or $446 lower at these three carriers compared to the typical insurer in our analysis. Of course, drivers should secure their own quotes from a range of at least three companies in order to determine which ones have the best rates for them.

Here are the five companies with the best rates for basic liability protection in Sumter, SC.

Florence, SC

Florence ranked as the #2 Most Expensive City in South Carolina based on annual auto insurance costs of $1,733. At these rates, drivers living in Florence pay about 12% more than the average South Carolinian. A number of professional athletes have called Florence home, including a number of NFL and MLB players, and a few NASCAR racecar drivers: Buddy Baker, Ron Barfield, Jr., and Cale Yarborough. 

We recommend Southern Farm Bureau, State Auto and Allstate for drivers in Florence looking for cheap car insurance quotes. Out of the twelve insurers, our drivers saw the lowest rates in Florence among these three companies. The mean annual premium was $1,236 for a policy - 28% lower than the citywide average of $1,733. For a larger list of companies to choose from, please see our graph below, which shows the top companies with the best rates in Florence, as well as the mean premium our typical drivers saw there.

Florence's five auto insurance companies with the best rates are presented in this graph and compared to the city mean

Simpsonville, SC

This city of 18,000 has been recognized by various publications as one of the “Best Towns for Families”, and “25 Best Affordable Cities”. To these accolades we’ll add one more: Simpsonville ranks as the cheapest city in South Carolina based on car insurance costs. Residents in this small town can see an average cost of insurance of $1,358 a year for their vehicles – 12% more affordable than the state average.

Which companies have the lowest quotes for insuring a vehicle in Simpsonville? The three providers with the least expensive rates were Southern Farm Bureau, State Auto and Allstate for our sample drivers. At an average price of $1,112 a year, the three companies were 22% or $246 cheaper than what the typical insurer charged there. Just a note though - Southern Farm Bureau requires membership dues through the South Carolina Farm Bureau to be eligible for their insurance products.

Here are the five companies in Simpsonville with the least expensive annual rates based on our sample driver study

Seneca, SC

Coming in second on our list is Seneca, a city located in Oconee County at the westernmost tip of South Carolina. Seneca is centrally located between a number of institutions of higher education, including Clemson University and Furman University. It costs on average $1,322 each year to insure a car with basic protection for liability, which is about 14% cheaper than the average city in South Carolina.

Southern Farm Bureau, Allstate and State Farm had the three best rates in Seneca when it comes to automobile liability protection. Even with Seneca's lower than average costs, by getting a quote from one of these three insurers, our sample drivers were able to reduce their annual insurance costs further comparatively by $258 or 24%.

This graph ranks the five companies in Seneca, SC with the best rates for auto insurance

Walhalla, SC

Walhalla, a city of 4,000, ranks as our third cheapest city for car insurance. By some translations, Walhalla’s name means “Paradise”, and it’s easy to see why the city was named this with the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in the Appalachians close by. Annual costs for car insurance here run on average 14% lower than the typical South Carolina city at $1,322 a year.

Laurens, SC

Rounding out the top ten cities with the cheapest auto insurance costs is Laurens. Laurens is criss-crossed by U.S. Routes 221 and 76. Founded in 1785, Laurens is located in the Piedmont / Upstate region of South Carolina. It once housed former President Andrew Johnson’s tailoring business; today, it is home to 9,000 residents. Drivers in Laurens can find that the average auto insurance rates run $1,420 a year. 

Dillon, SC

Ranking first on our list of the most expensive cities in the Palmetto State is Dillon. On top of the US Route 301, South Carolina Highways 34 and 9, and Interstate 95, planned expansion along Interstate 73 will help to expand commuting options for the 7,000 residents in Dillon. Insuring a car in Dillon can typically cost drivers $1,745 a year – 13% higher than the state average. 

Manning, SC

The city in South Carolina where drivers pay the seventh most expensive rates for auto insurance is Manning. Manning measures about two square miles in size, and is situated along a well-traveled corridor of the Interstate 95. When it comes to car insurance, costs here can amount to $1,695 a year, about 11% more expensive versus the state average.

Bennettsville, SC

Designated by the State of South Carolina as the “first” Great Town, Bennettsville has a number of gracious Victorian houses and estates. The actor Aziz Ansari and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, have lived in Bennettsville at one point. With average annual costs of $1,666, the city also ranks as the ninth most expensive city for car insurance.

Winnsboro, SC

Winnsboro, a city in Fairfield County, ties with Georgetown for the title of the #3 Most Expensive Citiy in South Carolina for car insurance. It’s centrally located – residents are just half an hour’s drive away from the capitol of Columbia, and the University of South Carolina. Winnsboro drivers can see costs that are about 12% higher than the state average: $1,721 a year.

Georgetown, SC

Georgetown ranks as the fifth most expensive city in South Carolina with average rates of $1,708 – on par with Winnsboro, SC. Located at the mouth of Winyah Bay, Georgetown is the third oldest city, and one of the oldest trading ports in South Carolina.

Average Cost of Insurance in South Carolina: by City

On average, our sample drivers in South Carolina can see annual rates of $1,539 for car insurance (basic liability protection of 50/100/50). As we've discussed previously, the cost will fluctuate depending on where prospective policyholders live and drive, however. Here are the annual rates for the forty five cities in our analysis, from the cheapest to the most expensive locations using our sample motorists as a benchmark.

This graph presents how much it costs on average to insure a vehicle in South Carolina, and ranks each city from cheapest to the most expensive

South Carolina Auto Insurance Coverage Requirements

Drivers in South Carolina are legally required to carry the state's mandatory minimum auto insurance limits. Here are the mandatory requirements for the state:

  • $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident for Bodily Injury Liability
  • $25,000 per accident for Property Damage
  • $25,000 per person / $50,000 per accident for Uninsured Motorists

Best Auto Insurance Companies in South Carolina

One quantitative metric we have available to evaluate which companies have the best car insurance is the amount of complaints received. Using information collected from the South Carolina Department of Insurance, we took a look at complaints and premiums for the most popular insurers in the Palmetto state and compared them to their share of business to derive the complaint index. Essentially, the smaller a company's portion of complaints compared to their business, the better the company is performing in terms fo customer satisfaction, we infer. According to our calculations, the Hartford, State Auto, ANPAC, and Selective Insurance were the top-rated car insurance carriers in South Carolina. Below is a table of car insurance companies ranked from the lowest (best) to highest complaint index.

Company Total Premiums # of Complaints Complaint Index
Hartford $17,953,086 0 0.00
State Auto 13,286,727 0 0.00
ANPAC 11,250,085 0 0.00
Selective Insurance 8,076,656 0 0.00
Travelers 89,185,938 1 0.27
South Carolina Farm Bureau 113,625,675 2 0.43
Progressive 164,305,055 3 0.44
Auto-Owners 48,426,673 1 0.50
Liberty Mutual 121,205,808 3 0.60
Nationwide  222,669,122 6 0.65
Allstate 340,243,557 10 0.71
Dairyland 23,238,659 1 1.04
Victoria 20,698,196 1 1.17
State Farm 695,727,466 34 1.19
GEICO 277,200,675 15 1.31
USAA 218,042,390 12 1.33
Esurance 24,089,531 2 2.01
GAINSCO 11,172,536 1 2.17
21st Century 11,092,962 1 2.19
Bristol West 10,548,068 1 2.30
MetLife 10,315,865 1 2.35
Horace Mann 9,189,691 1 2.64
First Acceptance 15,660,437 2 3.10
Direct General 22,567,403 6 6.45
Inverness Partners 10,395,703 3 7.00
ACCC 8,548,370 3 8.51

How We Conducted the Study

Annual premiums in the South Carolina study are based on rates for a single 30 year old male. Each driver owns and drives a 2011 Toyota Camry about 12,000 miles a year between his office and residence. Their driving records and credit histories are good – in particular, they haven’t had any crashes, accidents, or moving violations in the most recent five years they’ve been driving.

South Carolina state requires three types of liability coverage in auto insurance policies in the state: bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured motorist. The minimums under South Carolina’s tort system for both liability and uninsured motorist coverage are: $25,000 per person up to $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident - roughly half of the coverage assumed in our analysis. Included in our study are national insurers such as GEICO, Allstate, and State Farm, as well as regional underwriters such as Southern Farm Bureau and Safe Auto.

Type Study Limits
Bodily Injury Liability $50,000 per person, and
up to $100,000 per accident
Property Damage $25,000 per accident
Uninsured Motorist $50,000 per person, and
up to $100,000 per accident

Our team of analysts reviewed rates for 45 cities in the Palmetto State, all of which are listed below in alphabetical order, along with their average annual rates and performance versus the state average.

City Premium Percent Difference From State Average 
Seneca $1,322 14%
Greenwood $1,339 13%
Walhalla $1,345 13%
Simpsonville $1,358 12%
Aiken $1,364 11%
Anderson $1,384 10%
Pickens $1,385 10%
Greenville $1,404 9%
Greer $1,409 8%
Williamston $1,418 8%
Laurens $1,420 8%
Hilton Head Island $1,444 6%
York $1,448 6%
Clinton $1,458 5%
Rock Hill $1,475 4%
Fort Mill $1,480 4%
Spartanburg $1,481 4%
Bluffton $1,482 4%
Clover $1,496 3%
Beaufort $1,504 2%
Edgefield $1,516 1%
Newberry $1,536 0%
Saluda $1,537 0%
South Carolina Average  $1,539 0%
Gaffney $1,555 -1%
Lexington $1,561 -1%
Cheraw $1,569 -2%
Camden $1,586 -3%
Union $1,589 -3%
Columbia $1,601 -4%
Myrtle Beach $1,605 -4%
Chester $1,607 -4%
Orangeburg $1,625 -6%
Barnwell $1,625 -6%
Pageland $1,633 -6%
Charleston $1,641 -7%
Lancaster $1,649 -7%
Bennettsville $1,666 -8%
Sumter $1,683 -9%
Manning $1,696 -10%
Georgetown $1,708 -11%
Hartsville $1,712 -11%
Kingstree $1,719 -12%
Winnsboro $1,721 -12%
Florence $1,733 -13%
Dillon $1,745 -13%

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