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South Carolina drivers that have been convicted of serious violations, such as a DUI, or who have had their licenses suspended may be required to purchase SR-22 insurance. An SR-22 insurance policy is simply an auto insurance policy that meets the South Carolina minimum liability requirements, but the insurer also files an SR-22 form of financial responsibility on your behalf. SR-22 insurance rates are often significantly higher, though this is primarily due to the conviction that required you to get an SR22—the filing fee charged by insurers is usually less than $50.
SR-22 Insurance in South Carolina
If you've had your license suspended or have been convicted of a serious violation in South Carolina, you may be required to file an SR-22 form of financial responsibility in order to reinstate your driving privileges. The SR-22 form acts as proof to the SC DMV that you carry, at minimum, the liability insurance coverage required by state law:
- $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person injured in an accident
- $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 property damage coverage
You aren't allowed to file an SR-22 yourself, an auto insurance company licensed to do business in South Carolina needs to do it on your behalf. So, even if you move out of the state, you'll need to purchase coverage from an insurer that also writes policies in South Carolina in order to maintain your SR-22 filing and driving privileges.
Once your insurer has submitted the SR-22 form, the DMV will send you a letter confirming it and you'll be able to drive legally again, assuming any other terms of your conviction have been met. In South Carolina, drivers are usually required to maintain SR-22 insurance for three years, though this could extend longer depending on your conviction or if you have a lapse in coverage.
Your insurer is required to notify the South Carolina DMV if you cancel or fail to renew your policy and will submit an SR-26 form to the state notifying them. If your SR22 insurance lapses, you will lose your driving privileges again, may be required to pay a fine in order to reinstate them, and your cost of insurance will likely increase due to the lapse in coverage. We recommend you renew your policy early—at least a month in advance—for the period of time you're required to carry SR-22 insurance in order to avoid any gaps in coverage and the accompanying fees. Or, if you intend to change insurers, you should purchase a policy and get confirmation that your new insurer filed an SR-22 before terminating your existing coverage.
After you've carried SR-22 insurance for at least three years, or the set period of time, you should contact the South Carolina DMV or a local licensing office to confirm that the requirement is completed. Once this is confirmed, you can contact your insurer to notify them that the form no longer needs to filed on your behalf.
When Would You Be Required to Get SR-22 Insurance in SC?
Drivers in South Carolina may be mandated by the court to obtain SR-22 insurance in order to reinstate their license or driving privileges if they've been revoked. This can occur for a number of reasons, including if:
- You have been convicted multiple times of driving without insurance or otherwise being required to be on mandatory insurance supervision.
- You were involved in an accident and failed to fully pay for damages that the court determined you to be responsible for.
- Your license was suspended due to unsatisfied judgments.
- Your license was revoked or restricted.
- You were convicted of a DUI. For a first DUI offense in South Carolina, you may be required to carry a provisional license for several months, during which you'll also need to have SR-22 insurance to drive legally.
If you're uncertain about the status of your license, you can check if it has been suspended in South Carolina by going to the DMV's website. The DMV provides a free driving record search, and you can determine if your license is suspended by entering your drivers license number, Social Security number and birth date.
Cost of SR-22 Insurance in South Carolina
The cost of SR-22 insurance in South Carolina will generally be higher than that of a standard auto insurance policy. This is primarily because the violations that would cause you to be required to get an SR-22, such as a DUI conviction or driving without insurance, also cause you to be considered a high-risk driver by insurers. After a DUI, for instance, auto insurance rates often increase by about 30% to 50%, depending on your insurer and where you live. So, if your premiums were $800 per year in Charleston, you could end up paying over $1,040 per year for SR-22 insurance after a DUI conviction. Insurers also charge a one-time fee to file an SR-22, but this typically ranges in cost from $20 to $50.
In order to get the cheapest SR-22 insurance in South Carolina, we recommend you compare quotes from at least three different insurers. Not all auto insurance companies offer SR-22 insurance, so you may not be able to obtain coverage from the company that previously insured you.
Non-Owner SR22 Insurance in South Carolina
If you don't own a car, you'll still be required to carry SR-22 insurance in South Carolina in order to reinstate your driving privileges if they've been suspended. But, instead of a traditional auto insurance policy, you can add an SR-22 filing to a nonowners car insurance policy. Nonowners SR-22 insurance is generally cheaper than owners or operators coverage, since the policies only include liability coverage and the insurer expects you'll drive less frequently than a vehicle-owner.
Note that you won't be able to get a nonowners policy if you have regular access to a particular car, even if you don't own it, and you'll need to get a standard SR-22 insurance policy. For example, if your roommate owns a car and lets you drive it most weekends, you'd be considered to have regular access to the vehicle, and you'd either need to buy your own operators SR-22 insurance or be added to your roommate's policy.