The Best South Carolina Homeowners Insurance Companies
South Carolina’s average annual premiums for homeowners insurance are right in line with the national average — $1284 per year for an HO-3 policy, compared to $1,173 nationwide. That said, how much you’ll pay can vary a lot depending on your home’s size, your assets, and your address. Use our tool to find your best rates:
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From the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to 187-miles of scenic coastline, the Palmetto State is one pretty place. But, factor in South Carolina’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its history with hurricanes, and protecting that home won’t come cheap: The average homeowners insurance premium in South Carolina is $1,269. That’s roughly $100 more a year than the national average ($1,173) and up to $200 more than the averages in neighboring states like Georgia ($1,152) and North Carolina ($1,075).
The good news: There’s a slew of well-respected providers who can help make sure you’re covered. The even better news? We’ve narrowed it down to the top five best homeowners insurance companies in South Carolina. Use the quote tool above to compare rates personalized to your area.
How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance in South Carolina
We took the same approach as our review on nationwide companies. First, we determined the largest home insurance companies in South Carolina by market share. Then, we called each insurer’s customer service agents and completed a number of online quotes. We researched their available discounts, coverage options, claims ratings, and financial fitness — comparing report cards handed down by reputable financial research companies like Standard & Poor’s, A.M. Best, and Moody’s. Here’s how each faired.
South Carolina Homeowners Insurance Reviews
Allstate is the gold standard when it comes to online customer experience and available discounts. Of all the companies we looked at, it was the only one to provide an upfront, in-depth analysis of potential risks by region via its Common & Costly Claims tool. How it works: Input your ZIP code and it’ll spit out the top five most common claims and perils in your area, making it easier to assess your coverage needs. For example, regular break-ins might indicate the importance of a centralized burglar alarm. An added bonus? Allstate offers a discount for homeowners that install alarms and deadbolt locks.
In terms of discounts, Allstate has a lot of them — 18 to be exact and more than any other provider we surveyed. Liberty Mutual is the next closest contender with 15. Among the more unique money saving features are a welcome discount for new customers (10% off your premium for your first two years), a discount for the 55+ crowd (particularly relevant for the state’s growing retiree community), and an early shopper discount that could equate to an extra 10% off your premium if you sign up for a new Allstate policy before your current one expires.
When it comes to financial stability, Allstate is respectable — earning Aa3 from Moody’s, A+ from A.M. Best, and AA- from Standard & Poor’s — but the company does rank lower than its competitors in overall claims satisfaction. In Consumer Reports’ national homeowners insurance survey, it received a score of 80, which is still considered “very good,” but not quite on par with Nationwide’s leading score of 86. However, when looking at the overall rankings handed down by JD Power, Allstate garners a 3/5, the same score as Liberty Mutual, Travelers, and Nationwide (although Nationwide did get a 5/5 for claims). What does all of this mean? You may have to jump through more hoops when filing a claim, but the trade-off could be significantly lower rates.
Liberty Mutual is a solid provider that offers quality coverage and consistent customer service. It earned the second highest reader score in Consumer Reports’ national homeowners insurance survey and top marks for timely claim payment and accurate estimates of damages.
It’s second only to Allstate when it comes to discounts — if you’re an alumnus of the University of South Carolina, there’s a discount for that! — and no matter how many questions we asked, its agents were friendly and knowledgeable. The website is easy to navigate with helpful tools like a basic coverage calculator and state-specific resources, but one of the biggest perks of being a Liberty Mutual customer is access to its emergency home repairs service. On call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, it provides peace of mind in case of an unexpected event.
Liberty Mutual didn’t receive as high of marks as its competitors. It received an “excellent” rating from A.M. Best, while the other four companies received a “superior.” It’s nothing to lose sleep over (especially given its high customer claims satisfaction), but still something to consider.
Almost immediately, Nationwide stands out for exceptional claims service. Consumer Reports’ national homeowners insurance survey awarded the company an impressive reader score of 86, as did JD Power with an almost unheard of claims score of 5/5. So, why didn’t Nationwide shoot to the top of our list? Outside of the claims experience it is, well, average. Except for a gated community discount, money-saving offers were run of the mill. Its website is well designed, but the FAQ section is meager (whereas, Allstate has entire articles and an animated video dedicated to niche topics like termite damage).
More than anything, we found it difficult to get a quote. On three separate occasions we attempted to fill out the online form, but couldn’t get past the second or third page before being blocked and receiving a prompt to call an agent. Maybe it’s because we triggered one of their “red flags” outlined on the start page — is your home registered as historic? Do you operate a farm or business out of the home? — but that seemed unlikely. So, we went another route and used the handy price comparison tool offered through the South Carolina Department of Insurance. We pulled quotes for different policy types (one for $150,000 in coverage and another for $350,000) in five counties and found that Nationwide’s premiums were consistently more expensive. In Charleston, for example, Nationwide was $3,000 more a year than Allstate — yikes.
If you don’t mind working things out over the phone (in our experience the average wait time was about 20 minutes) or if you anticipate needing to file claims often, Nationwide could be a good, albeit pricier, fit.
If there’s one thing we know for sure about State Farm, it’s that it’s not going under anytime soon. In terms of financial fitness, it is the cream of the crop — Moody’s awarded it the second highest distinction (Aa1), meaning it is “of high quality and subject to very low credit risk.” The same goes for A.M. Best, with a score of A++, and Standard & Poor’s AA.
It fared well in other areas, too. JD Power awarded a 4/5 in overall claims experience, while it received an 82 from Consumer Reports’ national homeowners insurance survey. Its website offers easy-to-understand guides and walks you through determining coverage needs and the difference between replacement cost and market value. Its agents were also quick to answer our calls and never pressured us into getting a quote.
State Farm’s reliability and no-frills approach is likely why it’s the leader when it comes to South Carolina’s market share. In all, it underwrites 15% of all homeowners insurance policies sold in the state. Allstate, by comparison, accounts for 8%.
Travelers and State Farm are similar in a lot of ways (although Travelers isn’t as strong financially). They both tied in Consumer Reports’ national homeowners insurance survey with a score of 82, and offer the same number of endorsements and discounts.
What sets Travelers apart is its website. Our favorite feature is its OpenHouse tool, which generates free home history reports — like CARFAX, but for your house — and provides information on neighborhood trends, past repairs, and even how much the house sold for prior to you owning it. We appreciated the way it organizes information — the FAQ page is broken down by “Policy Basics,” “Premium & Discounts,” and “Coverage & Limits.” Travelers is also awarded “Best for Green Homes” in our nationwide homeowners insurance review, so if you have a LEED-certified home, be sure to get a quote and capitalize on its 5% discount.
Your premium in South Carolina will vary based on location.
South Carolina isn’t a terribly large state (you can drive across it in roughly 3.5 hours), but there’s still a big difference between what you’ll pay in Spartanburg versus Charleston. Here’s how two different Nationwide policies compare across five counties.
|$150,000 home value||$543||$694||$2,223||$744||$481|
|$350,000 home value||$1,037||$1,375||$5,006||$1,406||$901|
Quotes based on a 10-year-old masonry-style home with no claims in the past 5 years and a homeowner with good credit. Source: South Carolina Department of Insurance.
What surprised us most was the difference between Charleston and Myrtle Beach (located in Horry county). Both are coastal cities, about two hours apart, yet the premiums differ by thousands of dollars. There are a couple explanations for this: First, the average home price in Myrtle Beach is about 49% cheaper than properties in Charleston, where the median home value is $255,600 (the state-wide median home value is $149,300). Second, Charleston has a lot of historic homes. Often older homes can cost more to replace due to building codes and hard-to-find materials.
Regardless of where you live, it’s foolish to forgo flood insurance.
Nationally, the number of homeowners purchasing flood insurance policies has declined. This is, in part, due to a price hike in premiums and maps of some high-risk areas being redrawn. According to The Post and Courier, “[In South Carolina] in 32 of 46 counties, fewer than 1 percent of all properties have flood insurance.” Consequently, more than 1.6 million households would not be covered in the event of a flood.
Think you don’t need insurance because you’re not in a flood zone? Think again. Flooding can happen due to extreme storms, changes in drainage patterns due to new roads or development, or the failure of dams and levees.
The Post and Courier quotes South Carolina Department of Insurance Director, Ray Farmer, as saying, “As far as I’m concerned, the entire state is in a flood zone, regardless of what the flood maps say.” Farmer went on to reference events in 2015 when parts of the state were hit with more than 2 feet of rain, resulting in 47 dam failures and the displacement of more than 20,000 people.
And let’s not forget about hurricanes. In 2017, Hurricane Irma became the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean with winds up to 185 mph. Luckily, Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm as it approached the coast, but it still caused upwards of $90 million in damages. Had she maintained her power, the effect would have been devastating (1989’s Hurricane Hugo was the last major hurricane to hit South Carolina. It carried winds of 135 mph and caused $6.5 billion in damage).
Good news: State initiatives are making it easier to afford preventative measures.
Many of South Carolina’s counties have proactively taken steps to reduce flood risks beyond the minimum federal requirement, resulting in discounts for residents. According to FEMA, in places like Charleston County, where they have a Class 4 preparedness rating (there are 9 classes), it can mean an average of 5.1 million in area-wide savings or $275 off each individual policy.
Also, for the first time since 2015, the SC Safe Home Mitigation Grant Program re-opened their application process and began offering up to $5,000 in grant money to individuals in coastal regions looking to strengthen their homes against storms. The response was so overwhelming that they filled all available slots, but expect to see applications re-open around July.
Even with these financial aids in place, flood insurance should be seen as an investment. Liberty Mutual, Allstate, and Travelers offer their own, while State Farm and Nationwide partner with the National Flood Insurance Program. According to FEMA, the average annual premium is about $878. And remember: Don’t wait until a storm is brewing — most policies won’t take effect for at least 15 days and many insurance companies stop selling flood insurance ahead of a hurricane making landfall.