The Best South Carolina Auto Insurance Companies
South Carolina is blessed with balmy sub-tropical weather and miles of picturesque coastline. But depending on where you live and what kind of vehicle you’re driving, you may find that car insurance in this state takes a bigger bite out of your wallet than you’d like. Fear not — we’ll help you comparison shop between the biggest car insurance providers in South Carolina to find the best deal.
How We Found the Best South Carolina Auto Insurance Companies
To find the best auto insurance in South Carolina, we followed the methodology in our review of nationwide auto insurance providers. Starting with the state’s most popular providers, we scoured data from reputable consumer watchdog sites like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, plus industry financial experts like A.M. Best, Moody’s, and S&P Global. These ratings helped us evaluate each insurer’s customer service record, reputation, and claims management.
Then we scoped out prices, requesting sample quotes on a 2015 F-150 crew cab — the most popular truck in South Carolina. For coverage, we used 50/100/50 liability, adding collision and comprehensive with a $500 deductible. Our main goal was to see how many discounts these companies would include in our premium. We looked at price, too, but it wasn’t our top indicator — quotes vary widely depending on your car, driving record, credit history, and other factors, so you’ll have to request personalized quotes to see which company is cheapest for you.
Finally, we assessed each company’s website. The best insurers include a wealth of learning materials on their sites to help you navigate the complex process of building a quote and understanding your policy. We looked for glossaries, interactive calculators, informative FAQ sections, and blogs.
In the end, we ranked the top four comprehensively. We’d suggest getting quotes from a few of these in your search to find great car insurance in South Carolina. Take a look below and use our quote tool to compare premiums.
The 4 Best Auto Insurance Companies in South Carolina
With close to 24% of the state’s market share, State Farm is by far the most popular auto writer in South Carolina — and for good reason. Consumer Reports rates the company a high 89 out of 100, meaning that out of the nearly 24,000 customers surveyed, most people are pleased with State Farm’s customer service.
To get a tad more specific on what makes State Farm’s customer service impressive: Consumer Reports gives it “excellent” marks for “timely payment,” “ease of reaching an agent,” and “agent courtesy.” It’s also financially sound, according to watchdogs like A.M. Best, S&P Global, and Moody’s, all of which rate State Farm in the “A” range. These ratings indicate long-term stability and the ability to pay out large claims with no problems.
We also love State Farm’s website. Its Simple Insights blog provides a wealth of information on insurance matters, vehicle safety, and car maintenance. The quote tool is also easy to use and fast. We had a quote in hand within seven minutes. If you’re new to the insurance world, we recommend checking out State Farm’s resources even if you don’t end up purchasing a policy with the company.
State Farm offers a solid range of discounts. One we like in particular is Drive Safe and Save. This program uses real-time data from a small tracker that you place in your car. You’ll earn an initial discount of 5% for signing up; then, if you stay within speed limits, brake softly, and otherwise practice safe driving habits, you can earn up to a 50% discount.
You may need that discount. At $753 for six months of coverage, State Farm was not our cheapest quote. Of course, your quote will vary, and State Farm’s reputation for good coverage, extensive discounts, and timely payments make it worthwhile to request a quote and keep it in consideration.
It’s hard not to compare Allstate and State Farm. The two companies have similar rankings with consumer organizations like J.D. Power, which gives both a three out of five for the claims experience, and Consumer Reports, which gives Allstate an 88 reader score — just one point below State Farm.
Both companies boast easy-to-navigate websites with educational information for those who have questions. Allstate’s site, we found, was sometimes a bit glitchy, and it took us a few minutes longer to get a quote. However, there’s an informative blog and lots of important tools that allow you to pay your bill, find an agent, and more.
Once we were up and running with the quote tool, we liked the ability to edit quotes by adding and subtracting coverages to see how they impacted our premium. There are a good number of discounts available, including a real-time drive option that assesses your skill behind the wheel and gives you 15% “cash back” for the first 50 trips. You could even qualify for a “Safe Driving Bonus,” which Allstate claims will earn you a check in the mail every six months you drive without an accident.
We liked our quote, too: $450 on a six month policy, considerably less than State Farm’s nearly $800 quote. But we didn’t like the fact that Allstate was the only company that required us to input our email and phone number to get a quote. This sets you up for pesky sales calls, even if you’re just doing initial research and are not ready to make a purchase.
We’re really impressed with USAA, and so is everyone else. It’s one of the few insurance companies that has “excellent” ratings across the board from Consumer Reports, and J.D. Power gives it five out of five “Power Circles” for claims process and overall customer experience. It is as financially sound as it could possibly be, as A.M. Best gives it the highest rating possible: an “A++.”
So why isn’t it on top of our list? Well, there’s catch: USAA only serves active and retired military personnel and their families, so it’s out of reach for many people. But with nine military bases in the state and more than 55,000 active and reserve members of the military, there’s enough of a base to merit including USAA on our list of the best in the state.
This company offers standard protection but also includes options specific to military members. For example, USAA coverage will protect you no matter where on the planet your assignment takes you. And there’s an automatic 15% discount when you garage your vehicle on-base. You’ll also get a significant discount (60%) if you’re stationed overseas and put your car in storage.
If you do have a military connection, we recommend that you start your search with USAA. You’ll need your military ID information to get a quote, but it may be worth it: The company estimates that those who switch to USAA car insurance save an average of $707 per year.
Nationwide’s rankings are on the low end among our contenders. It earned three out of five Power Circles from J.D. Power for overall customer experience in the southeast region. Consumer Reports gives it a reader score of 88 — not bad, but not the highest on this list. It also earned the lowest scores from Consumer Reports for “simplicity of process” and “timely payment.” It’s still considered “very good,” but when your other companies are earning scores of “excellent,” “very good” doesn’t quite cut it.
Nationwide’s online quote tool denied our request for a quote several times. When we tried to connect with the company through its online chat feature, it was down, even though we were contacting them during regular business hours. Finally, we called the number listed on the site for further assistance, where we were promptly put on hold. Where we waited. And waited. We finally got a live agent after 20 minutes, and she was able to pull together a quote of $613.
Our frustrating experience may have been a one-time glitch or may be symptomatic of problems with Nationwide’s customer service in general. Although its quote was reasonable, you’ll want to pay attention to the quality of response you receive when you contact Nationwide for a quote, whether online or with an agent, as it might be an indicator of the service you’ll receive in the event of a claim.
Guide to South Carolina Auto Insurance
Understand South Carolina minimum liability
The state of South Carolina mandates certain minimum amounts of coverage you must have to be on the road legally:
- $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
- $25,000 property damage coverage per accident
You may see this written in insurance shorthand as 25/50/25. These limits mean that your insurance company will pay up to $25,000 in medical expenses for each person injured in an at-fault accident, up to $50,000 total per accident, plus up to $25,000 in property damages per accident.
Uninsured motorist coverage is required, too
South Carolina’s minimum liability requirements are fairly standard. But South Carolina also mandates uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage kicks in to pay for your own injuries and damages if you’re in an accident with someone who’s not covered. The minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage you’re required to carry is $25,000.
You can also consider underinsured motorist coverage, which covers you if you’re hit by someone who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the costs of the incident. While the state requires insurers to offer this coverage to you, you’re not required to carry it.
Maximize your coverage
If your finances allow it, we suggest beefing up your coverage to at least 50/100/50. Think of how quickly $25,000 will be gone if you total a luxury car. Or consider the cost of healthcare today — $25,000 is likely to fall short if you found to be at fault in an accident with serious injuries.
Although the state doesn’t require these two types of coverage, they still might also be worth a second look:
- Collision covers your own car in the event of an accident. If you’re driving a 20-year-old junker, you probably don’t need it because the car (on paper, anyway) isn’t worth much. But if your vehicle still retains much of its value, this is great coverage to have.
- Comprehensive covers you in the event of a non-accident-related event, such as a tree falling on your car or a hail storm that leaves your car looking like metallic swiss cheese.
It’s generally not too pricey to add these extra coverages to your policy — as you’ll see when you get some online quotes — and they can be lifesavers if the worst happens.
Your car insurance premium depends on the provider, where you live, and the type of car you drive. You can get a jump-start on this process with our quote tool at the top of this page.
It also pays to shop around, considering that providers can occasionally fail. For example, Access Insurance, which insured more than 15,000 South Carolina drivers, was declared insolvent in a court ruling last year and agreed to being placed into liquidation in March 2018. All policies were then canceled in April 2018. While this case is an anomaly, it serves as a reminder to thoroughly vet your provider before purchasing a policy.
South Carolina Auto Insurance FAQ
According to Insurance Journal, South Carolina ranks in the top 10 for suspected fraud per 100,000 population, with the number of reported incidents tripling since 2010. One type of insurance fraud you should be aware of is the faked accident.
Scammers cause “accidents” which result in fake injuries — and, they hope, big insurance payouts. Innocent drivers can easily get caught up in these scenarios. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office claims that it would cost the average household $1,030 per year to cover these fake claims.
If you think you’ve seen or gotten caught in an insurance scam, you can call the South Carolina insurance fraud hotline number, 1-888-95-FRAUD, or fill out an Insurance Fraud Complaint Form through the attorney general’s office.
If you’re worried about scammers, consider getting a dash cam. These devices automatically record as you drive so you have video evidence if you’re ever in an insurance dispute.
It’s not all doom-and-gloom in the world of South Carolina car insurance. In addition to the educational resources you can find from companies like State Farm and Allstate, there are a few South Carolinian organizations that educate and advocate for you.
One place to find more information is the website of the South Carolina Insurance Association (SCIA), a non-profit organization that compiles statistics, news, and tips for consumers.
The South Carolina Department of Insurance, meanwhile, offers an online complaint form, a price comparison tool, and other helpful information about auto insurance in the state. If you find the insurance world a fascinating place and want to explore it, the Insurance Information Institute is a great place to look for information on both the national level and pertaining specifically to South Carolina.
The Best South Carolina Auto Insurance Companies: Summed Up
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