The Best South Carolina Homeowners Insurance Companies
The best homeowners insurance companies in South Carolina will help protect your home even from the occasional hurricane. As a result, however, protecting your home won’t come cheap. The average homeowners insurance premium in South Carolina is $1,285. That’s almost $100 more per year than the national average of $1,173. The good news: There’s a slew of well-respected providers that can help make sure you’re covered. We’ve looked at everything they have to offer, from available discounts and coverage options to customer satisfaction, in order to help you find the right insurance company for your home.
The Best South Carolina Homeowners Insurance Companies: Summed Up
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How We Found the Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in South Carolina
To find the best homeowners insurance companies in South Carolina, we took the same approach as in our review on nationwide homeowners insurance companies. First, we determined the six largest home insurance companies in South Carolina by market share. Then we called each insurer’s customer service agents and gathered a number of online quotes. We also researched their available discounts, coverage options, claims ratings, and financial fitness — comparing report cards handed down by reputable financial research companies like S&P Global, A.M. Best, and Moody’s.
The 6 Best Homeowners Insurance Companies in South Carolina
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 and Costly Claims tool. Simply 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.
Allstate also offers a lot of discounts. Among the more unique money-saving features are a discount for new customers (10% off your premium for your first two years), one for the 55-plus crowd, 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 S&P Global — but the company does rank lower than its competitors in overall claims satisfaction. In Consumer Reports’ national homeowners insurance survey, it scored lower than our other picks (with the exception of Liberty Mutual) but was still considered “very good,” and the company earned an average score of three out of five from J.D. Power. That means 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 scored an “excellent” rating from A.M. Best, while the other five companies received a “superior.” The company also had a decent showing with J.D. Power, holding its own with the rest of the competition with three out of five (about average) scores for both the claims experience and policy offerings.
Liberty Mutual offers quite a few discounts, including a discount if you’re an alumnus of the University of South Carolina. And no matter how many questions we asked, its agents were always 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.
Nationwide stands out for exceptional claims service. It bested companies like Travelers and Liberty Mutual in J.D. Power’s survey when it came to interactions with agents and earned a three out of five for overall satisfaction (about average). So, why didn’t Nationwide shoot to the top of our list? Outside of the claims experience and agent interactions, it is, well, average. Except for a gated community discount, its money-saving offers are 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 the “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 the process shouldn’t be that difficult. If you don’t mind working things out over the phone, our average wait time was about 20 minutes. You can also use the handy price comparison tool offered through the South Carolina Department of Insurance as a faster route. In any case, we pulled quotes and found that Nationwide’s premiums were consistently more expensive. But if you anticipate needing to file claims often, Nationwide’s exceptional customer reputation could make it 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 any time 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 S&P Global’s AA.
It fared well in other areas, too, receiving second-best ratings from Consumer Reports in all areas and the highest J.D. Power ranking of all of our top picks except USAA. 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. Its reliability and no-frills approach are likely why State Farm is the leader when it comes to South Carolina’s market share; it underwrites 20.3% of all homeowners insurance policies sold in the state. Allstate, by comparison, accounts for 9.8%.
Travelers and State Farm are similar in a lot of ways. While Travelers isn’t quite as strong financially, the two companies both received “very good” marks in all categories from Consumer Reports and offer similar endorsements and discounts. However, where State Farm tops most of the competition in customer satisfaction from J.D. Power, Travelers sits near the bottom with a score of two out of five — so your customer service experience with the company may vary.
Where Travelers sets itself 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 into “Policy Basics,” “Premium & Discounts,” and “Coverage & Limits.” Travelers also rewards people with “green homes,” so if you have a LEED-certified home, be sure to get a quote and capitalize on its 5% discount.
USAA has the third-largest market share when it comes to homeowners insurance in the Palmetto State. However, unless you’re in the military, a veteran, or married to someone in the armed services, you won’t be eligible for any insurance offered by the company. It’s a shame, too, considering that USAA has the highest financial strength rating from A.M. Best (A++) and an immaculate five out of five in every category from J.D. Power.
The discounts offered by USAA seemed a little sparse compared to our other picks. However, there are coverage options unique to members of the military, such as coverage for lost uniforms, and policies include coverage against standard things like fire, theft, and vandalism. The exclusivity might turn a lot of people away, but if you are eligible for USAA, then you should definitely get a quote.
Guide to South Carolina Homeowners Insurance
Consider the impact location has on your premium
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.
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*Quotes based on a 10-year-old masonry-style home with no claims in the past five years and a homeowner with good credit. Source: South Carolina Department of Insurance.
Even though Charleston and Myrtle Beach (located in Horry County) are both coastal cities, the premiums differ by thousands of dollars. There are a few explanations for this: First, the average home price in Myrtle Beach is about 54% cheaper than that for properties in Charleston. Second, Charleston has a lot of historic homes, which can cost more to replace due to building codes and hard-to-find materials.
Discounts vary by county, too
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 the highest preparedness rating in the state, it can mean an average of $5.1 million in area-wide savings, or $275 off each individual policy. In short, comparing discounts by county can lead to big savings.
Make sure you have 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 the redrawing of maps of some high-risk areas. According to The Post and Courier, “[In South Carolina] in 32 of 46 counties, fewer than 1% of all properties have flood insurance.” Consequently, more than 1.6 million households would not be covered in the event of a flood. The article goes on to quote the 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.”
South Carolina Homeowners Insurance FAQ
How much is homeowners insurance in South Carolina?
South Carolina’s average annual premiums for homeowners insurance are just above the national average — $1,285 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. You can use our ZIP code tool at the top of the page to find your best rates.
How much does flood insurance cost?
According to FEMA, the average annual premium for flood insurance is about $878. Liberty Mutual, Allstate, and Travelers offer their own, while State Farm and Nationwide partner with the National Flood Insurance Program. 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.
Can I get grant money to flood-proof my home?
Yes. The South Carolina Safe Home Mitigation Grant Program offers 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 in July 2019. However, they are open again, and the next available allocation is anticipated in mid-December 2019.