Getting car insurance in South Carolina isn’t a simple yes-or-no matter. There are different types of auto insurance that vehicle owners can get, including both mandatory and optional coverages. To help you decide on what coverage you should get, we’ve broken down how auto insurance works in South Carolina. With this information, you can make a better-informed decision when buying car insurance and understand the limitations that might be on the insurance policy carried by the other driver if you are injured in a crash.
Mandatory Car Insurance in South Carolina
South Carolina law requires all vehicles to carry three types of auto insurance. They must meet the minimum coverage amounts for bodily injury liability, property damage liability, and uninsured motorist coverage. Driving without insurance can result in severe penalties. These include possible fines and jail time, as well as the suspension of your vehicle registration and driver’s license.
Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
The first type of auto insurance you must have in South Carolina is bodily injury (BI) liability. When you are found at fault in a car accident, bodily injury liability covers claims put forth by the other people in the crash. This type of insurance does not cover your own injuries or the injuries of your passengers.
The minimum coverages for bodily injury liability insurance in South Carolina are:
- $25,000 per person
- $50,000 per accident
The other people injured in the car accident may seek such damages as medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional trauma. Depending on the severity of injuries, claims can quickly exceed these minimum amounts of coverage.
Property Damage Liability Insurance
In addition to liability insurance for bodily injury, South Carolina law also requires property damage (PD) liability insurance on all vehicles. This type of insurance covers physical damage to other people’s property when you are at fault in an accident. The most common example here is their car. This insurance covers the cost of repairs or replacement for their damaged vehicle. PD insurance also covers other property, like buildings, fences, and equipment.
The law in South Carolina requires all vehicles to carry at least $25,000 in property damage liability insurance. Considering that most new vehicles exceed a value of $25,000, this minimum is typically not enough to cover the cost of a “write-off” for a newer car.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
The third type of required auto insurance in South Carolina is uninsured motorist coverage. This insurance covers you if you’re in an accident with someone who doesn’t have car insurance and is found to be at fault for the crash. If you are at fault, uninsured motorist coverage will not cover your damages. It also applies in the case of a hit-and-run accident.
The minimum coverage amounts mirror bodily injury and property damage liability insurance. That’s $25,000 of bodily injury per person, $50,000 of bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 of property coverage. The key difference is uninsured motorist coverage has a deductible, usually around $200.
South Carolina Optional Auto Insurance Policies
In addition to the mandatory coverage described above, your insurance provider may offer a number of optional coverages, too. You are not legally required to purchase these types of auto insurance in South Carolina, but if you are financing or leasing your car, your lender may require you to carry collision and comprehensive coverage.
Collision Coverage for Physical Damage
Collision insurance provides coverage for physical damage to your car when it is involved in an accident. This could be a car crash with another vehicle. It could also be a single-vehicle accident, like if you drive into a tree or scrape up against a wall as you pull out of a parking spot. Unlike property damage liability, which covers other people’s property, collision coverage covers your own car.
This coverage applies to the cost of repairs or replacement, less a deductible. South Carolina DMV Law states that if repairs exceed 75 percent of the car’s actual cash value, the insurer may say your car is “totaled.” In this case, they don’t repair it. Rather, they pay an agreed-upon dollar amount for you to buy a replacement.
Comprehensive Car Insurance for Physical Damage
Comprehensive insurance is similar to collision insurance. It covers the cost of physical damage to your vehicle. The main difference is based on the cause of this damage. Whereas collision insurance applies when you collide with another vehicle or property, comprehensive coverage applies to most other causes.
Examples of scenarios where comprehensive coverage applies include:
- When you hit a deer or other large animal with your car
- If your car gets stolen or vandalized
- If your vehicle is damaged in a fire or flood
- When your car is damaged by severe weather and storms
- If a tree or other heavy object falls on your car
- Damage to your windshield, like rock chips and cracks
Like collision coverage, comprehensive insurance is also optional in South Carolina. It is typically less expensive than collision insurance.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is mandatory in South Carolina. Underinsured motorist coverage is not. This type of insurance applies when you are in an accident where the other driver is at fault. They have car insurance, but their policy isn’t enough to cover your damages and medical bills. With underinsured motorist coverage, you can make up some or all of this difference.
Insurance companies in South Carolina are required to offer underinsured motorist coverage, but you don’t have to buy it. It is an optional coverage. In the case where the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage, you can also file a personal injury claim against them directly.
Medical Payments (MedPay) Coverage
Collision and comprehensive insurance cover physical damage to your property, namely your vehicle. They do not cover medical expenses. For that, you need to get medical payments (MedPay) coverage. This takes care of medical care, like hospital bills, physical therapy, and medication.
Other Optional Car Insurance in South Carolina
Along with all the other types of auto insurance described above, your insurer may offer other optional policies. Some examples include:
- Rental reimbursement coverage
- Towing and labor coverage
- Rental car coverage
- Roadside coverage
How to Decide on the Right Car Insurance Coverage
Even if you drive one of the safest electric cars on the road today, you still need to have adequate auto insurance coverage. The minimum required amounts may not be enough to cover damages if you find yourself involved in a car accident. It doesn’t take much to exceed $25,000 in property damage or $25,000 in bodily injury.
And while collision, comprehensive, and underinsured motorist coverage are optional, they may be worth the cost to provide peace of mind. An attorney can help not only with a car accident claim but also advise you on how to decide on what types of car insurance to get.
Your insurance premium is determined by many factors, including your age, driving record, and vehicle use, as well as the make and model of your car. You can reduce your premiums by increasing your deductible. Choose the coverage limits that work best for you so you don’t find yourself liable for damages that exceed your policy.