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Best Cheap Car Insurance in South Carolina for 2020

Jan. 2, 2020
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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If you’re looking for cheap car insurance in South Carolina, it pays to compare. Prices vary dramatically from one company to the next.

NerdWallet researched rates from the eight largest insurers in the state and found the five cheapest options for several types of drivers.

Cheapest for good drivers in South Carolina

For South Carolinians with clean credit and driving records, the cheapest auto insurance companies and their average rates for full coverage are:

  1. Travelers: $1,275 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,313 per year.
  3. Auto Owners: $1,352 per year.
  4. Allstate: $1,573 per year.
  5. State Farm: $1,635 per year.
Drivers with no recent accidents or violations can get cheaper car insurance rates for having good credit. For this calculation, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women with a clean driving record and good credit. In terms of driving and credit history, a large portion of drivers are closest to this profile, which carries standard "full coverage" insurance, including comprehensive and collision, along with state-required coverage. Prices shown include a good driver discount, when available from the insurer.

Cheapest for minimum coverage in South Carolina

For bare-bones car insurance in South Carolina, these are the cheapest companies and their average rates for minimum required coverage, assuming clean driving and credit histories:

  1. Geico: $537 per year.
  2. Auto Owners: $564 per year.
  3. Allstate: $635 per year.
  4. Travelers: $685 per year.
  5. State Farm: $736 per year.
We calculated these numbers by averaging rates for 40-year-old good drivers (earning them a discount if the insurer offers one) who have only the minimum mandatory insurance in their state. Such light coverage isn't typically recommended since it might not cover all the bills resulting from a car accident, but it's better than nothing — especially if you can't afford much more. If you're looking for the cheapest possible insurance you can get, though, you'll still want to get car insurance quotes from at least three auto insurers.

Cheapest for good drivers with poor credit

For a driver with blemished credit and a good driving record, the cheapest insurers, ranked by their average rates for full coverage in South Carolina, are:

  1. Geico: $2,009 per year.
  2. Travelers: $2,166 per year.
  3. Allstate: $2,478 per year.
  4. Auto Owners: $2,635 per year.
  5. Progressive: $2,720 per year.
If you have a spotty credit history, it's important to shop around to find the cheapest auto insurance rates you can. Poor credit can have a bigger effect on car insurance premiums than even a DUI conviction or a recent at-fault crash, but prices vary by insurer. To calculate these figures, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-olds with a clean driving record and associated good driver discount, if the insurer offered one. They had poor credit as reported to their insurer, and standard "full coverage" car insurance.

Cheapest for drivers with one at-fault crash

South Carolina drivers with a recent at-fault wreck on their record may want to look at these companies, which showed the cheapest average rates for full coverage:

  1. Travelers: $1,714 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,727 per year.
  3. Auto Owners: $1,997 per year.
  4. South Carolina Farm Bureau: $2,100 per year.
  5. State Farm: $2,127 per year.
After a relatively minor crash, some auto insurers will charge a lot more than others for coverage. To get these figures, we averaged rates for 40-year-olds with typical "full coverage" insurance and one recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Your rates will remain high for three to five years after you cause an accident or have a moving violation — and you still may be rejected for coverage from certain companies, including those above. If you fall into this category, be sure to shop for new insurance rates just after the three-year and five-year anniversaries of your infraction.

Cheapest insurance after a DUI in South Carolina

For someone whose driving record includes a recent DUI, here are the cheapest auto insurers, ranked by average rate in South Carolina for full coverage:

  1. Auto Owners: $1,605 per year.
  2. Travelers: $1,882 per year.
  3. South Carolina Farm Bureau: $1,951 per year.
  4. Progressive: $2,087 per year.
  5. Allstate: $2,174 per year.
A conviction for driving under the influence, or DUI, generally results in higher auto insurance premiums than before. NerdWallet analyzed rates for 40-year-old drivers and standard “full coverage” car insurance with a recent DUI conviction to see which companies were cheapest. Be warned that you may be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. Rates can vary by hundreds between carriers after a DUI, and some penalize for longer than others, so it’s important to shop around for the best available price right after you see a price hike and each year after that.

Cheapest insurance after a ticket in South Carolina

After a speeding ticket, the cheapest auto insurance companies and their average rates in South Carolina for full coverage are:

  1. Geico: $1,434 per year.
  2. Auto Owners: $1,605 per year.
  3. Travelers: $1,657 per year.
  4. South Carolina Farm Bureau: $1,824 per year.
  5. State Farm: $1,866 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket will result in higher car insurance rates from most companies for three to five years. To see who has the cheapest rates, we calculated average car insurance rates for 40-year-old drivers with “full coverage” insurance and a recent ticket for speeding 16 mph over the limit. Though these larger companies were the cheapest we found on average, others may be cheaper for you, so be sure to get at least three quotes before deciding on a carrier.

Cheapest for couples and families in South Carolina

When families shop for cheap car insurance, they may not find the best rates in the same places that single drivers do. Prices and discounts vary from one insurer to the next, and companies consider personal factors differently as they set rates. For this reason, it’s a good idea to shop around for car insurance quotes whenever there’s a big change in your life, such as moving, getting married or adding a teen driver. To see which companies are cheapest for families in South Carolina, we checked rates for married couples with and without a teen driver.

Cheapest for a married couple in South Carolina

For a husband and wife, both 50 years old and with clean driving and credit histories, these are the cheapest insurers and average rates in South Carolina for full coverage on two vehicles:

  1. Travelers: $1,885 per year.
  2. Progressive: $2,011 per year.
  3. Allstate: $2,160 per year.
  4. Geico: $2,176 per year.
  5. Auto Owners: $2,577 per year.
Couples who live together can save on auto insurance by combining policies, whether they are married or not, because they can earn multi-car and multi-driver discounts. Once they tie the knot, rates can dip further, but not because of discounts — insurers see married people as less risky and so charge them lower rates. Our hypothetical 50-year-old couple’s clean driving record also earns them both a good driver discount.

Cheapest for families with a teen in South Carolina

The cheapest companies for a 50-year-old South Carolina couple plus an 18-year-old driver, listed by their average rates for insuring two vehicles, are:

  1. Travelers: $3,325 per year.
  2. Geico: $3,544 per year.
  3. Progressive: $4,175 per year.
  4. South Carolina Farm Bureau: $4,371 per year.
  5. State Farm: $4,567 per year.
Adding a teen with two years’ driving experience to a married couple's policy is sure to cause a big jump in rates. Since different insurers tend to see a teen’s inexperience in different ways, we analyzed rates to see which companies had the cheapest car insurance for teens. These rates are averaged for 50-year-old couples with male and female 18-year-old drivers.

Cheapest for young drivers in South Carolina

With less experience on the road, people in their 20s often face higher car insurance rates than more experienced drivers. But each company considers age differently, so the cheapest insurers for young drivers may not be the same as the cheapest for their parents. NerdWallet analyzed rates for 25-year-olds in South Carolina to see which companies have the best rates for young drivers.

Cheapest full coverage for young good drivers

For a young South Carolinian buying full coverage, these are the cheapest insurers and average rates, assuming clean driving and credit records:

  1. Travelers: $1,442 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,563 per year.
  3. Auto Owners: $1,742 per year.
  4. Allstate: $1,755 per year.
  5. Progressive: $1,850 per year.
Drivers in their 20s can have a hard time finding cheap car insurance, and that's even truer when they need full coverage. The rates above are averages for 25-year-old male and female drivers with comprehensive and collision coverages, which are often required for drivers with active auto loans or leases. These rates reflect a good driver discount. Young drivers, like all drivers, should check several quotes to find the cheapest for the coverage levels they need.

Cheapest minimum coverage for young good drivers

For South Carolina’s minimum required car insurance, these are the cheapest companies for a 25-year-old driver, ranked by their average rates:

  1. Geico: $633 per year.
  2. Allstate: $700 per year.
  3. Auto Owners: $739 per year.
  4. Travelers: $744 per year.
  5. Progressive: $814 per year.
Since young people often have fewer assets to protect with liability insurance, they can usually get away with lower coverage limits. For an age group with relatively high insurance rates on average, that's good news, keeping rates as low as possible. For this price set, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers who have clean driving records, good credit and bare-bones insurance coverage.

Poor credit and minimum coverage

A young driver in South Carolina with poor credit and a good driving record may want to consider these insurers, which returned the cheapest average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $961 per year.
  2. Allstate: $1,129 per year.
  3. Progressive: $1,199 per year.
  4. Travelers: $1,203 per year.
  5. Auto Owners: $1,472 per year.
Poor credit is common for younger folks just starting out, who may still be building their credit files. That can increase rates further, so it's extra important to shop around and compare as many insurance quotes as possible to find the cheapest you can get. For these prices, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with no recent accidents or violations (earning them a good driver discount), minimum coverage car insurance, and credit in the "poor" tier as reported to an insurer.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a crash

For a 25-year-old South Carolinian whose driving record shows a recent at-fault accident, the cheapest insurance companies and average rates for minimum coverage are:

  1. Geico: $804 per year.
  2. Travelers: $913 per year.
  3. State Farm: $1,111 per year.
  4. Auto Owners: $1,146 per year.
  5. Progressive: $1,256 per year.
To get prices for this group, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with good credit and a recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Since car insurance is often pricier after a crash, and especially so for young drivers, we assumed minimum required insurance in the state to contain costs for our hypothetical driver. Depending on your situation, you may still be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. If you've caused a crash, no matter your age, be sure to check auto insurance quotes just after the third and fifth anniversaries of your incident, when insurers often adjust rates downward.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a DUI

For young drivers in South Carolina with a recent DUI on their record, these are the cheapest companies and average rates for minimum required auto insurance:

  1. Auto Owners: $869 per year.
  2. Travelers: $1,003 per year.
  3. Geico: $1,015 per year.
  4. Progressive: $1,045 per year.
  5. Allstate: $1,047 per year.
Young drivers with a recent DUI on their records will need to be diligent to find the lowest car insurance rates they can get — it's likely that many companies' rates will be quite expensive. Depending on the circumstances, you may be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. But spending the time to shop around for quotes can help you find the lowest price from a company available to you. For this analysis, we averaged rates for male and female 25-year-old drivers with a recent DUI conviction. They had good credit and minimum required car insurance, which helps keep rates down.

Cheapest for minimum coverage and a ticket

For a 25-year-old driver with a recent speeding ticket, the cheapest insurers and average rates for minimum coverage are:

  1. Geico: $676 per year.
  2. Auto Owners: $869 per year.
  3. Travelers: $876 per year.
  4. State Farm: $953 per year.
  5. Allstate: $964 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket is never fun, and neither is the higher car insurance bill you may receive months later. At that point, it's time to shop around for better rates, and it wouldn't hurt to repeat on your third and fifth ticket anniversaries, when insurers may adjust rates downward. We analyzed rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with a recent speeding violation for going 16 mph over the speed limit to see prices for this group.

Cheap for military families

If you’re an active member of the military or a veteran — or have an immediate family member who is — chances are high you’ll get a good rate with USAA, an option that isn’t available to the general public. For that reason, we don’t rank it with the others, but USAA is among the three cheapest options for about two-thirds of the driver types above.

» MORE: Best car insurance for veterans and military

Recap: Cheapest car insurance in South Carolina

  • Good drivers: Travelers
  • Minimum coverage: Geico
  • Poor credit: Geico
  • After an at-fault crash: Travelers
  • After a DUI: Auto Owners
  • After a speeding ticket: Geico
  • Married couples: Travelers
  • Families with a teen: Travelers
  • Young good drivers: Travelers
  • Minimum coverage for young good drivers: Geico
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers with poor credit: Geico
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a crash: Geico
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a DUI: Auto Owners
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a ticket: Geico

» MORE: Compare car insurance

Minimum auto insurance limits required in South Carolina

South Carolina drivers are required to carry liability coverage, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI) and uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD).

Here are the minimum amounts of insurance coverage needed to drive legally:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $25,000 property damage liability per accident.
  • $25,000 UMBI per person.
  • $50,000 UMBI per accident.
  • $25,000 UMPD per accident.

Although these limits will satisfy legal requirements, it’s wise for most drivers to get more than the bare coverage. The minimum car insurance might not be enough to fully cover accident costs, and the remaining balance would have to come out of your own pocket.

Visit NerdWallet’s guide to car insurance requirements by state for more detail on how coverage works.

Alternative car insurance in South Carolina

Drivers who’ve been denied car insurance on the voluntary market within the past 60 days may qualify for coverage under the Associated Auto Insurers Plan of South Carolina. This option helps drivers who have checkered driving histories, extremely poor credit or other factors preventing them from getting traditional auto coverage.

NerdWallet can make it easy to find coverage at the most competitive price. Use our car insurance comparison tool to view rates from top insurers.

Methodology

For our “good driver” profile, NerdWallet averaged rates from the largest insurers in the state for 40-year-old men and women in all ZIP codes with 12,000 annual miles driven. The policy includes:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident.
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.
  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
If required, minimum additional coverages were added and "good driver" discounts were automatically applied. Our “young driver” had all the same characteristics, but average rates were for 25-year-old men and women. We used a 2016 Toyota Camry LE for all single drivers. We used the same assumptions for all other driver profiles, with the following exceptions:

  • For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect minimum required coverage by law in the state.
  • We changed the credit tier from “good” to “poor” as reported to the insurer to see rates for drivers with poor credit.
  • For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage.
  • For drivers with a ticket, we added a single speeding violation for driving 16 mph over the speed limit.
  • For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken driving violation.
Couples in our analyses were 50-year-old men and women with good credit and clean driving histories, averaged across all ZIP codes with the same policy outlined above. To see rates for families with a teen, we added an 18-year-old licensed two years ago, averaging rates for male and female teens. For couples and families we added a 2016 Nissan Rogue S to create a two-car household.

In all cases, a paperless discount, e-signature discount and electronic funds transfer discount were automatically applied. These are rates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.