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What are state minimums for car insurance in South Carolina?

Things to remember...

  • You could spend up to six months in jail for driving without insurance in South Carolina
  • You can forgo insurance if you pay $550 to register with the state as an uninsured driver
  • Your license is suspended when you are caught driving without insurance

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South Carolina drivers must carry insurance to register any vehicle with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Lawmakers are interested in protecting all drivers on the road in this southern state, so there is a state minimum insurance requirement that makes liability insurance mandatory for all drivers.

The purpose of this is to create a safe driving situation for all drivers. If you’re involved in an accident, the cost of repairing your car, covering your medical bills, and potentially being the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit is expensive. Make sure you are covered by comparing rates for free with our quote tool above! 

Many people cannot afford to pay that kind of money out of their personal bank account, and it puts everyone in a difficult situation. The state does not require non-residents to meet the state minimum requirement when driving through, but those drivers must meet their own state minimum requirements.

Fines and penalties are issued to anyone who is caught driving without insurance, which is why it’s so important you learn how to compare rates to find the best insurance coverage in South Carolina.

Table of Contents

What is the minimum insurance requirement in South Carolina?

South Carolina lawmakers want all drivers to carry both liability and uninsured motorist coverage. Liability insurance must cover bodily injury and property damage.

Your bodily injury coverage must consist of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You must carry $25,000 in property damage coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you in the event you are in an accident with someone who doesn’t have an insurance policy to cover the cost of paying for your car repairs and medical bills.

You must carry $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident worth of bodily injury uninsured motorist coverage and $25,000 personal property uninsured motorist coverage.

Other Options for South Carolina Drivers Who Don’t Want Insurance

If you don’t want to purchase insurance, there is another other legal option for you. You are legally permitted to pay a $550 fee with the State of South Carolina DMV to register as an uninsured driver.

Doing so makes you legally financially responsible for all costs associated with an accident no matter who is at-fault.

If someone else hits you and you’re registered with the state as an uninsured motorist, you cannot call their insurance company to ask them to pay for the damage the way you would if you were insured.

Can anyone drive with just the bare minimum coverage as required by South Carolina lawmakers?

Not everyone can take advantage of paying only for the minimum state insurance requirements in South Carolina. Only those who own their car may pay for just the minimum.

Owning your car doesn’t mean driving it. It means you must own it outright and make no payments to any lenders.

When you own your car and you are not liable to anyone else for it, you get to cover it as much or as little as you want.

If you lease your car, you must always have full coverage. You will not own a leased car to have the option to reduce the amount of coverage.

If you finance your car for five, six, or seven years with a lender and keep it until it’s paid off, you will own your car. It’s not until this point that you get to make the decision how much or how little you want to insure the car as long as it meets state requirements.

If your insurance policy lapses or you cancel it after you’ve registered your car, the lender will find out.

Lenders own your car until you pay that last payment, which means they keep a very close eye on the coverage it has so they’re not stuck with a totaled car as part of their investment.

You will receive a letter from the lender demanding you immediately purchase insurance that meets their standards. Failure to do so results in finding out they purchased a policy for you.

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Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in South Carolina

The State of South Carolina takes insurance very seriously. They want to protect all drivers and their financial situation, and you will be given fines, penalties, and other punishments if you are caught driving without insurance if you are not registered with the state as an uninsured motorist.

All penalties are broken down into first, second, and subsequent offenses.

First-time offenders must pay the $550 uninsured motorist coverage fee in addition to a fine between $100 and $200. If you cannot pay the fine, you go to jail for the length of time determined by the court up to 30 days.

You must pay $5 per day until you purchase an insurance policy, and you lose your driver’s license until you’re able to prove you have an insurance policy. It costs $200 to reinstate your license.

Second-time offenders are required to pay a $200 fine, $5 per day until you purchase insurance, a $200 license reinstatement fee, and you are required to spend up to 30 days in jail.

If you drive without insurance again, you’re facing a fine of $5 each day you do not have insurance, $5 for every day you already drove without insurance, and your license is suspended until you prove you have an insurance policy.

It costs $200 to reinstate your license. You are also spending 45 days to 6 months in jail.

Tips for Finding Affordable Insurance

The best way to drive in South Carolina is with a valid insurance policy that meets the minimum requirements by the state and/or the lender who owns your vehicle.

It’s too expensive to drive without insurance, and the premiums you pay each year are somewhat inside your control when you know how to compare rates and shop for discounts.

Your insurance rates are determined by the risk factor you present to insurance companies. If you have great credit, a great driving history, and you drive a safe car, you are not a risky driver in the eyes of insurance companies.

Before shopping around for insurance quotes, fix any mistakes on your credit report, and learn which discounts to ask for.

You get discounts for having more than one car on your policy, for bundling your insurance policies for home and life with your car insurance, and you even get discounts if you’re retired or a low-mileage driver.

All you have to do is ask. Don’t miss out on our free quote tool below! Just enter your zip code and start comparing rates now!


  1. http://doi.sc.gov/588/Automobile-Insurance
  2. http://www.nasdaq.com/article/car-insurance-for-your-paidoff-car-cm263681
  3. http://www.nasdaq.com/article/how-much-coverage-does-a-leased-car-need-cm219840
  4. https://trafficlawsc.com/traffic-blog/know-the-penalties-for-driving-without-insurance/
  5. https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

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