South Carolina Car Insurance Requirements
In the Palmetto State things are a little different when it comes to car insurance regulations. For starters, every driver must be covered under a car insurance policy if he owns a vehicle. Those who don’t own cars are exempt, but they must certify as such when they first obtain their drivers licenses or at the time of renewal.
Those who do own a car must prove they are covered by at least liability insurance at the time they obtain a drivers license. With every driver’s license renewal they must re-certify their insurance coverage. There is one exception to this rule for drivers who own cars: they can pay a $550 fee and register as an uninsured driver. They won’t have to purchase car insurance, but they will have to pay for damages out-of-pocket if they cause an accident.
Those who elect to purchase liability insurance rather than register as uninsured must get a policy that provides the least:
- $25,000/$50,000 of bodily injury or death liability – The two numbers represent payments made to single victims versus multiple victims. Both numbers are designated on a per accident basis.
- $25,000 of property damage liability – This insurance is designed to repair or replace damaged personal property belonging to other people. It does not cover your own property, including your car.
South Carolina does not require the addition of collision, comprehensive, uninsured/underinsured motorist, or personal injury protection insurance. You may want to add some of these extra coverages if your circumstances warrant. You will probably need to purchase collision and comprehensive if you have an outstanding bank loan.
When Proof of Insurance Is Required
Unless you’re registering as an uninsured driver, you must provide proof of your car insurance policy when you first obtain a drivers license, whenever you renew your driver’s license, and when you first register your car. Without proper proof you won’t be able to complete those transactions.
You must also offer proof of insurance during traffic stops and accident investigations. South Carolina law doesn’t specify what acceptable proof of insurance is except to say that it must provide the name of your car insurance company so that your coverage can be electronically verified. It’s assumed your carrier would send you an insurance ID card to make this whole process easier.
It’s important for drivers to maintain continuous car insurance coverage if they’ve certified on a drivers license or registration application that they have insurance. If you allow your policy to lapse your carrier is required to notify the state electronically. A policy lapse will result in fines and possible suspension of your license and registration.