FAQs About South Carolina Car Insurance Laws

Insurance regulations vary from state to state, so the following information can help you better understand South Carolina car insurance laws.

No matter where you live in South Carolina, you are required to carry car insurance if you are a licensed driver.  Not only is automobile insurance a legal obligation, but it’s also good common sense.  If you consider the financial implications of an accident, it becomes clear why it is so important to have insurance coverage.

When Should I Get Insurance For a New Car?

New car owners in SC  have a 30-day grace period to obtain insurance.  However, there are no laws governing how long you have before switching an existing policy to a new vehicle.  

For a financed car, you must provide proof of insurance before driving off the dealership’s lot.   Generally, it’s best to let your insurance company know about the change in vehicles as soon as possible.

Will I Lose My License If I Don’t Have SC Auto Insurance?

Your insurance company will notify the SCDMV if your policy lapses or is canceled.  Once you’ve been contacted by the SCDMV, you have 20 days to provide proof of insurance.  If the DMV does not receive verification of insurance within that time, your driver’s license, registration, and license plate will be suspended.

It’s also likely that your vehicle will be impounded which will result in high storage fees.  Driving uninsured is a misdemeanor offense, so you may also face potential jail time of a few days up to a few weeks.

What Happens If I Get a Ticket for Not Having Insurance?

If you’re pulled over by law enforcement officers and can’t provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance, he will issue a ticket.  Even more, your license and registration aren’t valid until you pay a $600 uninsured motorist fee to the SCDMV.  Your insurance company will file an SR-22 Certificate of Insurance for 3 years.  

Driving an uninsured vehicle that you don’t own has risks as well.  Your driver’s license can be suspended for 30 days with a reinstatement fee of $100.

What Are the Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in SC?

South Carolina requires drivers to carry at least the minimum amount of car insurance.  Failure to do so can result in fines, penalties, and revocation of driving privileges

Being involved in or at fault in a vehicle accident can be financially devastating without insurance. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from financial ruin by carrying the required insurance.

Here are the minimum requirements for auto insurance in South Carolina:

  • $25,000 / $50,000 Bodily Injury Coverage
  • $25,000 Property Damage Liability
  • $25,000 / $50,000 Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury
  • $25,000 with $200 deductible Uninsured Motorist Property Damage

South Carolina drivers don’t have to carry Personal Injury Protection or Collision and Comprehensive if the car is paid for.  However, lenders require these additional coverages for financed vehicles.

What Are the Penalties for Not Having Car Insurance in SC?

In SC, your driving privilege can be revoked if you fail to carry auto insurance.  Furthermore, the DMV will let you know if your insurance is no longer in effect.  You will need to provide proof of insurance within 20 days of being notified.  You may have to pay a reinstatement fee of up to $500 in addition to other fines.

The penalties for operating an uninsured vehicle can be significant and may include suspension of your driver’s license and registration.  Afterward, you must pay $5 a day (up to a max of $200) until you provide proof of insurance.  

If you drive without insurance a second or third time within 10 years of the first offense, the penalties get harsher.  For instance:  

  1. First offense: You will pay the $600 uninsured motorist fee and lose your registration and license plate in addition to other fees or penalties.  
  2. Second offense:  You’ll have to pay $200, surrender your license plate and registration, and serve 30 days in jail.  
  3. Third offense:  As a “habitual offender”, you’ll serve 45 days to 6 months in jail, lose your license and registration and pay a $200 fee.

Whether it’s your first offense or third one, it will stay on your driving record permanently.  Unfortunately, you’ll have higher insurance rates or even be declined for insurance by some companies.  

Don’t take your auto insurance responsibility lightly.  The repercussions can take years to overcome.  Plus, without the freedom to jump in your car and get where you need to go on your own, life will be extremely difficult.

How Can I Stay Current on New SC Car Insurance Laws?

It’s important to stay up-to-date about your auto insurance requirements. To keep up with recent changes in South Carolina driving laws, the South Carolina Department of Insurance and the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles are excellent sources for information about auto insurance in the Palmetto State. 

Trust the SC Car Insurance Experts at Sandifer Insurance Agency 

With over 40 years of experience in the SC auto insurance industry, Sandifer Insurance will ensure that your coverage meets all state regulations.  

Sandifer is a family-owned agency located in historic Cheraw, SC.  We are proud to serve local customers and our neighbors in surrounding areas as well.  If you have questions about SC insurance laws or are in the market for auto insurance, reach out to us by phone, email, or online for a free quote.  


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