South Carolina Car Insurance: Factors that Affect Car Insurance Rates

By Insurance.com Posted : 02/19/2007

If you are a driver in South Carolina or anywhere for that matter, you know how complicated and confusing it can be to file a car accident claim, switch car insurance companies or simply add a person on to your policy. To help make things easier when dealing with your auto insurance company, we have listed some helpful tips for South Carolina car insurance customers below. Understanding these items can not only save you a lot of time and money on your South Carolina auto insurance, but it will also help you be better prepared in the event of a car accident. 

1. How your South Carolina car insurance company determines your car's value after it has been declared a "total loss"
When totaling your car, your insurance company's goal is to help you find a new car within the same market. To do this, car insurance companies use three different methods for determining the value of the car declared a total loss, such as:


If the car insurance company is unable to find a car from within your area, they may have to find a replacement car outside your zip code, which can dramatically affect your car's true value. For instance, if you reside in a big city within South Carolina, such as Columbia, Charleston or Greenville, then the cost of replacing your car will likely be more expensive then if you lived in a suburb or more rural part of South Carolina.

2. Making a car insurance claim could increase your rates
Typically, insurance companies raise your car insurance rate by 40 percent in the event of an accident. However, some insurance companies will only increase your personal rate as opposed to your entire rate, but that is at the discretion of the insurance company. Compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies to make sure you're getting the best rate.

If you are a good driver that does not have any driving violations, then you will want to consider going with a car insurance company that offers an "accident forgiveness" or "forgive the first accident" policy. This will help keep your insurance from fluctuating in the event that you file a car insurance claim.

3. When switching car insurance companies, you must cancel your insurance policy first
Though it is possible to cancel your coverage at anytime, it is important to note that many insurance companies require a written statement, including the date of termination, in order to officially close your car insurance policy. If you do not do this, and you receive and ignore the next bill, your policy will be canceled automatically by the insurance agency for delinquency of payment. The downside to this automatic cancellation is that it will show up on your credit record, which could potentially impact your credit score!

The safest thing to do when switching car insurance companies is to call your company and let them know that you are canceling your policy. The company will send you a cancellation request that needs to be filled out and sent back in.

4. Paying in installments may increase your car insurance
"Fractional premium" fees are usually charged when you divide your car insurance annual premium into installments. Six month, quarterly or monthly are the typical breakdowns for most insurance companies. Generally, the more you break down your installments, the higher the administrative/fractional premium fees are. Always ask when applying for a new car insurance policy, and see exactly what the fees are for each payment you break down. Make sure to also ask your insurance provider if they offer an alternative way to make payments, such as Automatic Clearing House (ACH) processing, which withdrawals the funds right from your checking account. This may help eliminate processing fees while helping you stick to your budget.

5. How much does your car model affects your premium
The auto insurance company premium rating system for cars is on a scale from 3 to 27. The ratings are established by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), and the higher the number of your model, the higher your premium will likely be. These numbers are only available to auto insurance companies - so, no luck trying to find out your car's number before you purchase your car. But you can contact your insurance company for a quote to gain an idea of how much it will cost to cover your new wheels.

6. Personal property in your car is not covered by your auto insurance
Stolen or damaged items from within your car are not covered by your auto insurance policy. Most policies will only cover smaller and less expensive items like CDs, but if you carry more expensive things, you will want to consider adding a rider to your home insurance policy. Keeping photos or video of your items is also a good idea. If something is stolen from your car, you may have to file a claim on your home insurance if you do not have a rider in place.

7. Adding a teen to your car insurance policy
Most insurance companies do not require you to add your teen to your car insurance policy when they are a certain age, only when they receive their license. On the other hand, if you are in a high-risk pool, you may be required to add them when they receive their driver's permit. If you forget to add your licensed teen, and they are involved in a car accident, they will be covered; however, your insurance company may charge you back premiums from the date your teen received a license.

For your South Carolina teen to begin the process of receiving their license, they must complete the following steps:

  1. Apply for Beginner's Permit
  2. Study Driver's License Manual and take written test
  3. Practice driving with a parent or guardian supervisor
  4. Take a driver's education course
  5. Hold a Beginner's Permit for at least 6 months
  6. Receive your Conditional or Restricted license
  7. Maintain a clean record for 1 year and receive a permanent license


This process is for first time drivers who are at least 15 years old. To ensure that the teen driver receives ample time to practice and to offset the number of accidents that involve teen drivers each year, South Carolina has different privileges for each provisional license:

Beginner's Permit
A parent or guardian must sign for the teen's driving permit after proof of residency and social security number have been verified by the DMV. Once everything has been authenticated and the teen has passed the written portion of their driver's test, he or she will receive their Beginner's Permit.

Under South Carolina's Beginner's Permit law, teen drivers must be accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age. In addition, South Carolina's teen drivers must have their Beginner's Permit for at least 6 months before they can apply for either a Conditional License or a Restricted License. If the teen is 15 years old and has had their Beginner's Permit for at least six months (180 days) they can apply for a Conditional License. However, if the teen is 16 years old and has held their Beginner's Permit for six months, they can apply for a Restricted License.

Conditional License
A Conditional License is for teens that have had their Beginner's Permit for at least 6 months. Under South Carolina's Conditional License, teens can drive by themselves between the hours of 6am-6pm. However, a licensed supervisor over 21 years old is required to be in the car between the hours of 6pm-12am, and a licensed parent or guardian is required to be in the car during the hours of 12am-6am. In addition, the driver may not have more than 2 passengers under the age of 21 in the car at a time, unless accompanied by a licensed supervisor.

Restricted License
A Restricted License holds the same privileges as a Conditional License, but is designed for teens that are 16 years old and have had their Beginners Permit for at least 6 month.

Full License
After a teen has had their Conditional/Restricted License for at least one year without any at-fault accidents or points against their record, they are allowed to receive their Full License.

To learn more about South Carolina teen driver laws and regulations, please visit the South Carolina DMV.

Even though most states typically have similar laws in place for car insurance, they do not typically have similar car insurance rates. That's because South Carolina car insurance rates are influenced by South Carolina's geographic location and its state laws. With that being said, it is always a good idea to shop around and compare the rates of various auto insurance companies. To assist you in the process Insurance.com offers an auto insurance comparison application. Here, you will be able to evaluate multiple rates from best-in-class insurance providers - helping you find the cheapest auto insurance coverage for your budget.

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