This article is intended to serve as a brief introduction to car insurance laws and regulations in South Carolina. We'll look at South Carolina’s fault-based car insurance system and the coverage minimums that are required under South Carolina law. If you’re looking for more general information on the legal rules related to auto accidents in South Carolina, you’ll find it in our companion article Car Accident Laws in South Carolina.
South Carolina follows a “fault” or tort system when determining how an injured party will be made whole (in terms of losses) following an accident. In South Carolina, the person who was legally at-fault for causing the car accident is liable for any damages (including injuries and vehicle damage) stemming from the crash. Usually, the at-fault driver's car insurance coverage will kick in to pay this amount, and a person who is injured or who suffers property damage in a car accident may seek compensation in one of three ways in South Carolina:
Note: In no-fault states, an injured motorist must first use up his or her own insurance coverage or reach a statutory threshold of damages before pursuing the other driver, no matter who caused the accident. Legal remedies are also restricted in these states. While South Carolina drivers may not have to worry about this, you can learn more about how no-fault works by reading No-Fault Car Insurance and State Laws: The Basics.
South Carolina requires that the owner of a car carry a certain amount of liability insurance on the vehicle. This insurance protects both the driver and other people involved in the accident by paying the bills that come with medical treatment and property damage -- bills that would be too costly for most people to pay out of pocket if they're found liable for the accident. South Carolina’s car insurance coverage requirements are:
Remember that these amounts are just the bare minimum required by South Carolina law. You should strongly consider carrying a car insurance policy that has more coverage. If you are held liable for an accident and the damages exceed the limits of your policy, then you may have to make up the difference on your own.
South Carolina requires that every car insurance policy sold include uninsured motorist coverage in an amount that at least matches (and may exceed) the 25/50/25 minimum liability requirements detailed in the above section, plus an additional $10,000 in coverage that would pay for damage to the policy purchaser's own vehicle or other property. South Carolina law also requires car insurance carriers to offer underinsured motorist coverage, but policy purchasers are free to decline it.
For more information on South Carolina’s motor vehicle insurance requirements straight from the government, you can check out this South Carolina Department of Insurance web page.