Car insurance quotes can be significantly affected by a number of considerations. Although the majority of road users within the Palmetto State will be largely unaffected by these contributory factors, motorists should still pertain a thorough understanding of the state laws that govern driving in South Carolina.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
South Carolina operates under the Tort system and motorists have to carry, at the very least, the minimum recommended level of liability insurance before a vehicle can be used legally. Failure to provide proof of insurance within 15 days can incur serious penalties and will have a serious effect on any future auto insurance quotes. Violations can see licenses suspended indefinitely. The minimum mandatory levels of car insurance in South Carolina are as follows:
- $25,000 of bodily injury liability per person
- $50,000 of bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 of property damage liability
The tort system dictates that financial responsibility must be assumed by an at-fault driver in a road traffic accident and any subsequent claims should be made through the insurance company of that particular party. It is also possible for injured drivers to pursue separate claims for loss of earnings or serious injury costs that exceed the level of bodily injury liability purchased when car insurance quotes were first obtained.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Many US states require motorists to take out protection against uninsured or underinsured motorists and this particular level of cover will usually be factored into the price of a policy when car insurance quotes are first obtained. If a motorist is involved in a road traffic accident with a driver who isn’t carrying sufficient insurance coverage, they will still be able to make a claim for any personal injuries sustained or for damage to their vehicle.
In South Carolina, Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage is optional and there are no mandatory obligations to purchase this level of insurance. However, it is highly recommended that protection against uninsured and underinsured motorists is purchased as long as it is affordable to do so.
South Carolina takes DUI (Driving under the Influence) offences particularly seriously. Although drug use is treated as harshly as alcohol use, it is much easier to assess the levels of alcohol in the bloodstream of an individual and if a motorist exceeds the 0.08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit, severe penalties will apply. These can lead to fines, loss of driving privileges, imprisonment and higher auto insurance quotes once a conviction has been served.
First-time offenders can face up to 30 days in jail, receive fines of up to $400 and lose their driving license for 6 months. If offences persist, the levels of punishment increase dramatically and after a fourth offence, motorists can face up to 7 years in jail and have their licenses withdrawn permanently.
If a motorist has accumulated DUI violations or simply has a colorful driving history, the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles will require a SR-22 document to prove that high-risk drivers are carrying sufficient insurance. After a motorist has been fined or had their license revoked, auto insurance quotes become incredibly expensive and many convicted drivers choose to operate their vehicles without adequate coverage. If the local Department of Motor Vehicles fails to receive a SR-22 document, there is no evidence that drivers with violations have auto insurance in place and subsequent investigations will inevitably follow.
SR-22 documents must be provided for up to three years after a driving violation and if a resident of South Carolina moves to a state where SR-22 insurance is not required (there are only six states within the US where this is applicable), they will still need to have their insurance company file a SR-22 each year within South Carolina.
Requirements for Young Drivers
Young drivers in South Carolina are governed by the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system which sees inexperienced motorists nurtured into the roles of responsible drivers over an extended period of time. Younger motorists are statistically more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents and the GDL system addresses this problem by improving driving skills and attitudes. This ultimately results in a safer road culture and lower car insurance quotes for those who complete the entire course.
At the age of 15, young drivers in South Carolina can obtain an instruction permit as long as they meet the age requirements and can provide proof of residency, proof of auto insurance and can pass vision and knowledge tests. Once an instruction permit has been held for 6 months and the young driver has completed 40 hours of driving, they can apply for a conditional license.
To hold a conditional license, the young driver must be meet the above criteria and be able to provide proof of residency and insurance. Furthermore, they must also be able to present certificates of school attendance, driving education and driver practice. Once a young driver reaches 16 years of age, they can apply for a special restricted license as long as all of the above criteria are met. This can be updated to a full unrestricted license once further vision and knowledge tests have been passed.
There are a number of other restrictions that young drivers in South Carolina must adhere to. Permit holders may only use a vehicle between 6am and 12 am and must be accompanied by a licensed driver over the age of 21 who has owned a full license for more than 12 months. Conditional license holders are not allowed to drive between 6pm and 6am unless accompanied by another fully licensed driver. They are also restricted from carrying more than two passengers unless they are family members and violating these conditions can result in the loss or delay of a teen license.
Impact on insurance Costs
By following South Carolina state law and abiding by the restrictions applied, motorists should be able to enjoy a safe motoring experience without excessive penalties on the price of auto insurance quotes. By playing their part in developing a safe driving culture, even young motorists can enjoy substantial benefits when the time finally comes for purchasing their first car insurance policy.