What is Auto Insurance?
All forms of insurance provide protection to consumers by covering certain risks and promising to pay for financial losses caused by these risks.
Auto insurance is one of the most used types of personal insurance. South Carolina law requires that you purchase liability and uninsured motorist coverage to drive legally in the state. Auto insurance is divided into two basic coverages: liability and physical damage.
Auto liability insurance policies contain three major parts under South Carolina Tort law: liability insurance for bodily injury; liability insurance for property damage; and uninsured / underinsured motorists coverage.
Bodily injury liability insurance protects you against the claims of other people who are injured in an accident for which you were at fault. South Carolina requires you to carry a minimum of $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 for all persons injured in one accident. Claims for bodily injury may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Property damage liability insurance pays for any damage you cause to the property of others. This not only includes damages to other vehicles but also other property, such as buildings, walls, fences, and equipment. The minimum limit in South Carolina is $25,000 for all property damage in one accident.
Uninsured motorists coverage protects the policyholder directly. This coverage pays if you are injured and/or your property is damaged by a hit-and-run driver or an uninsured driver. South Carolina law requires you to carry uninsured motorists coverage equal to the minimum amounts of liability coverage (25/50/25). There is typically a $200 deductible.
Underinsured motorists coverage is similar to uninsured motorist coverage, but pays for your injuries or property damage if the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover your damages or medical bills. Auto insurers are required to offer you underinsured motorists coverage in South Carolina, but you are not required to purchase it.
Physical damage is auto insurance coverage that insures against damage to the insured's own vehicle. The most common types are collision coverage and comprehensive coverage. These two coverages are optional to purchase.
Collision coverage pays for physical damage to your car as the result of your auto colliding with an object, such as a tree or another car. In the case of an accident involving an older car or any vehicle sustaining extensive damage, the cost of repairing the car can quickly exceed a threshold of the car's actual cash value. In this case, insurers will “total” the car and pay you the actual cash value of the car, minus the deductible, rather than repairing it. As indicated by South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles Law 56-19-480(G), this threshold is 75% of the vehicle's actual cash value (ACV).
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your auto from most other causes, including fire, vandalism, flooding, theft, falling objects, and collision with animals. Comprehensive coverage will also cover broken glass, such as damage to a windshield. In South Carolina, auto insurers cannot impose a deductible for safety glass repairs or replacements.
While not required by law, comprehensive and collision coverage may be required by your lender.
Contact Our Office of Consumer Services with QuestionsThe SCDOI's Office of Consumer Services can help answer your questions about auto or other types of insurance.
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File an Insurance Complaint
If you're having a specific problem with an insurance company, broker, agent, or adjuster, file a complaint with our Office of Consumer Services at doi.sc.gov/complaint.
Report Suspected Insurance Fraud to the SC Attorney General's Office
If you suspect someone has committed any type of insurance fraud, call the South Carolina Insurance Fraud Hotline toll-free at 1-888-95-FRAUD or complete the Insurance Fraud Complaint Form online. You don’t have to reveal your identity. For more information about insurance fraud, go to scag.gov/insurance-fraud.