Buying car insurance varies somewhat from state to state. In the state of South Carolina, insurance regulations are managed by the South Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. However, the DMV does not create the laws and regulations regarding auto insurance coverage, but the agency is responsible for enforcement.
The state of South Carolina requires that when a driver’s license is issued for the first time, or, when the license is renewed, that the person obtaining the license must certify that they are covered under a automobile liability policy. There is an option on the driver’s license application, form DL 447, for people who do not own a car or no one in the household of the application owns a car. However, for most people, it is a requirement to state that you are covered. This is an extra step in the auto insurance coverage process for most states.
When a car is registered in the state, the owner must show proof of insurance coverage and the name of the covering carrier. Each time the vehicle registration is up for renewal, the owner must always show the name of the carrier. However, the South Carolina DMV does not simply take the owner’s word for the existence of coverage, they will verify that the owner does indeed have coverage electronically. If the coverage can’t be verified by the DMV, then the driver’s license may be suspended and the vehicle registration will almost certainly be suspended.
If you are found to be driving without proof of insurance, you may be fined, and in some cases, the penalties can include imprisonment.
Another factor that some people overlook when first moving to the state of South Carolina is that carriers must be licensed to offer coverage in the state. This is true of most states, so that means you must notify your existing carrier of your new address change so they can determine if they are able to still offer you coverage. For large carriers, this is not normally a problem, but for regional carriers, it can be an issue. This may seem like a hassle but it is necessary. If you are carrying coverage from an insurer that is not licensed in South Carolina, the truth is, you don’t actually have coverage in the eyes of the law. You will be subject to the same penalties and fines just as if you had no coverage at all. Normally, if you are found to be driving without adequate coverage, you will be given 30 days to show proof of insurance.
Costs for insurance in the state of South Carolina are similar to most states, in that your driving record and other factors, such as your age, will raise or lower your premiums. The basic coverage that is required in South Carolina are stated by the DMV as “25/50/25″. Be sure that not only does your carrier have the license to offer coverage in your state, but also that you get the correct coverage. Working with an agent that actually operates in South Carolina is a good bet to make sure you get the correct coverage, even if the insurance carrier you use is a national company.