North vs South Carolina: A Car Insurance Faceoff

June 21, 2018

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North Carolina has the barbecue. South Carolina has the shrimp.

North Carolina has Asheville’s mountain beauty. South Carolina has Charleston’s historic charm.

But which state has the cheapest car insurance? Let’s find out. And remember, if you want to compare your personal best car insurance quotes for NC or SC, there’s an easy way to do it: Spend five minutes on Compare.com to see how low the insurers will go.

Round 1: Car Insurance Discounts in SC and NC

If North Carolina needed another nickname (besides the Tar Heel State), we’d call it Land of Insurance Discounts. It’s not catchy, but it’s true. Because North Carolina’s regulators cap car insurance rates, the only way companies can compete is by offering discounts — more than 2,000 different auto insurance discounts, the Charlotte Observer reports. These might be driver training discounts, good student discounts, safe-driver discounts, etc.

You can get some of the same discounts in South Carolina, too, although insurance rates aren’t quite as competitive. If you’re under 25 or over 55, you may be able to score a 5 to 10 percent discount on your SC auto insurance by taking a defensive driving class.

Winner: North Carolina

Round 2: How Driving History Affects Car Insurance Rates in SC and NC

If you get a speeding ticket or other traffic violation in North Carolina, it’s a sure bet your car insurance rates will shoot upward. NC’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan mandates certain increases in insurance premiums for three years after a traffic conviction or at-fault accident. A minor accident or minor speeding violation results in 1 SDIP point and a rate increase of 30 percent.

Reckless driving or passing a stopped school bus is 4 points and an 80 percent rate jump. Highway racing, a DUI, or a hit-and-run that results in injury or death means 12 points and a 340 percent insurance increase. So if you were paying $100 a month before, a DUI will jack your rates to $340. Ouch.

While a tarnished driving record will also raise your South Carolina car insurance rates, other factors have significant influence as well (like your credit, which we’ll get to in a moment). You could argue that North Carolina’s system is fairer, because it rewards safe driving — but if you’re prone to getting speeding tickets, you may be happier in SC.

Winner: South Carolina

Round 3: How Credit Affects Car Insurance Rates in SC and NC

Both South Carolina and North Carolina (like most other states) allow car insurance companies to consider your credit history when they’re setting rates. This means that if you have a perfect driving record but imperfect credit, insurers will assume you’re a higher-risk driver.

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In South Carolina, having poor credit may raise your insurance premiums much more than if you had a DWI. On average, the new-customer annual premium for an adult single driver is $3,339 for someone with a great driving record and poor credit; for someone with a DWI and excellent credit, it’s 2,210.

In North Carolina, however, credit does not have an outsize impact on your car insurance rates. In a Consumer Reports’ study, a typical single driver would pay $68 more per year for having merely “good” credit, and $320 more per year for having poor credit. Someone with excellent credit and a DWI would pay $3,115 more per year than someone without a DWI.

Winner: North Carolina

Round 4: Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in SC and NC

Every state sets its own car insurance minimum, which is the least coverage you can carry and still drive legally.

North Carolina’s state minimum is 30/60/25, which means:

South Carolina’s state minimum is a little lower, 25/50/25:

  • $25,000 bodily Injury liability for one person
  • $50,000 bodily Injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 for property damage liability
  • Matching limits for uninsured motorist coverage

Winner: South Carolina

Final Round: Which State Has the Cheapest Auto Insurance?

Ding! Despite South Carolina’s many perks, North Carolina is the undisputed winner when it comes to cheap car insurance. Tight state regulations mean rates are kept low, making NC the sixth cheapest state in the U.S. for car insurance. (South Carolina ranks 20th.) Not only that, but six North Carolina cities make the list of the top 10 cheapest cities for car insurance: Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and Fayetteville.

But if you live in South Carolina, don’t despair! We’ve already looked at the cheapest cities to live in South Carolina. If you’re looking for cheap car insurance, Compare.com can help you find cheapest car insurance quotes too. Try it!

Bonus Round: Uninsured Drivers

Uninsured drivers are a menace. If one hits you, you’ll have to rely on your own uninsured motorist coverage to pay for any injuries you and your passengers suffer, as well as any damage to your car. You can sue them, too, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get the recompense you deserve.

Nationwide, about 13 percent of drivers are uninsured. In some southern states, the number’s much higher; the worst is Florida, where more than 1 in four drivers is uninsured. Fortunately, both South Carolina and North Carolina have lower-than-average percentages of drivers who are uninsured. In South Carolina, 9.4 percent are uninsured, while in North Carolina, just 6.5 percent are.

Winner: North Carolina

Whether you live in North Carolina, South Carolina or just about any other state in the US – you’re going to need car insurance to get around. The best way to get insured? Compare rates and coverages side by side with Compare.com and see how much you can save today. Start now!

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