It's hard to miss the catchy commercials from companies like State Farm and GEICO that promise enormous savings. So you should just pick the one with the catchiest commercial, right?

Unfortunately, it's just not that easy, as there are a whole bunch of unknown factors such as what coverage limits you want, whether or not you own a home, any driving violations you may have, and the safety features built into your vehicle, that all impact the cost of coverage. If you keep reading, we will teach you about the causes of high insurance rates and will give you a good beginning to your search for cheaper coverage.

The car, truck, or SUV you are insuring is one of the largest factors when looking for the best insurance for first-time drivers. Vehicles with economical engines, modern passenger safety features, or a track record of few liability claims will cost much less to insure than high performance models.

The next list showcases coverage rates for a number of the most economical automobiles to buy insurance for.

Cheapest Vehicles to Insure for First-time Drivers in South Carolina
Vehicle Make and Model Estimated Cost for Full Coverage
Ford Escape XLT 2WD $2,987
Honda CR-V LX 4WD $2,993
Toyota Prius $3,235
Ford F-150 XLT Regular Cab 2WD $3,326
Jeep Wrangler Sport Islander Package 4WD 2-Dr $3,336
Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.5 Station Wagon $3,422
Honda Odyssey EX W/Rear Entertainment $3,516
Ford Focus SE 4-Dr Sedan $3,522
Ford Edge Limited 2WD $3,516
Chevrolet Impala LS $3,524
Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 2WD $3,545
Toyota RAV4 2WD $3,555
Chevrolet Equinox LS 2WD $3,545
Ford Explorer Limited AWD $3,574
Dodge Grand Caravan SXT $3,580
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Data based on single female driver age 17, no speeding tickets, no at-fault accidents, $1,000 deductibles, and South Carolina minimum liability limits. Discounts applied include safe-driver, and claim-free. Table data does not factor in the specific area where the vehicle is garaged which can lower or raise prices substantially.

Based upon the table data, vehicles like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota Prius, and Ford F-150 are likely to be the cheapest vehicles to insure for new drivers. The price of auto insurance will be more expensive because there is more claim exposure for first-time drivers, but generally speaking those makes and models will most likely have the lowest insurance prices compared to other vehicles.

One of the more important things that help determine the amount you pay each year for auto insurance is where you call home. Areas with high crime rates or more dense population like Florence, Charleston, and Goose Creek tend to pay slightly more, whereas less populated areas have the enjoyment of a little cheaper coverage.

The illustration below ranks the most expensive areas in South Carolina for first-time drivers to purchase a policy in.

How much is auto insurance in South Carolina?
Rank City Average Per Year
1 Florence $1,298
2 Summerville $1,290
3 Charleston $1,285
4 North Charleston $1,262
5 Goose Creek $1,258
6 Sumter $1,239
7 Columbia $1,225
8 Mount Pleasant $1,225
9 Socastee $1,199
10 Saint Andrews $1,184
11 Myrtle Beach $1,174
12 Greenville $1,144
13 Hilton Head Island $1,139
14 North Augusta $1,139
15 Rock Hill $1,135
16 Aiken $1,119
17 Greenwood $1,110
18 Spartanburg $1,094
19 Anderson $1,083
20 Greer $1,077
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Price information shown is approximated as specific South Carolina garaging address can alter insurance rates substantially.

Careless driving habits raise car insurance rates

The common sense way to maintain low car insurance rates in South Carolina for new drivers is to drive safe and avoid accidents and traffic violations. The illustration below illustrates how traffic citations and accidents can affect auto insurance costs for different age groups. The data is based on a single male driver, full coverage, $500 deductibles, and no discounts are factored in.

The data above shows the average cost of an auto insurance policy per year with no violations or accidents is $1,610. Receive two speeding tickets and the average cost jumps to $2,124, an increase of $515 each year. Then include one accident along with the two speeding tickets and the yearly cost of car insurance for first-time drivers in South Carolina goes up to an average of $2,643. That's an increase of $1,033, or $86 per month, just for not driving attentively!

Get discount South Carolina auto insurance rates

Insurance providers that sell policies for first-time drivers may provide policy discounts that can lower rates by 30% or more if you meet specific eligibility requirements. A few of the larger companies and some of their more popular discounts include:

The illustration below shows the comparison of car insurance rates with and without policy discounts. The premiums assume a male driver, no claims or driving citations, South Carolina state minimum liability limits, full physical damage coverage, and $250 deductibles.

The first bar for each age group shows premium with no discounts. The second bar shows the rates with passive restraint, paid-in-full, continuous coverage, paperless filing, anti-theft, and vehicle safety discounts applied. When these discounts are applied to the policy premium, the average amount saved each year on car insurance for first-time drivers is 28% or $865.

Chances are good that you're overpaying for South Carolina car insurance

South Carolina car insurance rates are based on many factors which can substantially change the cost of having a policy. Simply turning a year older, having a teen driver, or getting into an accident may generate price changes resulting in some rates now being cheaper than competitors. Not only that, but insurance companies change rates every year or even multiple times each year as an adjustment for underwriting gains or losses. Heavy losses can cause higher rates, while lower claims can cause cheaper South Carolina car insurance rates.

The data below shows which companies have the cheapest car insurance in South Carolina for a 40-year-old female driver with no prior accidents, a clean driving record, and good financial standing. If we look at prices based on her current situation, The Hartford offers the lowest car insurance rates in South Carolina at $775 annually. This is $834 less than the average policy premium paid by South Carolina drivers of $1,609. USAA, State Auto, Auto-Owners, and Southern Farm Bureau are the rest of the cheapest South Carolina auto insurance companies.

Now we will pretend the driver from the first set of rates a chargeable accident, poor credit, and a traffic citation. Since each auto insurance company has a unique formula for setting prices, comparing rates may result in a completely different list of cheap South Carolina auto insurance companies as shown below.

Travelers now has the best insurance rate in South Carolina with National Grange Mutual, State Farm, USAA, and State Auto completing the list. This example demonstrates why it is so important to shop around with many companies to get affordable car insurance rates for first-time drivers. Car insurance prices are influenced by many things and change frequently, so the most affordable company the last time you shopped around may now be an over-priced policy.