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Looking for Columbia auto insurance rates? For drivers in the state of South Carolina and the city of Columbia, auto insurance laws differ from other states in regards to required minimums. In order to find an insurance policy that meets the needs of living in this city you need to understand your legal responsibilities and know what choices are available to protect your assets.

This overview of Columbia auto insurance laws and coverage options will enable you to make the best choice possible from the many insurance companies out there.

Overview of Columbia Auto Insurance Laws

At one time, South Carolina was one of the few states where drivers were not required to have car insurance. If you chose not to purchase car insurance, you were allowed to pay a $550 annual fee to the Department of Public Safety and carry proof of your authorization to drive without insurance. This is no longer the case. At this point in time, drivers registered here are required to carry proof of certain insurance coverage amounts with them at all times.

According to the South Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI), carrying insurance is a good idea for anyone without the financial resources to pay for the costs involved in an accident. If you do cause an accident, the other driver has the right to sue you for liability and property damages. By carrying liability insurance coverage you will have protection against these sorts of claims.

Recommended Columbia Auto Insurance Coverage

As of 2007, the state has required that drivers carry liability coverage in 25/50/25. These were increased from the prior limits of 15/30/10.

For most drivers, even the higher minimum is not enough to protect your assets in a major accident. This is because if the amount of damage to a single person in an accident you cause exceeds the $25,000 limit above, you are still responsible to cover the remaining amount. In a serious accident, the hospital bills alone can go much higher.

If you can afford the premiums, coverage of 100/300/100 is considered a good amount for most people. Your insurer must offer you uninsured motorist coverage as well. You don't have to take it, but again, if you can afford it you should have it.

Lowering Columbia Auto Insurance Premiums

What if you just can't afford those ideal amounts? Frankly, some coverage is better than none at all. Also, there are steps you can take to reduce your premiums. The DOI offers some basic tips on how drivers can lower their insurance costs.

The first is to be a good driver. Your rate is partially determined by the level of risk you present to your insurer. Every accident you are involved in or ticket you receive raises that perception of your risk. In fact, the majority of accidents result from speeding. Even if someone else in your household has a poor record, or is considered a high risk driver (like teenagers) then this will raise your rates. To this end there are safe driving classes available to lower that risk. And the longer you go without any incidents, the lower your premiums will be.

Look at your coverage options. Do you have collision or comprehensive insurance? Collision on an older car may not be worth it. On the other hand, if you do have these coverages then raising your deductible can lower your monthly premiums. This means that you will have to pay more out of pocket when an accident occurs in order to cut your monthly costs. As long as you have funds to cover that deductible when needed, this can be a good cost cutting method.

Find out what a car will cost to insure before you buy it. This might affect your purchase decision in the first place. According to Yahoo! Finance, small cars and sporty cars present the highest risk. The Ford Taurus currently rates as the lowest risk car to insure, while the Cadillac Escalade EXT 4WD is the most expensive nationwide.

You can also look at theft rate which directly impacts car insurance premiums. In 2008, the 1994 Honda Accord was the car model most often stolen in South Carolina. According to the Hot Wheels 2009 survey completed by the National Crime Information Center, the other most stolen vehicles in the state that year were the 1997 Ford Explorer, 1997 Ford Ranger, 1989 Chevrolet Caprice, 1997 Ford F150 Pickup, 1997 Ford Taurus, 1996 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, 1995 Ford Crown Victoria, 2007 Dodge Ram Pickup and the 1994 Honda Civic.

If you already own of the listed vehicles then installing anti-theft devices may get you a lower discount with your insurance company. Ask first. Each insurer is different, so don't invest in a pricey system only to discover that your company won't discount your rate.

In July of 2009 the South Carolina Insurance News Service said that law enforcement officials reported a spike in vehicle break ins. Things like iPods, GPS systems, and any items of value are targeted. Officials recommend using common sense and not leaving items it plain view, locking your doors and installing anti-theft devices like VIN etchings, steering wheel locks and vehicle tracking devices.

The final recommendation from the SCDOI is that consumers do some comparison shopping before buying an auto insurance policy. Car insurance companies are in business to make money, and they will compete for your business. Tools like online rate quoting devices allow consumers to review and compare quotes from several providers before committing to any policy. A little planning now can offer you protection and peace of mind when you need it most.

Compare Columbia Auto Insurance Quotes Online

Save yourself both time and money and get started comparing Columbia auto insurance quotes online from various insurance companies. After all, just a few minutes comparison shopping online could end up saving you thousands! Get started finding cheap Columbia auto insurance rates online today!

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