South Carolina is number 16 on a list of the top states to start a small business, and ranks number 12 in growth prospects. Some business costs, such as industrial power, are 14% lower than the national average. The Palmetto State also boasts miles of sandy white beaches, excellent golf courses, and thousands of tourists that arrive each year to take advantage of the weather. That means there are always new customers in South Carolina!
Starting a small business anywhere is always a risk. However, don’t get discouraged. Many people do make a success of their small business, and you will, too. One thing you can do to increase your odds of success is to make sure you have business insurance. That way, you won’t have to worry about a lawsuit bankrupting your small business.
- 7 best business insurance companies in South Carolina
- Business insurance coverages in South Carolina
- Which business insurance coverage do I really need in South Carolina?
- Is business insurance required in South Carolina?
- How much does business insurance cost in South Carolina?
- How to find cheap business insurance in South Carolina?
- How to buy business insurance online in South Carolina?
7 best business insurance companies in South Carolina
Once you start researching business insurance, you will discover that there are a lot of companies that offer it. Some are online businesses, some are insurance brokers, and some are tech startups. All of them have their pros and cons, so which company should you choose?
- Simply Business: Best for finding the cheapest coverage
- NEXT: Best for contractors general liability insurance
- CoverWallet: Best for comparing several quotes online from top-rated carriers
- InsurePro: Best for flexible, on-demand, pay-per-day coverage of general liability, commercial auto, and workers comp insurance
- biBERK: Best for low-cost workers comp and commercial auto insurance
- Progressive: Best Overall for commercial auto and commercial truck insurance
- Tivly: Best if you prefer working with knowledgeable agents to find all types of small business insurance coverage
Simply Business: Best for finding the cheapest coverage
Simply Business is best if you have simple business insurance needs. They pair with over 20 companies to provide you with quotes, including companies like Travelers, biBERK, CNA and others. They also have a business plan template you can use, if you’re just starting out.
- Get quotes from multiple insurance companies
- Optimize to find low-cost coverage by working with several insurance companies who often offer affordable rates
- You have to file claims with the carriers directly, not through Simply Business
- If you prefer a particular carrier which they don’t work with, you have to look elsewhere
NEXT: Best for contractors general liability insurance
Next is great because you can get a quote, buy a policy, and file a claim online. If you buy more than one policy you’ll save 10% and you can get a certificate of insurance right away: important for contractors and others who need proof of insurance.
- Specialize in contractor insurance
- Manage policies online
- Get quick quotes
- Handles all its own claims
- Mostly provides general liability insurance: they may not have everything you need
- A relatively new carrier, founded in 2016, without a long track record yet
CoverWallet: Best for comparing several quotes from top-rated carriers
CoverWallet is usually good about getting quotes from two or three companies, so you only have to fill out one form. However, they only show you quotes from businesses that they are partnered with, and sometimes you will have to call to finalize your quote.
- Easy to get several quotes from one form
- Wide range of policies available
- Manage all your policies in your “wallet”
- You will only get quotes from partner companies
- Only third party quotes (CW is a broker, not an insurance company)
InsurePro: Best for flexible, on-demand, pay-per-day coverage
InsurePro is great if you need short-term insurance, or seasonal coverage. InsurePro calls it on demand coverage, and you can purchase insurance by the job or by the month–whatever your business demands.
- Specialize in finding on-demand and short-term coverage
- Affordable rates
- May not offer every type of policy
- Can’t make claims through InsurePro
Progressive: Best Overall for commercial auto and commercial truck insurance
Progressive insures over a million commerical vehicles, so they have a lot of experience. Also, it’s easy to get a quote–no matter what kind of commercial vehicle you drive, Progressive has a policy that fits your business.
- One of few companies that will consistently provide online quotes for commercial vehicles
- Bundle with other policies
- Many discounts available
- Only provides commercial truck/vehicle coverage directly: other business coverage is by the third party
- Rates can be higher than other options, but the coverage is comprehensive
biBERK: Best for low-cost workers comp and commercial auto insurance
biBERK is part of Berkshire Hathaway. They have most business policies, but the trick is to see if the policy you want is offered in your state, but all the major insurance types: workers comp, professional liability, commercial property, commercial auto and general liability, are offered in South Carolina.
- Completely digital experience: get a quote, buy a policy, manage your policy and file claims online
- Save 20% on premiums
- Low coverage limits
Tivly: Best if you prefer working with knowledgeable agents to find all types of small business insurance coverage
If this whole insurance thing is giving you fits, try Tivly. They have agents that can help you figure out what type of insurance you need and how much, so you can go back to running your business. Agents are independent, which means they can sell you insurance from many companies: they’re not committed to selling insurance from just one provider.
- Knowledgeable agents with great experience working with small businesses in all industries and niche segments
- Partnered with over 50 insurance companies
- Must work with an agent
- No mobile app
Business insurance coverages in South Carolina
Small business owners need to get business insurance to protect their business’s assets. The question is, what kind of insurance do you really need, and how much?
You don’t want to spend a fortune (that you don’t have) but you know you need insurance. The following are the most common types of policies. Research what kind of insurance your business needs, and then shop around to find the best rate.
General liability insurance
General liability insurance covers you for:
- Third-party bodily injury
- Third party property damage
- Advertising injury
General liability insurance covers guests such as customers and vendors if they happen to injure themselves while on your property. It covers their medical bills and your legal costs if they should sue you.
Third party property damage, on the other hand, protects you in case you accidentally damage something in a customer’s home. If you go to customer’s homes, such as plumbers, contractors, landscapers, or real estate agents, you will need general liability insurance. It’s very easy to knock over a priceless heirloom or stain a carpet.
Advertising injury works both ways: you could be the victim, or you could have harmed someone else. For example, if you’re a professional photographer, you could have your photos used in someone’s website without compensation. That would be a copyright violation. On the other hand, you could post something on social media about a competitor. If they suffer financial harm due to your post, they might be able to sue you.
Commercial property insurance
Commercial property insurance protects your property and your equipment from losses. It covers losses due to:
- Lightning strikes
- Water damage
It should cover you for losses of business income, should one of the above factors damage your property. Oftentimes, landlords will require you to have commercial property insurance before they will rent or lease a space.
Otherwise, they would be on the hook for damage to your inventory and landlords don’t want that.
South Carolina can suffer from hurricanes, floods, tornados, and wildfires. The Palmetto state doesn’t often have earthquakes, but they have happened.
Business Owners Policy (BOP)
A Business Owners Policy can save you money by combining several of the most common types of business coverage under one policy. It almost always combines general liability insurance and commercial property insurance. Usually, they also include at least one other type of coverage, depending on the policy. Some policies include:
- Business interruption insurance
- Cyber liability
- Rented vehicles
- Equipment breakdown
- Employment practices liability insurance
Shop around for the policy that provides the types of coverage you need.
Professional liability insurance
If you provide services or advice in exchange for money, you probably need professional liability insurance (PLI). If you work in healthcare or in law, this kind of insurance is called malpractice insurance. Sometimes it’s called Errors and Omissions insurance, but it’s all the same thing.
PLI covers you if you make a mistake or neglect to do something that causes your customer financial harm. If you are an accountant and you file someone’s taxes late, resulting in them having to pay a penalty, they could sue you. If you are a financial advisor and you tell your clients to invest in a ponzi scheme, they can sue you for your poor advice.
Workers comp insurance
South Carolina requires everyone having more than four employees to have workers compensation insurance. It doesn’t matter if they are full-time or part-time, if you have more than four employees, you are required by law to get workers comp. The only exceptions are:
- Agricultural employees
- Railroad employees
- Real estate agents
You can self-insure if you prove you have the financial resources to do so. Most small businesses can’t afford this, though.
Workers comp protects you, the employer, from having to pay medical costs and lost wages for injured employers who cannot work. It also protects the employees from having to pay for their own medical costs, and it helps by paying them for lost wages while they recover. Should the worst happen, workers comp will also pay death benefits to the family of the accident victim.
Workers comp is based on payroll. One way to save some money on workers compensation insurance is to by pay-as-you-go insurance, which is based on the exact amount of your payroll as opposed to sick employees, fired employees, or employees you haven’t gotten around to hiring yet.
Commercial auto insurance
Commercial auto insurance covers you if you are in an accident while using your vehicle for work. Personal auto coverage will not cover you if you use your vehicle for work-related purposes (other than commuting back and forth to your job).
South Carolina law requires you to have at least 25/50/25, or $25,000 bodily injury liability, $50,000 per accident and $25,000 in property liability coverage. You also need liability coverage of at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in case you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. The average cost of commercial vehicle insurance in South Carolina is about $142 a month.
If you want to cover damages to your own property and your own vehicle, you’ll need collision and comprehensive insurance.
Trucking companies need more insurance to comply with state and federal regulations.
These are the bare minimums. the very least you can get away with. But if you were in just one accident, your costs could easily exceed the policy limits, which means you would have to pay the rest out-of-pocket.
Cyber liability insurance
Most businesses these days store at least some customer information online. Cyber liability insurance will protect you in the event of a data breach, malware attack, or ransomware attack. If you store things like credit card information, financial information, or medical records, you need cyber liability insurance. The cost of cybercrime is predicted to $10.5 trillion dollars by 2025. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s only three years away.
Business interruption insurance
If your business had to close due to an emergency, how would you pay your bills? Business interruption insurance provides protection against financial losses if your business needs to close temporarily due to a reason listed on the policy.
That last part is important. If your business interruption insurance does not cover pandemics, as many small business owners found out in 2020, then you will not be covered by business interruption insurance. Covered perils are usually things like:
- Falling objects
If floods or hurricanes or earthquakes are common in your area, you’ll need to add those as an additional expense. Many areas in South Carolina may experience hurricanes and floods. It may be a good idea to have these coverages in your policy.
Directors & Officers insurance (D&O)
Directors & Officers insurance is like E&O (errors & omissions, also known as professional liability insurance) but for officers and directors of a company. It protects them from personal losses in the event the company is sued for some decision they made. A D&O policy will pay for legal fees to defend the company against lawsuits, either civil lawsuits or criminal lawsuits (often these are filed simultaneously).
Which business insurance coverage do I really need in South Carolina?
There are a lot of different types of business insurance available but not all of them are necessary.
- Most small businesses should get general liability insurance. It’s good basic coverage that protects you for a lot of the reasons people file lawsuits.
- If you use vehicles for business purposes, you’ll need commercial vehicle insurance. It is required by state law.
- If you have more than 4 employees, you need workers compensation insurance. It is also required by state law.
- If you are in the business of providing services or advice to your customers, it is very likely that you will need professional liability, or E&O insurance, also called malpractice insurance in medical and legal fields.
Is business insurance required in South Carolina?
The only insurance coverages that are required in South Carolina is workers compensation and commercial vehicle insurance. Everything else is up to you, but like all insurance, you should weigh the risks of a lawsuit against the costs of insurance.
Who needs business insurance in South Carolina?
The only insurance coverages that are required in South Carolina are workers compensation and commercial vehicle insurance. Everything else is up to you, but like all insurance, you should weigh the risks of a lawsuit against insurance costs.
Below are some popular small businesses that buy insurance in South Carolina:
|Hair & beauty salons
|Financial & investment advisors
|CPA & accountants
How much does business insurance cost in South Carolina?
The average business in South Carolina pays about $40 a month, or $480 per year, for a $1MM general liability insurance policy. If you have more policies, you’ll pay more. The best thing to do is get quotes from at least three different companies, so you won’t pay more than you have to.
Below are the average costs in South Carolina for different small business insurance coverages:
|South Carolina business insurance coverages
|$40 per month
|Business Owners Policy (BOP)
|$119 per month
|Workers comp insurance
|$0.97 per $100 payroll
|Commercial auto insurance
|$109 per month
|Professional liability insurance
|$59 per month
|Cyber liability insurance
|$94 per month
|Commercial property insurance
|$89 per month
Please keep in mind that these are just the average rates that hundreds of thousands small businesses pay in South Carolina. Your rates will be different. Be sure to shop around with a few companies and compare several quotes to find the cheapest one for your business.
What factors affect business insurance costs in South Carolina?
There are a lot of things that affect how much business insurance costs. Just a few include:
- Number of employees
- Years of experience
- Industry (higher risk industries pay more)
- Claims history
- Coverage limits
It’s like buying auto insurance, in a way: insurance companies weigh the odds of how likely it is you’ll file a claim and then set your rates accordingly.
How to find cheap business insurance in South Carolina?
As mentioned above, the easiest way to save money on insurance is to shop around. There are so many factors that go into insurance rates, and some companies might weigh some factors more than others. For example, if you only have a year’s experience in your field, some companies might see that as more positive (no claims!) and others might see it as a negative (This kid has no idea what he’s doing and will make mistakes).
You can also bundle policies. Business Owners Policies bundle several policies together, so you save money. Even if you only buy one type of business insurance, you can usually bundle it with your homeowners insurance or your auto insurance to get a discount, assuming you insure your business with the same company as your home/auto insurance
Choose a higher deductible–make sure you have the funds to cover the deductible if you need to, but this can reduce your monthly payments.
Develop a safety plan. Stress the importance of working safer and smarter, not harder. Post the safety plan where everyone can see it.
How to buy business insurance online in South Carolina?
Figure out what business insurance you really need. Then, get some quotes.
Most companies will give you an online quote for at least general liability insurance. Take the time to gather quotes–it doesn’t take much time and it could save you hundreds of dollars.
You can save time by using an online insurance broker. They will present you with at least a few quotes and you’ll only have to fill out one form. Companies such as CoverWallet, Simply Business, and Commercialinsurance.net are good places to start.
Once you have your quotes, buy your policy. For many companies, you can do this online as well. Others require you to call to purchase insurance. Either way, it’s not that much time and it could save you money.