AutoInsurance.com
Published: December 10, 2018Last updated: November 4, 2022

Car Insurance in South Dakota

Drive legally and safely from Sioux Falls to Mount Rushmore.

Find The Right Insurance

Let our Perfect Policy Connectors do the work for you!

Auto Insurancephone-icon(855) 909-2474Request a free quote

South Dakota ranks fifth in the nation for the lowest number of licensed drivers, coming in at just over 638,000. Accordingly, the state’s driving and car insurance laws are relatively lax, with no inspection requirement for regular vehicles, no seat belt requirement for those in the back seat, and no ban on handheld electronic devices for most drivers.

However, that doesn’t mean South Dakota is a lawless land, especially when it comes to car insurance. Here’s what you need to know, whether you’re a new driver or just new to the Mount Rushmore state.

Minimum Required Car Insurance in South Dakota

  • Bodily injury liability: $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident
  • Property damage liability: $25,000 per person
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident1

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

South Dakota’s minimum coverage may not be enough if you cause an accident or are a victim of car theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. We recommend getting full coverage insurance in addition to the required liability insurance. Read on to see the difference.

Claim type Full coverage Liability coverage
Bodily injury Included Included
Damage to the other car Included Included
Injury to passengers in the other car Included Included
Light poles Included Included
Property damage Included Included
Collision Included Not included
Comprehensive Included Not included
Damage to your car Included Not included
Your injuries Included Not included
Your passenger’s injuries Included Not included

Liability coverage only reimburses the other party’s losses in accidents you caused. To get your own losses covered, you’ll need collision insurance. You’ll also need comprehensive coverage to pay for your damages from anything that’s not a collision, like the aforementioned vandalism.

Additionally, we recommend medical payments coverage to pay for you and your passengers’ medical bills, even if you already have health insurance. When it comes to insurance, redundancy is key.

The limit for collision and comprehensive coverage is your car’s actual market value (AMV); in other words, what you would get if you sold it tomorrow. We also recommend liability limits on your liability and uninsured motorist coverage that are as high as you can afford, up to $500,000 if you have a high net worth.

The Average Cost of Car Insurance in South Dakota

Car insurance in South Dakota is the sixth cheapest in the nation, averaging only $745.33 annually. That average insurance price is 44 percent lower than the rest of the country. In 2019, the last time the National Association of Insurance Commissions published national data, liability insurance in the state cost an average of $337.11, while collision coverage cost an average of $248.09 and comprehensive coverage cost an average of $347.61.

Keep in mind that minimum coverage is always the cheapest option, although you may have to pay more for a covered claim with low car insurance rates. Instead of getting the cheapest car insurance that meets the minimum insurance requirements, consider spending more on South Dakota car insurance to save more later.

Car Insurance Companies in South Dakota

  • Allied
  • Allstate
  • American Family
  • Auto-Owners
  • Farm Bureau
  • Farmers
  • Farmers Mutual of Nebraska
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide
  • North Star Mutual
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • USAA
  • Western National

How to Get Lower Prices

  1. Ask your agent. Your agent is the best person to ask about auto insurance discounts. If you have a teen driver, get a discount for their good grades. Get an early payer discount if you are okay with paying more upfront. Each company’s policies are different, so we recommend going straight to the source to find ways to save.
  2. Bundle your policies. Now, we’re not suggesting you buy a new insurance policy just to get a bundling discount. But if you already have more than one policy, bundle them under the same provider, and you’re likely to see lower rates.
  3. Lower your limits. The lower your liability limits, the lower your premiums, but keep in mind the financial responsibility you’ll have in an at-fault accident. Paying less now could mean paying more later.
  4. Get rid of coverages. Similarly, dropping coverages that the law doesn’t require will save you money now. But if, for example,  your car is stolen and you lack comprehensive coverage, you won’t see any compensation at all.
  5. Increase your deductible. You can raise the deductible on your comprehensive and collision coverage to decrease your premium. Just make sure you can actually afford to pay that higher deductible in the event of a covered claim.

Proof of Car Insurance

If you have the required car insurance but can’t prove it, do you really have it at all? To law enforcement, the answer is no. If you’re caught driving without insurance in South Dakota, you could be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor and face the following penalties.

  • Fine: $500 maximum
  • Imprisonment: Up to 30 days (in addition to or instead of the fine)
  • License suspension: 30 days to one year, until you show proof of insurance
  • License reinstatement fee: $50
  • Registration suspension: Until you show proof of insurance

Proof of insurance can be either paper or electronic.

South Dakota State Driving Laws

Fault System

South Dakota’s at-fault insurance system means the person who caused an accident is responsible for the other party’s property damages and bodily injuries, as well as their own. Regarding negligence laws, the state is unique with slight-gross comparative negligence. That means the plaintiff, or the accident victim, can only recover money if they displayed “slight” negligence and the defendant displayed “gross” negligence.

However, the state legislature does not define these two thresholds in terms of percentages, so it’s up to the judge’s discretion to determine compensation, if any.

Uninsured Motorists

Since South Dakota requires uninsured motorist coverage (UM), you’ll be happy to find out UM includes coverage for hit-and-runs — when someone hits your car and leaves without leaving their information. However, you can’t stack coverage limits if you have multiple cars, unlike in some other states.

CheckFYI

Only 7 percent of South Dakota’s drivers are uninsured, which is 69 percent less than the national average. All in all, that’s about 50,000 people driving without insurance.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence

Offense number Crime classification How long driving privileges are revoked Requirements for restricted driving for employment, 24/7 sobriety testing, or school or counseling program attendance Imprisonment term Other requirements
1 Class 1 misdemeanor 30 days to 1 year SR-22 None Addiction counselor evaluation if you had a BAC 0.17% or higher
2 Class 1 misdemeanor 1 year minimum SR-22 3 days minimum None
3 Class 6 felony 1 year minimum SR-22 and completion of a court-approved chemical dependency counseling program 2 years maximum None
4 Class 5 felony 2 years minimum SR-22 and completion of a court-approved chemical dependency counseling program 5 years maximum2 None
5 and up Class 4 felony 3 years minimum SR-22 and completion of a court-approved chemical dependency counseling program 10 years maximum3 None

Seat Belt Laws

In South Dakota, people 18 and older are required to wear seat belts in the front seat only. Seat belts aren’t required at all in the back seat, nor are they required for those under 18 in any seat. On top of that, the seat belt requirement is under secondary enforcement. That means, for law officers to issue a ticket for a seat belt violation, another violation would have to occur.

Distracted Driving Laws

The state has similarly lax distracted driving laws.

Unrestricted licenses Learner’s permits or intermediate licenses
Allowed to text and drive? No; under primary enforcement No; under secondary enforcement
Allowed to use electronic devices for actions other than texting? Yes; handheld and hands-free No; under secondary enforcement except for those over 18 with intermediate licenses

The fine for texting and driving in South Dakota is $100.

Teen Driver Restrictions

Restriction Learner’s permit Intermediate license Unrestricted license
Minimum age for learner’s permit 14 14.75 16
Curfew 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless a licensed parent/guardian 18 or older is in the front seat 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless a licensed parent/guardian 18 or older is in the front seat None
Supervision If under 18: Parent/guardian or another licensed adult with 1 year of driving experience in front seat

If over 18: Any licensed adult with at least 1 year of driving experience in front seat

Licensed adult at least 21 years old during curfew hours None
Passengers First 6 months of permit: No passengers outside of immediate family/household

After 6 months: 1 passenger outside of immediate family/household

First 6 months of permit: No passengers outside of immediate family/household

After 6 months: 1 passenger who’s not part of your household

None
Electronic devices Can’t use any wireless communication devices while driving If under 18: Can’t use handheld wireless communication devices None4

When to File Claims

You have six years to file property damage claims and three years to file personal injury claims following a car accident — that is, if you want insurance coverage. While technically you can file claims after this statute of limitations, your insurance company isn’t obligated to cover you under your policy’s terms at that point.

Notification Laws: Cancellations and Non-Renewals

Can an insurance company cancel your insurance at any time? The answer is yes, and for any reason during the first 60 days of your policy. After the first 60 days, an insurer can only cancel your policy due to nonpayment, fraud, misrepresentation, or a revoked or suspended license. That said, the company must notify you that your coverage is ending 20 days prior to the expiration date.

Non-renewals aren’t as highly regulated, as they just entail a company not renewing a policy at the end of its term. Still, the insurer must give you 60 days’ notice before your coverage ends.

Self-Insurance: Is It Allowed?

While all states allow some form of self-insurance, the majority require that you own a minimum amount of vehicles, usually 25. South Dakota doesn’t have a minimum vehicle requirement, but it does require that you put down $175,000 in collateral instead5. If you don’t have this money lying around, the personal auto insurance route is best for you.

Are Car Inspections Required?

South Dakota doesn’t require regular safety or emissions inspections for the majority of cars, unlike most states. It only requires inspections for rebuilt or salvaged vehicles. You’ll need to repair your salvage vehicle to get car insurance, but an inspection is the first step.

  1. Fill out the Application for Rebuilt Motor Vehicle: https://www.state.sd.us/eforms/secure/eforms/E2431V1-SDApplicationForRebuiltMotorVehicle.pdf.
  2. Mail it to this address:
    • State of South Dakota Department of Motor Vehicles
      445 E. Capitol Ave.
      Pierre, SD 57501
  3. Wait to hear back and schedule an appointment at the inspection station closest to you. There are only three inspection stations in all of South Dakota, and each is open only once a month.
Sioux Falls Inspection Station Pierre Inspection
Station
Rapid City Inspection Station
Address 300 S. Sycamore Ave., Suite 102
Sioux Falls, SD 57110
445 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501-3185
1520 Haines Ave., Suite 3
Rapid City, SD 57701
Phone number 605-367-5800 605-773-3311 605-394-2332
Email address bustax@state.sd.us bustax@state.sd.us

specialT@state.sd.us

bustax@state.sd.us
When inspections take place First Wednesday of every month Second Wednesday of every month Third Wednesday of every month
  1. Pay the $25 inspection fee.
  2. The South Dakota Department of Revenue will inspect your vehicle and, if it passes, give you a certificate. You’ll need to send a copy of the certificate to your local county treasurer’s office in order to register your car: https://dor.sd.gov/government/county-treasurers/contact-county-treasurers/.6

SR-22: When You Need It

If you are convicted of certain crimes, the minimum coverage isn’t enough. You’ll also need to file an SR-22, a certificate proving minimum insurance, with your insurance company. SR-22s are required when your license has been suspended or revoked for being convicted of any of these offenses:

  • Driving without insurance
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Driving under the influence
  • A second offense of reckless driving in a one-year period

You’ll need to maintain the SR-22 for three years following the date your license is reinstated. Expect higher auto insurance premiums when you have an SR-22, as it means you’re classified as a high-risk driver.

Defensive Driving Courses

You may have heard the term “defensive driving” before, but what does it really mean?

Defensive driving is a method of avoiding hazards on the road. It includes practices like leaving enough space between you and the car in front of you and avoiding aggression. In South Dakota, defensive driving courses are four to eight hours long. Find a course near you at https://www.nsc.org/safety-training/defensive-driving/courses/online.

Civil Suit Thresholds

In South Dakota, there’s no dollar minimum to sue for compensation in a civil trial. Similarly, there’s no severity of injuries threshold you’ll have to meet. Your negligence must be slight to receive compensation, but the state imposes no monetary or serious injury threshold for civil suits.

When You Must Report a Car Accident

Do you need a police report for an insurance claim? Not necessarily, although it will bolster your case. However, you must report an accident to the police immediately if it involves any of the following:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Over $1,000 of property damage to one person’s property
  • Over $2,000 of total property damage

CheckNOTE

If you don’t report an accident that meets these conditions immediately, you could be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, which has a penalty of a $500 fine, up to 30 days in jail, or both.

Credit Scores & Gender

Certain states ban insurance companies from determining car insurance premiums based on credit scores and gender. However, South Dakota is not one of those states. If you have poor credit and/or are male, expect to pay higher premiums than your counterparts with good credit and/or who are female.

Total Loss Formula

Not all cars are worth repairing. In South Dakota, a car is declared a total loss under these conditions:

  • It cannot be repaired safely.
  • The repairs would cost more than the vehicle’s value.
  • The salvage value is less than the cost of the repair (the total loss formula).

Contact Information

How to Register Your Car in South Dakota

If you’ve purchased a new car, you must register it with the South Dakota Department of Revenue within 45 days of your purchase date. You have a few registration methods to choose from.

Registering in person Registering by mail Registering online Registering at Now License Renewal Kiosk
Contact information County treasurer’s office: https://dor.sd.gov/government/county-treasurers/contact-county-treasurers/ State of South Dakota Motor Vehicle Division
445 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, SD 57501
https://apps.sd.gov/RV66Portal/userlogin.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2frv66portal% https://sddmvnowkiosk.com/
Documents you’ll need Signed Application for Motor Vehicle Title & Registration: https://sddor.seamlessdocs.com/f/1001
  • Renewal notice, if applicable
  • Signed Application for Motor Vehicle Title & Registration, if applicable: https://sddor.seamlessdocs.com/f/1001
  • Photo ID
  • Driver’s license number
  • ID number
  • Proof of ownership
  • South Dakota driver’s license
  • South Dakota ID card
  • South Dakota driver’s license
  • South Dakota ID card
Accepted payment methods N/A
  • Check, if out of state
  • Cashier’s check
  • Money order
N/A Credit/debit card from Discover, Mastercard, or Visa
Fees
  • Motor vehicle excise tax: 4% of purchase price
  • Title: $10
  • Lien notation: $10
  • Late title application: $1 penalty for every week past the 45-day period; maximum fine of $50
  • Duplicate title: $10
  • Plate: $5
  • Decal: $1
  • Each renewal: $1
  • E-check processing: $1.50
  • Credit/debit card processing: 2.25%
  • E-check processing: $1.50
  • Credit/debit card processing: 2.25%

How to Get a Copy of Your Car Title in South Dakota

  1. Print out the form at https://sddor.seamlessdocs.com/f/1002.
  2. Get it notarized if you aren’t the vehicle owner.
  3. Gather $10.
  4. Send the form and fee to your local county clerk’s office, which you can locate at https://dor.sd.gov/government/county-treasurers/contact-county-treasurers/.

How to Contact the South Dakota Division of Insurance

  • Email: sdinsurance@state.sd.us
  • Phone number: 605-773-3563
  • Address:
    • South Dakota Division of Insurance
      124 S. Euclid Ave., 2nd Floor
      Pierre, SD 57501

How Much Car Repairs Cost

Expect to pay about $376.53 for car repairs in South Dakota, a rate 2 percent lower than the rest of the country. Most of that cost will go to parts ($222.91), while some will go to labor ($153.62).

Crime and Traffic Fatality Rates in South Dakota

Auto Theft Rate

Despite its relatively small population, South Dakota’s car theft rates are 5 percent higher than the U.S. average. In 2020, there were 259 car thefts per 100,000 residents, according to FBI data. The rates in cities like Rapid City and Sioux Falls were even higher, based on National Insurance Crime Bureau data.

Metropolitan statistical area Rate of motor vehicle theft by 100,000 inhabitants in 2020
Rapid City, SD 400
Sioux Falls, SD 372
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD 232

Keep in mind that car insurance covers theft only if you have comprehensive coverage. If you lack comprehensive coverage and your car is stolen, you’ll be responsible for buying a new car on your own.

Motor Vehicle Death Rate

One advantage of such a small and low-density population is a lack of motor vehicle deaths. With only 102 motor vehicle deaths per 100 million miles driven, South Dakota’s average rates are 594 percent lower than the rest of the country.7

Conclusion

Interested in driving outside of the Mount Rushmore State? Perhaps heading north? Enjoy our guide to car insurance in North Dakota. If you prefer to learn more about South Dakota, read our frequently asked questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance follow the car or the driver in South Dakota?

Insurance follows the car, not the driver, in South Dakota. That means anyone who drives your car with permission can be covered for any accidents they cause or are a victim of.

Who has the best cheap car insurance in South Dakota?

These companies have the best cheap car insurance in South Dakota:

  • Allstate
  • American Family
  • Auto-Owners
  • Farm Bureau
  • Farmers
  • Farmers Mutual of Nebraska
  • GEICO
  • Nationwide
  • North Star Mutual
  • Progressive
  • State Farm
  • USAA

How much is car insurance for a 21-year-old male in South Dakota?

Car insurance for a 21-year-old male in South Dakota costs an average of $2,648 a year, although it can range from around $1,717 all the way up to $3,218.

How soon do I need to get insurance for a newly purchased used car in South Dakota?

To drive your newly purchased used car off the lot in South Dakota, you’ll need to buy insurance beforehand. Otherwise, you can buy the car but not drive it legally, as the state requires proof of financial responsibility.

Citations

  1. Automobile Insurance. South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation. (2016).
    https://dlr.sd.gov/insurance/general_guidance/auto.aspx

  2. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Minniehaha County. (2016).
    https://www.minnehahacounty.org/dept/sa/crime_information/crimes/dwi.php#:~:text=The%20maximum%20penalty%20for%20DWI,state%20Penitentiary%2C%20as%20described%20below6

  3. Codified Laws. South Dakota Legislature. (2022).
    https://sdlegislature.gov/Statutes/Codified_Laws/2054896

  4. Teen Drivers. South Dakota Department of Public Safety. (2022).
    https://dps.sd.gov/driver-licensing/south-dakota-licensing-information/teen-drivers

  5. MOTOR VEHICLE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILTY. South Dakota Legislative Research Council. (2022).
    https://mylrc.sdlegislature.gov/api/Documents/Issue%20Memo/124588.pdf

  6. Vehicle Inspection. Department of Revenue. (2020).
    https://dor.sd.gov/individuals/motor-vehicle/rebuilt-vehicles/#inspect

  7. Fatality Facts 2019 State by state. IIHS. (2022).
    https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state

  8. Fatality Facts 2019 State by state. IIHS. (2022).
    https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state