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South Dakota Auto Insurance Review (Coverage, Rates, & More)

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Apr 30, 2020

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South Dakota Statistics SummaryDetails
Road MilesTotal in State: 82,576
Vehicle Miles Driven: 962.4 billion
VehiclesRegistered: 986,370
Stolen: 1,188
State Population882,235
Most Popular VehicleF150
Uninsured Motorists7.7% State Rank: 42
Total Driving Fatalities2008-2017
Speeding: 368
Drunk Driving: 424
Annual Average PremiumsCollision: $200.10
Comprehensive: $228.59
Liability: $289.04
Cheapest ProvidersAMCO &
State Farm
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South Dakota, which became a state in November of 1889, is most famous for the imposing and dramatic Mount Rushmore National Memorial. In fact, its official nickname is “the Mount Rushmore State,” which is even inscribed on its flag.

Love the outdoors? South Dakota has much to offer, including fishing, hunting, and hiking. The state also boasts two of the longest caves on the planet, along with Badlands National Park, which is 244,000 acres of fossil beds, prairies, and more.

South Dakota is also the final resting place for some famous figures from America’s Wild West. You can see the graves of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and more when you visit the Mount Moriah Cemetery, located in Deadwood. While you’re there, you can also witness a Main Street Shootout performed by actors.

There are also several events across the state every year that are worth checking out, whether you’re a resident or just visiting. The world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally takes place in mid-August.

Grow up reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder? There’s a pageant with theater performances in July that’s a must-see. Curious about the culture and traditions of the Native Americans of South Dakota? Numerous powwows are held across the state throughout the summer and fall.

Whether you live in or visit South Dakota, you know the best way to get around the state is on the road. To ensure you have the essentials to travel there both safely and legally, you need to have the right car insurance coverage.

Finding the car insurance company and coverage for your needs can be complicated. There’s so much you need to know: legal requirements, coverage types, rates, and how those rates are derived are just a few examples. We know figuring all this out can be overwhelming. But we’ve got you covered.

To find out everything you need to know about car insurance in South Dakota so you can make the right decision for your lifestyle, keep reading. As a first step, why not use your ZIP code to get a free quote on car insurance?

Table of Contents

South Dakota Car Insurance Coverage and Rates

The first steps toward making the all-important car insurance decision include knowing what the insurance coverage requirements are in South Dakota, deciding what coverage level you need, and knowing what other options may be available, should you decide you need something beyond basic coverage.

But where do you start in finding this information? We know this can be difficult, especially if you want to be prepared before you speak with an insurance agent. It helps to know the basics, and have an idea of what you’re looking for before you start that conversation.

We’ve pulled together some of the basics that you need, so you don’t have to spend hours doing your own research.

One of the first considerations you can look at is price. It is important to know what average rates are in your area, as well as how they look compared to rates throughout the United States so you can begin to determine what’s a fair price. 

To get an idea of the standard price in South Dakota, take a look at the table below to see average rates for all kinds of car insurance in the Mount Rushmore State compared to the national averages.

South Dakota AverageNational AveragePercent Difference
$1,318$1,47411.84%
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As you can see, the national average for all car insurance types is $1,474. Compare this to the state average of $1,318. This is good news for South Dakota drivers, who pay about 12 percent less for car insurance than the national average.

South Dakota’s Car Culture

The most popular vehicle in South Dakota is the Ford F-150. With over 82,500 miles of road in the state, and few options for public transportation, most residents of the state own and drive their own vehicles. The F-150 is both practical and operable in a variety of terrains and weather conditions.

South Dakota has some history with the car industry. The inventor of the four-door vehicle, Thomas Fawick, lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He called it the Fawick Flyer, and it was made of aluminum. He invented the Flyer in 1908, and Teddy Roosevelt rode in it during a 1910 parade.

South Dakota Minimum Coverage

For drivers to be safe and financially protected when driving in South Dakota, the state mandates all drivers purchase at least minimum liability insurance coverage. You must maintain this coverage to legally drive in the state.

South Dakota is considered a “fault” state. This means that if you’re in an accident, the person who caused it is financially responsible for any resulting damage. Because of this, it is even more important that you have at least the minimum insurance coverage required by the state. Take a look at the table below to see what you’ll need.

Required InsuranceMinimum Limits
Bodily Injury$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability$25,000
Uninsured Motorist Coverage$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
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While many states do not require drivers to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as a part of the minimum liability coverage requirements, and it is often considered liability coverage, South Dakota does include this is as a requirement for drivers. The cost of minimum coverage also varies from state to state.

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Keep in mind that the insurance coverage outlined in the above table is only the minimum requirement. Should you find yourself in an accident, the cost of damages could exceed the amount of coverage you have if you purchase only the bare minimum.

In such a situation, you will be responsible for paying any additional costs out of your own pocket.

If you want to make sure you have additional financial protection above the minimum liability coverage requirement, you can purchase policies that include core coverage, additional liability coverage, and other add-ons. To learn more about the car insurance options available to you in addition to the minimum liability requirements, keep reading.

Forms of Financial Responsibility

Financial responsibility is often proven through proof of insurance. In South Dakota, this proof can be in paper or digital form.

In addition to insurance, South Dakota allows residents to offer a financial non-insurance option. This is typically completed through a bond from a surety company, a certificate of money through the state treasurer, or deposited securities. All these options must equal the dollar amount of the minimum liability insurance coverage.

If you own 26 vehicles or more, you can self-insure your vehicles. Proof of this is demonstrated by a certificate of self-insurance, which must be provided to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

Premiums as a Percentage of Income

Now that you know what insurance you are required to carry as a driver in South Dakota, how much of your hard-earned cash can you expect to spend? How much of what you make should you be setting aside for insurance each year?

In the table below, we’ve pulled data on the average amount of disposable income South Dakota drivers typically spend on car insurance. We’ve also compared that to the national average so you can see how the state looks beside the country as a whole.

Statistics201220132014
South Dakota Average1.67%1.76%1.78%
National Average2.34%2.43%2.40%
Percent Difference40%38%35%
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South Dakota residents spend an average of 1.74 percent of their disposable income on car insurance coverage. By contrast, the national average for the same is 2.39 percent. Good news for South Dakota drivers; you spend an average of 27 percent less of your disposable income than the national average.

To make this more interesting, we’ve also compared South Dakota’s rate of disposable income spent on car insurance to some of the nearby states to see how the Mount Rushmore State stacks up against its neighbors. We’ve included data for Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

State201220132014
South Dakota1.67%1.76%1.78%
North Dakota1.42%1.51%1.50%
Minnesota2.01%2.01%1.93%
Montana2.29%2.39%2.10%
Wyoming1.70%1.72%1.69%
Nebraska1.81%1.88%1.86%
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As you can see, only one of the five neighboring states, North Dakota, spends less than South Dakota on car insurance policies. This is good news for residents of the Mount Rushmore State.

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Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates in SD (Liability, Collision, Comprehensive)

As the name suggests, the minimum liability coverage requirements only cover the minimum. If you end up in an accident, you may find yourself holding the bag for additional costs.

The best way to make sure you have the coverage you need to ensure you’re financially protected is to speak to your insurer about “core coverage” options you can add to your policy. These typically include collision, comprehensive, and full or combined. When you increase your policy, you can choose to purchase all or some combination of these.

Take a look at this video to find out more about the various core coverage options.


Check out this table to see how much you might pay for each of the core coverage options in South Dakota.

Coverage Type2011-2015 Average Cost in South Dakota2011-2015 National AveragePercent Difference
Liability$289.04$516.3978.66%
Collision$200.10$299.7349.79%
Comprehensive$228.59$138.87-39.25%
Combined/Full$717.73$954.9833.06%
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When you view the above table, please keep in mind these are only average numbers based on the minimum coverage requirements in South Dakota.

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As such, these National Associate of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) rates may not be representative of exactly what you’d pay but will help you start to form a clearer picture of what fair rates are in your area.

Additional Liability

What if you feel core coverage doesn’t cover your needs? If you think you need additional financial protection, beyond what is offered through core coverage, you can consider additional liability coverage options.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which is required as part of your minimum liability coverage in South Dakota, is typically considered an additional liability option. This liability coverage offers additional financial protection for you, should you find yourself in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver.

With nearly eight percent of drivers in South Dakota uninsured, this could happen to you.

There are two other common forms of additional liability coverage:

  • Medical Payments (MedPay) – provides additional coverage for medical costs that are not covered by your core insurance coverage (for both you and anyone listed on your policy)
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – provides additional coverage for medical costs that are not already covered by your core insurance coverage (for you and anyone involved in an accident, no matter who is at fault)

Ensuring you are informed of all the options at your disposal is important when shopping for insurance so you can ask the right questions and make a determination regarding which coverage types best fit your needs.

Before you decide on any of these options, you might ask yourself if the benefit is worth the cost. Is there a good chance your insurance provider will pay out on claims for these additional liability coverage types, should you ever need to file a claim? If not, you may want to reconsider whether adding these to your policy is the right choice for you.

To find out whether or not insurance companies in South Dakota have a good track record of paying out on claims for these additional liability options, the NAIC offers “loss ratio” data. This data is quantified as a percentage, derived by dividing the number of claims insurance companies pay out by the dollar amount of the premiums they are paid.

But what exactly does loss ratio tell you, and how do you know if the number is good or bad? Loss ratio data is an indicator of whether or not companies typically pay out on an equitable number of claims. In general, a solid range for loss ratio is between 60 and 80 percent.

If you find that an insurance company has a loss ratio number higher than 80 percent, this means they pay out on too many claims and they’re losing money. By contrast, if a company has a loss ratio lower than 60 percent, they are not paying out on enough claims.

The NAIC 2013-2015 loss ratio data for the South Dakota insurance market for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and MedPay is listed in the below table. The NAIC does not currently offer South Dakota loss ratio data for PIP.

Loss Ratio201320142015
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist48.81%56.75%65.06%
MedPay71.60%70.10%75.97%
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As you can see, the loss ratio for MedPay is within a healthy range (70-76 percent) across the three-year span. However, for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which you’ll recall is required as a part of South Dakota’s minimum liability coverage, the data shows a trend of under-paying out on claims.

Only 2015’s loss ratio data falls within a healthy range for this piece of liability coverage.

Add-ons, Endorsements, and Riders

Need something beyond core and additional liability coverage? There are some extra options you can consider and discuss with your insurance agent. These add-ons, endorsements, and riders are described below:

  • Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) – covers the gap between what your car is worth and what you still owe on your loan
  • Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)  – provides protection in the event you are ever faced with a lawsuit as a result of your part in a car accident
  • Rental Reimbursement – provides coverage if you have to rent a car because yours was damaged in a car accident and is unavailable to drive while it’s being repaired
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance – provides coverage for various roadside needs, like flat tires, towing, etc.
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance – provides repair coverage, often beyond what is covered by your vehicle’s warranty
  • Non-Owner Car Insurance – provides insurance coverage when you don’t own a car but will be driving one
  • Modified Car Insurance Coverage – provides coverage for vehicles with special modifications (wheels/tires, specialty paint jobs, spoilers, etc.)
  • Classic Car Insurance – provides coverage for vehicles that are considered collector’s items
  • Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance – insurance coverage that is specifically focused on individual driving habits

Average Car Insurance Rates by Age & Gender in SD

While the practice is becoming more of a topic of discussion across the country, and some states like California and Hawaii have made it illegal, South Dakota still allows insurance companies to consider gender as one of the factors they use when adjusting their car insurance premiums.

It is generally accepted that men (particularly young men) pay significantly more for insurance coverage than women, all else equal. But is this really true? Do gender (and associated ages) actually have an effect on insurance rates?

Take a look at the table below. Using Quadrant data, we’ve put together information on rates for various ages across both genders from some of the major insurance providers in South Dakota to answer these questions.

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CompanySingle 17-Year Old Female Annual RatesSingle 17-Year Old Male Annual RatesSingle 25-Year Old Female Annual RatesSingle 25-Year Old Male Annual RatesMarried 35-Year Old Female Annual RatesMarried 35-Year Old Male Annual RatesMarried 60-Year Old Female Annual RatesMarried 60-Year Old Male Annual Rates
State Farm Mutual Auto$3,852.54$4,946.49$1,757.55$1,972.63$1,571.08$1,571.08$1,353.12$1,353.12
AMCO Insurance$4,233.35$5,485.68$2,181.20$2,375.98$1,944.69$2,000.73$1,735.99$1,858.22
GEICO General$4,778.02$5,636.95$2,071.64$1,990.07$2,362.14$2,226.34$2,259.77$2,082.34
American Family Mutual$6,027.92$8,851.26$2,914.39$3,582.66$2,914.39$2,914.39$2,580.51$2,580.51
Progressive Northern$7,722.52$8,789.89$2,696.57$2,814.42$2,152.90$2,125.17$1,771.85$1,825.96
Mid-Century Ins Co$8,816.86$9,165.82$2,203.09$2,349.78$1,971.41$1,976.49$1,734.99$1,804.87
Allstate Insurance$10,197$12,177.01$2,800.88$3,063.94$2,474.54$2,528.40$2,181.98$2,334.16
SAFECO Ins Co of America$16,143.42$18,125.24$4,449.68$4,953.30$4,228.78$4,601.28$3,336.53$4,056.42
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As the data makes clear, both age and gender are factors in how insurance rates are determined in South Dakota. It is interesting to note, however, that each company uses these factors to adjust their rates differently. The contrasts among them are quite significant.

Let’s consider American Family Mutual, for example. Their average rates for 17-year-old males are almost 47 percent higher than the rates they charge females of the same age. Rates for males of the same age from Mid-Century Insurance Company, however, are only about four percent higher than their rates for 17-year-old-females.

On average, across all the companies listed, 17-year-old males pay 18 percent more for car insurance than 17-year-old females do. However, if you examine the data more closely, it becomes clear that age is also a key factor.

At 25, males typically pay an average of 10 percent more than female drivers. However, at 35, the difference between rates for males and females is less than 2 percent. And some companies (Progressive and GEICO) even charge female drivers more than male drivers for car insurance coverage.

When reviewing the above table (and associated analysis), it is important to note that the data is based on what South Dakota residents actually purchase.

To ensure this information is truly representative of the full range of drivers in the state, the data includes rates for high-risk drivers, drivers who only purchased minimum coverage, and those that purchased additional coverage.

Cheapest Rates by ZIP Code

As we’re sure you’re aware, age and gender are only a couple of the factors companies can consider when determining rates; there are several others. Next on our list is where you live. Why does this matter?

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Insurance companies want to know the risks you as a vehicle owner and driver may face based on your location. Do you live a high crime area? Do more car accidents occur close to your home? Higher risk areas can mean higher insurance rates, because those risks may mean you’re more likely to file a claim.

One way insurance companies get information is by pulling statistics based on ZIP code. The following tables break down the 25 most and least expensive ZIP codes for rates in South Dakota, so you can see the range in your state and gauge where your rates may fall.

Table of the 25 most expensive ZIP codes in South Dakota:

 Zip CodeCityAverage Annual Rates by Zip CodeMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Annual Rates2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive Annual RatesCheapest CompanyCheapest Annual Rates2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Annual Rates
157770PINE RIDGE$4,695.24Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,882.80Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,197.44
257756MANDERSON$4,693.59Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,855.16Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,211.90
357764OGLALA$4,686.43Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,882.80Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,126.98
457794WOUNDED KNEE$4,677.00Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,855.16Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,079.20
557714ALLEN$4,673.27Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$3,059.13Nationwide$3,201.94
657752KYLE$4,651.92Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,064.57
757772PORCUPINE$4,633.96Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,102.35
857716BATESLAND$4,631.73Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,025.72
957638LEMMON$4,630.83Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,838.98State Farm$2,938.24Nationwide$3,201.94
1057551MARTIN$4,629.23Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$3,066.55Nationwide$3,201.94
1157620BISON$4,628.79Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76Nationwide$3,201.94State Farm$3,302.00
1257750INTERIOR$4,622.24Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
1357623DUPREE$4,609.79Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$3,015.88Nationwide$3,201.94
1457574TUTHILL$4,609.36Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
1557622CHERRY CREEK$4,606.45Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
1657577WANBLEE$4,604.94Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$3,005.89Nationwide$3,201.94
1757644MEADOW$4,588.70Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
1857553MILESVILLE$4,584.42Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
1957720BUFFALO$4,578.13Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$3,042.66Nationwide$3,201.94
2057547LONG VALLEY$4,573.67Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
2157521BELVIDERE$4,571.86Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
2257724CAMP CROOK$4,571.44Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
2357776REDIG$4,571.32Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
2457651REVA$4,568.41Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
2557552MIDLAND$4,565.71Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
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Table of the 25 least expensive ZIP codes in South Dakota:

 Zip CodeCityAverage Annual Rates by Zip CodesMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Annual Rates2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive Annual RatesCheapest CompanyCheapest Annual Rates2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Annual Rates
1.57201WATERTOWN$3,467.81Liberty Mutual$6,307.96Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$1,989.02Nationwide$2,246.65
2.57069VERMILLION$3,550.64Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,898.45Nationwide$2,386.99
3.57006BROOKINGS$3,553.41Liberty Mutual$6,686.48Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,014.55Nationwide$2,214.29
4.57001ALCESTER$3,576.44Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,940.49Nationwide$2,503.95
5.57220BRUCE$3,584.77Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,027.32Nationwide$2,503.95
6.57025ELK POINT$3,585.49Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,952.38Nationwide$2,503.95
7.57004BERESFORD$3,586.30Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,971.89Nationwide$2,503.95
8.57071VOLGA$3,586.49Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,034.93Nationwide$2,503.95
9.57028FLANDREAU$3,591.08Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,047.56Nationwide$2,503.95
10.57061SINAI$3,591.85Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
11.57042MADISON$3,592.02Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,100.41Nationwide$2,365.26
12.57002AURORA$3,592.72Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,022.01Nationwide$2,503.95
13.57010BURBANK$3,593.60Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
14.57076WINFRED$3,596.12Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
15.57276WHITE$3,596.88Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,029.29Nationwide$2,503.95
16.57007BROOKINGS$3,597.52Liberty Mutual$6,686.48Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
17.57024EGAN$3,598.67Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
18.57034HUDSON$3,599.23Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,039.94Nationwide$2,586.78
19.57231DE SMET$3,601.88Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,085.36Nationwide$2,503.95
20.57005BRANDON$3,603.57Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,194.10GEICO$2,423.73
21.57038JEFFERSON$3,603.65Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,042.40Nationwide$2,503.95
22.57027FAIRVIEW$3,603.95Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,586.78
23.57047MONROE$3,610.82Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
24.57249LAKE PRESTON$3,611.38Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,079.50Nationwide$2,503.95
25.57212ARLINGTON$3,611.47Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,057.32Nationwide$2,503.95
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As you can see, the average rates across South Dakota vary widely. The most expensive ZIP code is 57770 in Pine Ridge at $4,695.25, while the least expensive ZIP code is 57201 in Watertown, with an average rate of $3,467.81. This is a 35 percent difference.

Cheapest Rates by City

Another way to look at rates is by city. Similar to the ZIP codes, we provide two tables: one with the 25 most expensive cities in South Dakota and one with the 25 least expensive cities. Take a look to see if your city is listed, and if so, where it ranks.

Table of the 25 most expensive cities in South Dakota:

RankCityAverage Annual Rates by CityMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Annual Rates2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive Annual RatesCheapest CompanyCheapest Annual Rates2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Annual Rates
1Pine Ridge$4,695.24Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,882.80Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,197.44
2Manderson$4,693.59Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,855.16Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,211.90
3Oglala$4,686.43Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,882.80Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,126.98
4Wounded Knee$4,677.00Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,855.16Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,079.20
5Allen$4,673.27Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$3,059.13Nationwide$3,201.94
6Kyle$4,651.92Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,064.57
7Porcupine$4,633.96Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75Nationwide$3,025.72State Farm$3,102.35
8Batesland$4,631.73Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,025.72
9Lemmon$4,630.83Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Progressive$4,838.98State Farm$2,938.24Nationwide$3,201.94
10Martin$4,629.23Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$3,066.55Nationwide$3,201.94
11Bison$4,628.79Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76Nationwide$3,201.94State Farm$3,302.00
12Interior$4,622.24Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
13Dupree$4,609.79Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$3,015.88Nationwide$3,201.94
14Tuthill$4,609.36Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
15Cherry Creek$4,606.45Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
16Wanblee$4,604.94Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$3,005.89Nationwide$3,201.94
17Glad Valley$4,588.70Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
18Milesville$4,584.42Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
19Buffalo$4,578.13Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$3,042.66Nationwide$3,201.94
20Long Valley$4,573.67Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
21Belvidere$4,571.86Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
22Camp Crook$4,571.44Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,807.75State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
23Redig$4,571.32Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
24Reva$4,568.41Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
25Midland$4,565.71Liberty Mutual$8,955.29Allstate$4,806.76State Farm$2,989.14Nationwide$3,201.94
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Table of the 25 least expensive cities in South Dakota:

RankCityAverage Annual Rates by CityMost Expensive CompanyMost Expensive Annual Rates2nd Most Expensive Company2nd Most Expensive Annual RatesCheapest CompanyCheapest Annual Rates2nd Cheapest Company2nd Cheapest Annual Rates
1.Watertown$3,467.81Liberty Mutual$6,307.96Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$1,989.02Nationwide$2,246.65
2.Vermillion$3,550.64Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,898.45Nationwide$2,386.99
3.Brookings$3,575.46Liberty Mutual$6,686.48Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,046.14Nationwide$2,359.12
4.Alcester$3,576.44Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,940.49Nationwide$2,503.95
5.Bruce$3,584.77Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,027.32Nationwide$2,503.95
6.Elk Point$3,585.49Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,952.38Nationwide$2,503.95
7.Beresford$3,586.30Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$1,971.89Nationwide$2,503.95
8.Volga$3,586.49Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,034.93Nationwide$2,503.95
9.Flandreau$3,591.08Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,047.56Nationwide$2,503.95
10.Sinai$3,591.84Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
11.Madison$3,592.01Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,100.41Nationwide$2,365.26
12.Aurora$3,592.72Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,022.01Nationwide$2,503.95
13.Burbank$3,593.60Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
14.Winfred$3,596.12Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
15.White$3,596.88Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,029.29Nationwide$2,503.95
16.Egan$3,598.67Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
17.Hudson$3,599.23Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,039.94Nationwide$2,586.78
18.De Smet$3,601.87Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,085.36Nationwide$2,503.95
19.Brandon$3,603.57Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,194.10GEICO$2,423.73
20.Fairview$3,603.95Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,586.78
21.Monroe$3,610.82Liberty Mutual$6,675.85Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,077.74Nationwide$2,503.95
22.Lake Preston$3,611.38Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,536.56State Farm$2,079.50Nationwide$2,503.95
23.Arlington$3,611.46Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,057.32Nationwide$2,503.95
24.Rutland$3,611.90Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,049.70Nationwide$2,503.95
25.Trent$3,611.95Liberty Mutual$6,737.42Allstate$4,609.89State Farm$2,078.18Nationwide$2,503.95
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As you might expect based on the results of the ZIP code data tables, the most expensive city in South Dakota is Pine Ridge, with an average rate of $4,695.24, while the cheapest city is Watertown, with an average of $3,467.81.

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Best South Dakota Car Insurance Companies

While price is likely one of the most important factors to you when considering which insurance company and what kind of policy to choose, and we will continue discussing price later, there are other, less concrete factors to consider as well.

Two such factors to take into account are financial stability and customer service ratings for the companies you’re considering. 

But how do you find this information? Is there a way to get actual data, or is anecdotal evidence your only option? The answer is yes, data is available regarding the financial stability and customer service ratings of insurance companies in your area. And to help you out, we’ve collected and provided it in the next few sections.

The Largest Companies’ Financial Ratings

Do financial ratings matter?

Yes, they do. Why? You want to know that the company you purchase insurance from will be in business for the long term and that they are financially stable enough to be able to pay out on claims, should you ever find yourself needing to file one. 

But how do you find financial stability rating information for the insurance market? AM Best, a global credit firm, looks at the financials of insurance companies throughout the market and produces financial stability ratings based on the data they find.

This information can help you narrow down which company is right for you when you’re shopping for insurance. The table below compares the top insurance companies in South Dakota with their AM Best financial ratings and outlooks.

Insurance CompanyRatingOutlook
State Farm GroupA++Stable
Progressive GroupA+Stable
American Family Insurance GroupAStable
Farmers Mutual Insurance Co of NENR-
Nationwide Corp GroupA+Stable
Farmers Insurance GroupNR-
USAA GroupA++Stable
Iowa Farm Bureau GroupNR-
DeSmet Insurance GroupNR-
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What does this data mean? AM Best states that any company with an A- rating or better is both financially secure and has a stable outlook.

Not all insurance companies in South Dakota have been rated by AM Best. This doesn’t mean they’re not financially stable, it just means there’s no available data. Nevertheless, South Dakota drivers can feel confident that at least half of the major insurers in the state are financially stable and capable of paying out on claims.

Companies with Best Ratings

Yet another factor to consider is customer service. Do the companies in your area have good customer service ratings? You definitely want to consider this, because once you have a policy, you need to know that you’ll get the support you need when you have questions, need to file a claim, and more.

But where do you find customer service ratings for the insurance industry? We provide information from JD Power’s review of insurance companies in regions across the United States. JD Power recently conducted a study on the customer service ratings in the insurance market, based on a “Customer Service Index Rating.”

Take a look at the table below to find out the customer service ratings for insurance companies in the central region of the country (where South Dakota falls in JD Power’s ratings by region assessment).

Insurance CompanyCustomer Satisfaction Index RatingJD Power Circle Ratings
Shelter8585
Auto-Owners Insurance8565
Allstate8444
GEICO8384
Auto Club of Southern California Insurance Group8373
Travelers8323
Central Average8323
State Farm8283
American Family8233
Progressive8233
Farm Bureau Mutual8223
Safeco8192
Farmers8172
Liberty Mutual8112
Nationwide8072
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Shelter and Auto-Owners Insurance have the highest customer service index ratings with 858 and 856 points respectively, out of a 1,000 point scale. Both companies also have a five-circle “among the best” power circle rating. However, neither of these companies are included in the list of top ten largest insurers in South Dakota.

GEICO is the first company on the JD Power list that is also on the top ten largest insurers in South Dakota list (which you saw in the previous financial stability section). GEICO has a customer satisfaction index rating of 838 and a JD power circle rating of “better than most” (four circles).

State Farm is the next highest rated company from the top ten list. It has a customer service index rating of 832 and is in the “about average” power circle category.

The remaining South Dakota companies listed on the JD Power list are all in the “about average” category, except for Nationwide, which is in the “the rest” category, with a customer satisfaction index rating of 780.

Companies with the Most Complaints in South Dakota

In addition to customer service ratings, complaint data can be a key piece of information when determining whether or not an insurance company is a good fit for you. Just how many complaints does an insurance company you’re considering receive in a year? Does the number of complaints correlate to their customer service rating?

South Dakota’s Department of Labor & Regulation Division of Insurance does not currently provide data on complaints against car insurance companies in the state.

However, the NAIC offers complaint data on companies across the country in the form of “complaint ratios.” These ratios give an indication of how many complaints a company receives in a year.

Take a look at this table to see 2017 complaint ratio data for the ten largest insurance companies in South Dakota, compared to their respective market share, loss ratio, and direct premiums written.

Insurance CompanyDirect Premiums WrittenComplaint RatioLoss RatioMarket Share
State Farm Group$107,4350.4466.20%19.80%
Progressive Group$75,7570.7559.19%13.96%
American Family Insurance Group$52,4670.7959.38%9.67%
Farmers Mutual Insurance Co of NE$27,0610.5963.18%4.99%
Nationwide Corp Group$26,7940.2857.79%4.94%
Farmers Insurance Group$25,241052.77%4.65%
USAA Group$23,4160.7478.78%4.32%
Iowa Farm Bureau Group$20,8920.7762.43%3.85%
DeSmet Insurance Group$18,654-78.16%3.44%
GEICO$17,6600.6873.91%3.25%
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To ensure complaint comparisons are equitable regardless of a company’s size or market share, a complaint ratio is generated by dividing the total number of complaints a company receives in a year by the number of premiums they wrote in that same year.

Typically, the average number of complaints is indicated by the number one. When companies have complaint ratios above one, that means they receive greater than the average number of complaints. By contrast, when a company’s complaint ratio is less than one, it means they receive less than the average number of complaints.

In South Dakota, nine out of 10 of the largest insurance providers in the state have a complaint ratio of less than one, which is good news for South Dakota drivers. The tenth company, DeSmet Insurance Group, currently has no complaint data available. 

The highest complaint ratio belongs to American Family Insurance Group at 0.79, which is still comfortably below average. However, they have a JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index rating of 823, which puts them in the “about average” category.

Farmers Insurance Group actually has a zero complaint ratio for 2017, the lowest in the top ten. However, surprisingly, their JD Power Customer Satisfaction Index rating is quite low, at 817 points and a power circle rating of two, which categorizes them as part of “the rest” (below average).

As a South Dakota resident, if you ever need to file a complaint against your insurance company, you can do so through the South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulations Division of Insurance complaint process. The first step is to reach out to the company in question.

Once you’ve exhausted that route, if your complaint is still not resolved, then you can file a complaint through the Division of Insurance website. If you have questions, you can email the Division of Insurance at insurance@state.sd.us. If you prefer to speak to someone on the phone, you can call the Division of Insurance at 605-773-3563.

Cheapest Companies in South Dakota

Now that we’ve discussed some of the other considerations you should keep in mind when shopping for insurance, we return to price.

Across the state, the average rate for car insurance is $3,961.60 in South Dakota. To see how various insurance companies in the state compare, we’ve listed their average rates in the table below and calculated the difference between their rates and the state average.

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CompanyAnnual Average+/- Compared to State Average (rate)+/- Compared to State Average (%)
State Farm Mutual Auto$2,297-$1,664.40-72.45%
AMCO Insurance$2,727-$1,234.62-45.27%
GEICO General$2,926-$1,035.69-35.40%
Progressive Northern$3,737-$224.19-6.00%
Mid-Century Ins Co$3,753-$208.68-5.56%
American Family Mutual$4,046$84.162.08%
Allstate Insurance$4,720$758.1816.06%
SAFECO Ins Co of America$7,487$3,525.2347.09%
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The rates across the listed companies vary dramatically. For example, SAFECO Insurance Company has the highest rate at $7,487 per year, which is 47 percent higher than the state average. By contrast, State Farm Mutual Auto has the lowest average rate at $2,297, which is 72 percent lower than the average.

As you can see, over half of the eight companies listed have average rates that are lower than the overall state average. 

In total, between the highest and lowest average rates, there is a difference of a little over 300 percent. However, despite this contrast in average rates, most companies consider largely the same factors when adjusting their rates. As you know, these include age, gender, and ZIP code, which we’ve already discussed, as well as other factors.

Ultimately, your decision may come down to looking at which companies weigh which factors more or less significantly based on your specific situation.

Beyond age, gender, and ZIP code, all of which you’ve already seen can seriously affect your insurance rates, there are several other variables companies may consider when adjusting rates. These include driving record, commute distance, and credit score.

Keep reading to learn about many of the other factors companies consider when adjusting rates, and how those can affect you, depending on your lifestyle, driving record, and more.

Commute Rates by Companies

You already know the best way to get around in South Dakota is to drive (rather than taking public transit or other forms of transportation). But how does this affect your insurance rates? The more miles you drive on average, the higher your insurance rates may be.

If you think about it, this makes sense, because the more time you spend on the road, the higher your chances of getting in a car accident. To mitigate this risk, many insurance companies increase premium rates based on commute length.

To see how this can affect you in South Dakota, we’ve pulled data on major insurance companies in the state to see what average rates are for a 10-mile commute compared to a 25-mile commute. Check out the table to see what we found.

Insurance Company10 Mile Commute (6000 annual mileage average)25 mile commute (12000 annual mileage)percent difference
State Farm$2,241.25$2,353.154.99%
Nationwide$2,726.98$2,726.980.00%
GEICO$2,890.70$2,961.122.44%
Progressive$3,737.41$3,737.410.00%
Farmers$3,752.91$3,752.910.00%
American Family$3,995.93$4,095.582.49%
Allstate$4,604.31$4,835.265.02%
Liberty Mutual$7,486.83$7,486.830.00%
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While half of the listed companies do increase their rates for a higher commute (with the remaining half showing no change in rate based on this factor), the increase is fairly minor, with the highest rate increase being just over five percent. For South Dakota commuters, this is good news.

Commute distance is not the only factor to affect your rate.

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Coverage Level Rates by Companies

What level of insurance coverage is right for you? Your budget, lifestyle, and driving choices will all factor into this decision. You’ll need to compare these against any relevant risks you face, as well as other factors that may apply, and then ask the coverage level question, both to yourself and an insurance agent.

It makes logical sense that higher levels of coverage cost more than lower levels of coverage. However, this is not always the case. What do insurance rates in South Dakota look like based on coverage level? The table below compares average rates for low, medium, and high coverage in the state.

Insurance CompanyAnnual Rates with Low CoverageAnnual Rates with Medium CoverageAnnual Rates with High Coverage
State Farm$2,224.08$2,298.48$2,369.04
Nationwide$2,574.04$2,715.56$2,891.33
GEICO$2,844.30$2,922.63$3,010.80
Farmers$3,596.66$3,713.98$3,948.10
Progressive$3,647.19$3,706.77$3,858.26
American Family$4,078.61$4,164.96$3,893.69
Allstate$4,583.27$4,711.50$4,864.57
Liberty Mutual$7,353.17$7,475.89$7,631.44
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In general, the principle that higher coverage equals a higher rate is true for most of the major insurance companies in South Dakota. However, American Family’s high coverage rates are actually cheaper than their low coverage rates (though their medium coverage costs more than their low coverage).

For the remaining companies, the highest increase between low and medium coverage is Nationwide at a little under 6 percent, and the lowest increase is Progressive at about 2 percent.

In the medium to high coverage range, the highest increase is again Nationwide at six percent, and the lowest, as we already noted, is American Family, with a decrease of a little less than six percent.

Credit History Rates by Companies

What’s your credit score? Do you dread that question because you have poor credit? Or do you like to brag a little because your credit is exceptional?

Either way, this can affect more than just your ability to obtain a credit card, take out a loan, or get a better interest rate on that loan. A significant number of insurance companies actually consider your credit score when they adjust your interest rates.

Why? Because it is generally accepted that if you have good credit, you are a responsible person. If you are a responsible person, then it follows that you will drive responsibly, thereby having a lower risk of getting in a car accident than someone who drives irresponsibly or recklessly.

Experian reports that the average credit score in South Dakota is 700, which is 30 points above a “good” credit score. With this in mind, the average South Dakota driver is in good shape when it comes to car insurance rate adjustments by credit score.

Check out this table to see average rates for good, fair, and poor credit in South Dakota.

Insurance CompanyAnnual Rates with Good CreditAnnual Rates with Fair CreditAnnual Rates with Poor Credit
State Farm$1,548.87$1,999.16$3,343.57
GEICO$1,630.24$2,406.33$4,741.16
Nationwide$2,281.35$2,596.80$3,302.78
American Family$3,176.55$3,753.35$5,207.37
Progressive$3,307.78$3,585.62$4,318.83
Farmers$3,434.64$3,582.14$4,241.96
Allstate$3,906.14$4,499.58$5,753.62
Liberty Mutual$5,107.61$6,505.14$10,847.76
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In looking at this table, you can see that credit score seriously affect your insurance rates, particularly if you do not have a score in the “good” credit range. For example, GEICO increases their rates by 48 percent for fair, rather than good, credit and by 97 percent for poor credit.

If your credit score is not at an optimum level, one insurance company to consider is Farmers, because their increases for fair and poor (rather than good) credit scores are the least significant, with increases of 4 percent for fair and 18 percent for poor credit.

Another way to look at this data is:

  • Good Credit (670+) = average annual premiums: $3,049.15
  • Fair Credit (580-669) = 4–47 percent increase: $3,616.02
  • Poor Credit (300-579) = 18–97 percent increase: $5,219.63

Driving Record Rates by Companies

Are you a responsible driver? Or a reckless one? Do you have a few tickets on your record? Insurance companies take notice of these infractions and adjust your rates accordingly. The more you have on your record, the higher your insurance rates will be.

Take a look at this table to see average rates in South Dakota for a clean driving record, compared to a driving record with one speeding violation, one DUI, and one accident.

Insurance CompanyClean RecordWith 1 speeding violationwith 1 DUIwith 1 accident
GEICO$1,844.41$1,844.41$4,892.57$3,122.25
Nationwide$1,969.85$2,286.53$3,916.68$2,734.85
State Farm$2,153.28$2,297.20$2,297.20$2,441.12
American Family$2,936.19$3,360.82$5,566.74$4,319.26
Farmers$3,199.03$3,826.05$3,943.83$4,042.76
Progressive$3,224.37$3,885.70$3,478.27$4,361.30
Allstate$3,910.81$4,378.82$6,045.15$4,544.34
Liberty Mutual$6,315.12$7,659.25$8,145.94$7,827.02
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As the data in the table indicates, if you have any violations or accidents on your driving record, your insurance rates will likely increase fairly significantly. 

However, to be able to really dig into this data and understand what it’s telling us, we need to do a little bit more work. To that end, we’ve calculated the percent increase in the average rate for each infraction type for each insurance company listed in the above table.

Insurance Companypercent increase - With 1 speeding violationpercent increase - with 1 DUIpercent increase - with 1 accident
GEICO0.00%165.26%69.28%
State Farm6.68%6.68%13.37%
Allstate11.97%54.58%16.20%
American Family14.46%89.59%47.10%
Nationwide16.08%98.83%38.84%
Farmers19.60%23.28%26.37%
Progressive20.51%7.87%35.26%
Liberty Mutual21.28%28.99%23.94%
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If you have a speeding ticket or two on your record, you might want to consider GEICO, because they do not increase their rates at all (all else being equal) for a single speeding violation.

State Farm may be a good option if you’ve recently been in a car accident because their increase is only 13 percent (the lowest increase for a car accident among the companies listed).

One thing to note is how different companies handle DUIs. In general, companies charge you significantly more if you’ve had a DUI than if you’ve been in a car accident or if you’ve been convicted of speeding. GEICO, for example, as we’ve already noted, doesn’t increase rates for one speeding violation. However, their rates increase by 165 percent for a single DUI.

However, two companies do not follow this pattern. State Farm adjusts rates by the same 6.68 percentage for both a speeding violation and a DUI. Surprisingly, Progressive actually has a lower rate adjustment for DUI than for speeding. For a speeding violation, they increase rates by 21 percent, but they only increase rates by eight percent for a DUI.

Largest Car Insurance Companies in South Dakota

Yet another factor (yes, we know there are a lot) to consider when shopping for insurance is company size. You may wonder what company size has to do with anything.

On its own, it’s simply an indicator of success from the perspective of the number of insurers a particular company serves. However, it can be combined with other information to provide some additional insight into your decision-making process.

When you look at company size (expressed as market share in this case) along with other factors we’ve already discussed like loss ratio and complaint data, you can form a better picture of which companies are most likely to be able to pay out on claims (and remain financially stable while doing so), should you ever need to file one.

The data below outlines the ten largest insurance companies in South Dakota, along with their associated direct premiums written, loss ratio, and market share.

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Insurance CompanyDirect Premiums WrittenLoss RatioMarket Share
State Farm Group$107,43566.20%19.80%
Progressive Group$75,75759.19%13.96%
American Family Insurance Group$52,46759.38%9.67%
Farmers Mutual Insurance Co of NE$27,06163.18%4.99%
Nationwide Corp Group$26,79457.79%4.94%
Farmers Insurance Group$25,24152.77%4.65%
USAA Group$23,41678.78%4.32%
Iowa Farm Bureau Group$20,89262.43%3.85%
DeSmet Insurance Group$18,65478.16%3.44%
GEICO$17,66073.91%3.25%
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Number of Insurers by State

As is typical for states across the country, there are two categories of insurers in South Dakota: foreign and domestic.

  • Foreign insurers are those that are incorporated outside of South Dakota (i.e. in another state)
  • Domestic insures are those that are incorporated within South Dakota.

All insurance companies, both domestic and foreign, are required to follow all the state insurance laws in South Dakota, so you’ll find consistent service from the legal perspective regardless of whether the insurance company you choose is considered foreign or domestic.

When you’re looking for car insurance in South Dakota, you’ll find there are 850 insurers across the state. Of these, 834 are foreign and 16 are domestic.

South Dakota Laws

Now that you know a bit more about price (and how those rates are generated), customer service, financial stability, and more, we need to shift gears and take a look at insurance laws. Why should you care about insurance laws?

You already know there are laws in place that define the minimum amount of insurance you must carry to legally drive on the road. If you’re found driving without this minimum coverage, you’ll face some serious consequences. Not only will you have to pay fines, but you’ll also likely have your driver’s license suspended and your driving privileges revoked for some period of time.

And then you’ll have to pay even more to reinstate your license, once the court allows it.

Knowing, and following, the laws that apply to you as a driver, both for insurance and on the road, can keep you out of trouble, keep you safe, and save you money.

Additionally, there are laws insurance companies must follow (recall when we mentioned domestic and foreign insurers, we alluded to the laws that all insurance companies must follow to legally operate in South Dakota).

Being knowledgeable about the laws South Dakota insurance companies must follow can help you make sure you’re working with a reputable company, and give you the information you need to ask the right questions.

We know trying to find and understand legal requirements can be painful. But fear not, like everything else we’ve discussed so far, we’ve done it for you. Keep reading to learn more about the insurance laws and rules of the road you need to follow to stay safe and keep your insurance rates low.

Car Insurance Laws

The primary insurance law that applies to you as a driver is the one we’ve already discussed regarding the minimum coverage requirement. However, there are several laws that insurers must follow that benefit you.

In general, states have laws regarding insurance fraud, how it is defined, and how they handle it. They also typically have a process in place that allows you to report suspected fraud both by insurance companies and by the insured.

There are also some laws in place that define how insurance companies must approach responding to your claims, should you need to file them, for specific kinds of damage that occur. Often this defines the minimum damages an insurance company must cover.

Over the next few sections, we’ll discuss these and other insurance laws you should be aware of, to ensure you are your own advocate both when shopping for insurance and after you’ve purchased your policy.

How State Laws for Insurance are Determined

With all these laws we plan to cover, it’s worth taking a minute or two to review how the requirements became laws in the first place.

In general, if someone or several someones determines that there needs to be legislation in place to require or prohibit something, their first step is to put together documentation that outlines the proposed legislation, the reasoning behind it, and why it should be made into law, as well as any other necessary information. This is referred to as a bill.

Once the bill is prepared, it’s presented to the state legislature for their review (and subsequent approval or rejection). The state legislature thoroughly reads, considers, and debates the bill, its pros and cons, implementation, etc. to determine whether or not the bill is both necessary and implementable. 

If the legislature agrees the proposed bill is necessary and is also implementable, they will sign the bill into law. Keep reading to find out more details on the relevant South Dakota laws that are on the books.

Windshield Coverage

If you’ve spent any time on the road, particularly the highway, you’ve probably heard that unpleasant and startling “chink” as a rock or other road debris hits your windshield. Sometimes you get lucky, and no damage occurs. However, more often than not, you almost immediately see the flash of a chip and the spiderweb of cracks that follows.

What do you do when this happens to you? States across the country vary in their requirements for insurance companies when it comes to handling chipped or cracked windshields. Some have no requirements, while others have very clear requirements regarding what and how insurance companies must repair or replace windshields.

In South Dakota, insurance companies are permitted to request the use of aftermarket crash parts, as long as written notice is provided as part of the cost estimate for the repair. However, you as the insured are allowed to choose where the repair is done (insurers cannot mandate a specific company).

In South Dakota, insurance companies are not required to include coverage for windshield repair and replacement as a part of policies. However, it is often included as a part of a comprehensive policy, rather than being an add-on you have to opt into.

High-Risk Insurance

Are you a high-risk driver? What does this mean and how can it affect you?

High-risk drivers are those that have too many traffic violations on their record. When you’ve had too many violations, you’re considered too high risk for insurance companies to want to sell you an insurance policy. You may find yourself struggling to obtain insurance as a result.

Since insurance coverage is required to legally drive, what do you do?

Thankfully, South Dakota has a plan in place to assist high-risk drivers in obtaining insurance. The South Dakota Automobile Insurance Plan (SD AIP) was instituted in the 1940s to ensure high-risk drivers have the coverage they need to legally drive on the road. It is not an insurance plan itself, but instead, it matches high-risk drivers with insurance companies.

South Dakota requires insurance companies to participate in the SD AIP. Typically, each company must insure a number of applicants commensurate with their market share. For example, Progressive has about 14 percent of the state’s insurance market, so they must insure 14 percent of approved applicants from the SD AIP.

The SD AIP, like similar programs across the United States, typically considers their program to be a last resort, and you must assert that you’ve made good faith efforts to obtain insurance through traditional means before you’ll qualify. Specifically, you must:

  • Certify that you’ve been unable to obtain car insurance through traditional means in the previous 60 days
  • Have a vehicle registered in the state
  • Have a valid driver’s license in the state
  • Provide a fully and accurately completed application

A licensed insurance agent in South Dakota can provide you with the application for the SD AIP and help you fill it out and submit it through the appropriate channels.

It’s important to note that while SD AIP enables you to purchase the necessary minimum coverage if you are considered a high-risk driver, you will have to purchase more coverage than the average driver, and your premium rates will likely be significantly higher.

Under the SD AIP you’ll also have the option to purchase additional coverage, should you so choose.

To get an idea of the difference between coverage for the average driver versus coverage for high-risk drivers through SD AIP, check out the table below.

Required InsuranceSD Minimum RequirementSD AIP Minimum Requirement
Bodily Injury$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
$100,000 per person
$300,000 per accident
Property Damage Liability$25,000.00$50,000 per accident
Unisured Motorist Coverage$25,000 per person
$50,000 per accident
$100,000 per person
$300,000 per accident
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As you can see, the difference between what average drivers are required to carry and what’s required of high-risk drivers in South Dakota is quite significant. In fact, it ranges between 100 and 500 percent higher than the average driver’s requirement.

If you want to learn more about the SD AIP or have questions, you can call the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation Division of Insurance at 605-773-3563. You can also visit the SD AIP website for more information on the program.

Low-Cost Insurance

As we’ve noted, South Dakota offers programs to assist high-risk drivers in obtaining insurance coverage through the SD AIP. However, at this time the state does not have a commensurate program in place for low-income drivers in the Mount Rushmore state.

There are only three states (California, Hawaii, and New Jersey) that do offer some form of government-funded assistance for low-income drivers to obtain and keep their insurance.

Automobile Insurance Fraud in South Dakota

Did you know that almost ten percent of the losses insurance companies face each year are from insurance fraud? The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports this as part of a 2019 article on the problem of insurance fraud in the United States.

Insurance fraud can be committed by both insured individuals and insurers and can include everything from fudging your average commute time to faking a car accident or a company selling you a false policy.

South Dakota takes insurance fraud seriously, and like many states, classifies it as a crime. The state Attorney General’s Office handles fraud investigations through their Division of Criminal Investigation, Insurance Fraud Prevention Unit.

If you suspect insurance fraud of any kind, it is your responsibility to report it. You can do so by calling the Insurance Fraud Prevention Unit at 605-773-3331 or emailing them at insurancefraud@state.sd.us.

Statute of Limitations

If you’re in a car accident and need to file a claim to obtain restitution for the damages, you’ll have a maximum of three years to do so.

If you don’t file within this three-year statute of limitations for both personal injury and property damage, you’ll lose the ability to do so. It’s also important to keep in mind that this three-year window starts on the day of the accident.

State Specific Laws

While most states are fairly consistent with certain laws, like the minimum insurance requirement (though the exact amount and specifics often vary state-to-state), there are always laws unique to each state, and it pays to know these laws, to ensure you avoid road violations.

One such law in South Dakota enables law enforcement to charge individuals with a DUI even if they are not driving, but simply sitting in their vehicle, without the keys in the ignition.

We’ll discuss DUI in South Dakota in greater detail later on, but for now, it’s important to be aware of this law, and ensure you have a plan to avoid ever being in this situation.

Vehicle Licensing Laws

In addition to the minimum insurance requirement, there are licensing laws that govern how your vehicle must be registered in South Dakota for you to be able to legally drive that vehicle in the state.

When you purchase a new vehicle, you have 45 days (no extensions) in which to apply for a title and registration. This law was enacted in July 2015. Before that, residents had only 30 days to title and register newly purchased vehicles. If you do not register within the 45-day window, you’ll face gradually increasing fees the longer you wait.

When you purchase a new vehicle from a dealership, they will work with you to get it registered. However, if you purchase your vehicle from a private seller, you’ll need to visit the county treasurer’s office in person, and you’ll need to bring:

  • Filled out application form for vehicle title and registration
  • Salvage, Recovered Theft, and Uniform Damage Disclosure form, if your vehicle is seven years old or less
  • Title of the vehicle (that includes you listed as the owner)
  • Registration fees
  • Proof of insurance

If you need to renew your vehicle registration, which will be required annually, you can do so by:

All renewal options require the following documentation:

  • Renewal notice
  • Proof of ownership (if this is not already included on the renewal notice)
  • Proof of valid state identification
  • Applicable fees

If you’ve recently moved to South Dakota, you’ll receive reciprocity for vehicle taxes and vehicle registration fees if the state your vehicle is currently registered in requires higher than the four percent tax rate in South Dakota. However, if it is lower than the four percent, you’ll need to pay the difference to meet the South Dakota rate.

Additionally, you must register your vehicle in the Mount Rushmore State within 90 days of moving. When registering your vehicle in the state for the first time, you’ll need to visit the county treasurer’s office in person and bring the following:

  • Filled out application for motor vehicle title and registration
  • Current vehicle title
  • Registration fees
  • Proof of insurance
  • Salvage, Recovered Theft, and Uniform Damage Disclosure form, if your vehicle is seven years old or less

If you have questions regarding the vehicle licensing process, you can reach out to the South Dakota Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Division by calling 605-773-3541, sending a fax to 605-773-2550, or emailing the division at motorv@state.sd.us.

REAL ID

By now you’ve surely heard of the REAL ID Act instituted by the Department of Homeland Security. If you live in South Dakota, you likely already have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, as the state began issuing compliant licenses in 2009. In fact, South Dakota is ahead of many other states and is currently 99 percent compliant with the law.

The REAL ID Act was established in 2005 as a response to the tragedies of 9/11. Essentially, the goal is to ensure that everyone is who they say they are. As such, the requirements for obtaining a REAL ID-compliant license are federally defined and involve supplying sufficient documentation to prove your identity.

On October 1, 2020, REAL ID-compliant forms of identification will be required to do any of the following:

  • Fly commercially within the United States (if you use a driver’s license as your form of identification)
  • Access nuclear power plants (if you need to do so)
  • Access some military installations (if you need to do so)

As many states have noted, it is not actually required for you to obtain a REAL ID-compliant form of identification if you do not have a need to access nuclear power plants or military installations and have no plans to fly commercially (or choose to use your passport or some other valid form of identification when you travel instead of a driver’s license).

However, many states are instituting REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses as a strong suggestion (if not a requirement) whenever your renewal date comes up.

If you are one of the less than one percent of South Dakota drivers who do not already have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license, you’ll need to visit a local driver exam station in person and bring the following forms of documentation:

  • Two proofs of a South Dakota address
  • Proof of lawful status in the United States
  • Social security number (this can be your social security card, a W2, or 1099)

Like many states, South Dakota’s REAL ID-complaint driver’s licenses are indicated by a gold circle with a white star in the center on the upper right-hand corner of the license.

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

As we’ve discussed multiple times already, you are required to maintain at least the minimum liability insurance to legally drive in South Dakota. Should you be stopped by law enforcement and found to be driving without insurance, you’ll face:

  • A minimum fine of $100
  • The possibility of 30 days in jail
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 30 days to one year
  • A requirement that you file proof of insurance (in the form of an SR-22) each year for three years (if you do not do so, your license, vehicle registration, and plates will be suspended)

When providing proof of insurance, both the physical insurance card and an electronic form of your insurance card are considered acceptable in South Dakota.

Teen Driver Laws

If you’re a teenager in South Dakota and ready to get out on the road, you’re in luck, because the state only requires you to be 14 to start learning to drive. You’ll need to apply for a learner’s permit, which you must hold for between three and six months.

If you’re in a driver’s education program, you’ll only need to hold the permit for three months before applying for a provisional license; but if you’re not, you’ll need to hold the permit for six months before you can apply for a provisional, intermediate license.

While you have a learner’s permit, you are not required to log a certain number of hours of supervised driving. However, you cannot drive from 10:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. without adult supervision.

After the three or six month period of holding the learner’s permit, you can obtain a provisional license. With this license, you can have as many passengers as you’d like, but you’ll still be restricted from driving from 10:00 p.m.-6:00 a.m. without adult supervision.

You’ll be required to hold the provisional license until you are at least 16. Once you turn 16, you can obtain a full, unrestricted license.

Older Driver License Renewal Procedures

The majority of licensing renewal procedures in South Dakota are consistent no matter your age. All drivers must renew their driver’s license every five years, and all drivers can alternate between in-person driver’s license renewals and online/mailed renewals.

The only difference between the general population’s renewal process and the older population’s (in this case 65 and older) renewal process is that drivers who are 65 and older must provide proof of adequate vision at every driver’s license renewal, while the general population only needs to do so when they renew in person.

New Residents

If you’re a new resident in South Dakota, you’ll need to obtain a South Dakota driver’s license within the first 90 days of residence (if you hold a commercial driver’s license, you’ll need to do so within the first 30 days of residence).

The process for obtaining a South Dakota license will vary based on whether or not you have a REAL ID-compliant license from your previous state of residence. If you do have a REAL ID-compliant license from your previous state of residence, you’ll need to bring the following documents with you when you visit a local driver exam station:

  • Two proofs of a South Dakota address
  • Proof of lawful status in the United States

If you do not have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license from your previous state of residence, you’ll also need to bring proof of social security number (your social security card, W2, or 1099). All documents must be originals (no photocopies will be accepted).

License renewal procedures

You are required to renew your driver’s license every five years on your birthday. You can do so up to 180 days before it expires and within 30 days after it expires with no consequences. However, if you do not renew your license until more than 30 days past the expiration date, you’ll have to pay applicable fees and you will be required to take a knowledge test.

You can renew your license online or through the mail every other renewal. On the opposite renewal, you will be required to do so in-person at a driver’s licensing location.

However, this is only applicable if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Otherwise, you must always renew in-person at a driver’s licensing location.

When you’re ready to renew your license, if you already have a REAL ID-compliant license, you’ll need to have your current driver’s license plus two proofs of South Dakota residence.

However, if you do not have a REAL ID-compliant license, you’ll need to bring all the REAL ID required documentation (recall we included this information in the previous REAL ID section) with you when you apply for renewal.

Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)

Many states have instituted a points-based system to reduce reckless driving and keep everyone safer on the road. These points-based systems generally affect your eligibility to drive and are organized so that when you are convicted of certain kinds of traffic violations, points are attached to your driver’s license.

If you accumulate too many points within a set period of time (typically 12 or 24 months), your driver’s license and driving privileges will likely be suspended, and you may even face jail time as well as fines. This system is referred to as the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) in California.

Typically, only “moving violation” convictions are associated with points against your driver’s license. But what does this mean?

  • Moving Violation – occurs when you violate a traffic law while your vehicle is in motion. These include speeding, running a red light, driving under the influence and more
  • Non-moving Violation – is any violation (when your vehicle is stationary or in motion) that is not reported to your licensing department, department of motor vehicles, or insurance company. These include distracted driving and driving without a seat belt.

The South Dakota Point System is the commensurate NOTS-like program in the Mount Rushmore State. Under this system, if you accrue either 15 points in 12 months or 22 points in 24 months, your license and driving privileges will be suspended.

Take a look at this table to see how the South Dakota Point System could affect you if you’re convicted of any of the moving violations listed below.

ConvictionPoints
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)10
Reckless Driving8
Eluding/Attempting to Elude6
Drag Racing6
Failure to Yield Right of Way4
Improper Passing4
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road4
Stop Sign/Light Violation3
Other moving violations2
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It is important to note that while a DUI will not result in 15 points on your driver’s license, your license will be suspended anyway because state law requires this for anyone convicted of a DUI.

Rules of the Road

To avoid accruing points against your driver’s license, increasing your insurance rates, and more, it is important to know (and follow) the rules of the road in South Dakota. These laws are in place to keep you and other drivers safe and should be followed to the best of your ability.

We know the subtleties of road laws can sometimes be frustrating, and driver’s education was probably the last time you reviewed some of these rules. To make it easier for you, we’ve collected information on insurance and road laws that apply to you, so you don’t have to spend your valuable time trying to research this.

Read through the next few sections to find out everything you need to know about the rules of the road. There are also some points of interest related to insurance laws for you to keep in mind. These are requirements insurers must follow that help keep you safe on the road.

Fault vs. No-Fault

You already know that South Dakota is a fault state. This means that whoever is responsible (or “at fault”) for an accident involving one or more vehicles is also financially responsible for any damages that result from the accident.

In other words, assuming all drivers involved in an accident are insured, the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay for the property and injury damages.

If you find yourself in an accident for which you are not at fault, you have three ways to pursue financial restitution:

  • Filing a claim with your insurance (at which point your insurance will likely pursue a claim against the insurer of the at-fault driver)
  • Filing a third-party claim with the insurer of the at-fault driver
  • Filing a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver (this typically requires a lawyer and is conducted in civil court)

Seat belt and car seat laws

To ensure you and your passengers are safe when driving in the Mount Rushmore State, there are specific laws outlining seat belt and car seat usage. Incorrect use of seat belts is not considered “primary enforcement,” which means law enforcement can only ticket you for this if they pulled you over for something else.

All children four years and younger and weighing 40 pounds or less must be secured in a child safety seat. All children age five through 17 and weighing more than 40 pounds must be secured with a seat belt. All adults 18 years and older must also be secured with a seat belt.

If you are found violating the seat belt laws, your first offense will cost you a $20 fine plus any additional fees the state may levy against you. Your first offense when violating the child seat laws will result in a $25 fine, plus any additional applicable fees.

Riding in the bed of a truck is permitted in South Dakota, though it is discouraged due to the lack of safety restraints.

Keep Right and Move Over Laws

If you’re driving in South Dakota, you need to know where and when it’s necessary to move over or slow down.

If you see an emergency vehicle (this includes tow trucks and wreckers), you’ll need to slow down and move out of the lane closest to that emergency vehicle, if it is safe and there is room to do so. Drivers are also expected to move to the right to get out of the way of faster-moving traffic.

Speed Limits

As you should be aware, when driving on the road it’s necessary to always follow the posted speed limit. If at any point you are found to be driving above the posted speed limit, you may be ticketed.

If you are driving significantly faster than the posted speed limit, you may even be convicted of reckless driving, which will result in points being added to your driver’s license.

Any speeding violation may also increase your insurance rate (though as you saw earlier, this is dependent on your insurer). When you follow posted speed limit signs, you’re not only making the wiser choice for your insurance rates (as well as keeping your driver’s license clear of points), you’re helping to keep other drivers safe on the road.

Speed limits are set based on road conditions, traffic patterns, and other factors, all of which feed into determining what is the most efficient and safe speed in a given area. In South Dakota, there are set speed limit maximums for different kinds of roads (though the actual posted speed limit can vary within that maximum, depending on road conditions, etc.). These maximums are listed below.

  • Rural interstates: 80 MPH (minimum 40 MPH)
  • Urban interstates: 80 MPH (minimum 40 MPH)
  • Other limited access roads: 70 MPH
  • Other roads: 70 MPH
  • Secondary highways: 65 MPH
  • City streets: 25 MPH (unless otherwise posted)
  • School zones and obstructed intersections: 15 MPH

According to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, drivers are responsible for driving in a “reasonable and prudent manner based on the existing driving conditions.”

Ridesharing

To keep you safe on the road both as a customer of a transportation network company (TNC) or ridesharing service and as a driver sharing the road with TNCs, South Dakota has instituted several laws all TNCs must follow to legally operate in the state.

These laws specifically define a number of actions all TNCs must take, as well as defining who can and cannot be a TNC driver. These include:

  • TNCs must conduct full background checks on all drivers
  • TNCs must comply with the list of reasons that can prohibit applicants from becoming TNC drivers
  • TNCs must institute a zero-tolerance policy for all drivers
  • TNCs must require all drivers who are logged into the TNC application, but not currently providing a ride, to maintain at least minimum liability coverage of $50,000 for bodily injury per person, $100,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $25,000 for property damage
  • TNCs must require all drivers who are logged into the TNC application and providing a ride to maintain at least minimum liability coverage of $1,000,000 for bodily injury and property damage

Automation on the Road

Some states are fully in favor of supporting research and testing of autonomous vehicles on their roads and others are against any use of autonomous vehicles within their borders. Whether for or against, those states with strong opinions on autonomous vehicles have begun enacting legislation to define what is and is not permissible.

Some states, including South Dakota, do not currently have such legislation in place regarding the use and testing of autonomous vehicles. Several bills have been proposed, but have been tabled for future review.

There are also no insurance-related laws currently on the books, which means autonomous vehicles may be uninsured (or only carry minimum liability coverage).

Safety Laws

Laws like posted speed limits and seat belt requirements are put in place to keep you, your passengers, and other drivers safe on the road. In addition to these, South Dakota has some other regulations designed with safety in mind.

One example is how the state defines window tinting. Why is this safety-related, you may ask? Because window-tinting can affect how well you can see the road and maintain situational awareness. We briefly outline these laws below.

For sedans, SUVs, and vans:

  • Windshield: non-reflective tint can be placed above the manufacturer’s AS-1 line
  • Front windows: a minimum of 36 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle and no metallic or mirrored appearance is permitted
  • Backside windows: a minimum of 21 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle  and no metallic or mirrored appearance is permitted
  • Rear window: a minimum of 21 percent of outside lighting must filter into the vehicle

The state does allow your choice of tint color (no specific color is prohibited). Any manufacturer of window tint film must certify they are following the state laws. Additionally, to ensure law enforcement is aware that your tinting meets the requirements in the state, a sticker certifying this must be placed on every tinted window.

Keep reading to learn more about what else South Dakota lawmakers have done to keep you safe on the road. This includes information on how the state handles driving under the influence, distracted driving, and more.

DUI Laws

Have you ever gotten behind the wheel after a few too many drinks? We’ve already noted that you can be convicted of DUI in South Dakota even if you aren’t driving, but are simply sitting in your vehicle.

You also already know your insurance rates can increase, even doubling or tripling as a result. As promised, we’ll now discuss in greater detail what a DUI means for you in the Mount Rushmore State.

While insurance rate increases and license suspensions (and even fines and potential jail time) are consequences no one wants to deal with, the real concern with driving while impaired is that you’re willfully putting others’ lives in danger.

This choice is not worth the risk, and you should never take the chance. You’ll also find that if you’re convicted of a DUI, it will remain on your record for a minimum of ten years, which can even affect your ability to get a job.

In South Dakota, the blood alcohol limit (BAC) is 0.08, while the high blood alcohol limit (HBAC) is 0.17.

Responsibility.org reports that 35 alcohol-related driving fatalities occurred in the state in 2017. Looking at this another way, that’s four alcohol-related driving fatalities per 100,000 people, which is almost 18 percent higher than the national average of 3.4 alcohol-related driving fatalities per 100,000 people.

If you’re convicted of DUI, you can face serious consequences. The table below outlines exactly what can happen to you.

Penalty1st DUI2nd DUI3rd DUI4th DUI5th & 6th DUI
Fine$2,000 minimum$2,000 minimum$4,000$20,000$20,000
Jail Timeno minimum, but up to 1 yearno minimum, but up to 120 daysno minimum, but up to 2 yearsup to 10 yearsup to 10 years
License Revoked30 days - 1 year6 months minimum; restricted permit eligible1 year from date of imprisonment release; restricted permit eligible2 years, restricted permit elegible3 years minimum
Otherif caught driving while license suspended, 3 days in county jail not able to be suspendedif caught driving while license suspended, 10 days in county jail not able to be suspendedif caught driving while license suspended, 20 days in county jail not able to be suspendedif caught driving while license suspended, 20 days in county jail not able to be suspended
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Driving under the influence is dangerous, illegal, and not worth the risk. The potential consequences are too high. If you want to have some fun, let loose, and have a few drinks, plan ahead. Have a designated driver, call a cab, or use a ridesharing service. You have options. There’s no excuse for putting your own and others’ lives in danger.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws

Marijuana is fully illegal, including for medical use in South Dakota. The state has a law in place stating that there is zero-tolerance for THC and metabolites for drivers under the age of 21, according to Responsibility.org.

There are no explicit definitions of what is and is not permissible for drivers over 21, however, since marijuana is illegal, driving under the influence of it is also illegal.

Distracted Driving Laws

Despite a growing move toward cellphone usage bans across the country, South Dakota’s laws are fairly lax. Texting is prohibited, as is all cellphone use for anyone with a learner’s permit or intermediate/provisional license. However, hand-held cellphone usage is still permitted in the state.

Improper cellphone usage is also considered a secondary offense, so like with seat belt laws, you can only be pulled over and ticketed for this if law enforcement pulled you over for a different, primary offense.

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Driving Safely in South Dakota

Sadly, no matter how safely, carefully, and defensively you drive, accidents and tragedies still happen. You cannot control other drivers on the road, weather, or resulting road conditions, all of which are factors that can affect your ability to stay safe. The only thing you can do is continue to drive safely and defensively and arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible.

To that end, it is helpful to know when and where accidents most often take place so you can be prepared, and also make plans for alternative transportation routes if particularly dangerous factors (i.e. weather) are present. Keep reading to find out more about accident statistics, crime rates, and more across South Dakota.

Vehicle Theft in South Dakota

No matter where you live or how careful you are, it’s possible for your vehicle to be stolen. However, you can reduce your chances of this happening, and have a backup plan ready in the event it does happen, by being prepared. Here’s some key information about vehicle theft in South Dakota.

The most popular vehicle stolen in the Mount Rushmore State is a full-size Chevrolet pickup. We’ve also included a list of the top ten most stolen vehicles in South Dakota so you can see if your vehicle made the list.

RankMake/ModelYear of VehicleThefts
1Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)199452
2Ford Pickup (Full Size)200147
3Chevrolet Impala200424
4Dodge Pickup (Full Size)200123
4Honda Civic199623
6GMC Pickup (Full Size)199422
7Chevrolet Malibu200320
8Chevrolet Pickup (Small Size)199717
8Ford Taurus200617
8Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee199917
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One way you can be prepared is to speak with your insurer about additional coverage options that may be available to financially protect you if your vehicle is stolen.

When looking at the data in the above table, please keep in mind that the listed vehicle year indicates the most commonly stolen year model in South Dakota in 2016.

While the top-ten list is helpful, it’s also key to combine this information with vehicle crime rates in your area. The FBI collects data on motor vehicle theft for each state, organized by city and town. Take a look at the table below (you can even search it) to see what vehicle crime rates look like in your area.

City/TownPopulationMotor
vehicle
theft
Aberdeen28,80040
Belle Fourche5,6623
Box Elder9,62320
Brandon10,0900
Brookings24,19827
Canton3,4377
Chamberlain2,3640
Deadwood1,2620
Flandreau2,3313
Hot Springs3,5406
Huron13,20414
Lead2,9903
Lennox2,3640
Madison7,5841
Martin1,0713
Mitchell15,80637
Mobridge3,5875
North Sioux City2,7664
Pierre14,06423
Rapid City74,986304
Sioux Falls177,888469
Sisseton2,4261
Spearfish11,6979
Sturgis6,86810
Summerset2,4990
Tea5,2615
Vermillion10,89212
Wagner1,5891
Watertown22,28316
Whitewood9310
Winner2,8501
Yankton14,57910
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Road Fatalities in South Dakota

You already know not everyone follows the law when driving on the road. This can result in accidents and even fatalities. Driving under the influence, distracted driving, driving too fast; all of these choices and more make everyone less safe on the road.

There are also other factors, like weather, that are outside of anyone’s control. These can affect visibility, road conditions, and more. Keep reading to familiarize yourself with fatality and crash data in South Dakota.

Most fatal highway in South Dakota

The most dangerous and fatal highway in South Dakota is the US-18, according to GeoTab. A particular section of this highway averages five crashes per year, and since the data started being tracked, 48 crashes with 55 fatalities have occurred on the highway.

Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition

As we’ve already noted, no matter how safely everyone drives, there are some factors, like weather and light conditions, that are simply out of your control. During poor weather or visibility, you should drive cautiously and adjust your speed accordingly.

In this table, we’ve outlined how both weather and lighting affected road fatalities in South Dakota in 2017.

Weather ConditionDaylightDark, but LightedDarkDawn or DuskOther / UnknownTotal
Normal562362298
Rain103105
Snow/Sleet401005
Other100001
Unknown002002
TOTAL6224232111
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Fatalities (All Crashes) by County

The South Dakota NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities by county from 2014-2018.

CountyFatalities 20142015201620172018Fatalities per 100K Population 20142015201620172018
Aurora County1320136.46109.4972.67035.7
Beadle County140215.5422.08010.755.3
Bennett County1100229.1129.40057.67
Bon Homme County2030128.65043.17014.33
Brookings County4243312.035.9211.688.658.51
Brown County4111410.462.62.572.5410.17
Brule County00001000019.12
Buffalo County001010049.26049.12
Butte County2123019.539.819.7729.70
Campbell County01200070.77144.200
Charles Mix County1113110.8310.6810.6931.8310.71
Clark County1010027.4027.4700
Clay County2210214.4114.537.19014.24
Codington County5222217.897.177.137.127.14
Corson County3012171.87024.347.5424.01
Custer County3521735.5959.2123.2611.5480.22
Davison County03210015.07105.040
Day County2201036.3636.39018.130
Deuel County2000246.300046.11
Dewey County0001000017.070
Douglas County001010034.35034.07
Edmunds County3622075.59150.2350.7950.990
Fall River County1102214.6114.71029.8729.59
Faulk County02101086.6943.16042.92
Grant County3113441.0313.8513.8541.7455.97
Gregory County3200270.9947.710047.48
Haakon County1000054.170000
Hamlin County1110116.7816.7216.89016.36
Hand County01102030.2530.53061.31
Hanson County1711429.21206.5529.5429.32118.48
Harding County1102380.3278.860161.16240.19
Hughes County0113105.75.6816.985.67
Hutchinson County1200313.8427.520040.65
Hyde County0030000225.0600
Jackson County2336261.2991.5891.27181.7660.48
Jerauld County0002000098.380
Jones County11120104.6109.05107.41215.980
Kingsbury County2012039.58020.1240.510
Lake County2012116.5407.9415.637.66
Lawrence County68108324.2632.2339.5731.2411.65
Lincoln County543659.697.555.510.598.5
Lyman County1030525.92076.90130.86
Marshall County1111021.1520.7720.7420.010
Mccook County2102136.0618.27036.2918.03
Mcpherson County00002000083.09
Meade County6643522.4622.4114.6210.7217.67
Mellette County1200048.498.81000
Miner County01000045.29000
Minnehaha County1410912137.745.454.836.316.74
Moody County3401046.6262.01015.290
Pennington County131610171112.0914.819.1815.429.85
Perkins County1001033.180033.860
Potter County001100044.445.210
Roberts County2455319.4639.249.0748.5128.72
Sanborn County1101042.942.59040.750
Shannon County2614111100000
Spink County001200015.430.690
Stanley County00001000033.09
Sully County01010071.33070.970
Todd County2011120.1209.789.769.72
Tripp County1010118.16018.22018.25
Turner County4122448.8312.324.2124.0647.48
Union County02211013.4113.236.566.4
Walworth County4230072.693754.6100
Yankton County9736739.6930.8613.2426.4330.61
Ziebach County2000069.950000
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Between 2014 and 2018, the most fatal counties varied depending on the year. However, across the five-year span, the following four counties were the most dangerous in South Dakota for vehicle-related fatalities.

  • Yankton County – 32 fatalities
  • Lawrence County – 35 fatalities
  • Minnehaha County – 58 fatalities
  • Pennington County – 67 fatalities

Traffic Fatalities

The South Dakota NHTSA Crash Report provides data on the total number of vehicle-related fatalities in rural and urban areas from 2014-2018.

Traffic Fatalities20142015201620172018
Rural115114103109117
Urban2120132013
Total136134116129130
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While many states show more fatalities for rural than for urban areas, in South Dakota the opposite is true. This may be because the number of rural miles driven is significantly higher than urban miles driven. Regardless of whether you are driving in a rural or urban area, you should always pay attention when you’re on the road.

Fatalities by Person Type

The South Dakota NHTSA Crash Report provides data on the total number of vehicle-related fatalities based on vehicle occupant type from 2014-2018.

Person Type20142015201620172018
Passenger Car Occupant4138293743
Light Truck - Pickup Occupant3629272217
Light Truck - Utility Occupant1918211925
Light Truck - Van Occupant694159
Large Truck41285
Other/Unknown Occupants21524
Motorcyclists1731221616
Pedestrian9661010
Bicyclist and Other Cyclist21000
Total Nonoccupants11761011
Other/Unknown Nonoccupants00001
Total147141122139141
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Fatalities by Crash Type

The South Dakota NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities by crash type from 2014-2018.

Crash Type20142015201620172018
Involving a Roadway Departure9587819383
Single Vehicle7872746982
Involving a Rollover5254575864
Involving Speeding3031373152
Involving a Large Truck211382227
Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)2124161926
Total Fatalities (All Crashes)136134116129130
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This data shows that fatalities involving a roadway departure, a single vehicle, and a rollover are most common.

Five-Year Trend for the Top Ten Counties

The South Dakota NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all vehicle-related fatalities in the top ten counties in the state from 2014-2018.

RankTop Ten Counties20142015201620172018
1Minnehaha County141091213
2Pennington County1316101711
3Shannon County26141111
4Custer County35217
5Yankton County97367
6Lincoln County54365
7Lyman County10305
8Meade County66435
9Brown County41114
10Grant County31134
Total7075657772
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A little less than half of the counties in the list had an increase in fatalities across the five-year time frame. However, the remaining counties saw a decrease in fatalities overall, with some spikes in 2017 and 2018.

Fatalities Involving Speeding by County

The South Dakota NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all speeding-related, vehicle-caused fatalities by county from 2014-2018.

CountyFatalities 20142015201620172018Fatalities per 100K Population 20142015201620172018
Aurora County00001000035.7
Beadle County0100105.52005.3
Bennett County0000000000
Bon Homme County0000000000
Brookings County111113.012.962.922.882.84
Brown County100032.610007.63
Brule County0000000000
Buffalo County0000000000
Butte County0000000000
Campbell County001000072.100
Charles Mix County001100010.6910.610
Clark County0000000000
Clay County0000000000
Codington County3210110.737.173.5703.57
Corson County0000000000
Custer County2010223.72011.63022.92
Davison County02000010.05000
Day County02010036.39018.130
Deuel County1000223.1500046.11
Dewey County0001000017.070
Douglas County00001000034.07
Edmunds County3010075.59025.3900
Fall River County0001000014.940
Faulk County0000000000
Grant County0001000013.910
Gregory County2200147.3347.710023.74
Haakon County0000000000
Hamlin County0000000000
Hand County001000030.5300
Hanson County040130118.03029.3288.86
Harding County1001080.320080.580
Hughes County00111005.685.665.67
Hutchinson County1100313.8413.760040.65
Hyde County0030000225.0600
Jackson County02200061.0560.8500
Jerauld County0000000000
Jones County0000000000
Kingsbury County1000019.790000
Lake County0000000000
Lawrence County0252108.0619.797.813.88
Lincoln County0123001.893.675.290
Lyman County1020125.92051.27026.17
Marshall County01100020.7720.7400
Mccook County1100018.0318.27000
Mcpherson County0000000000
Meade County5101218.713.7403.577.07
Mellette County0000000000
Miner County0000000000
Minnehaha County303351.6601.611.582.59
Moody County1000015.540000
Pennington County244341.863.73.672.723.58
Perkins County0001000033.860
Potter County0000000000
Roberts County02202019.619.63019.14
Sanborn County0000000000
Shannon County0107700000
Spink County0001000015.340
Stanley County00001000033.09
Sully County0001000070.970
Todd County1010010.0609.7800
Tripp County001000018.2200
Turner County00002000023.74
Union County0000000000
Walworth County01100018.518.200
Yankton County00207008.83030.61
Ziebach County0000000000
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Between 2014 and 2018, the most fatal counties varied depending on the year. However, across the five-year span, the following three counties were the most dangerous in South Dakota for speeding-related, vehicle-caused fatalities.

  • Minnehaha County – 14 fatalities
  • Shannon County – 15 fatalities
  • Pennington County – 17 fatalities

Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County

The South Dakota NHTSA Crash Report provides data on all alcohol-related, vehicle-caused fatalities by county from 2014-2018.

CountyFatalities 20142105201620172018Fatalities per 100K Population 20142015201620172018
Aurora County01000036.5000
Beadle County130005.5416.56000
Bennett County0000000000
Bon Homme County1000014.320000
Brookings County4100112.032.96002.84
Brown County0100102.6002.54
Brule County0000000000
Buffalo County00001000049.12
Butte County101209.7609.8919.80
Campbell County001000072.100
Charles Mix County1111110.8310.6810.6910.6110.71
Clark County0000000000
Clay County0000000000
Codington County00100003.5700
Corson County00001000024.01
Custer County1200311.8623.690034.38
Davison County02000010.05000
Day County02010036.39018.130
Deuel County0000000000
Dewey County0000000000
Douglas County0000000000
Edmunds County0000000000
Fall River County1101114.6114.71014.9414.8
Faulk County02000086.69000
Grant County2010027.35013.8500
Gregory County00001000023.74
Haakon County1000054.170000
Hamlin County0000000000
Hand County01000030.25000
Hanson County001110029.5429.3229.62
Harding County000020000160.13
Hughes County00101005.6805.67
Hutchinson County0000000000
Hyde County0000000000
Jackson County1220130.6561.0560.85030.24
Jerauld County0000000000
Jones County10100104.60107.4100
Kingsbury County2001039.580020.260
Lake County101018.2707.9407.66
Lawrence County125214.048.0619.797.813.88
Lincoln County200313.88005.291.7
Lyman County1000125.9200026.17
Marshall County01100020.7720.7400
Mccook County1001018.030018.150
Mcpherson County0000000000
Meade County3111311.233.743.663.5710.6
Mellette County1100048.449.41000
Miner County01000045.29000
Minnehaha County333561.661.641.612.633.11
Moody County2100031.0815.5000
Pennington County424343.721.853.672.723.58
Perkins County1001033.180033.860
Potter County0000000000
Roberts County03112029.49.819.719.14
Sanborn County0001000040.750
Shannon County15126400000
Spink County001100015.415.340
Stanley County0000000000
Sully County01000071.33000
Todd County1010010.0609.7800
Tripp County001000018.2200
Turner County1110112.2112.312.11011.87
Union County00100006.6200
Walworth County1010018.17018.200
Yankton County221368.828.824.4113.2226.24
Ziebach County0000000000
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Again, between 2014 and 2018, the most fatal counties varied depending on the year. However, across the five-year span, the following three counties were the most dangerous in South Dakota for alcohol-related, vehicle-caused fatalities.

  • Pennington County – 17 fatalities
  • Minnehaha County – 20 fatalities
  • Shannon County – 28 fatalities

Teen Drinking and Driving

South Dakota, like the rest of the country, sets the legal drinking age at 21. But we all know many teens don’t wait until they turn 21 to party.

Unfortunately, South Dakota is ranked number one in the country for DUI arrests of drivers under the age of 18, with 77 arrests made in 2018. The state is also number one for DUI arrests of drivers over the age of 18.

According to Responsibility.org, South Dakota has 2.8 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 people, which is more than double the national average of 1.2 deaths per 100,000.

In South Dakota, if you’re under 21, the BAC is 0.02, rather than the 0.08 for the general population. If you’re convicted of DUI with a BAC of between 0.02-0.079, you will face suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of 30 days (and this suspension can extend up to a year).

You may also face fines and jail time, as well as community service (this is at the discretion of the court).

If you’re under 21 and are convicted of DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or higher, you will face the same consequences as any other driver, regardless of age, for a DUI (recall we outlined the consequences for DUI in an earlier section).

EMS Response Time

Remember, no matter how safely you drive, accidents still happen, and sometimes you’ll need more than a chiropractic appointment in the aftermath. If this happens to you, and you need immediate medical attention, how quickly will emergency medical services (EMS) get to you?

To find out average EMS response times, we again look to the NTHSA Traffic Safety report. This report includes response time data for states across the country for both rural and urban areas. The average urban and rural response times for South Dakota are in the table below.

Region TypeAverage Time of Crash to EMS NotificationAverage EMS Notification to EMS ArrivalAverage EMS Arrival At Scene to Hospital ArrivalAverage Time of Crash To Hospital ArrivalTotal Fatal Crashes
Rural4.07 minutes15.17 minutes33.87 minutes51.33 minutes91
Urban3.69 minutes7.31 minutes21.17 minutes30.08 minutes20
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It probably comes as no surprise that urban response times are faster than rural ones. Across the full gamut of response time data, on average, the urban response times are 35 percent faster than the rural ones.

One key point to keep in mind is that some factors can affect EMS response times, including weather, the geographic area an EMS team is responsible for, and road conditions.

Transportation in South Dakota

While commute lengths may not have a significant effect on your insurance rates in South Dakota (though they still have some effect, depending on the insurer), it is still important to know what commuting looks like for residents of the state.

Knowing how much time you may spend in traffic each day can help you decide on the best form of transportation, which insurance company is right for you, and more.

In the next few sections, we’ll consider car ownership per household, commute times, and traffic congestion in South Dakota, as well as which transportation options are most commonly used in the state. We also consider that data against the national average for each category to see how South Dakota compares.

Car Ownership

South Dakota matches the national average of two cars per household, according to DataUSA. About 38 percent of households in the state own two cars, versus about 41 percent across the country. The next-highest rate is an average of 25 percent of households owning three cars, compared to the national average of 21 percent of the same.

The households owning two or three cars make up 63 percent of the households in South Dakota. The remainder of households are distributed across the following:

  • No cars – about two percent (compared to 4 percent across the country)
  • One car – about 16 percent (compared to 20 percent across the country)
  • Four cars – about 12 percent (compared to 9 percent across the country)
  • Five or more cars – about seven percent (compared to 4 percent across the country)

Commute Time

No one likes sitting in traffic. But unfortunately, traffic is a fact of life that can sometimes have a significant effect on your average commute time. What does this look like in the Mount Rushmore State?

In South Dakota, the average commute is 16.3 minutes, which is about 36 percent shorter than the national average of 25.5 minutes according to DataUSA.

This is good news for South Dakota drivers. Also, compared to the nearby states of North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, South Dakotans have the second shortest commute time (only North Dakotans have a shorter average commute).

Commuter Transportation

Wondering how most South Dakota residents make their way around? The same DataUSA report notes that 81.2 percent of residents commute alone. This average is 6 percent higher than the national average of 76.4 percent. After driving alone, the next most common transportation options in the Mount Rushmore State are:

  • About 7.8 percent of residents carpool, compared to the national average of 9 percent
  • About 5.85 percent of residents work at home, compared to the national average of 5.23 percent

Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion information is difficult to find for South Dakota. In general, we look at one of three websites for this kind of data (Inrix, TomTom, and Numbeo).

However, none of these sites have any congestion data available for any cities in the state. For all three sites, if no data is listed for a particular location, that typically means there is not enough congestion for data to be collected.

Based on the average commute time we discussed (16.3 minutes), it’s not surprising that there is little traffic congestion data available. Combine that with the fact that South Dakota is ranked 46 out of 50 for population density in the U.S.—there simply are not enough people for there to be consistent and significant traffic congestion in the state.

That’s not to say traffic never happens, but true traffic congestion is not typical for the state. This is great news for South Dakota drivers.

We hope we covered everything you were looking for when you decided to check with us for the key information you need to know when shopping for car insurance. Ready to get started? If you haven’t already, take your first step by using your ZIP code to get a free quote on car insurance today.

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About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.

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