From Knoxville to Nashville, Oak Ridge to Chattanooga Tennessee has thousands of miles of roadways. They’ll take you from the Grand Ole Opry to Graceland and Dollywood, from Civil War battlefields to the Great Smoky Mountains. They’re used by nearly 4.5 million licensed drivers, who each put in an average of over 11,000 miles a year. Along the way, those drivers are involved in thousands of traffic accidents every year, including many that result in serious injury or death. Wherever you live and drive in the Volunteer State, carrying adequate car insurance is both a legal requirement and commonsense protection. This is your guide to Tennessee’s basic vehicle insurance requirements and laws.
Tennessee state law requires you to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. Failure to do so can result in severe penalties that may include monetary fines and jail time. Under Tennessee’s tort system, you may also be liable for actual damages (expenses associated with property damage and medical costs), economic damages (lost wages and earning capacity) and emotional and physical pain and suffering.
The bare minimum car insurance requirement for Tennessee drivers is:
$25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
$15,000 property damage liability
$25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
$15,000 uninsured motorist property damage
You have the option of rejecting in writing uninsured motorist property damage and medical coverages if your prefer not to purchase them. Tennessee does not require you to carry additional coverage such as personal liability insurance or Collision and Comprehensive. However, If you own property or other valuable assets, supplementing the minimum requirements can help you protect yourself from monetary loss.
Penalties for Failure to Carry Tennessee Auto Insurance
You are required by law to carry proof of Tennessee car insurance in your car and show it if a law enforcement officer asks to see it. Driving without car insurance in Tennessee is a Class A misdemeanor with a fine of $100 for a first offense. If you drive without insurance and cause an accident that results in bodily injury or death, you can be fined up to $2,500 and serve a jail sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days. Your driving privileges will be suspended and you will have to pay a reinstatement fee. You may also have to file SR-22 proof of financial responsibility.
Tennessee Car Insurance Premiums
Vehicle insurance premiums are regulated by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. Insurance companies are allowed to charge premiums and award discounts based on a number of factors that can include:
The type of car you are insuring
Prior auto insurance coverage
How much you drive
Your driving record
Your marital status
Your geographic location
How long you’ve been driving
Whether or not you use your car for business
Tennessee also allows insurers to consider your credit history to determine your premium.
How to Get the Cheapest Tennessee Car Insurance Policy
You may be able to lower the cost of your premiums in the following ways:
Ask about available discounts for good driving habits, anti-theft devices, multiple cars on one policy, bundling your car insurance with your homeowners or renters policy, automatic or online payments and driving a hybrid or electric car
Compare quotes from a variety of providers on this website
Eliminate unnecessary coverage
Check to see if you qualify for any low-cost auto insurance program your state may offer
New Tennessee Driving Laws
Laws regarding driving and car insurance can change frequently. It is your responsibility to stay current about the legal requirements in Tennessee. The following laws have recently been enacted in Tennessee and may affect your insurance coverage decisions.
Tennessee bans the use of all cell phones (handheld and hands-free) by novice drivers.
Tennessee bans all drivers from texting behind the wheel.
Effective 2014, Tennesseans are allowed to carry concealed guns in their cars.