Penalties for driving without insurance in Tennessee

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As of 2019, Tennessee ranks third in the country for uninsured motorists, with 23.7% of drivers operating a vehicle without insurance. If you are caught driving without insurance in Tennessee, you could receive tickets, fines and jail time. Like many states, Tennessee has minimum coverage requirements for every vehicle on the road and you may be required to provide proof of current insurance following an accident or being pulled over by the police.

Minimum insurance required in Tennessee

Tennessee drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of liability car insurance for each vehicle they own. Without it, drivers could receive a ticket for no insurance or receive more severe penalties. Tennessee’s liability limits are:

  • $25,000 per person for bodily injury liability
  • $50,000 per accident for bodily injury liability
  • $15,000 per accident for property damage liability

However, if you can prove you have the finances to take responsibility, you could satisfy the legal requirement without the required insurance minimums. You can do this with the Department of Revenue in one of two ways:

  1. Post a bond of $65,000.
  2. Provide a cash deposit of $65,000.

When driving, be sure to carry proof of insurance or Financial Responsibility so you can provide it when needed. If you do not, you could receive a penalty for driving without insurance in Tennessee.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Tennessee

In Tennessee, driving without insurance or failing to provide proof of Financial Responsibility could subject you to the following penalties:

  • A suspended driver’s license until you can provide proof and pass the driver’s test again.
  • A $300 fine
  • Vehicle towing

Prior to penalties being levied, the Department of Revenue will send a notification to provide insurance verification. You are given 30 days to provide a response. If one is not received, expect penalties to follow.

Fees from Tennessee’s online insurance verification system

If you are sent a notification after driving without insurance in Tennessee, you can provide proof of insurance or Financial Responsibility on the Drive Insured Tennessee website. You will need the PIN number listed on the notice and license plate number, and then will be asked to provide your proof of exemption or insurance information, which can be found on your car insurance declarations page. If you do not take action, the following fees will be assessed.

Fines for not responding to a confirmation notice

Reason for fee Fee amount
Failure to respond to first notice within 30 days $25
Failure to respond to final notice within 30 days $100
Suspension notice sent with total fees combined $125
Reinstatement fee paid to lift EIVS suspension $25

Getting into an accident without insurance

Driving without insurance and getting into an accident in Tennessee can have serious financial implications. Not only could you have to pay the above fees and penalties and have your driver’s license suspended, but you could also pay out-of-pocket for injuries and property damage if you drive in Tennessee without car insurance and cause an accident. Since Tennessee is an at-fault state, the consequences may be even more severe. You could also receive a Class A misdemeanor and pay up to $2,500 in fines and face jail time.

You can also be sued, which would require you to pay additional fees for court and a lawyer. Typically, the car insurance company will help cover representation for you if you are sued as the result of an accident, but you will have to pay for representation yourself if you do not have auto insurance.

Frequently asked questions

What if you provide false insurance information?

Providing false car insurance information in Tennessee to avoid tickets or penalties for driving without insurance is considered insurance fraud and is a crime. If you are charged with a Class A misdemeanor for providing false insurance information, you could face up to 11 months, 29 days in jail and up to $2,500 in fines.

How much is car insurance in Tennessee?

Rates for state minimum car insurance are on average $371 per year. If you finance or lease a vehicle, you may be required to carry full coverage to satisfy lender requirements. With an average cost of car insurance in Tennessee around $1,338 for full coverage per year, it is much more costly to drive without auto insurance coverage.

What happens if I do not provide proof of car insurance in Tennessee?

In 2017, the James Lee Atwood Jr. Law went into effect, bringing with it stiffer penalties for failure to provide proof of insurance during a traffic stop or at the scene of an accident. The fine was increased from $100 to $300 and chargeable as a Class C misdemeanor, which could include up to 30 days in jail.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Written by
Mandy Sleight
Insurance Contributor
Mandy Sleight has been a licensed insurance agent since 2005. She has three years of experience writing for insurance websites such as Bankrate.com, MoneyGeek and The Simple Dollar. Mandy writes about auto, homeowners, renters, life insurance, disability and supplemental insurance products.
Edited by
Insurance Editor