Tennessee Car Insurance Laws

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From the Smoky Mountains to Graceland and everywhere in between, the state of Tennessee has a multitude of fascinating places to explore. But according to Tennessee insurance laws, residents won’t be able to drive to any of these sites without meeting the minimum insurance requirements. Whether you plan on traveling throughout the state or simply commuting back and forth to your office, Tennessee car insurance laws require you to carry liability insurance at the bare minimum.

Not only is insurance required, but it’s also a sound financial choice. Tennessee is ranked 9th overall for most fatal crashes per year according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Whether a crash involves a fatality or is a minor fender bender, the proper insurance safeguards your personal finances from potential disaster. Fortunately, Tennessee offers competitive insurance rates, with premiums for minimum car insurance averaging $396 per year (compared to the national average of $563).

Car insurance laws in Tennessee

Tennessee auto insurance requirements include liability coverage to meet the minimum coverage amount. The only exception to this is if you’re able to demonstrate financial responsibility and file for exemption. To demonstrate this you have to show you no longer own the car, your car is inoperable or you store your vehicle full-time. If you don’t fall under one of these categories, be prepared to carry the following liability coverage:

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

Liability insurance in Tennessee

Liability insurance is extremely important since it provides payment for property damage or bodily injury if you are at fault in an accident. But the minimum liability coverage alone is not enough to cover all aspects of fiscal responsibility if you get into a car accident.

From a liability perspective, Tennessee’s minimum of $50,000 for total injuries or deaths per accident could leave you in serious financial jeopardy. If you cause a multi-vehicle accident and there are multiple serious injuries, then $50,000 would likely not cover the medical payments for several people.

Beyond liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage is strongly recommended for Tennesseans. Tennessee ranks as one of the states with the highest percentage of uninsured drivers. If you do not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with your policy, you’re opening yourself up to even more financial risk

Is Tennessee a no fault state?

Each state has specific car insurance laws that determine how insurance companies cover injuries after an accident. These laws determine if a state is considered an at-fault or no-fault state for auto insurance. Tennessee is an at-fault state, which means drivers in Tennessee who are at-fault in an accident must pay for the other party’s expenses associated with the accident. These payments come from the liability limits of the driver’s policy. If that’s not enough to cover all the expenses associated with the accidents, the driver who is at-fault can be sued to recover the differences.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Tennessee

Since driving without insurance in Tennessee is illegal, there are consequences to not having insurance. If you can’t show proof you’re carrying the minimum liability coverage or that you meet the Financial Responsibility requirements, then you’re subject to penalties. At first, you’ll be sent a notification from the Department of Revenue, but then it can evolve into fines and vehicle registration suspension if an adequate response isn’t sent.

If you’re caught driving without insurance entirely then you will face the following penalties:

  • A fine of $300
  • Your driver’s license and registration will be suspended until you can provide proof of insurance and have retaken your driver’s test.
  • $65 restoration fee
  • $50 fee to commissioner of safety
  • SR-22 certificate for three years

Additional auto insurance coverage options in Tennessee

Drivers in Tennessee have plenty of options when it comes to adding enhanced coverage options to their policy. Here are several of the most popular add-ons drivers can purchase:

  • Collision insurance: Collision covers damage to your vehicle from an incident with another vehicle, an object or something falling onto your car — even if it is considered your fault. Examples of this are if a tree falls on your car or you drive over a pothole and it causes damage. In Tennessee, the average cost of collision coverage is around $343.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage covers you when your car is damaged by something other than a crash – and basically anything collision coverage won’t cover. Examples of incidents covered by comprehensive include storms, natural disasters, theft, vandalism and damage from animals. In Tennessee, adding comprehensive coverage costs an average of $158 per year.
  • Roadside assistance: If you currently do not have roadside assistance from a third-party then adding it to your policy is an easy way to make sure you’re covered when your car isn’t driveable. Most policies offer assistance if you run out of gas, need towing, your battery is dead or you need help getting unstuck.
  • Rental car reimbursement: If your car is in the shop due to a claimed accident, having rental car reimbursement makes it slightly less inconvenient. You’ll be reimbursed the cost of a rental car while your car is being fixed. Some policies automatically include this coverage, but if not, adding it on can save you additional headaches down the road.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company in Tennessee?

Since determining the best car insurance company varies depending on what factors are most important to you, it pays to shop around and compare several carriers in order to find the best. Many consumers consider competitive rates, the carrier’s financial stability, digital assets and policy options offered as a starting point. Many of these considerations, and others, were analyzed and reviewed to find the Best Car Insurance Companies in Tennessee.

What is the cheapest car insurance company in Tennessee?

Tennessee offers several options to obtain affordable auto insurance. According to our Cheapest Car Insurance in Tennessee guide, Geico offers minimum coverage averaging $199 a year and $983 for full coverage. Tennessee Farmers Group, USAA, Erie and State Farm also offer competitive rates for minimum to full coverage.

How much does car insurance cost in Tennessee?

The Volunteer State is one of the less-expensive states to purchase auto insurance. Minimum coverage averages $396 per year while full coverage averages $1,364. To put this into perspective, the national average for auto insurance is $563 per year for minimum and $1,738 per year for full coverage.

Written by
Sara Coleman
Insurance Contributor
Sara Coleman has three years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, Reviews.com, Coverage.com and numerous other personal finance sites. She writes about insurance products such as auto, homeowners, renters and disability.