Penalties for driving with insurance in Tennessee

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If you live in Tennessee, it may be important to understand the penalties for driving without insurance. If you fail to carry at least the minimum required car insurance coverages, you could face various penalties.

If you live in Tennessee, driving without insurance could result in fines, jail time, lawsuits or financial devastation. Having adequate auto insurance can help to protect you from financial devastation if you cause an accident.

Minimum insurance required in Tennessee

In most states, drivers are required by law to carry at least the state minimum amount of certain auto insurance coverages. In Tennessee, you must have at least the following minimum car insurance limits:

  • $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

Although minimum coverage is sometimes the cheapest way to obtain auto insurance, it may not be enough coverage to protect your finances. If you cause an accident and the damages exceed your insurance level, you are responsible for the overage out of pocket.

Additionally, minimum coverage insurance does not cover any damage to your vehicle. To obtain coverage for the damages to your car, you would need to buy comprehensive and collision coverages. If you have a loan or lease, your lender will likely require you to have these coverages.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Tennessee

Whether during a routine traffic stop or at the scene of a car accident you were involved in, a law enforcement officer may ask to see proof of your insurance. If you are unable to provide your insurance to the officer, you may face fines, jail time and license or registration suspensions.

Additionally, you may be required to have an SR-22 form on file with the DMV for several years after your accident to prove that you are carrying car insurance. An SR-22 if a form that your auto insurance company will file directly to the DMV.

If you are caught in Tennessee driving without insurance or unable to provide proof of your insurance, you could face several different penalties, financial and otherwise. If you are convicted of failing to show proof of insurance in Tennessee, it is considered a Class C misdemeanor. The penalties may include:

  • Fines up to $300
  • Suspension of license and registration
  • Towing your vehicle

Causing an accident without insurance could result in stiffer penalties as well as the financial burden of paying for the damages you caused out of pocket.

Fees from Tennessee’s online insurance verification system

If Tennessee’s online insurance verification system does not show a record of you having auto insurance, the state may send a notice and ask you to provide proof of your coverage.

Fines for not responding to a confirmation notice

Reason for fee Fee amount
Failure to respond to the request for information within 30 days No fee
Failure to respond to the first warning notice within 30 days $25
Failure to respond to the final warning notice within 30 days $100/License suspension
License and registration restoration $25

Additional fees and penalties may be assessed depending on the circumstances surrounding your citation.

Getting into an accident without insurance

Whether or not you have car insurance does not change your responsibility after you cause an accident. If you get into an accident that proves to be your fault, you are responsible for paying for the damages you cause. Having an insurance policy with liability coverage can help to pay for the damages. If you do not have insurance, you are responsible for the damages out of pocket. This can cause financial stress or devastation and lead to lawsuits or seizure of your assets.

Having an auto insurance policy not only helps you to avoid fees and penalties assessed for driving without insurance, but it can help to protect your finances and assets if you cause an accident.

Frequently asked questions

What if you provide false insurance information?

If you are driving without insurance and knowingly provide false proof of insurance after getting pulled over or getting into an accident, you may be committing insurance fraud. The penalties can vary and may depend on the specific circumstance in which you were found to be driving without insurance.

How much is car insurance in Tennessee?

Minimum coverage in Tennessee averages of $371 per year while full coverage averages $1,338 annually. The national average cost of car insurance is $565 per year for minimum coverage and $1,674 per year for full coverage. Auto insurance in Tennessee is generally less expensive than it is in the nation overall.

How can I prove my insurance coverage to the state of Tennessee?

Showing your insurance card is the most common way to show proof of insurance, but it is not the only way. You can provide proof of insurance with an insurance binder or your policy’s declaration page. You can also satisfy Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law by providing a certificate from the Tennessee Department of Safety advising that you qualify as a self-insurer or have posted a cash deposit or bond for the amount specified by law.

What is an SR-22?

An SR-22 is a document filed by an insurance company when a driver seeks to reinstate their license and registration after driving without insurance, or after another violation such as reckless driving or a DUI. The insurance company files the form directly with the DMV, stating that the driver is carrying at least the required amounts of insurance.

Written by
Ashley Hubbard
Personal Finance Contributor
Ashley Hubbard has two years of experience in writing for insurance domains such as Bankrate.com, including auto and homeowners insurance. She has also worked in the industry as a collision estimator and in several auto body shops.
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