A hit-and-run accident occurs when someone causes an accident and leaves the scene. In Tennessee, causing a hit-and-run, or even being the victim of one, can negatively impact your car insurance. Hit-and-runs are just one reason drivers in most states are required to carry car insurance, which can pay for your injuries and property damage if the other driver is not found. It is important to understand the consequences of a hit-and-run and how it will affect Tennessee auto insurance costs.


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Hit-and-runs in Tennessee

When someone is involved in a collision with another car, someone’s property or a person, and does not stop at the scene to provide their information, they have committed a hit-and-run. These types of accidents have increased in recent years, with 48 hit-and-runs involving at least one fatality occurring in Tennessee in the last year that data was available, according to the AAA Foundation.

The Insurance Research Council estimates that as of 2019, 23.7% of Tennessee drivers are uninsured—the third highest in the country. One of the best ways to protect yourself while on Tennessee roads is to have enough car insurance in place to pay to fix your car and for your own injuries in case you are a victim of hit-and-run.

This includes having uninsured motorist coverage, which covers you if you are involved in an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance to cover your injuries or you’re the victim of a hit-and-run. Keep in mind that uninsured motorist coverage breaks down into two separate coverage types, one for injuries and lost wages and one for property damage (which is not available in all states but is available in Tennessee). Collision coverage could also help pay for damage to your car, but you would be responsible for the deductible before insurance kicks in.

Tennessee law requires that insurers offer you uninsured motorist coverage, but you can decline it in writing. If you don’t have this type of coverage, however, you could be responsible for paying any out-of-pocket costs for medical bills or vehicle repairs if you are the victim of a hit-and-run.

Tennessee hit-and-run laws

According to the hit-and-run Tennessee statute, if you cause an accident with injuries or death of another person in a public area—near a shopping center, apartment complexes or on highways—you must stop at or as close to the scene as possible, provide your information and render aid. The information you must be prepared to provide includes your name, address, vehicle registration number and insurance information. Rendering aid means you must provide reasonable assistance, including calling an ambulance to assist the victim. Additional important laws include:

  • If it is suspected that property damage of $50 or more has occurred, the driver is required to notify the police about the accident.
  • Failure to stop could result in a Class A misdemeanor, or a Class E Felony if you fail to stop and had reasonable belief that the accident resulted in death.
  • Class A misdemeanors can include fines up to $2,500, up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and driver’s license suspension.
  • A Class E Felony could result in up to six years in jail and potentially having your driver’s license revoked.
  • Where property damage is involved, causing a hit-and-run accident in Tennessee is considered a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and up to $50 in fines.

If you are involved in a hit-and-run in Tennessee and get a ticket for leaving the scene, you could face higher insurance rates, a canceled policy or be required to carry high-risk car insurance.

Five things to do after a hit-and-run in Tennessee

With a high rate of uninsured drivers in Tennessee, you may become a victim of a hit-and-run at some point. If you cause an accident, no matter how minor, it is best to stop as close as possible to the scene to provide your insurance information and render aid if needed to avoid being charged with a hit-and-run. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run in Tennessee, you may want to follow these steps.

  1. Stop the car: If another driver has hit you, stop as close to the scene as is safe to do so.
  2. Assess the scene: If your car is driveable and in the roadway, move to the shoulder near the accident scene. If the car is not driveable, get out of the car if you are not injured and wait nearby to avoid being involved in another accident, especially if you are traveling a busy road.
  3. Call for help: Make sure you and your passengers are okay, and call the police, especially if the at-fault driver has left the scene, creating a hit-and-run scenario. If someone is injured, notify the police that an ambulance is also needed at the scene.
  4. Document what happened: While it is still fresh, detail the weather conditions, the location where the accident occurred and any other details you can remember. Take photos of your car from all angles. If the person that caused the accident remained at the scene, be sure to get their name, address, vehicle and insurance information.
  5. Contact your car insurance company: If the other person remained at the scene, you should call to file a claim with their insurance company. You can also call your insurance company to file a claim if the at-fault driver left the scene.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

If you cause an accident in Tennessee, minimum liability bodily injury and property damage coverage will only pay for the other party’s injuries and damage. If you are the victim on a hit-and-run in Tennessee, there are several coverages you could consider that will cover your car damages and injuries up to limits specified by your insurance company:

  • Medical payments: Pays for your medical bills if you are injured in an accident.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage: Pays to fix your car if you are the victim of a hit-and-run or the other driver does not have insurance.
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury: Pays for your injuries if the other driver leaves the scene or does not have insurance.
  • Collision coverage: Pays for damage to your car as the result of any collision with another vehicle.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage in Tennessee, you will pay a $200 deductible for a hit-and-run. There is no deductible for liability bodily injury and property damage or medical payments coverage.

Frequently asked questions

    • The average annual cost of full coverage car insurance in Tennessee is $1429 . The rate you pay for car insurance will be determined by multiple factors, including the insurance company, the coverages you select, and your driving and claims history.
    • Tennessee is an at-fault state, which means the driver found at-fault in an accident is responsible for the injuries and property damage they cause. Most insurance experts recommend purchasing more than the state-required minimum liability insurance to better protect your finances, but speak with a licensed agent if you aren’t sure what’s right for you.