The state of Tennessee requires all drivers to show proof of financial responsibility in the event of an accident, and the simplest way to achieve this is to purchase a car insurance policy

A new law passed in 2015 increased fines and established an online program for verifying insurance policies to reduce the number of uninsured drivers in the state. It’s important that all Tennessee drivers carry a car insurance policy to avoid legal and financial consequences.

Thankfully, you won’t have to jump through hoops or spend an arm and a leg to comply with Tennessee law. Insurify makes it easy to find an affordable insurance policy that meets the state minimum requirements. Our artificial intelligence technology will work to identify the lowest premium available to you and you’ll be able to view quotes from multiple insurers in one place and even play with increasing your coverage to see how it impacts your rate.

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Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in Tennessee

In Tennessee, you need to hold an insurance policy with the following minimum coverage levels:

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

You’ll need to show proof that your policy meets the required minimums when you apply for your vehicle registration or any time you are pulled over by law enforcement

Bodily injury liability coverage helps pay for injuries or deaths incurred by the other driver or their passengers in an accident you cause. If you injure someone else with your vehicle, they’re entitled to sue you for their medical expenses in the state of Tennessee. Having enough bodily injury liability coverage prevents the financial devastation that can result from a personal injury lawsuit. The average bodily injury claim costs more than $18,000, and most people don’t have that kind of money lying around. 

Property damage liability coverage helps pay for repairs to another driver’s vehicle or property after you are at fault in an accident. If you total someone else’s car, you’ll be on the hook for the actual cash value of their vehicle. This can wreck your finances if you don’t have insurance. 

Neither bodily injury liability coverage nor property damage liability coverage helps pay for your medical bills or repairs to your vehicle.

Is state minimum car insurance enough in Tennessee?

Tennessee’s minimum limits are relatively low and may not be sufficient to cover a totaled vehicle or serious injuries. You may want to consider boosting your coverage levels to protect yourself in these situations. In addition, if you don’t want to pay for your own vehicle and property repairs out-of-pocket after you’re at fault in a car accident, you’ll need comprehensive and collision coverage

Collision car insurance coverage helps pay for damages to your vehicle after an auto accident that you cause. If another motorist causes the accident, their property liability insurance will cover your repairs. But if you’re at fault, you’ll only receive compensation if you have collision auto insurance coverage. Without collision coverage, you’ll also be financially responsible if you crash a rental car.

Comprehensive coverage helps pay for replacement after theft and damages from non-collision events, such as vandalism or hail. Without this coverage, you’d have to pay for repairs after these events out of your savings. 

What is the penalty for driving without car insurance in Tennessee?

If you’re caught driving without proof of an insurance policy that meets the minimum coverage limit requirements in Tennessee, you could face steep fines and lose your driving privileges. For your first offense, you can expect the following consequences:

  • A $300 fine
  • Suspension of driver’s license and registration until you get an insurance policy and retake the driver’s license exam
  • A $65 restoration fee
  • A $50 fee to the Department of Safety
  • An SR-22 certificate required to stay on file for three years, which will raise your insurance rates

What’s more, if you cause an accident that injures or kills someone, you could also be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor. This can result in jail time and up to $2,500 in fines. 

The penalties in Tennessee are much too severe to risk driving without insurance. If you own and operate a motor vehicle, you need a car insurance policy and should evaluate Tennessee car insurance rates. To get proof of insurance quickly, use Insurify to compare customized quotes from different insurance companies, so you can get the coverage you need at a price that fits your budget. 

Minimum Requirements in Tennessee for SR-22 and FR-44 Policies

An SR-22 form indicates future financial responsibility under Tennessee’s insurance laws. If you are caught driving uninsured, you’ll need to ask your insurance provider to keep an SR-22 on file with the state for three years. You’ll be required to show proof of a policy that meets the same minimum requirements that other drivers have; there’s no need to increase your limits. 

However, getting a Tennessee SR-22 insurance policy will raise your premiums. That’s because you’ll be seen as a high-risk driver by your insurance company. To minimize the effect on your rate, you should use Insurify to compare SR-22 quotes across insurance providers. 

Additional Coverage Tennessee Drivers Should Consider

In addition to comprehensive and collision coverage, you may want to consider the following coverages:

  • Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Even with Tennessee’s electronic verification system, there are still uninsured motorists on the road. If you’re hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may have difficulty collecting compensation since the driver may not have any way of paying you. That’s where uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage comes in. You might want to consider this type of coverage to protect yourself financially in the event of a collision with an uninsured driver
  • MedPay: Your health insurance will pay for your medical bills after an accident you cause, but if you have a high deductible and don’t want to worry about co-pays, medical payments coverage can help fill in the gaps.
  • Roadside Assistance: Most drivers should consider getting roadside assistance, which covers towing, flat tire replacement, lockouts, and more. This can be extremely helpful if you break down on the road and need to get back to your life quickly.

Tennessee Minimum Car Insurance FAQ

Is car insurance mandatory in Tennessee?

Yes. Unless you can show alternative proof of financial responsibility, auto insurance is required in Tennessee. You’ll need at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage and $15,000 in property damage liability coverage to stay legal on the road.

In what situations do drivers in Tennessee have the right to sue?

Tennessee is an at-fault state, so drivers can sue for any injuries or damages caused by another person. If your repairs or medical bills are more costly than what the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will cover, you can file a lawsuit to try to collect the difference.

Are there alternative proofs of financial responsibility in Tennessee?

Besides an auto insurance policy, there are two ways to demonstrate compliance with Tennessee’s financial responsibility law: - Posting a $65,000 bond with the Tennessee Department of Revenue - Making a $65,000 cash deposit with the Tennessee Department of Revenue Considering the average monthly car insurance premium in Tennessee is $192 per month and liability policies can cost much less, the cheapest and easiest way to show proof of financial responsibility is to purchase a Tennessee auto insurance policy. You can use Insurify to compare customized quotes from multiple insurers in one place so that you can easily identify the best deal in car insurance.

Updated May 27, 2021

Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based personal finance writer for Insurify. Her work has been featured in publications such as LendingTree and FinanceBuzz. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors with her rescue pup, playing music, or listening to audiobooks.