Car Insurance Requirements in Tennessee (2024)

Tennessee requires drivers to prove financial responsibility, which can include buying bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage.

John Egan
Written byJohn Egan
John Egan
John Egan
  • 20+ years in insurance and personal finance content creation

  • Contributor to top brands like USA Today

John specializes in insurance, personal finance, real estate, and health and wellness. In 2022, he authored a guide on content marketing for beginners.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated February 1, 2024 at 11:00 AM PST

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The Volunteer State is known for its whisky, the city of Nashville, and some of the best barbeque you’ll find anywhere. Lesser known, but also appreciated, is the fact that Tennessee residents pay car insurance rates well below the national average.

You might enjoy the lower rates, but keep in mind that if you purchase car insurance at only the state’s minimum required amount of liability coverage and cause an accident that results in more than $25,000 worth of property damage, you could find yourself financially liable for the remaining amount.

Tennessee car insurance requirements

If you’re a driver in Tennessee, you must be able to show proof of financial responsibility if you’re involved in a car accident.[1] This proof often means buying and maintaining a car insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum requirements.

In Tennessee, those requirements call for buying a minimum amount of bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage.

Here are the required minimums:

  • $25,000 bodily injury for each injury or death per accident

  • $50,000 bodily injury for total injuries or deaths per accident

  • $25,000 for property damage per accident

Tennessee is an at-fault state. This means that a driver who’s determined to be at fault for a car accident is financially responsible for damages and injuries arising from the accident.

In some cases, you may be able to qualify for a financial responsibility exemption.

You can also meet the financial responsibility standard by doing one of these things:

  • Posting a $50,000 bond with the Tennessee Department of Revenue

  • Making a $50,000 deposit with the Tennessee Department of Revenue

  • Qualifying as a self-insured driver

However, the majority of drivers meet the requirement by purchasing insurance coverage.

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Bodily injury liability coverage

The bodily injury liability portion of your insurance policy covers injuries or deaths that you or someone else driving your car cause to others in an auto accident.[2]

If you choose to prove financial responsibility by purchasing car insurance, you must get a minimum of $25,000 in coverage for each injury or death per accident and a minimum of $50,000 in coverage for all injuries or deaths in an accident.

Property damage liability coverage

The property damage liability coverage portion of a policy covers damage that you or someone else driving your car causes to another person’s vehicle or property, such as a building, fence, or utility pole.

If you choose to prove financial responsibility by purchasing car insurance, you must get minimum coverage of $25,000 per accident for property damage liability.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/bd68ea5620/states_tennessee.svg

    Tennessee Automobile Insurance Plan

    The Tennessee Automobile Insurance Plan provides nonprofit car insurance for high-risk drivers who aren’t able to obtain coverage through the traditional insurance marketplace. To be eligible, you must hold a valid Tennessee driver’s license and valid Tennessee vehicle registration.

    State law requires all insurance companies licensed to sell auto liability insurance in Tennessee to participate in the plan.

Do you need more than state-minimum coverage in Tennessee?

Under Tennessee law, drivers who opt to buy car insurance to prove financial responsibility need to buy bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage. This is called liability-only coverage.

No other kinds of coverage are required.

In some cases, though, you might need to purchase full-coverage insurance, which costs more than liability-only coverage. Full-coverage insurance includes liability coverage as well as comprehensive and collision coverage.

In Tennessee, liability-only coverage averages $78 per month, and the average monthly cost of full-coverage insurance is $166, according to Insurify data.

If you finance your vehicle with a car loan or you lease a car, the lender typically requires you to carry comprehensive and collision coverage. Some insurers also suggest purchasing comprehensive and collision coverage to protect yourself from financial loss in the event of an accident.

The cost of liability-only car insurance in Tennessee

Liability-only car insurance in Tennessee costs an average of $78 a month, according to Insurify data.

This type of coverage features two parts: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Bodily injury liability coverage pays for the medical bills, legal fees, and other costs for the other person when you cause an accident.

Property damage liability helps pay for damage you cause to someone else’s vehicle or property.

The table below gives you a look at the cheapest car insurance companies and pricier car insurance companies for liability-only coverage in the state of Tennessee.

The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Thursday, February 1 at 11:00 AM PST
Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote
State Farm23
USAA27
GEICO29
Travelers31
Auto-Owners31
Erie33
Mile Auto39
Allstate42
Farmers45
Safeco47
Nationwide55
Progressive60
Chubb65
Dairyland69
Midvale Home & Auto69
National General73
Liberty Mutual74
State Auto78
Elephant83
Direct Auto89
GAINSCO102
The General120
Bristol West142
Foremost144
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

The cost of full-coverage car insurance in Tennessee

In Tennessee, the average cost of full-coverage car insurance is $166 per month, according to Insurify data.

In addition to bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage, full-coverage car insurance features comprehensive and collision coverage.

Collision coverage pays for repair bills if you cause an accident that damages someone else’s vehicle or property. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car caused by fire, theft, vandalism, fallen tree limbs, and similar non-collision incidents.

The table below gives you a look at the cheapest car insurance companies and pricier car insurance companies for full-coverage car insurance in the state of Tennessee.

The below rates are estimated rates current as of: Thursday, February 1 at 11:00 AM PST
Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Quote
State Farm47
USAA56
GEICO62
Auto-Owners65
Erie69
Mile Auto70
Travelers83
Allstate87
Farmers94
Safeco109
Nationwide113
Progressive126
Elephant126
Midvale Home & Auto127
Chubb135
Liberty Mutual161
National General169
State Auto173
Direct Auto178
Dairyland192
The General194
GAINSCO264
Foremost271
Bristol West332
Disclaimer: Table data sourced from real-time quotes from Insurify's 50-plus partner insurance providers and quote estimates from Quadrant Information Services. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer's unique driver profile.

Penalties for driving without proof of insurance in Tennessee

In Tennessee, a law enforcement officer can require you to supply proof of car insurance during a traffic stop or after a car accident.[3] The penalties for driving without proof of insurance (or without proof of financial responsibility) can include:

  • Conviction of a Class C misdemeanor: This is punishable only by a fine of up to $300.

  • Suspension of your driver’s license: Reinstatement of your license requires you to pay a $65 fee and pass the Tennessee driver’s license exam.

  • $25 “coverage failure” fee: If the state can’t verify that you have auto liability insurance, it could charge you this fee.

  • $100 “coverage failure” fee: If you don’t provide proof of auto liability insurance within 30 days of being notified of failure to carry coverage, you could face an additional $100 fee. In addition, the state may suspend your motor vehicle registration.

  • Vehicle towing: A law enforcement officer can order your car to be towed if you fail to come up with proof of financial responsibility, but only if they work for an agency that spells out towing procedures.

Find Cheap Tennessee Car Insurance

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Optional car insurance coverages to consider

While liability coverage meets state-mandated minimum requirements, you may want to augment your coverage with some additional options, including:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/665da91bf7/comprehensive-coverage.svg

    Comprehensive coverage

    This coverage pays to fix your car if it’s damaged in a non-collision incident, such as a fire, theft, vandalism, or run-in with an animal. When you buy or lease a car, your lender may require you to carry comprehensive coverage.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/169fdfde11/liability-coverage.svg

    Collision coverage

    This coverage pays to fix your car if it’s damaged in a crash involving another vehicle or an object. When you buy or lease a car, your lender may require you to carry collision coverage.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/5285c4cd74/uninsured-or-underinsured-motorist-coverage.svg

    Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

    This coverage pays for repairs or injuries resulting from a crash involving an at-fault uninsured driver or an underinsured driver.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/4c9753bdbe/medical-payments.svg

    Medical payments coverage

    This coverage pays for medical bills or funeral expenses for you and others who fall under your policy when you’re involved in a traffic accident, regardless of who’s at fault. In some states, this coverage is known as personal injury protection (PIP).

Tennessee car insurance requirements FAQs

Looking for more information to help you secure the best rates in Tennessee? Consult the answers below.

  • Is car insurance required in Tennessee?

    The Tennessee Financial Responsibility Law mandates that you be financially responsible in the event of a car wreck unless you qualify for an exemption. The simplest, most common way to comply with this state law is to purchase auto liability insurance coverage.

  • Is it illegal to drive in Tennessee without insurance?

    It‘s illegal to drive in Tennessee if you don’t comply with the state’s financial responsibility law, which typically involves carrying car insurance. You face a $300 fine and suspension of your driver’s license if you break the financial responsibility law, among other penalties.

  • Do you need car insurance to register a car in Tennessee?

    Technically, you don’t need car insurance to register a car in Tennessee. However, you must show proof of financial responsibility to register a car and drive without insurance. You can do this by posting a $50,000 bond or making a $50,000 deposit with the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Also, you may be able to qualify as a self-insured driver.

  • Does insurance follow the car or the driver in Tennessee?

    Car insurance in Tennessee follows the car, not the driver. Therefore, if a relative or friend drives your car, your insurance policy will cover them.

Sources

  1. Tennessee Department of Revenue. "Why You Should Have Auto Insurance." Accessed November 28, 2023
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "Auto insurance basics—understanding your coverage." Accessed November 28, 2023
  3. Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. "Amendment to the Financial Responsibility Law." Accessed November 28, 2023
John Egan
John Egan

John Egan is a freelance writer and content marketing strategist in Austin, Texas. His specialties include personal finance, real estate, and health and wellness. John’s work has been published by outlets such as CreditCard.com, Bankrate, Forbes Advisor, Experian, Capital One, The Balance and U.S. News & World Report. He is the author of The Stripped-Down Guide to Content Marketing.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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