What are state minimums for car insurance in Tennessee?

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Things to remember...
  • There is an automatic $300 fine for driving without insurance in Tennessee
  • You are fined $25 if you cannot prove you have insurance when pulled over
  • You automatically lose your license until you can afford insurance if you’re caught without


Tennessee is a state in which millions of people visit every year, and that means the roadways are filled with drivers.

The people who live here love the tourism because it brings revenue to their lovely state, but the additional drivers on the road make it more likely Tennessee residents can become involved in car accidents.

Accidents are expensive, and they are sometimes catastrophic. Tennessee law requires all residents carry insurance on the road, and there is no exception to this rule. If you don’t have insurance, you face serious consequences.

The primary advantage of having an insurance policy in Tennessee is financial protection. Imagine paying out-of-pocket for the kind of car repairs and medical bills that occur even in a fender bender.

You’re looking at costs in the thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the severity.

Tennessee law requires you have at least a certain amount of insurance coverage, which is easily found by comparing rates with various insurance companies to ensure you’re getting the best rates. Use our free comparison tool above to make sure you are getting the best rate!

What is the minimum amount of insurance required for Tennessee residents?

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Before you shop for a car insurance policy, it’s important you understand the coverage you must carry to abide by state laws. The first is bodily injury liability.

You must carry $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. You must carry the same amounts for your uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. Both your property damage liability insurance and your uninsured motorist property damage insurance must be at least $15,000.

This coverage is designed to protect you from any accident that might occur. The law might require everyone who lives in Tennessee has insurance, but this doesn’t mean they do.

If you’re involved in an accident with someone who doesn’t have car insurance, the state wants you protected from their fault.

Additionally, the law does not apply to those who live out of state and are only visiting, though those drivers must meet their own state insurance requirements if they want to avoid paying fines and facing other penalties.

Minimum Coverage is Not Always Enough for Some Drivers

Some drivers are confused when they hear they only need to carry certain amounts of car insurance in Tennessee and end up with letters in the mail telling them their coverage is not enough.

If you lease a vehicle or you finance your vehicle through a lender, you are not permitted to carry only the minimum insurance requirements in Tennessee.

You must carry full coverage insurance for any vehicle you’re making payments on, and the lender reserves the right to purchase a policy in your name for you to pay for if you fail to abide by the rules.

The only people permitted to choose the minimum insurance policy are those who own their car outright.

This means you either paid for your car in cash or you continued making payment on it long enough to pay it off. If the title is in your name, you may pick and choose the policies you purchase so long as they meet the state minimum.

Are there fines and penalties if I don’t buy insurance?

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Yes, you will pay fines and face more serious consequences if you choose not to pay for insurance in Tennessee. There are two different forms of punishment broken down into two categories. The first is driving without proof of insurance.

Anytime you are pulled over or involved in any type of accident, you’re required to provide proof of your insurance policy. If you don’t have that on you, you must prove you have insurance within 15 days. Failure to do so results in a $25 fine, which is increased to $100 if you can’t prove insurance after 30 days pass.

You also lose your driving privileges if you fail to provide proof of insurance within 45 days. If you reach this point and your license is suspended, you must pay $65 to reinstate it.

You also pay $50 to the Commissioner of Safety for driving without your insurance proof and failing to provide proof of your policy in a timely manner.

If you’re caught driving without an insurance policy, you pay a fine of $300 automatically. You also lose your license and your car registration indefinitely.

You must purchase an insurance policy if you want to get your license back as well as pay a $65 reinstatement fee and a $50 penalty. You must also provide the state with form SR-22 for three years.

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Tips for Finding Good Rates Shopping for Car Insurance

Tennessee laws require you carry at least the minimum amount of insurance, and the laws also ensure all car insurance agents provide you with quotes that include the minimum.

If your car is leased or financed, insurance companies will provide you with quotes designed to meet the requirements of your lender. Before you begin shopping for a new car insurance policy, however, take note there are several things to know and do before you commit to a policy.

The first thing you must know is your credit score plays a role in the kind of quotes you receive. Insurance companies issue rates based on the kind of risk they determine you are, and a low credit score tells them you are an irresponsible driver.

Even if you are not, they are going to see you as one if you cannot keep your finances under control. It’s imperative you check your credit report to ensure there are no mistakes on it that require attention before you shop for insurance.

Where you live also has an impact on your rates. If you live in a neighborhood with a high crime rate or low economic status, you’re more likely to pay more for insurance.

This typically means people who live close to you haven’t their own insurance policies and your car is more likely to be broken into or damaged by an insured driver.

Asking for Insurance Discounts

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Now that you know what you need and what determines the price you pay for insurance in Tennessee, it’s time to shop. Don’t forget to ask for discounts. If you’re retired and on the road less often, you get a discount.

If you work from home and spend less time on the road, you might qualify for a low-mileage discount. You can also have discounts for bundling other insurance policies and adding more than one car to your policy.

Don’t forget to ask, because not all insurance agencies offer these discounts. It helps make insurance affordable so you don’t end up paying more without it. Use our free quote tool below to compare rates now! 

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