When it comes to Tennessee state minimum car insurance coverage, the state has specific requirements that you must carry. Failing to do so can result in fines and license suspensions.
What Type of Insurance System Does Tennessee Have?
When it comes to financial responsibility for losses suffered from a car accident, Tennessee uses a traditional fault-based system. This covers vehicle damage, lost income, and injuries.
What this means is that whoever was at fault for the accident is also responsible for any resulting harm. As long as the person at fault has insurance, the provider will absorb many of these losses.
If you’re in Tennessee and suffer damage or an injury because of an auto accident, you can proceed in one of three ways:
- File a claim with your insurance company. If someone else is at fault, your provider might file a claim against the at-fault driver’s provider.
- File a third-party claim. This claim goes directly to the at-fault driver’s carrier.
- File a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit would go to civil court and charge the at-fault driver.
Tennessee Minimum Car Insurance Requirements
Every state has mandatory guidelines for auto insurance coverage, but the minimum limits vary depending on the state. Per the Tennessee Financial Responsibility Law, car owners must demonstrate their ability to cover financial losses if they’re responsible for a car accident.
Tennessee law stipulates that drivers must carry at least liability coverage. However, if you’re vehicle is financed by a bank or lien holder, they could mandate that you carry additional coverage.
Liability coverage pays for property damage, medical bills, and other costs incurred to those who are injured or had their vehicle damaged in an accident you caused. This type of coverage never covers damage to your property or your injuries.
Typically, liability coverage is divided into two groups:
- Bodily injury. This coverage covers medical costs for injuries and may include funeral expenses.
- Property damage. This coverage covers the costs for property damage and usually includes the victim’s car.
The Tennessee Department of Revenue states the minimum amounts of car insurance requirements for the state include the following:
- Minimum Liability Coverage: 25/50/15.
- $25,000 bodily injury per person.
- $50,000 bodily injury per accident.
- $15,000 property damage per accident.
Compared to other states, insurance minimums in Tennessee are higher. However, you are still at risk even if you have insurance. For instance, even though the property damage liability minimum is $15,000, you could easily exceed that if you damage more than one or a newer vehicle.
You should also note how insurance companies pay out for bodily injury liability. If three people are injured in your accident, your insurance company will dole out at most $25,000 with a cap of $50,000 for all three. To avoid being responsible for paying the remaining charges out of your pocket, think about increasing your coverage limits.
Penalties in Tennessee for Driving Without Car Insurance
According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, drivers in Tennessee who are uninsured face fines and risk losing their vehicle registration if they cannot give proof of financial responsibility.
Also, driving without car insurance in Tennessee is a Class A misdemeanor if you’re involved in an auto accident that causes bodily injury or death. If you’re found at fault, the penalties include fines up to $2500 and jail time for up to 11 months and 29 days.
To reinstate driving privileges, you need to meet specific requirements such as filing SR-22 insurance documentation to show financial responsibility.
In July 2015, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a law mandating strict penalties against uninsured drivers. The law includes the following changes:
- Increase in misdemeanor fine. If you fail to have proof of insurance, which you must carry at all times when behind the wheel, the fine increased by $200 to $300.
- Authorized statewide insurance verification program. This program locates uninsured drivers.
- Increase in fines for drivers who refuse to obtain car insurance. The maximum penalty is the seizure of tags, registration suspension, and $300 fee to reinstate them.
- Police can tow vehicles. Violators of the financial responsibility law can have their vehicles towed by police.
Tennessee SR-22 Insurance Documents
When seeking to reinstate your driver’s license after being convicted of a DUI, driving without insurance, reckless driving, or another driving violation that results in a suspension, you must file a SR-22 insurance document. This form gives proof of future responsibility, and you might need to have it for five years from the date of the suspension.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, if you file the SR-22 for a total of three years within the five-year period, the SR-22 might be canceled. If five years pass from the date of the suspension before you reinstate your privileges, then you don’ need to file the SR-22. If you cancel the SR-22 before the required time passes and you fail to file a new form, your driving privileges remain suspended.
Your insurance provider may be able to electronically file the SR-22 insurance documents. That way, you can get back on the road quicker.
Optional Car Insurance Coverage in Tennessee
In Tennessee, you only need to carry liability insurance. However, you might want to include additional coverage on your policy to give you extra protection.
- Collision. This coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle if you hit an object or other driver.
- Comprehensive. This coverage pays for the damages or repairs to your vehicle not caused by an accident. It includes damage associated with weather and theft.
- Roadside assistance. This coverage helps if your vehicle breaks down while driving. Every provider has slight variations, but it usually covers flat tires and battery jumps.
- Medical payments. This covers funeral and medical costs for your and your passengers.
- Uninsured motorist. This coverage helps if you’re injured by an uninsured motorist and includes property damage and bodily injury.
Since state car insurance coverage varies by state, it’s important to know what type of insurance policies and coverage you need in Tennessee. Speak with your insurance provider to make sure you have the best coverage available as you want to remain protected while driving.
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