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​​How to Find Low Income Car Insurance in Tennessee

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Jerry partners with more than 50 insurance companies, but our content is independently researched, written, and fact-checked by our team of editors and agents. We aren’t paid for reviews or other content.
The state of Tennessee doesn’t have an insurance assistance program for low-income drivers, so you’ll have to be crafty in order to find affordable car insurance. Comparing quotes and looking for discounts are two of the best ways to find insurance that fits your budget. 
Between quickly growing cities, increased property crime rates, severe weather, and the third-highest number of uninsured drivers in the country, it’s no wonder
Tennessee car insurance costs
more than the national average—but that doesn’t bode well for drivers on a strict budget.
If you’re looking for more affordable
car insurance
coverage in the Volunteer State, you’re not out of luck. Driving less, raising your deductible, or switching car insurance companies are just a few ways to cut back on your coverage costs. Keep reading to find out a few more ways to save!
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Does Tennessee have auto insurance for low-income individuals and families?

Unfortunately, Tennessee does not have a car insurance assistance program in place for
low-income individuals and families
—which can make auto insurance shopping a huge hassle—especially when Tennessee car insurance rates tend to cost more than the national average. 

What is the cheapest car insurance company in Tennessee?

If you’re looking for the most affordable car insurance policies in Tennessee,
GEICO
,
Progressive
, and
State Farm
provide some of the best rates, so they’re a great place to start for low-income drivers. That being said, all insurance companies will quote you a different price for coverage, and no company is the right pick for every driver. 
The cheapest car insurance provider for you won’t be the same as the cheapest provider for your neighbor. Auto insurance rates are different for everyone since companies use your individual driver profile to determine your premium. To find out whether your best pick is one of the companies above or another company like
Dairyland
or
Clearcover
, you’ll need to compare rates from as many providers as possible. 

Cheap car insurance for low-income students in Tennessee

Teen drivers and students often get hit with some of the highest annual premiums in the state. Since they don’t have as much driving experience as someone older, they present a higher risk for insurers to cover—and the higher the risk, the more coverage costs. The best way to find affordable rates is to qualify for provider discounts like good student discounts.

Cheap car insurance for low-income seniors in Tennessee

More experienced drivers, on the other hand, often pay less for car insurance…until rates start to increase again around age 65. That’s when drivers are statistically more likely to suffer from vision problems and slower response times, making them more of a risk to insurance companies. 
If you have a
clean driving record
, you can still find coverage that better fits your budget. Look for providers that offer
safe driver discounts
or cheaper policies for low-mileage drivers. Here’s a look at how your rates may change as you age.  

Cheap car insurance for low-income drivers with bad credit in Tennessee

As with almost everything in life, car insurance rates go up if your credit score goes down. To car insurance companies, lower credit scores indicate a higher-risk driver. 
Raising your credit score by paying off your debts can go a long way in finding lower insurance rates. Check out how much your expenses could shift with a simple credit boost:

Cheap car insurance for low-income drivers with violations in Tennessee

Having bumps on your Tennessee driving record—like a
DUI
, texting and driving violation, or speeding ticket—is one of the quickest ways to see your car insurance premium go up. If you accumulate too many points on your record, you’ll get stuck with a “high-risk” or “at-risk” label—which means affordable rates will be a thing of the past. 
At-risk drivers
in Tennessee are often required to purchase SR-22 insurance to
reinstate a suspended license
and legally drive again.
SR-22 insurance
is a car insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum insurance requirements, and it also requires that an SR-22 certificate be filed with the Tennessee Department of Safety. Since this usually isn’t optional, it’s crucial to find a company willing to work with you and give you a reasonable rate. 
For the most part, State Farm is one of the best insurance companies in Tennessee for drivers with violations.
USAA
and Progressive are also good options. 
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What is the state minimum car insurance in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, all drivers are required to carry
proof of insurance
that covers these amounts at a minimum:
As long as you meet those limits and you’ve got a valid Tennessee driver’s license, you’re legally covered to drive. 

Liability insurance vs. full coverage

Liability insurance
is the only type of coverage legally required in the Volunteer State. If you’re in an at-fault accident, having the minimum liability amount means your insurance will pay for the other driver’s vehicle repairs and medical expenses up to that policy limit. 
If you want any of your own bills to be covered, you’ll have to purchase additional coverage, and
collision coverage
and
comprehensive coverage
are good places to start. Collision coverage takes care of your vehicle repairs after most wrecks, and comprehensive covers repairs following a range of incidents, like theft, fires, animal encounters, vandalism, severe weather, or flooding. 
Policies that include liability plus comprehensive and collision insurance are typically referred to as
“full coverage” car insurance
policies. This is the ideal amount of coverage to have, especially if you drive a newer or financed car. You can also add other coverages like
uninsured motorist coverage
or
personal injury protection (PIP)
for extra peace of mind. 
Full coverage is the best way to protect your car, and it may be required by lenders if you’re financing a car. However, more protection means higher rates, so it may be hard to find an affordable full-coverage policy if you’re a low-income driver. 

What affects the cost of car insurance in Tennessee?

The type of coverage you choose to have is only one part of the equation when it comes to your insurance rates in Tennessee. A low credit score, driving violation, high-crime ZIP code, or an at-fault accident can all lead to more expensive car insurance rates. Even your age and gender can impact your rates!
Good news, though: all car insurance companies calculate your rates with a different algorithm, so it’s in your best interest to compare as many quotes as possible when hunting down the cheapest Tennessee car insurance policies. 

Consequences of driving without insurance in Tennessee

Let’s face it: no one wants to be spending their hard-earned money on car insurance—but don’t let high rates tempt you into skipping out on coverage altogether. In fact, the nearly 24% of uninsured drivers in Tennessee are likely contributing to the raising costs! 
Going without insurance is a huge risk. It might feel like you’re saving money, but that could lead to two hefty consequences:
  • If you’re involved in an accident and don’t have insurance, you’ll likely have thousands of dollars of debt to pay off. A hospital stay
    after a car accident
    costs an average of $57,000, and vehicles cost an average of $48,000. If you cause the accident, you could be facing an additional $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail
  • Whether or not you’re in an accident, getting caught
    driving without insurance
    can lead to a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of $300—plus possible license and registration suspension and other expensive fees. 
Additional offenses can lead to even more serious results—including more expensive insurance when you do get it. Even just
one insurance lapse
on your record could lead to an increase of anywhere from 8% to 35%
If you aren’t able to pay for even minimum coverage, call your insurance company to talk through your possible options. You may be able to find a discount, increase your deductible, look into a new policy, or even consider other types of transportation. Do whatever you can to avoid driving without insurance. 

10 easy ways to get low-income auto insurance in Tennessee

Searching for a car insurance policy in Tennessee that won’t break the bank? Here are some strategies that could help lower your costs without you having to break the law. 

1. Drive less

Driving less is one of the easiest ways to lower your insurance costs. Many providers take your mileage into account when deciding on your rate, so driving less could lead to cheaper coverage. 
If you don’t drive much, getting pay-per-mile insurance may be a good route to take. You could save money and benefit the environment while you’re at it!

2. Install a telematics device

Insurance providers want you to be a safe driver, so they often provide incentives when you commit to
safe driving habits
. Some insurers offer the option to install a
telematics
device that tracks your driving in real time, which may lead to a sweet discount on your premium. 
This isn’t an option for all companies, though most larger providers have these programs, like
State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save™ program
or
Progressive’s Snapshot

3. Combine policies or reduce coverage on older cars

If you own more than one car, getting in on a
multi-car insurance policy
can reduce your expenses. If your vehicle is older, though, you may not need as much coverage on it as you used to. If you own it outright and it’s worth less than a few thousand dollars, you can probably
drop full coverage
on it. 

4. Pay in full

You can usually pay your car insurance premiums in monthly, semi-annual, or annual installments. Not everyone can swing it, but paying your annual premium in one payment could qualify you for a lower rate. 

5. Choose a monthly payment plan

Making payments monthly could make a larger policy feel more manageable. You might end up paying slightly more than you would if you made six-month or annual payments, but monthly installments are a good way to stay insured without spending a chunk of change all at once. 

6. Park in a garage

If you live in a bigger city like
Memphis
or
Nashville
, crime rates and vehicle vandalism are real threats—on top of the heavy traffic. All of these factors are likely to raise the cost of coverage, but having a secure place to park might offset that. 

7. Build your credit

Having a low credit score leads to higher car insurance rates, but a high credit score can lower them. Boost your credit score by paying off your debts or optimizing your credit use—and you may score a better deal on your next policy.

8. Increase your deductible 

If you have collision or comprehensive coverage, you have a deductible that you have to pay before your insurance provider covers the rest of the claim. If your premium is too high, you may be able to raise your deductible to get a lower price. Just don’t raise it so high that you couldn’t afford to pay it if you had an accident!

9. Pick lower coverage limits

Securing full coverage is almost always worth it, but it may be more expensive than you can handle right now. In that case, sticking to the state minimum liability limits will help lower your costs as much as possible. 

10. Compare multiple car insurance quotes

You might assume that most companies will generally offer you similar rates—but you’d be wrong! You can actually save quite a bit of money on car insurance just by comparing quotes from multiple providers before purchasing a policy. Every company determines your rates differently, so you may find a sweeter deal just by switching insurers. 
"Just for state minimum liability, I was getting quotes from $70 to over $100/month until I found
Jerry
. Now my car insurance is under $30/month, or $140 for 6 months. Thank you, Jerry!” —Frank S.
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