Tennessee Car Insurance Laws: How much Coverage Do I Need?

Tennessee car insurance laws require drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, summarized as 25/50/25.
Written by Sarah Gray
Edited by R.E. Fulton
Tennessee
motorists are required by law to carry a
car insurance
policy with at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage and $25,000 of property damage liability per accident.

Tennessee auto insurance requirements

Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law requires Tennessee drivers to prove their ability to pay for any vehicle accidents they cause.1 The easiest way to comply with this law is to purchase and maintain a Tennessee auto insurance policy that meets or exceeds the state’s insurance requirements.
Tennessee drivers may choose between two policy types: split-limit and single-limit:
Split limit policy details:
  • $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $25,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident
If you cause an accident, liability insurance helps cover damages for other parties in two ways: 
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In addition, if you’re involved in a crash caused by an
uninsured driver
, your policy will pay up to up to the same limits for your personal injuries and property damage.
Any additional cost in both situations will come out of your own pocket.
You can use the Jerry app to select specific coverages you'd like included in your insurance policy, including uninsured driver coverage.

Other options to prove financial responsibility in Tennessee

While buying car insurance is the simplest way to maintain proof of financial responsibility in Tennessee, drivers in the Volunteer State do have other options:
  • Make a $65,000 cash deposit with the Tennessee Department of Revenue (DOR)
  • Execute and file a surety bond
    for $65,000 with the Interstate Commerce Commissioner.
Even if you do have $65,000 to drop at a moment’s notice, car insurance is still going to be an easier (and cheaper!) way to avoid penalties for driving uninsured in Tennessee.

Is minimum liability coverage the most cost effective option?

No. Despite relatively high limits, Tennessee’s state-minimum insurance is typically insufficient to cover the entire cost if you’re involved in a car accident. 
Here’s why:
  • Low liability limits: A state minimum policy in Tennessee covers no more than $25,000 in medical bills per person2 and $25,000 in property damage—not enough to cover the cost of an average hospital stay for more than one person and not nearly enough to cover a totaled vehicle payout if the car is less than a few years old3. This leaves you open to potential lawsuits.
  • No physical damage coverage for your vehicle: If your vehicle is stolen, or it’s damaged in a non-collision event or in an accident that you caused, Tennessee minimum coverage won’t pay for your medical expenses or repairs.
  • No uninsured motorist coverage. Filing claims with a stranger’s provider is awkward enough, but considering that 24% of Tennessee’s drivers are uninsured4, you may not even have that option for covering costs if you’re hit by an uninsured driver.
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Expert Insurance Agent Insight

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Vice President Insurance Operations
A general rule that I recommend is to carry enough coverage to protect your current and future assets – at least $100,000/$300,000 of liability coverage is recommended, but you may need more coverage depending on your financial situation.
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Most drivers in Tennessee need a policy that includes at least the following:
  • $100,000 per person/3100,000 per accident of bodily injury liability coverage
  • $100,000 of property damage liability coverage
  • Collision coverage
    and
    comprehensive coverage
    to replace the vehicle in the event of a total loss
  • Uninsured motorist
    coverage matching the policy’s property damage liability limits
Our data indicate that the average cost of car insurance in Tennessee is $102 monthly or $1,222 annually for a policy with only minimum limits. The average cost for a
full coverage car insurance policy
is a bit higher at $164 per month or $1,970 per year. 
Despite slightly higher car insurance rates, the financial and legal security offered by higher coverage limits and physical damage protections makes full coverage the more cost effective option. 
To keep your full coverage insurance costs low, select a higher deductible for comprehensive and collision policies.
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Remember: Car insurance premiums are highly individualized since car insurance companies in Tennessee look at personal factors like age, credit score, location, your driving record, vehicle type, and more when they
calculate car insurance rates
and determine discounts.
That’s why comparing rates with Jerry from at least a handful of providers is the best way to ensure you get the best price on coverage.
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If you lease or finance a vehicle, your bank or lender may require you to purchase physical damage coverage—comprehensive and collision insurance—on top of liability insurance. 

Optional auto insurance coverage in Tennessee

For peace of mind, consider getting additional coverage. Here are a few coverage options worth looking into:
If you finance or lease your vehicle,
gap insurance
is a great option to help you ensure you’re covered if your vehicle is declared a total loss early in your ownership. Gap coverage pays for the difference between what you owe on a vehicle and its
actual cash value
.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Tennessee

Failure to provide evidence of compliance with TN’s financial responsibility mandates is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by one or more of the following:
You’ll also have to
file an SR-22 certificate
with the Tennessee DOR, usually for three years.

FAQs

What are the minimum requirements for auto insurance in Tennessee?

Tennessee car insurance requirements include at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage, $25,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage. Drivers must also carry proof of insurance or financial responsibility at all times.

What is considered full coverage in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, as in the rest of the U.S., “full coverage” refers to a car insurance policy that includes collision and comprehensive insurance in addition to liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and any other coverage mandated by your state’s minimum insurance requirements. It’s the standard level of coverage needed by most drivers. 

Does Tennessee require insurance to register a vehicle?

No. Tennessee law does not require car insurance coverage to register a vehicle. However, it is illegal to drive any vehicle, registered or not, on public streets without proof of financial responsibility.

Is Tennessee a no-fault state?

No. Tennessee is an
“at-fault”
or tort state. This means the at-fault driver in a vehicle accident is responsible for paying for the not-at-fault parties’ injuries and property damage.

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