Tennessee wants all drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. You could face serious consequences driving without it.
According to Tennessee state law, you may have to pay fines, surrender your driver's license and registration, or even serve jail time if you're caught driving without insurance. Your insurer will also need to file an SR-22 form on your behalf, which could cause your rates to increase.
How much insurance do I need to carry in Tennessee?
According to Tennessee's Financial Responsibility Law, drivers must carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance:
- $25,000 for bodily injuries per person
- $50,000 for bodily injuries per accident
- $15,000 for property damage
Penalties for driving without insurance
Law enforcement officers may ask to see your insurance card during a traffic stop or at the scene of a car accident. If you can't show proof that you have a policy, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of $300. Additionally, the officer can choose to have your towed. Your driver's license and registration will be suspended until you provide proof of financial responsibility, pay a $65 restoration fee and pay a $50 fee to the state's commissioner of safety.
The state may also ask you to pass the driver's license exam again to get your license and registration back. And your insurer will need to file an SR-22 form on your behalf, which proves you have car insurance. The form will need to stay on file for three years. During this time, your insurer may increase your premium because you're seen as a risky driver. We recommend comparing quotes from multiple insurers to get the best rate on your coverage, even with an SR-22 on file.
Below, we've created a table that shows which penalties can occur under different circumstances. These are in addition to any fines the court may charge.
Failure to provide proof
Driving without insurance
|$25 coverage failure fee after 15 days; an additional $100 continued coverage failure fee after additional 30 days||$300|
|Driver's license and registration suspended after 45 days until proof provided||Driver's license and registration suspended until insurance proof provided and driver's license examination retaken|
|$65 license and registration restoration fee; $50 fee to commissioner of safety||$65 restoration fee; $50 fee to commissioner of safety; SR-22 certificate for three years|
Penalties for failure to provide proof of insurance
Tennessee uses the Insurance Industry Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration Model to verify which drivers carry insurance. If state officials hear word that a registered vehicle isn't insured, the Tennessee Department of Revenue will send a notice to the owner.
If you get that notice, you'll need to respond within 15 days and provide proof that you carry insurance or you've purchased a policy. Your charges will be dismissed, though you'll have to pay a $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days. If you don't, the state may charge another fee of $100 and suspend your driver's license and registration. You'll need to pay an additional $50 fee to the commissioner of safety and a $65 fee to reinstate your driving privileges.
Penalties for driving without insurance in an accident
Driving without insurance is bad enough — but if you get into an accident that results in injuries or death while uninsured, you face a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, you may pay fines up to $2,500 and face imprisonment up to 11 months and 29 days. You're also responsible for covering any medical and repair bills — out of pocket — that stem from the accident.
Going forward, you'll need to get an insurance policy with at least the minimum limits. Try comparing quotes at multiple car insurance companies in Tennessee to see if something fits your budget.