Whether you're enjoying the Natchez Trace Parkway or winding through the Great Smoky Mountains, you've got to drive with the right insurance in Tennessee. Auto insurance is like your gateway to the most scenic roadways in “The Volunteer State!” Driving without it can lead to some expensive fines and tough situations.

Understanding the requirements for auto insurance in Tennessee will help you choose the affordable coverage that fits you and your budget. If you think driving uninsured is the only way to save money on insurance, think again! Finding cheap car insurance in Tennessee starts by understanding exactly what you do (and don't) need. Not sure if you meet the state's requirements? Don't know where to get affordable Tennessee auto insurance? Wondering whether you qualify for commercial auto insurance in Tennessee? Follow along as we walk you through the required Tennessee auto insurance coverages, plus other good-to-know insurance laws that can help you make better decisions and stay legal on the road.

Know Tennessee Car Insurance Laws

If you're a Tennessee driver, there are certain minimum motor vehicle financial responsibility requirements you need to meet. Sounds like pretty heavy stuff, but there’s no need to get your gears in a grind! Here’s what it means: in order to drive legally, you’re required to have a certain amount of car insurance, motorcycle insurance, or commercial car insurance.* Requirements vary by state, so if you’re new to "The Volunteer State" you’ll want to call your insurance company to make sure your coverage matches Tennessee's requirements.

What Are Tennessee Car Insurance Requirements?

Just like you follow other rules of the road, all Tennessee drivers must follow state laws about car insurance. That means purchasing, at a minimum, two types of affordable coverage for your insurance plan: Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability. You must also keep proof of insurance in each of your registered vehicles at all times. That's easy to do when you have insurance with Direct Auto! Just access MyAccount from your smartphone and show instant proof of insurance, anywhere and anytime.

Tennessee car insurance state minimums require: Bodily Injury Liability (BI) coverage of at least $25,000 to cover injury or death to any one person that results from an auto accident, and $50,000 to cover injuries or death of more than one person resulting from an auto accident. BI helps pay for medical and legal protection in the event that you or another insured on your policy cause bodily injury to another person while operating your vehicle.

Tennessee also requires Property Damage Liability (PD) coverage of at least $15,000 for property damage for one accident. PD helps pay for damage to another person's property caused while operating your vehicle. Note that PD coverage only protects you if you are responsible for damages to another person’s property. It does not cover damage to your own vehicle that might be caused by the same accident. You'll have to pay out-of-pocket for those repairs or make sure that you include comprehensive coverage in your policy.

The “limit” for both BI and PD is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay. Your Tennessee insurance company will also present you with Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, as well as Uninsured Motorist Property Damage of $15,000 per accident. You can reject Uninsured Motorist coverages in writing if you're looking for the cheapest Tennessee insurance rate.

It's important to follow other driving laws while in Tennessee, too. For instance, texting while driving is illegal (TCA 55-8-199); motorcycle operators and their passengers are both required to wear a helmet (TCA 55-9-302); and drivers must wear safety belts at all time while operating a vehicle in TN. They're also responsible for ensuring that their passengers are wearing seatbelts (TCA 55-9-603). Read more about Tennessee’s financial responsibility laws, access SR-22 forms, and review the penalties for violating these laws on Tennessee’s Department of Safety site.

What If I Don't Buy Tennessee Car Insurance Minimum Coverage?

It's not a good idea! Tennessee takes a tough stance against uninsured drivers. Without proof of insurance, you cannot register your vehicle. If you are pulled over and do not meet the state's minimum requirements for auto insurance or do not have proof of insurance, you could face serious consequences.

In 2015, Tennessee passed new laws creating harsher penalties for uninsured Tennessee drivers. While failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility has long been a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine, the new Tennessee laws aimed at uninsured drivers increase the fine for not carrying proof of insurance from $100 to $300. These laws also give law enforcement authority to tow your vehicle on the spot if you cannot provide proof of insurance during a traffic stop. Once the State is notified of a conviction, your driver’s license is suspended, according to Tennessee’s Department of Safety. Read more about Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law.

Who Needs Commercial Auto Insurance in Tennessee?

Like personal vehicles, commercial vehicles are also subject to minimum financial responsibility requirements. But, different types and sizes of vehicles have different commercial insurance coverage requirements. For instance, company cars must typically be covered by the same liability minimums as passenger cars. Larger commercial vehicles tend to have much higher liability requirements.

The amount of liability coverage you need for your commercial vehicle will depend on the vehicle’s size and weight, how the vehicle is used, the number of passengers it carries (if any), and the type of cargo it transports. Before choosing a commercial auto insurance policy in Tennessee, talk with your insurance agent to help make sure the coverage you’re selecting is right for the needs of your business.

Ready to Find Cheap Tennessee Car Insurance?

Whether you need to meet Tennessee state minimums for car insurance, or simply want more coverage to account for unexpected scenarios and expenses, Direct Auto is a local car insurance company that will work with you to get the right coverage for your needs. Direct Auto offers the coverage and services you need, plus great customer service, to help you stay within your budget and prepare for the unexpected. With insurance discounts, customizable payment plans, and more, Tennessee drivers can count on Direct Auto to keep them covered.

Learn More About Auto Insurance in Tennessee

Whether you’re shopping for commercial, motorcycle, or car insurance in Tennessee, it’s okay to have questions! Most drivers do. Learn about other Tennessee auto insurance options, like UM coverage, or get an affordable auto insurance quote by contacting Direct Auto online, over the phone at 1-877-GO DIRECT, or by stopping by one of our Tennessee office locations.

You can also visit any one of these resources: Tennessee Driver Services, Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, Official State of Tennessee Website, and Tennessee Department of Transportation.

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