Get caught driving without insurance in Tennessee and you’ll face penalties as light as a $25 fine and as heavy as a year in jail.
You’ll also face those penalties even if you have car insurance but don’t carry at least the state minimum amount of auto liability coverage.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about:
- How much car insurance you need in Tennessee to avoid fines and penalties
- How you can prove you have the state’s minimum amount of auto insurance coverage
- What the penalties are for driving without insurance in Tennessee
How Much Car Insurance Do I Need in Tennessee to Avoid Penalty?
You have to carry at least the state minimum amount of auto liability insurance coverage if you want to avoid fines and other penalties. In Tennessee, that means you need:
- $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
- $15,000 of property damage liability coverage per accident
Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law doesn’t require drivers to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. You might want to buy it anyway, though.
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you and your passengers if you get into an accident and the other driver doesn’t have car insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if that driver doesn’t have enough car insurance to cover your repair or medical expenses. This kind of coverage also protects you if you’re injured in a hit-and-run accident.
How can I prove I have the state minimum amount of auto liability coverage in Tennessee?
You can show proof of insurance in Tennessee with a variety of documents:
These documents can be paper or electronic. Also, they need to be associated with a car insurance policy bought from a company authorized to do business in the state.
If you don’t have car insurance, to avoid the fines and penalties highlighted here you need a certificate from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security that notes one of the following:
- You’ve posted a cash deposit or bond in the amount required by state law
- You qualify as a self-insurer
What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Tennessee?
Tennessee will hit you with different fines and penalties depending on when it discovers you’re driving without car insurance.
Penalties if Tennessee’s Electronic Insurance Verification System finds out you’re uninsured
If Tennessee’s online insurance verification system can’t confirm you have auto insurance, the state sends a notice and asks you to provide proof of coverage or exemption.
- If you don’t respond within 15 days, you’ll pay a $25 fine.
- You’ll pay a $100 fine if you don’t respond to a second notice within 30 days.
- You’ll pay a $300 fine after that.
- The state can tow your vehicle and suspend your driver’s license and registration at this point, too.
- If this happens, you’ll have to pay a $65 license and registration restoration fee plus a $50 fee to the Tennessee Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security.
- You’ll likely need to file an SR-22 form with the state for up to five years now as well.
Penalties if you’re pulled over and you can’t show proof of insurance to a police officer
Failing to show proof of car insurance--or financial responsibility of some other sort--when you’re pulled over for a traffic stop is a Class C misdemeanor in Tennessee.
Here’s how the state may penalize you for not showing proof of insurance in this situation:
- Fine you up to $300
- Tow your vehicle
- Suspend your license and registration
- Require you to get SR-22 insurance for at least three years
Penalties if you get into an accident and you can’t prove car insurance coverage
If you’re unable to show proof of insurance after getting into an accident, the state can charge you with a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction could lead to:
- Fines of up to $2,500
- Jail time of up to 11 months and 29 days
That may be just the tip of the iceberg as far as your troubles are concerned here. If you cause the accident and the other drivers or passengers sue over it, you might have to pay their damage and medical expenses, too.
Penalties if you knowingly provide false proof of insurance after you get pulled over or get into an accident
The state can charge you with a Class A misdemeanor for knowingly providing false proof of car insurance, too.
If convicted, it could make you pay fines of no more than $2,500 and put you in jail for almost a year.
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