Owning a vehicle comes with its own set of privileges and responsibilities – while you do get to have more freedom and mobility, enjoying these perks depends on your ability to be conscientious and respectful of proper driving etiquette. And I mean that literally – in order to drive your vehicle on Tennessee public roads, the state requires that, in addition to possessing a driver’s license, you show proof of financial responsibility, usually through auto liability coverage. Ultimately, auto insurance requirements in Tennessee aim to ensure that, in case of an accident, you are able to pay for the damages caused to another person and his or her vehicle.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Tennessee: Liability Thresholds
In order to satisfy the minimum liability requirements, you need to carry the following coverage:
- Bodily Injury Liability per person: $25,000, covering the third-party damages incurred by a single person in the event of an accident.
- Bodily Injury Liability per accident: $50,000, covering the damages incurred by multiple people in the event of an at-fault accident. This limit pairs with the one above, in that your insurance company will pay up to $25,000 in medical bills and expenses for any one person but not more than $50,000 per accident.
- Property Damage Liability: $15,000, covering the damages caused to another person’s property – more often than not this goes to repair costs for damaged vehicles.
Tennessee allows insurance companies to combine these maximums into a “single limit”. This means that if you are found at-fault in a car accident, a total of $65,000, for example, can be used to pay for both bodily injury and property damages caused to others, without any sublimits.
Not all carriers offer single limit policies, so make sure to ask your insurance agent about available options.
While liability insurance is the standard approach to meeting auto insurance requirements in Tennessee, vehicle owners can show that they are financially responsible through bonds or cash deposits.
Specifically, you can:
- post a $65,000 bond with the Department of Revenue, or
- make a $65,000 cash deposit with the Department of Revenue.
Following one of these actions, you will be issued a certificate of insurance by the Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety (DOS).
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Insurance carriers in Tennessee are mandated by law to include uninsured motorist options in every auto insurance quote. While this kind of coverage is not mandatory, I do advise all clients to give it some thought as it may be a financial lifesaver in the event of an accident.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can pay for both bodily injury and property damages in case you collide with a driver that does not have auto insurance. This also kicks in if the other driver exhausts his liability insurance and does not have enough coverage to satisfy the full cost of your damages.
An important thing to mention is that neither uninsured motorist bodily injury nor property damage limits can exceed the liability limits discussed earlier – for example, if your bodily injury liability coverage is $25,000 per person, that will act as a maximum for the uninsured motorist portion as well.
Auto Insurance Options for Better Protection
In addition to the minimum auto insurance requirements in Tennessee, I believe it would be in your best interest to review and consider at least the following non-mandatory car insurance options:
- Collision, that pays for the damages incurred by your vehicle, should you collide with another object (vehicle, lamp post, fence, etc).
- Comprehensive, that pays for your vehicle’s damages resulting from fire, theft, acts of vandalism, and collision with animals.
- Medical payments, that can be used to cover the medical or funeral costs that may result from a crash for you and your passengers.
Insurance for High-Risk Drivers
A sensitive topic when it comes to auto insurance concerns high-risk drivers. If your driving history includes frequent collisions, multiple tickets or traffic violations, you may find it difficult to purchase insurance altogether. Many carriers might simply decline you as a client because of the risk involved, and those that will accept you may have very high rates.
High-risk drivers are guaranteed access to insurance regardless of driving history: a program called the Tennessee Automobile Insurance Plan pairs insurance companies with high-risk drivers so that you can be issued protection even if your record leaves much to be desired. However, be prepared for spicy rates and limited coverage options.
Practice Safe Driving
Ultimately, there’s only so much that insurance can account for – the best thing you can do is practice safe driving. Be cautious, vigilant, and don’t take any unnecessary risks. In addition to protecting other people and knowing that you’re doing your best to be a responsible driver, you’ll get on the good side of insurance companies and eventually enjoy lower, more manageable insurance premiums.
Have questions about auto insurance requirements in Tennessee? Drop me a line and I’ll get back to you in no time.