What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Tennessee?

Driving without car insurance in TN is punishable by a $300 fine and immediate suspension of your license and registration, as well as other fees.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Insurance companies in Tennessee offer drivers alternatives to paying for their policy
  • Driving without insurance is an automatic $300 fine
  • One in five Tennessee accidents has at least one uninsured motorist

Tennessee is a beautiful state, but the law doesn’t allow you to drive without insurance. With so many mountainous roads, most people don’t want to take the chance.

However, some consider themselves exempt from purchasing insurance if they own their vehicle outright or if they can’t afford it.

The truth is that you cannot afford to drive without insurance in Tennessee. The payment might be higher every month, but the cost of driving without insurance is substantial. There are heavy fines for anyone caught driving without insurance.

If you don’t have insurance now or you are considering making a change, it’s best to figure out what kind of insurance you need and how much you can afford.

Then shop around to compare rates with different companies. Enter your ZIP code above to begin comparing quotes right now!

All drivers are required to carry a minimum policy, but many drivers who lease or finance their vehicles must carry more comprehensive coverage. Find out what type of coverage you need for your vehicle and compare rates for the best deals.

Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in Tennessee

Tennessee drivers are required to carry certain insurance if they want to drive legally. Those who visit the state or are just driving through are permitted to carry their own insurance as required by their state even if it doesn’t meet state minimums in Tennessee.

If you move here or already lived here, you must abide by the state’s insurance requirement.

Bodily injury coverage is one of the insurance requirements in Tennessee as governed by the Tennessee Financial Responsibility Law. It’s designed to protect anyone involved in a car accident in case they need medical attention following a collision. The minimum requirement is:

  • $25,000 per person
  • $50,000 per accident

Property damage is the other minimum requirement for any driver in Tennessee. This protects any property damaged in an accident such as repairs needed on your car. It’s a liability coverage, and you must carry at least $15,000 in property damage insurance.

This type of insurance is most commonly used for vehicles, but it’s also going to cover homes, fences, mailboxes, and other things that might be damaged in an accident.

While it’s not required to carry any uninsured motorist coverage, the law requires Tennessee car insurance companies offer a quote to anyone comparing policies and shopping for a new one.

You’re free to turn it down, but it’s something to consider purchasing in case you are ever involved in an accident with someone who hasn’t an insurance policy.

There are more than 150,000 accidents each year in Tennessee, and one in every five includes a driver without insurance.

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Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Tennessee

There are two things that might happen to a Tennessee driver when they are involved in an accident or pulled over for a moving violation. The first is they don’t have insurance.

The second is that you have insurance but you don’t have your proof of insurance on your person or in your car. Both are subject to fines, loss of driving privileges, and other punishments.

If you are pulled over or involved in an accident with insurance but you cannot prove you have insurance at the scene, Tennessee law enforcement officers can fine you $25 for not proving you have insurance.

They also require you send in proof of your insurance within 15 days. If you fail to prove your insurance in this timeframe, you’re going to receive another fine of $100.

If you fail to prove you have insurance in the time permitted, the state is free to suspend your license and your registration for 45 days.

You must prove your insurance policy is valid to reinstate your license, pay a $65 reinstatement fee, and a $50 fee to the commissioner of safety in Tennessee.

If you are caught driving without insurance, you automatically receive a fine of $300. Tennessee law automatically requires your license and registration are suspended indefinitely.

It costs $65 to reinstate your license and registration, $50 to the commissioner of safety, and you must be able to prove you bought insurance to do this. You must also provide proof of insurance monthly for three years if you are caught driving without.

Car Insurance is More Affordable Than Not

Buying car insurance in Tennessee is far more affordable than forgoing a policy. If you are caught, it could affect your entire life. You lose the ability to legally drive to and from work, to get your kids to and from school, and to run your daily errands.

If you don’t want to purchase an insurance policy, there are two options available that allow you to continue driving legally in Tennessee:

  • You can pay $60,000 to the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety. This money is deposited into an account for use if you are involved in an accident.
  • You can also pay $60,000 for a surety bond to file with the Tennessee Department of Safety for the same purpose. It’s more affordable to pay for an insurance policy monthly, but it’s an option for all Tennessee residents.

If you can afford to pay cash for any accident injuries and repairs necessary after you’re involved in an accident, you still lose your license and registration because you have no insurance.

It’s not affordable or convenient to go without, and it’s easy to find an affordable policy when you compare rates, ask for discounts, and carry at least the minimum requirements. Enter your ZIP code below to compare car insurance rates today.

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