Like a lot of states, Tennessee requires vehicle owners to establish "financial responsibility" in case they are involved in a car accident. Specifically, Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-12-102(12) requires drivers to maintain "financial responsibility" at the following levels:
Most vehicle owners comply with Tennessee's financial responsibility laws by purchasing a car insurance policy, but you can also comply by having a certificate from the Department of Safety noting that a sufficient cash deposit or bond has been posted, by qualifying as a self-insurer, or by proving that the vehicle is exempt from compliance.
If you decide to purchase a car insurance policy, you can buy additional types of coverage not listed above, including options such as collision or comprehensive coverage. In fact, if you are leasing or financing a vehicle, you may be required to add additional protection to your car insurance policy. Learn more about Different Types of Car Insurance Coverage.
Unless a policy holder specifically rejects UIM coverage, in writing, it is required on all auto insurance policies in Tennessee. UIM coverage is a good way to protect yourself if you are in an accident with an at-fault driver who is either uninsured, or is not carrying enough insurance to cover your medical bills and other losses. When the damages from the accident exceed the at-fault driver's coverage, your UIM coverage will kick in and cover the difference -- up to your UIM limits, of course. Learn more about Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage.
If you are caught driving without insurance in Tennessee, you may be charged with a misdemeanor and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $100. If you are convicted, the state will be notified, and your driver's license will be suspended. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has more information about Tennessee's Financial Responsibility Laws.
You'll find more details on car insurance rules in Tennessee in our article Tennessee Auto Insurance Laws and Regulations.