This article covers key auto insurance laws in Tennessee, starting with the minimum coverage requirements for vehicles in operation in the state. (For the basics on car insurance, check out our Car Accidents and Insurance Coverage topic.)
Tennessee's "Fault" Car Insurance Laws
Tennessee is a "fault" state when it comes to car accidents and who is on the financial hook. This kind of system focuses on determining who is legally liable for causing a given auto accident, and makes it the responsibility of the at-fault parties to pay for losses associated with the crash. In a "fault" state like Tennessee, people injured in car accidents usually have several options, including:
- filing a claim with their own ar insurance carrier (which will then typically turn around and seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver's carrier)
- filing a third party car insurance claim directly with the at-fault driver's car insurance company, or
- filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court, seeking compensation from the at-fault driver.
By contrast, in a no-fault state, the option to hold another person liable is generally limited, and most injured people must first turn to their own insurance policy for compensation for their losses (in many cases, this is an injured person's exclusive remedy in a no-fault state). Most Tennessee drivers don't need to be experts on no-fault. But if you want to know more about how no-fault insurance works, information is available in our article No-Fault Car Insurance and State Laws.
Tennessee's Auto Insurance Requirements
Tennessee requires drivers to carry certain minimum amounts of auto insurance coverage in case of an accident. Currently, the required minimum coverage is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury;
- $50,000 for bodily injury when 2 or more people are hurt;
- $15,000 for property damage.
These amounts cover injuries suffered by other drivers, passengers, and/or pedestrians in an accident. They do not typically cover injuries or property damage to the driver found to be at fault in the accident. Other types of insurance coverage -- such as collision and comprehensive coverage for property damage and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for injuries -- are available in Tennessee to protect the insured individual, but drivers are not required by law to buy these kinds of insurance. Additional coverage can be helpful in a serious accident, however, whether or not you are found to be "at fault" for the crash.
Tennessee's Uninsured Motorist Coverage Requirements
Tennessee law requires that every car insurance policy issued in the state include uninsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to the limits for bodily injury and property damage listed in the policy, unless the policy purchaser rejects UIM coverage in writing (consumers can also select lower UIM coverage limits).
So, if your policy provides the minimum 25/50/15 coverage for bodily injury and property damage, it will also provide 25/50/15 coverage for accidents with uninsured/underinsured motorists (again, unless you decline UIM coverage or choose a lower limit). This coverage helps guarantee that you're protected if you're in an accident with an at-fault driver who has no car insurance at all, or not enough coverage to pay for the losses you suffered in the accident.
To learn more about how Uninsured Motorist Coverage coverage works in our Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage topic.
More Information on Car Insurance in Tennessee
If you're looking for more information on auto insurance in Tennessee, check out the Tennessee Department of Safety.