Tennessee Car Insurance Guide
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When driving a State of Tennessee registered vehicle, insurance is required.

Tennessee minimum car insurance requirements are:

  • Auto Insurance policy with limits of at least 25/50/15 – meaning:
  • Liability coverage
  • $25,000 of bodily injury to another person
  • $50,000 of bodily injuries to all other persons
  • $15,000 of injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident
  • Collision: pays for any repairs to your car when it is damaged in an accident.
  • Comprehensive: pays for your car if it is stolen or if it is in need of any repairs after being damaged by a falling object, floods, a fire, collision with an animal, or vandalism.

Required Proof of Insurance in Tennessee

Acceptable proof of insurance includes an insurance company card, binder or declaration page of a policy from an insurance company authorized to do business in Tennessee – stating that a policy meeting the requirements of the Tennessee Financial Responsibility Law of 1977 has been issued. However, a payment stub or billing statement does not qualify as acceptable proof of Insurance.

Department of Commerce & Insurance
500 James Robertson Parkway
Davy Crockett Tower
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0565

Obtaining a Driver’s License

New residents and returning residents who need to exchange the license from their former state of residence will need to present:

  • Current license
  • Proof of name change, such as original certified court order, marriage certificate, or divorce decree
  • Two proofs of Tennessee residency with your name and resident address – NO P.O. BOXES – all documents must be current (dated within last 4 months)
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  • A Social Security Number.

Every new or returning resident must take a Tennessee vision screening at the driver service center. New or returning residents whose out of state license has been expired for more than six months must take the Tennessee knowledge test, road skills test, and vision screening. Lastly, all new or returning residents are forced to surrender their out-of-state license at time of application for Tennessee license.

For a Regular Class D Driver License you will need the following documents (no photocopies):

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship
  • Primary Proof of Identity
  • Secondary Proof of Identity
  • Proof of any Name Changes if Different than name on Primary ID
  • Two Proofs of Tennessee Residency with your name and resident address – NO P.O. BOXES
  • A Social Security Number

If you are under 18 years of age you will need the above documents plus:

  • Teenage Affidavit/Financial Responsibility
  • Proof of school attendance/progress
  • Certification of 50 Hours Behind the Wheel Driving Experience (SF-1256)

To obtain a Tennessee Driver License for the first time when an applicant is under the age of 18, proof of prior driving experience is required. The applicant must either obtain a learner permit for at least six months or have been licensed to drive in another state for at least 90 days.

Completing Driver Education

According to the minimum requirements for approval of public school chapter 0520-1-3 (section f, Automobile Driver Education) every driver’s education course shall be one-half unit of elective and shall include not fewer than 30 class hours of instruction and six hours of experience behind the wheel. Students shall be permitted to enroll when they have reached the age of 15 years.

Knowing the Rules of the Road

Understanding traffic laws in the state is essential to qualify for the lowest auto insurance rates in Tennessee. The state’s driver manual holds the state’s rules of the road as well as all other information present and prospective drivers should know. The latest version being:
Tennessee Driver’s Manual.

Note: the actual statue code for every rule of the road is not presented in this guide.

Know Your Rates

Car insurance rates are based on a number of different factors, such as your age, gender, marital status and driving record history.  The type of vehicle you drive can also significantly impact your rates – i.e. the make and model, the type of safety features it has, and where it is stored (the address and area code). Insurance companies take each factor into consideration as just one component can drastically alter your premium. The purpose of this process is so that insurance companies can assess your level of risk, with higher-risk drivders being charged more than the average cost of car insurance in Tennessee and lower-risk drivers being rewarded with more affordable options. The following a breakdown of some of the common factors:

  • Driving Record. Your driving record can give insurers an idea of how responsible you are when operating a vehicle. From accidents to traffic violations, everything is analyzed. If you have received or been involved in multiple violations or at-fault accidents, you are likely to be labeled high-risk and may be charged a higher premium.
  • Age and Gender. History shows that men have more accidents than women. As a result, younger men tend to pay more for insurance than young women do. This type of pattern can carry over to other age groups as well.
  • Make and Model of the Vehicle. If you own a vehicle that has a history of a higher repair costs, you may be charged a greater premium for collision. On the other hand, if you drive a vehicle that is easily serviceable, you will likely qualify for low cost car insurance in Tennessee.
  • Geographical Area. The number of claims filed by policy holders within your area can impact the rates charged by insurers. Normally zip codes or counties serve as dividers of geographic areas. However general conclusion can be made as well. For instance, city drivers are more likely to be involved in an accident than those out in rural areas where there is less traffic.

Lower Your Rates

Insurance companies make it possible for consumers to reduce their premium by offering multiple discounts. For instance, drivers over the age of 55 can take a defensive driving course and be eligible for a discount. Similarly, residents of Tennessee can enroll in an approved driver education course to receive a driver training discount. Insurers enjoy rewarding their consumers who demonstrate responsible driving with the best car insurance rates in Tennessee – which is why many car owners pursue the good driver discount, striving to keep their record clean and avoid accidents and other violations.

For men and women under the age of 25 that are full-time students in high school or university, and success in the classroom can also lead to benefits outside of the academic environment. A good student discount can motivate students to continue with their educational achievements. Further discounts include:

  • Multiple automobiles discount
  • Vehicle safety discount

Picking an Insurance Agent/Broker

Before you purchase any insurance coverage, you need to familiarize yourself with what is available to you. Someone that can help you throughout this process is an insurance agent or broker. These individuals have many resources available to them that can give you helpful information on insurance that will educate you further on your options, as well as help you find the best car insurance in Tennessee to suit your needs.

Make the effort to contact multiple agents before settling on one. While many people prefer to deal with someone who is near their home, customer service has always been another important consideration for many drivers in the state of Tennessee. Knowing information such as how long an agent has been working in your area can be valuable in giving you an idea of how productive an agent or broker is. Additionally, knowing how quickly an agent processes claims and the amount of complaints they have received can help you narrow down your search. Go beyond unbiased resources and speak with your friends and relatives to receive as many recommendations as possible – allowing you to be certain that you find the right agent for you.

After an Accident

If you are involved in an accident, exchange information with all of the other parties involved. Ask for their name, address, the name of their insurance company and phone number, even if they have no car insurance in Tennessee. This information can be found on their proof of insurance card. If you are unable to receive any of this information, write down the driver’s license plate number and driver’s license number. Both drivers should be prepared to share information.

Immediately following any accident you should dial 911 if someone is injured. If you are able to move your vehicle, do so, moving it out of traffic. Beyond exchanging the previously mentioned information, write down the vehicles make and model. If there are any witnesses, get their name and contact information. If a police officer comes to the scene , get his or her name, and their badge number. Find out when and where to get the accident report and your accident report number. Even small details such as the time, date, location, and weather can be beneficial. Lastly, if your car is damaged by a hit-and-run driver  immediately call the police.

Insurance for High-Risk Drivers

The Tennessee Automobile Insurance Plan is designed to provide automobile coverage to eligible high risk drivers who seek coverage, but are unable to obtain such coverage through the voluntary market.  Eligible Tennessee Automobile Insurance Plan risks are shared among companies writing automobile insurance in the state of Tennessee. Any insurance agent holding a valid Property & Casualty license for the state of Tennessee can write business through the TNAIP.  Consumers that hold a valid Tennessee driver’s license and a vehicle registered in Tennessee are eligible to be assigned through TNAIP.  For further information consumers should consult their insurance agent.

Additional Help

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance offers assistance to all residents looking for auto insurance. Dedicated employees are ready and willing to answer any inquiries you may have related to insurance, while looking into complaints with specific agencies, agents, or brokers, educate consumers on insurance law and procedures, and enforcing insurance law on the consumer’s behalf (if needed). Call 615-741-2241 to speak with a representative today.

Online resources include:

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