UPDATED: Mar 2, 2020
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Researching car insurance is pretty tough and time-consuming. It’s the last thing that you want to do if you’re busy or live someplace where there’s constant action…a place like Tennessee.
In Tennessee, there’s always something to do. Whether you’re checking out some of the world-class music in Nashville, enjoying a dram of whiskey, catching a football game, or exploring some waterfalls, you can be doing something amazing in the Voluntary State.
So, we’d assume that the last thing you’d want to do is research car insurance. But it really is necessary to have a good understanding of your car insurance. Imagine if there was a way to understand car insurance without having to spend countless hours searching through information.
Well, fortunately for you, we can make this a reality.
Are you looking for car insurance in Tennessee? Look no further. In this article, we will show you the most important information about driving and car insurance in the Volunteer State. Keep reading to make some awesome, easy discoveries, and compare insurance rates using our FREE tool.
Tennessee Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
In this section, we’re going to cover the various types of car insurance coverages and rates. We know this information can be a tad overwhelming. Specifically, we’re going to talk about Tennessee’s car culture, Tennessee’s minimum coverage, the forms of financial responsibility required in Tennessee, premiums as percentage of income, and much more.
What is Tennessee’s car culture?
The car culture in Tennessee is not only massive: it’s necessary, too. Many jobs in Tennessee require their employees to have vehicular transportation since they are not in major cities. However, transportation is not the sole purpose of cars in Tennessee.
Tennessee residents take great pride in their vehicles, and often paint them regularly, put on fresh tires, and put in new sound systems.
While some drivers may opt for a flashy, expensive ride, many Tennessee drivers choose to drive cars that they enjoy and are unique to their needs and tastes.
How much coverage is required for Tennessee Minimum Coverage?
In Tennessee, there is a minimum amount of coverage you need in order to drive.
The following are the requirements for Tennessee’s minimum coverage:
- 25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
- $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
- $15,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.
It’s also worth noting that Tennessee is a state that accepts electronic proof of insurance.
What are forms of financial responsibility in Tennessee?
In Tennessee, there are certain forms of financial responsibility you must have to prove you have insurance that can cover any potential accidents.
According to Tennessee law, the forms you can use to prove you have adequate insurance include a document (or electronic document) proving that you have an auto liability insurance policy.
Other ways that you can prove financial responsibility are by posting a bond with the Department of Revenue for $65,000 or making a cash deposit with the Department of Revenue for $65,000. So, you have options when you’re proving that you can legally drive.
How much percentage of income are premiums in Tennessee?
Next, we’re going to check out the premiums as a percentage of income for car insurance for Tennessee drivers. Here is the three-year trend for Tennessee that shows the percentages from 2012 to 2014.
In 2012, the percentage was 2.12 percent, in 2013, it was 2.33 percent, and in 2014, it was 2.32 percent. As you can see, the highest percentage was right in the middle of 2013, and the lowest is in 2012.
Now, let’s check out the percentages of some states surrounding Tennessee. Note: the most recent year for this information is 2014, which is what we are showing you with these numbers.
For Arkansas, the percent was 2.65 percent; Kentucky was 2.76 percent; Virginia was 1.90 percent; Alabama was 2.50 percent, and Mississippi was 3.05 percent.
As you can see, comparatively, Tennessee is in the middle of its surrounding states. If you were to compare it to the countrywide average in 2014, which was 2.29 percent, Tennessee was slightly higher.
What are the core coverages in Tennessee?
The table below shows the core coverage for Tennessee.
|Core Car Insurance||Coverage Costs In Tennessee|
Please note that the data on this table is from the NAIC. As you can see, the cheapest core insurance coverage is comprehensive coverage at $148.45. Comprehensive coverage is the coverage you get for everything that can damage your car other than a collision.
The next cheapest coverage available is collision insurance ($309.07). Collision insurance is insurance that reimburses the insured for damage sustained to their personal automobile, due to the fault of the insured driver. Then there is liability insurance, which is an average of $413.91. This type of insurance gives the insured party protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to people and/or property.
The final type of insurance on this list is full coverage, which is a bit more expensive, at $871.43. Full coverage is pretty self-explanatory — it’s a combination of collision insurance and comprehensive insurance.
What additional liability is available in Tennessee?
Let’s talk about additional liability insurance. Additional liability insurance is optional insurance for rental cars that protects all authorized drivers if they injure someone or damage someone else’s property.
There are a few categories that pertain to liability insurance that we’re going to share with you. These categories are personal injury protection, medical payments, and uninsured/underinsured motorists.
It’s also important to examine the loss ratio for each of these categories, too. A loss ratio is the amount of money that companies spend on claims. If a ratio is over 100 percent, it means a company is losing money. If it’s too low, the company isn’t paying claims. The best ratio range is from 60-70.
For personal injury protection, there was no loss ratio for any of the years listed. As for medical payments, the loss ratios for Tennessee for medical payments were 75.2 in 2015, 68.85 in 2014, and 71.22 in 2013.
For uninsured/underinsured drivers, in 2015, the loss ratio was 77.24, in 2014 it was 69.94, and in 2013 it was 67.52. Unfortunately, Tennessee has the fifth-most uninsured drivers in the United States. According to our data, 20 percent of drivers in Tennessee drive without car insurance.
What add-ons, endorsements, and riders are available in Tennessee?
We’ve just about covered all the essential insurance types, but they may not cover all your needs. So, we’ve compiled a list of the other insurance options available to you that you might benefit from.
- Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
- Personal Umbrella Policy (PUP)
- Rental Reimbursement Insurance
- Emergency Roadside Assistance
- Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
- Non-Owner Car Insurance
- Modified Car Insurance Coverage
- Classic Car Insurance
- Pay-As-You-Drive or Usage-Based Insurance
Make sure to check out these coverages. Some of them might be helpful for your specific needs.
Does gender and age affect my car insurance in Tennessee?
For this section of the article, we’re going to look at the male and female rates for drivers in Tennessee. While there are some states that have outlawed basing rates on gender, such as California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and certain parts of Michigan, Tennessee still bases part of their rates on gender.
|Company||Demographic||Average Annual Rate||Rank|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||Single 17-year old male||$16,572.79||1|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||Single 17-year old female||$14,916.05||2|
|Allstate P&C||Single 17-year old male||$11,441.86||3|
|Allstate P&C||Single 17-year old female||$10,516.65||4|
|Progressive Hawaii||Single 17-year old male||$9,440.45||5|
|Progressive Hawaii||Single 17-year old female||$8,386.68||6|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||Single 17-year old male||$7,883.17||7|
|Nationwide Mutual||Single 17-year old male||$7,760.40||8|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||Single 17-year old female||$7,410.65||9|
|GEICO General||Single 17-year old male||$6,739.05||10|
|GEICO General||Single 17-year old female||$6,620.63||11|
|USAA||Single 17-year old male||$6,309.85||12|
|Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co||Single 17-year old male||$6,143.14||13|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 17-year old male||$6,139.77||14|
|Nationwide Mutual||Single 17-year old female||$6,012.22||15|
|USAA||Single 17-year old female||$5,501.37||16|
|Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co||Single 17-year old female||$4,956.52||17|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 17-year old female||$4,907.17||18|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||Single 25-year old male||$4,159.27||19|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||Single 25-year old female||$3,902.85||20|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||Married 35-year old female||$3,639.40||21|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||Married 60-year old male||$3,342.39||22|
|Allstate P&C||Single 25-year old male||$3,082.46||23|
|SAFECO Ins Co of IL||Married 60-year old female||$2,991.77||24|
|Allstate P&C||Single 25-year old female||$2,980.14||25|
|Allstate P&C||Married 35-year old female||$2,796.09||26|
|Nationwide Mutual||Single 25-year old male||$2,739.66||27|
|Allstate P&C||Married 35-year old male||$2,684.61||28|
|Allstate P&C||Married 60-year old male||$2,612.46||29|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||Single 25-year old male||$2,601.27||30|
|Nationwide Mutual||Single 25-year old female||$2,520.95||31|
|Allstate P&C||Married 60-year old female||$2,516.49||32|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||Single 25-year old female||$2,457.63||33|
|Progressive Hawaii||Single 25-year old male||$2,451.94||34|
|GEICO General||Single 25-year old male||$2,286.01||35|
|Progressive Hawaii||Single 25-year old female||$2,246.65||36|
|GEICO General||Single 25-year old female||$2,216.18||37|
|Nationwide Mutual||Married 35-year old male||$2,211.90||38|
|GEICO General||Married 35-year old male||$2,202.22||39|
|Nationwide Mutual||Married 35-year old female||$2,192.98||40|
|GEICO General||Married 35-year old female||$2,182.11||41|
|USAA||Single 25-year old male||$2,157.82||42|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 25-year old male||$2,116.70||43|
|USAA||Single 25-year old female||$2,023.45||44|
|GEICO General||Married 60-year old female||$2,010.58||45|
|GEICO General||Married 60-year old male||$2,010.58||45|
|Nationwide Mutual||Married 60-year old male||$1,997.15||47|
|Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co||Single 25-year old male||$1,981.27||48|
|Nationwide Mutual||Married 60-year old female||$1,964.40||49|
|Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co||Single 25-year old female||$1,882.49||50|
|Progressive Hawaii||Married 35-year old female||$1,864.12||51|
|Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co||Married 35-year old male||$1,860.42||52|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||Married 35-year old male||$1,850.03||53|
|State Farm Mutual Auto||Single 25-year old female||$1,821.23||54|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||Married 35-year old female||$1,817.48||55|
|Mid-Century Ins Co||Married 60-year old male||$1,788.38||56|
|Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co||Married 35-year old female||$1,767.42||57|
|Progressive Hawaii||Married 35-year old male||$1,757.10||58|
|Travelers Prop Cas Ins Co||Married 60-year old male||$1,710.20||59|
As you can see, male drivers who are in their teens have the highest rates, which is typical for most states. The most expensive company for this demographic is Safeco Insurance. Teenage females have the second-highest rates (Safeco) followed by a 25-year-old male who is single (Safeco, again).
In addition to the age and gender of drivers, the marital status of a person also affects their insurance rates. Typically, if one is married, one tends to have lower insurance rates. We can see examples of this for a married 60-year-old male, which is the demographic with the cheapest insurance in Tennessee (Travelers).
This principle applies to women, too, regardless of age, as we can see that a woman who is 35 and married has the third least expensive insurance (Travelers, again).
Please note that this is based on actually purchased coverage by the state population, and this data includes rates for high-risk drivers and those drivers who choose to purchase more than the state minimum for insurance coverage.
What are the cheapest rates by ZIP code in Tennessee?
The table below reveals the cost of insurance for each ZIP code in Tennessee.
As you can see from the table, the 28 most expensive ZIP codes are all in Memphis. The most expensive ZIP code, 38118, has an average rate of $4,991.62. The 29th-most expensive ZIP code (38018) is in Cordova, with an average rate of $4,340.28. The cheapest ZIP code is 37601 in Johnson City, and its average is $3,173.65.
As far as prices of insurance companies go, the most expensive prices tend to be Allstate, and the least expensive tend to be USAA, regardless of the ZIP code.
What are the cheapest rates by city in Tennessee?
We know that car insurance prices vary based on ZIP code, so it makes sense that car insurance rates also change based on the city you live in, too.
Here is a table that shows the average cost of each city in Tennessee.
|City||Average Grand Total|
|ARNOLD A F B||$3,406.20|
|RED BOILING SPRINGS||$3,518.40|
As you can see from this data, which is ranked from cheapest city to most expensive city, the city in Tennessee with the cheapest car insurance is Bristol, with an average insurance cost of $3,176.81.
Conversely, the most expensive city for car insurance is Memphis, as their average cost of insurance is $4,745.79. This is not surprising, as we have seen that Memphis has the most expensive ZIP codes, and Memphis is the second-largest city in Tennessee, after Nashville.
Best State Car Insurance Companies
Now that you have an idea of how much your car insurance costs based on where you live, let’s see what the best car insurance companies in Tennessee are so you know which company is worth your hard-earned money.
We understand that finding the right car insurance company is tough because it’s based on your specific needs. But we will do our best to show you enough companies and facts about these companies so you can have an idea about what company is best for you.
In this section, we’re going to take a look at the largest companies’ financial rating, the companies with the best ratings, the companies with the most complaints, and other facts that will help you decide which company is best for you.
What are the financial ratings of the largest car insurance companies in Tennessee?
We’re going to take a look at the financial ratings of the largest companies in Tennessee using information from the highly reputable A.M. Best.
|COMPANY||A.M. BEST FINANCIAL RATING|
This table shows that most of the insurance companies for Tennessee have excellent grades for their financial ratings. Four companies have the highest possible rating of A++ (State Farm, Geico, USAA, and Travelers). Five companies have a very impressive A+ rating (Farmers, Progressive, Allstate, Nationwide, and Erie Insurance), and only one company has a “low” rating of an A (which is still good), which is Liberty Mutual.
Which car insurance companies have the best ratings in Tennessee?
We have a table with information from the always credible J.D. Best Power Press. This data shows a rating out of 1,000 based on customer satisfaction from 2019 for the largest car insurance companies in the Southeast region of the United States.
|Farm Bureau Insurance-Tennessee||888|
|KY Farm Bureau||830|
According to this table, the top-rated insurance company in this region is actually from Tennessee, and it’s Farm Bureau Insurance, with a rating of 888.
The next highest company is Erie Insurance with 870, and then Alfa Insurance with a rating of 855. The lowest-rated company on this list is Liberty, with a rating of 809. However, this rating is still pretty good considering that the average rating for insurance companies in this region is 841.
Which car insurance companies have the most complaints in Tennessee?
No insurance company is perfect, but some companies have fewer complaints than others. You should know about which companies have the most complaints, as this can have a profound effect on your decision about which car insurance company to use. Below, we have given you a table with the number of complaints about each company.
|Company||Number of Complaints|
According to this information, the company with the most complaints is State Farm, with 1482 complaints. The company with the least amount of complaints is Travelers, and they have a mere two complaints.
But while this number is impressive, you should take it into consideration that there are certainly other factors you must consider when purchasing your insurance.
It is also worth noting that State Farm is the largest insurance company, so the simple fact that they have more customers is likely one of the reasons they have more complaints. You should also see how well companies handle their complaints before making a decision, too.
What are the cheapest car insurance companies in Tennessee?
Ah, yes. Cheap. Cheap is everyone’s favorite word when it comes to buying things with your cash. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the insurance companies with the cheapest insurance options and arranged them in a table for you.
|Company||Average||Compared to State Average (Dollars)||Compared to State Average (Percentage)|
This table is great because it not only shows the average cost of each insurance company, but it also shows the difference in price from the state total of $3,660.89 in dollars and percentages.
As you can see according to this table, of these companies, the most expensive company is Safeco, and they cost $6,206.69 on average, which is $2,545.80 (41.02 percent) more than the state average. The cheapest company is State Farm, and their average cost is $2,639.30, which is $1,021.59 (38.71 percent) less than the state average.
We know that the word “cheap” is always alluring but remember: cheaper isn’t always better. It’s essential you find out what companies work best for your specific needs. Another massive part of selecting your car insurance is not only seeing the average cost of a car insurance company but what the particular costs are for you and your driving record. In the section below, we will share some of these costs with you.
Does my commute affect my car insurance rate in Tennessee?
One of the major aspects of your driving that a company considers is the number of miles that you drive for your commute. They generally separate the commutes into an average of 10 miles and 25 miles. Here is a table showing how much the major companies in Tennessee charge based on these different commute distances.
|Company||10 Mile Commute||25 Mile Commute|
The most expensive company for both a 10-mile commute and a 25-mile commute is Liberty Mutual, as they charge $6,206.69 for both distances. The cheapest company for both commutes is State Farm, and they charge $2,576.56 for a 10-mile commute and $2,702.04 for a 25-mile commute.
Something worth noting is that many companies charge the same amount for each commute distance. These companies include Liberty Mutual, Allstate, Progressive, Farmers, and Nationwide. Thus, it might be beneficial to actually just get the longer coverage just in case.
Lastly, an interesting observation is that the cheapest companies do not charge the same amount for 10-mile and 25-mile commutes, with the 25-mile commutes costing more.
Can coverage level change my car insurance rate with companies in Tennessee?
Another major factor that companies consider when charging you for insurance is the type of coverage level you purchase. There are three types of coverage that you can purchase: high, medium, and low. We’ve listed each major insurance company in Tennessee and how they charge based on coverage level in the table below.
According to this data, the most expensive “high” coverage level is from Liberty Mutual ($6,477.10). Liberty Mutual also has the highest “medium” coverage level ($6,204.78), and “low” coverage level ($5,938.19). The cheapest “high” coverage level is from State Farm ($2,773.95), and they have the cheapest “medium” ($2,651.21) and “low” ($2,492.73) rates, too.
Similar to rates by commute, there is a small difference between many of the different coverage levels, so it might be more cost-effective to go with a higher coverage level.
How does my credit history affect my car insurance rate with companies in Tennessee?
Your credit is another part of your history that car insurance companies take into consideration when deciding how much you should pay for your rates. So, we’ll provide some information about how each type of credit score (separated into “good”, “fair”, and “bad”) affects your coverage for the major insurance companies in Tennessee.
|Company||Good Credit||Fair Credit||Poor Credit|
According to this table, the most expensive company for good credit is Liberty Mutual ($4,266.12), and they have the most expensive rates for fair ($5,455.32) and poor ($8,898.63) credit, too.
The company that is most forgiving to poor credit with their rates is Travelers, as their average rate for poor credit is $3,483.87.
Experian states that the average credit score for Tennessee as is 662. A 662 credit score is very close to the good range, which is 670-739. So, it seems that the good and average rates for car insurance companies are the most relevant to Tennessee drivers.
It’s worth noting that many of these companies charge significantly more if you have poor credit, with some companies charging hundreds, and some thousands, more dollars for a lower credit rating. This is why it’s important to pay close attention to which companies accommodate your credit score best and to pick that company. That way, you can pay the most reasonable price for car insurance.
How does my driving record change my rates with car insurance companies in Tennessee?
The final major factor that car insurance companies take into consideration when determining your rates is your driving record. When looking at your driving records, there are three offenses that the car insurance companies take into account: accidents, DUIs, and speeding tickets. And while your rates are raised if you have any of these violations, you’re rewarded if you have a clean record by having lower rates.
The table below shows you the rates for the major companies in Tennessee for each type of driving record.
|Company||Clean Record||One Accident||One DUI||One Speeding Violation|
As you can see from this table, the company that is cheapest if you have a DUI is State Farm, as their average rate for a driver with a DUI is $2,639.30. The company that is cheapest for speeding violation is Geico ($2,386.13 as the average rate), and the company that is best for accidents is Travelers, with an average rate of $2,851.81 for this offense.
If you have a clean record, the best company to go with is USAA, and their rate for this category is $1,992.65.
On average, the two most expensive violations are DUIs and accidents. It varies from company to company which of these two is the most expensive. For example, the average insurance rate for someone with a DUI for Liberty Mutual is $6,748.89, while an insurance rate for someone with an accident is $7,257.06.
Conversely, the average insurance rate for someone who has had a DUI and has Allstate is $5,823.95, but someone who has Allstate who has had an accident must pay an average rate of $4,821.64.
Lastly, the most expensive company on average is Liberty Mutual, and the cheapest is State Farm.
Which car insurance companies are the largest in Tennessee?
It’s important for you to know about the 10 largest insurance companies in Tennessee because you may end up using one of them. The table we’ve provided shows the Volunteer State’s 10 largest car insurance companies as well as some necessary information about them.
|Company/ Group||Direct Premiums Written||Loss Ratio||Market Share|
You may notice there are three categories for this table: direct premiums written, loss ratio, and the market share. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, here are some definitions. A direct premium written is the total amount of an insurance company’s written premiums during a given year without accounting for the amount ceded to reinsurance.
A loss ratio is the proportionate relationship of incurred losses to earned premiums expressed as a percentage. The best loss ratios are between 60 and 70. Finally, a market share is the percentage of the market for a product or service that a company supplies.
So, we can see from this table that State Farm has the most direct premiums written ($948,604), one of the best loss ratios (62.03 percent). And, as you can tell from this table, they have the largest percentage of the market share at 23.23 percent. So, based on all this information, you can see not only that State Farm is the largest car insurance company, but also why and how it is.
Travelers is the smallest of the top 10 largest car insurance companies in Tennessee, as they have $43,084 in direct premiums written, a 57.72 percent loss ratio, and they only control 3.44 percent of the market.
Finally, here are the numbers for the state total so you can see how State Farm measures up to the rest:
- Direct Premiums Written: $4,083,911
- Loss Ratio: 64.96 percent
As we can see, State Farm has earned their place at the top in the state.
How many car insurance companies are available in Tennessee?
It’s important to know the largest insurance companies in Tennessee, but it’s also important to know how many insurance companies there are.
Tennessee has a total of 945 insurance companies, and of these, 15 are domestic and 930 are foreign. The difference between these two types of insurance companies is pretty simple: domestic insurance is insurance that is based within your state, and foreign insurance is based in a state outside of your home state. You can use a foreign insurance company for coverage and have no issues, so either option works.
Look, we get it: knowing your state laws can be horribly confusing, especially the ones about driving. But it’s necessary to know these laws so you can avoid unnecessary fines and so that your roads are safe. And while it’s annoying to know all about all these laws, we hope that we can help you understand them better in a way that doesn’t require hours of studying documents that seem like they’re in another language.
In this part of the article, we’re going to explain these laws in a way that is easy to comprehend. We will look at laws about car insurance, window shield coverage, high-risk insurance, and all the other laws about driving that are necessary for all Tennessee drivers to be aware of.
What are the car insurance laws in Tennessee?
Here are some very important car insurance laws in Tennessee. Check them out to drive safely and securely in the Volunteer State.
How State Laws for Insurance are Determined
Before talking about car insurance laws, it’s important to figure out how car insurance laws are determined. According to the NAIC, Tennessee is a Prior Approval/Flex state. A state that uses prior approval requires car insurance companies in that state to justify their rate changes to state regulators before implementing them. Flex laws require insurers to get approval for rate changes that exceed a specified percentage.
So basically, this means that car insurance companies must get state approval if they want to increase their rates more than a specified amount. This law is part of Tennessee’s Title 56, which you can read more about here.
Next, let’s take a look at the windshield coverage laws in Tennessee. According to carwindshields.info, there are no unique laws for windshields or regarding the choice of a repair shop or OEM (parts are made by the vehicle’s manufacturer) vs. aftermarket parts (any part for a vehicle that isn’t sourced from the car’s maker).
It’s also not a law that companies have zero deductible with comprehensive coverage. This basically means that even if you have comprehensive coverage, the insurance company does not have to waive your deductible if you get a windshield replacement. However, some companies do.
Now, let’s examine high-risk insurance. There are three types of documents for drivers who are considered “high risk”: SR-22s, SR-22As, and FR-44s. However, the only form that pertains to you is the SR-22 because SR-22As are only in Georgia, Texas, and Missouri. FR-44s are only required in Virginia and Florida.
An SR-22 proves that you carry car insurance, and you usually need to get one after the following:
- DUI or DWI
- Reckless driving
- At-fault accidents
- Driving without insurance coverage
- Driving with a suspended license
An SR-22 form is what is required for “high-risk” drivers. Though it is a document proving you have the minimum insurance requirements, it is not a form of car insurance.
In Tennessee, you must contact your liability insurance representative and inform them of the needed filing within your state. The form needs to be filed by an insurance company licensed through the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance to issue motor vehicle liability insurance coverage in Tennessee.
It must also follow the minimum insurance coverage requirements in Tennessee, which are $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 for bodily injury per accident, and $15,000 for property damage.
Though Tennessee has a high-risk insurance program, it, unfortunately, does not have a low-cost insurance program for low-income families.
In fact, the only states that have low cost insurance programs are California, Hawaii, and New Jersey.
Automobile Insurance Fraud in Tennessee
Like in many fields, fraud is an inevitable part of auto insurance. “What constitutes car insurance fraud?” you may ask. Well, according to the IIHS, it can range from misrepresenting facts on insurance applications and inflating insurance claims to staging accidents and submitting claim forms for injuries or damage that never occurred, to false reports of stolen vehicles.
The most common form is when someone either exaggerates or fabricates a claim made to their automobile insurance provider. An example of this would be if a person claimed the damage was greater in an auto accident than it actually was so that they could make get more money.
However, there are some strict laws in place in Tennessee that help protect against insurance fraud. In Tennessee, insurance fraud is 100 percent classified as a crime. They also have immunity laws, which allow insurance companies to report information about insurance fraud without fear of criminal or civil prosecution. Tennessee has also set up a fraud bureau, which helps authorities crackdown on insurance fraud.
Lastly, Tennessee has set up a mandatory insurer fraud plan, which requires insurers to set up a specific program that identifies insurance fraud and outlines actions taken to reduce insurance fraud (they are one of 21 states, and D.C., that do this).
Auto insurance fraud not only affects insurance companies: it affects you, too. Because insurance companies lose money from auto insurance fraud, they must earn the money back from somewhere, so they end up charging you more.
If you know of any cases of auto insurance fraud, please visit the Tennessee state department website, and send them an email at or call them at (615) 251-5166.
Statute of Limitations
Find Law defines a statute of limitations as the amount of time you have to pursue a claim after an accident. In Tennessee, there are two different types of a statute of limitations: personal injury and property damage.
For personal injuries, the statute of limitations is one year in Tennessee and three years for property damage.
Make sure to file your claim immediately, as your time to file the claim starts running out the day of the accident.
Like many states, Tennessee has its own unique and strange laws for driving. Here are some of them:
- If you’re from out of state and you legally own a handgun, it’s legal to have it in your car.
- The maximum length of a recreational combination vehicle is 65 feet.
- All motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear a helmet.
- Don’t even think about driving with a skunk when you travel to North Carolina because it’s illegal to carry a skunk over state borders.
- You can, however, pick up the roadkill if you feel the need.
- The only animal that is legal to shoot out of your car window is a whale.
- It’s also illegal to drive while you’re asleep.
Some of these are funny, but some of them are serious, too. Follow them all to secure your safety to make the roads a better place.
What are the vehicle licensing laws in Tennessee?
In this section, we’re going to take a look at the licensing laws for vehicles in Tennessee.
Tennessee’s compliant with the REAL ID Act. If you’re wondering what the REAL ID Act is, it’s a law that sets standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. It establishes a set of minimum security standards for license issuance and production, and it prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards.
The video above does a great job explaining just how important it will be this coming year to have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
When you drive, your car must always be insured. Failing to have insurance will result in serious penalties. If you’re caught driving without insurance in Tennessee, you’ll have to pay a $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice. If you don’t pay, then you’ll incur an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of your registration, and you’ll have to pay a reinstatement fee of no more than $25.
If you have insurance (and hopefully you do), you must be able to prove it in case you are pulled over. You can prove that you have insurance with the following:
- Your insurance ID card
- Insurance binder
- Policy declaration page
Police officers can enforce these laws with a new verification system that allows them to check whether or not you have insurance in real-time.
If you do not comply with the Tennessee state department’s payment plan for reinstatement or restoration fees, you will receive a notice of intent to suspend your license via regular mail that states that you will lose your license 30 days after receiving this letter.
Teen Driver Laws
Like all states, Tennessee has specific rules about teen drivers. In Tennessee, you must be 15 years old to get your learner’s permit, and you need to have it for a minimum of six months. You also need a minimum of 50 hours of supervised driving, and 10 of these hours must be at night. After all of this, you may get your license at 16. But keep in mind: there are rules for intermediate drivers, too.
When you’re an intermediate driver (being 16 and having just gotten your license), you are not allowed to drive unsupervised from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., and you can only have one passenger in the car unless the extra passengers are 21 with unrestricted driver’s licenses or your siblings. You can be an unrestricted driver and have as many passengers as you want and drive at night if you’ve had your license for 12 months, or if you’ve turned 18.
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
Older drivers, like younger drivers, have rules to follow as well. If you’re an older resident in Tennessee, you have to renew your license every eight years, which is the same as the general population. There is no vision test required, and you may renew online or through the mail.
When you move to the Volunteer State, you have 30 days to get a Tennessee license. In order to do this, you need to present the following:
- Your current license (or certified copy of a driving record or other acceptable ID).
(The certified copy of your driving record, known as a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR), must be an original (no photocopies) and issued no more than 30 days prior to your Tennessee application date.)
- 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 (Documents must be current. Must be dated within the last 4 months.)
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship, Lawful Permanent Resident Status, Proof of authorized stay or temporary legal presence in the United States.
- A Social Security Number or sworn affidavit if no Social Security number has been issued.
Once you have all these materials together and they have been approved, you must surrender your out-of-state license and pass a vision test. If your license has been expired for over six months, you must pass a Tennessee knowledge exam, road skills test, and vision screening.
Finally, if you’re a driver from out of the country, you must pass a vision screening, knowledge exam, and road skills test. However, you may keep your license from another country.
License Renewal Procedures
If you’ve just turned 21, you need to get a new license that is in a horizontal or landscape format. For the general population, you need to renew your license every eight years.
An application for a new license that is begun 30 days after the expiration date carries a fee, and if it is more than five years, the license holder must apply as if it was for an original license. If you want to get started early and avoid a fee, you can renew your license up to 12 months before the expiration date.
Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)
The Negligent Operator Treatment System is only in practice in California, but there is a point system in place if you’re a negligent driver. You get points on your license for breaking driving laws, and if you’re an adult and accrue 12 points in a year, you may lose your license altogether.
Below, we have listed out some common driving offenses and the points you get from committing them.
- Speeding 1-5mph in excess of speed zone – 1 point
- Speeding 6-15mph in excess of speed zone – 3 points
- Speeding 16-25mph in excess of speed zone – 4 points
- Speeding 26-35mph in excess of speed zone – 5 points
- Speeding 36-45mph in excess of speed zone – 6 points
- Following improperly – 3 points
- Failing to obey traffic instructions – 4 points
- Improper passing – 4 points
- Wrong-way, side, or direction – 4 points
- Failing to yield the right-of-way – 4 points
- Making an improper turn – 4 points
- Failure to report a crash – 4 points
- Leaving the scene of a crash – 5 points
- Reckless driving – 6 points
- Violation of license or certificate restrictions – 6 points
- Failure to yield to emergency vehicles – 6 points
- Reckless endangerment by vehicle – 8 points
- Failure to stop at a railroad crossing – 8 points
As seen here, it can be fairly easy to accrue 12 points with as few as just two offenses. Make sure to always drive defensively when on the road!
What are the rules of the road in Tennessee?
Let’s take a look at the rules of the road, shall we? These are especially important because they come into play while you’re actually driving.
Fault vs. No-Fault
Tennessee is an at-fault state, which means that if someone hits you and you’re injured, you can recover damages from them. They must pay for whatever damages they cause, regardless of whether it’s personal or property damage.
Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws
In Tennessee, the seat belt laws fall under the category of primary enforcement, which means that an officer can give you a ticket for not wearing a seat belt even if no other laws were broken. Seat belts are required for the driver and all front-seat passengers who are 16 or older. If you’re caught without a seat belt for the first time, you must pay a fine of $30.
As for child safety laws, children younger than one year or 20 pounds or less must be in a rear-facing child restraint, children one through three years and over twenty pounds should be in a forward-facing child restraint, and children ages four through eight years and less than four feet nine inches need to be in a booster seat.
Children that are eligible for an adult seat belt can be nine through 15 years old, or any child who is 12 or younger who is four feet nine inches or taller. Lastly, for the rear seat preference, children eight years and younger and less than four feet nine inches must be in a rear-facing seat if it’s available. The rear seat is recommended for those who are nine through 12. If you break a child seat belt law, you have to pay a higher fee of $50.
In addition to seat belt laws, there are also laws about riding in the cargo area of a truck.
The people who can ride in the cargo are people 12 and older, people six to 11 in a vehicle being operated off the interstate or state highway system, those involved with parades if the vehicle is going less than 20 mph, people involved agricultural activities, and those on city or county roads unless prohibited by local ordinance or resolution.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
For keep right and move over laws in Tennessee, you must yield and move right if you’re blocking traffic in the left lane or driving more slowly than traffic.
If you’re driving and you’re approaching a stationary authorized emergency, utility vehicle, municipal vehicle, road maintenance vehicle, or a tow truck or recovery vehicle, displaying flashing lights and traveling in the same direction, you must reduce your speed and leave the lane closest to one of these vehicles, if it’s safe.
Follow the speed limits, or get a ticket. In Tennessee, the speed limit on rural interstates, urban interstates, and other limited-access roads is 70 miles per hour. For other roads, it’s 65 miles per hour. Now that you know these limits, don’t drive faster than them.
Ridesharing is a massively popular form of transportation, and, like all forms of driving, you are required to get if you’re driving for a rideshare company. In addition, to have the minimum requirements for auto insurance in Tennessee, you must purchase rideshare insurance from one of the following companies:
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
This broad selection is not available in all states, so having a wide variety of options is very helpful if you intend to get on the ridesharing bandwagon.
Automation on the Road
Automated cars, which are self-driving cars, are deployed on Tennessee roads. That’s right: the Tennessee government passed a law prohibiting local governments from banning the use of cars with self-driving technology, so they’re free to hit the road.
If you have an automated car, you do not need to be licensed to operate it, and you do not have to be in the vehicle while it’s operating. This may sound awesome, but you need a whopping $5,000,000 in liability insurance if you have one. So, it may be a few years before we see a highway filled with automated cars in Tennessee.
What are the safety laws in Tennessee?
These laws are especially important because they deal with safety when you drive. Study them carefully so that Tennessee’s roads are safe for all drivers.
DUI laws are incredibly important because DUIs claim so many lives every year. In Tennessee, if your BAC is .08, you are driving under the influence; a high BAC is considered .2. If you’re under 21, you may have no alcohol in your system.
With each DUI offense in Tennessee, your penalties get more and more severe.
- Mandatory jail time of up to 48 hours, and up to 11 months and 29 days in jail
- A fine between $350-$1,500
- Revocation of license up to one year
- Mandatory attendance of an alcohol and drug treatment program
- Mandatory jail time of up to 45 days and a max of up to 11 months
- A fine between $600-$3,500
- Revocation of license for up to two years, and after you get your license back, it can only be used in specific circumstances
- Possible confiscation of the vehicle
- Mandatory jail time of up to 120 days and a max of 11 months
- A fine between $1,100-$10,000
- Revocation of license anywhere from six to 10 years
- No possibility of getting a restricted license
Fourth and subsequent times:
- Mandatory jail time of a minimum of one year
- A fine between $3,000-$15,000
- Revocation of license for eight years
- No possibility of getting a restricted license
As for under-21 DUI deaths, there were a tragic 22 deaths in 2017 in Tennessee and 1.3 underage driver deaths out of every 100,000 people.
Budweiser’s ad below shares a heartfelt perspective on the personal effects of driving under the influence and the toll it can pose to your loved ones.
Not all people have the good sense of the character in this ad, and many of these stories do not have happy endings. The moral of the story is don’t drink and drive; it’s simply not worth it.
Marijuana-Impaired Driving Laws
As far as marijuana-impaired driving laws, there are no specific marijuana-drugged driving laws in Tennessee. But because marijuana is illegal in Tennessee, and because it’s illegal to drive under the influence of anything, it’d be a good idea to not drive while high.
Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving laws are just as important as DUI laws because your attention is completely off the road when you text and drive. In Tennessee, you are never allowed to have your cellphone in your hand while driving. You can not use a cellphone at all, even hands-free, if you have your learner’s permit or are an intermediate driver.
These laws are primary enforcement, so an officer can pull you over just for having your cell phone in your hand and for nothing else. Voice-to-text technology, hands-free technology, and GPS are allowed if you are old enough or have the proper license.
Driving in Tennessee
The past few sections have dealt with driving safely in Tennessee, and we’re going to continue with this topic because we know how much driving safety means to you and how truly important it is.
We’re going to provide some statics about vehicle theft and fatalities not to frighten you, but to keep you aware while driving. In this part, we’re going to take a look at vehicle thefts in Tennessee, road fatality statistics, dangerous highways, and more to keep you educated about your roads.
How many vehicle thefts occur in Tennessee?
The table below shows the vehicles that are most frequently stolen in Tennessee. If you have one of these vehicles, take extra precautions.
|Vehicle||Model Year||Number of Vehicles Stolen|
|Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)||1997||693|
|Ford Pickup (Full Size)||2004||468|
|GMC Pickup (Full Size)||1996||201|
|Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||2000||178|
According to this information – which shows the model of the car stolen, its year, and the number of car thefts for the model – the most frequently stolen car is the 1997 Chevrolet pickup, with 693 thefts. The car that’s still in the top 10 but has the least amount of thefts is the 2000 Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, with 178 thefts.
|City||Number of Vehicle Thefts|
|Red Boiling Springs||1|
Lastly, according to the FBI, the city with the most stolen cars in Memphis, with 4,002. You can see the rest of the vehicle thefts by city in the table above.
How many road fatalities occur in Tennessee?
These statistics are not pleasant, and we know this, but you need to be aware of them so you can improve your driving and prevent further fatalities. Keep reading to learn about road fatalities in your state.
Most Fatal Highway in Tennessee
According to GeoTab, the most fatal highway in Tennessee is I-40, with a fatal crash rate of .7, 437, and 517 fatalities. Be extra vigilant on this highway.
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition
As you likely know, the weather and light condition can greatly affect your driving. The table below shows how the weather condition and time of day affects the fatality rates.
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other/Unknown||Total|
Based on this information, we can see that most fatalities happen in normal weather conditions in the daylight (443) and at night during normal weather conditions (236). This may be surprising, but it makes sense if you think about it because more people drive during these times, so there are higher chances of fatalities occurring.
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County
It’s important to know how many fatalities there are in each county in Tennessee. This table shows the exact information from 2013-2017.
|Van Buren County||0||3||1||2||4|
Based on these numbers, you can see that Shelby County had 122 fatalities in 2017, which was the most of that year. The counties with the least amount of fatalities in 2017 were Campbell, Chester, Grundy, Houston, Lake, Marshall, Stewart, and Trousdale, with one fatality. You can also search the table to see how many fatalities were in your county.
It’s also important to note the difference in fatalities between rural and urban driving. This table shows these statistics.
|Type||Number of Fatalities|
|Rural Traffic Fatalities||500|
|Urban Traffic Fatalities||538|
The number of rural fatalities and urban fatalities is quite close, with 500 total rural fatalities and 538 urban fatalities. So, urban driving seems to be more dangerous, but only slightly.
Fatalities by Person Type
It’s also necessary to know how fatalities happen by person type. This has nothing to do with ethnicity; rather, it has to do with where a person was in a vehicle and what type of vehicle it was.
|Light Truck - Pickup||155||145||137||137|
|Light Truck - Utility||118||129||146||118|
|Light Truck - Van||30||38||30||35|
|Light Truck - Other||0||1||1||0|
According to this table, we can see that the most dangerous person type to be is a passenger in a car, as that has the highest amount of fatalities in 2017 with 429. The safest type of person you can be is a person in a light truck because there were no deaths for this type in 2017.
Fatalities by Crash Type
Next, we have the fatalities that occur by crash type.
|Involving a Large Truck||136|
|Involving an Intersection (or Intersection Related)||158|
|Involving a Rollover||261|
|Involving a Roadway Departure||665|
We can see that the most dangerous crash type involves a roadside departure, as 665 people have died in this type of crash. The least dangerous crash type involves a large truck, and 136 people have died in this type of accident.
Five-Year Trend For the Top 10 Counties
You should see the trends of fatalities in the top 10 counties with the most fatalities.
Based on this data, Shelby County, the county with the most fatalities, was on the rise for fatalities from 2013-2016 (2013 had 99, 2014 had 107, 2015 had 120, and 2016 had 132). But, there is some hope: Shelby County had fewer fatalities in 2017, at 120.
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
As we’ve mentioned several times in this article, speeding kills. Wherever you’re going, getting there alive is most important.
|Van Buren County||0||1||0||0||0|
This table shows the fatalities from speeding from 2013-2017. Shelby County has the highest amount of speeding-related deaths with 28 in 2017. This isn’t surprising due to the fact that Shelby County seems to have the highest amount of fatalities for several categories.
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County
The last type of fatality we’re going to look at in this category is related to alcohol-impaired driving, which, as you know is incredibly dangerous.
|Van Buren County||0||1||0||0||1|
Shelby County, once again, has the most fatalities in 2017, with 40. This is just more proof that you should never, ever drink and drive.
Teen Drinking and Driving
Teen drinking and driving is even more dangerous than adult drinking and driving because teens are such inexperienced drivers. Tennessee ranks 21st for worst states for teen drunk driving, and there were 143 teen drunk driving arrests in 2016.
There were also 95.22 teen drunk driving arrests per one million DUI arrests. There were also .6 alcohol-related under-21 driving fatalities per 100,000 people, which is lower than the national average of 1.2.
EMS Response Time
If you are in an accident, which we hope is never the case, here is some information about the EMS response times in Tennessee.
|Type||Time of Crash to EMS Notification||EMS Notification to EMS Arrival||EMS Arrival at Scene to Hospital Arrival||Time of Crash to Hospital Arrival||Total Fatal Crashes|
This table shows the times in minutes. You can see that it takes two times longer for rural EMS to get to an accident (8.96 minutes) than it takes for urban EMS (4.09 minutes) to get to an accident. It’s also worth noting that urban areas had 502 crashes, which are more than rural areas 455 crashes.
What is transportation like in Tennessee?
Now that we’ve covered those statistics, we can move on and take a look at some more neutral data about transportation in Tennessee.
According to DataUSA, most Tennessee households, 40.8 percent, have two cars. The next highest number of cars owned by households is three cars, with 23.2 percent of households owning this number.
Ah, commutes, the bane of our existence. However, Tennessee commuters don’t have it that bad, comparatively, as their average commute is 24.2 minutes. Some Tennessee drivers, 1.86 percent, have a super commute, which is a commute of 90 or more minutes.
The most common way that Tennessee drivers get to work is driving alone, and a massive 83.1 percent of commuters get to work this way. The next most popular way to get to work is carpooling, and 8.97 percent of workers get to their jobs this way. Finally, a mere 4.75 percent Tennessee commuters work from home.
Traffic Congestion in Tennessee
In our last section of this article, we’re going to take a look at the traffic in Nashville, Tennessee’s largest city.
Based on information from Inrix, there are 87 hours spent in congestion in Nashville. TomTom shows that the congestion percentage during the morning peak is 41 percent, and the evening peak is 59 percent. The combined congestion percentage for highways and non-highways is 46 percent.
For highways, the congestion percentage is 16 percent. For non-highways, it is 30 percent. The cost of congestion per driver is $1,221. Nashville’s congestion level is 22 percent, and the extra travel time in the morning is 12 minutes. Later, in the evening, it’s 18 minutes.
Last and certainly not least, Numbeo reveals that Nashville’s traffic index is 181.73, the time index is 38.14 minutes, and the inefficiency index is 210.69. If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, we’ll explain them to you.
Numbeo defines a traffic index as a composite index of time consumed in traffic due to job commute, estimation of time consumption dissatisfaction, CO2 consumption estimation in traffic and overall inefficiencies in the traffic system.
A time index is an average one-way time needed to transport, in minutes. And finally, an inefficiency index is an estimation of inefficiencies in the traffic. High inefficiencies are usually caused by the fact that people drive a car instead of using public transport or long commute times.
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