Auto Insurance in Tennessee (TN)

If You Are Paying More Than $1,124.86 on Auto Insurance in Tennessee, You Are Paying Too Much.

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Auto Insurance Industry in Tennessee

  • An average consumer pays $1,368.00 on auto insurance
  • 233 of every 100,000 vehicles are reported stolen every year
  • Accident fatality rate of 1.41%
  • Of all accidents: 65% are road-way accidents, 16% are intersection accidents, and 10% of all accidents involve at least 1 truck.

The state of Tennessee does not require proof of financial responsibility when residents need to register a vehicle. However, this does not negate the legal requirement for residents to maintain financial responsibility for driving past the Smoky Mountains or other areas within Tennessee.

Tennessee's Minimum Requirements on Auto Insurance

Generally, you have one of two options as a Tennessee resident to establish financial responsibility for driving in the state. You may post a bond or cash deposit with the Department of Safety (DOS) or buy auto liability insurance from a company licensed to sell insurance in the state.

If you decide that buying auto liability insurance is the best way to demonstrate financial responsibility, the policy must include Tennessee’s minimum requirements. To cover private passenger vehicles within the state, you must have a 25/50/15 policy:

  • Physical injury or death to one person after an accident: $25,000
  • Physical injury or death to more than one person after an accident: $50,000
  • Property damage after an accident: $15,000

Tennessee also requires that you show proof of insurance after an accident or during a traffic stop. Acceptable forms of proof that you are maintaining financial responsibility include:

  • Documents from your insurance provider such as an ID card or declaration binder
  • Certificate from the DOS if you made a cash deposit

If you are unable to show proof of financial responsibility to a police officer upon request, the DOS can enforce penalties. Failing to have proof of insurance is a Class C misdemeanor and can result in a $100 fine and license suspension. You will also be unable to renew your vehicle registration.

You will need to obtain proof of insurance and pay the fine before your license and vehicle registration are reinstated.

Consumer Car Licensing Information in Tennessee

If you are a first-time adult driver or new to Tennessee, you will need a valid driver’s license to legally operate a vehicle. Tennessee’s DOS offers a Class D driver’s license and Class PD permit license to operate private passenger vehicles.

Generally, a driver’s education course is not required if you are at least 18 years old. However, a written knowledge test is required before receiving a license. As a new Tennessee resident, you will not need to take the written test or driving skills test. You will need to pass a vision test to transfer a valid out-of-state driver’s license within 30 days of establishing residency. If the out-of-state license expired longer than six months, you must pass all three tests before DOS will issue a state driver’s license.

All tests are administered at a local driver license service center. Appointments are not necessary for the knowledge test, which is available in computerized and paper formats. You will, however, need to schedule an appointment for the driving skills test.

On the day you plan to visit a service center, make sure you bring the following:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Proof of Tennessee residency
  • Legal proofs of identification
  • Social security card or sworn affidavit if you never received a number from the Social Security Administration
  • $19.50 for a Class D drivers license or $5.50 for a Class PD permit

Motorcycle Licensing Information in Tennessee

Motorcycle drivers can receive a Class M license, Class M endorsement or a Class PM permit to legally operate a motorcycle in Tennessee. Applications are accepted at any local driver’s license service center. For a $20.50 fee, you can receive a motorcycle-only license. The cost is $38 to have a Class D driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement.

You will need the following documents to receive a Class M motorcycle license:

  • Proof that you are a U.S. citizen or authorized to live in the country
  • Two documents such as a utility bill or mortgage contract proving that you are a Tennessee resident
  • Legal proof of identification such as a birth certificate or military ID

Class PM motorcycle permits are valid for one year and available to residents who are at least 15 years old. These permits allow drivers to operate motorcycles with a 650 cc cylinder or smaller. Other restrictions include driving within 20 miles of their primary resident, not carrying passengers or driving on the interstate.

Class M motorcycle licenses are for drivers who are at least 16 years old. This four-year license allows drivers to operate two or three-wheeled motorcycles that have a 125 cc cylinder or greater. Class M licenses are issued after applicants pass the written, vision and on-cycle skills tests.

Class M endorsements are added to a Class D driver’s license and expire at the same time as the regular license. Applicants must pass the same tests given for the motorcycle-only license.

Commercial Vehicle Licensing Information in Tennessee

Driving commercial vehicles in Tennessee requires a Class A, B or C commercial driver’s license (CDL). The state requires applicants to be at least 21 years old to operate commercial vehicles in the state and across state lines. You can receive a Class A or Class B CDL if you are 19 and will operate a commercial vehicle within 100 intrastate miles of your work location.

A valid medical examination card that meets federal Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines is required. Additionally, you cannot have a current driver’s license that has been revoked or suspended.

You must pass written knowledge and road skills tests to receive a Tennessee CDL. Appointments are necessary for all tests. If you are new to Tennessee and have a current CDL from a different state, you must vision and knowledge tests. If your CDL has a hazmat endorsement, you must also pass the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) threat assessment procedure.

Fees for CDLs include:

  • $46 for a five-year Class A
  • $41 for a five-year Class B or C
  • $2.50 per endorsement

More Resources on Auto Insurance in Tennessee

Department of Insurance

  • 500 James Robertson Parkway Davy Crockett Tower Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0565
  • Phone: 615-741-2241