Auto insurance companies in Tennessee use your credit score and other financial information to determine your potential risk before calculating your insurance premiums. Your credit history and score can have a significant impact on how much you pay each month for car insurance.
Many auto insurance providers offer discounts on coverage to Tennessee drivers with good records. Inquire about this when getting a quote or when talking to your current representative. Ask about other relevant potential discounts too, such as:
- Anti-Lock Brake
- Anti-Theft Device
- Driver Education Course
- Good Student
- Home Ownership
- Multiple Lines
- Passive Restraint
- Vehicle Safety
Since mid-2013, drivers in Tennessee have been able to show proof of coverage on their smartphones, tablets, or other electronic mobile devices. Ask your carrier to provide an official digital card; most, but not all, do. A digital picture of your printed card does not have to be accepted.
You must always maintain at least the minimum coverage required by Tennessee law. Penalties for violations became steeper in 2017. If you drive without car insurance, including with a lapsed policy, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, face fines of up to $300, have your vehicle towed, and have your license and vehicle registration suspended.
It’s illegal to operate a vehicle in Tennessee with the following BAC percentages:
.08%+ for 21 years old or older
.04%+ for commercial vehicle drivers
.02%+ for under 21 years old
Tennessee has a no-tolerance policy regarding underage drinking and driving. If you’re under the age of 21 and register 0.02% or higher BAC, regardless of impairment, you can be convicted of a DUI and have your license revoked for 1 year, plus be fined up to $250 and sentenced to community service.
Like many states, Tennessee has an implied consent law that says all drivers have consented to a breath, blood, or urine chemical test; the type is at the law enforcement officer’s choosing. The first refusal is an automatic revocation of your driver’s license for 1 year and a second refusal is the same, but for 2 years. Penalties are higher with subsequent infractions or if you’ve previously been in a DUI-related crash that has caused injury or death.
Many variables affect punishment in the event of a DUI conviction, such as how many prior offenses you have, whether you’ve injured or killed someone, whether you had a minor in the vehicle while driving under the influence, and whether your BAC is at 0.20% or higher.
Even without any of these other circumstances, first-time offenders receive stiff penalties in Tennessee. They face mandatory jail time of at least 48 hours and up to 1 year, license revocation for 1 year, $350 to $1,500 in fines, mandatory participation in a drug and alcohol treatment program, up to several thousand dollars in related fees, and possible installation of an ignition interlock device at their own expense (which can run to $1,000 in a year).
For more comprehensive explanations of DUI penalties, including mitigating circumstances and for repeat offenders, visit the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security website.
Tennessee drivers may be compelled to complete driver improvement programs once they accumulate 12 or more points on their driving record in a 1-year period (or 6 points if they’re under 18 years old), and they may take these courses to lower penalties in the event of some motor vehicle infractions. These courses can also be completed to qualify for car insurance discounts from many carriers in the state. Learn more about these programs and find state-approved providers at the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security website.
The first step to reducing your premium is determining the type and amount of coverage you have. Then, you can shop around, adjust your coverages, compare rates, and ask for discounts. Paying upfront, improving your credit score, and maintaining a clean driving record also help.
Tennessee requires that all insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage in an amount equal to the limits for BIL and PDL. However, drivers in Tennessee can reject uninsured motorist coverage in writing or choose lower uninsured motorist limits. It’s a recommended type of coverage, though, protecting against costs incurred in an accident with an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run crash.