If you get into a car accident in the state of Tennessee, you have a 1 in 5 chance that the driver of the other vehicle will be uninsured. The latest Insurance Research Council report (put out in 2014) ranks Tennessee 6th among the states with the highest uninsured rate at 20%, which is much higher than the national average of 12.6%.
The study also revealed that uninsured motorist claims reached $2.6 billion in 2012. "Responsible drivers who pay for insurance end up also paying for injuries caused by uninsured drivers," said Elizabeth A. Sprinkel, CPCU, senior vice president of the IRC.
Car insurance requirements in Tennessee
Currently in Tennessee, drivers are required to purchase bodily injury and property damage liability insurance at a minimum of 25/50/15. This means insurance will cover damage that your car causes up to $25,000 bodily injury for each individual, $50,000 bodily injury total, and $15,000 property damage liability per accident.
Uninsured motorist penalties in Tennessee
If you are caught driving without car insurance in Tennessee, you may face fines of $100 and your license and registration may be suspended. The state is cracking down on those who choose not to carry insurance. The program will roll out in early 2017. According to Commissioner David Gerregano, "The goal of this new system is to efficiently and effectively check compliance in order to reduce the number of motorists who lack insurance or another form of financial responsibility."
Interesting fact: Schools must notify the state when students 15 or older drop out, which automatically suspends the teen's driving privileges until age 18.
Risks of going uninsured in Tennessee
Besides the legal risks of choosing not to carry car insurance, there are financial risks as well. If you cause an accident, and you are uninsured, the other motorist can sue for their medical costs, property damage, and repairs.
What if you get into an accident where you are hurt? Without insurance coverage, you are stuck paying for your own repairs and medical costs. And in some states, if you don't have insurance, you lose your right to sue for certain damages like pain and suffering or lost wages.
The insurance coverage required by Tennessee is better than nothing, but we urge you to consider purchasing the right amount of insurance for your situation, not just the minimum. Specifically, by adding uninsured or underinsured coverage to your policy, you are protecting yourself in case an accident occurs with a driver who refuses to follow the law. We hope this never happens to you, but if it does, be prepared.