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Motorcycle Insurance Minimum Requirements in Tennessee

Even though you don't have to show proof of financial responsibility when you register your motorcycle or scooter, you must have an approved form of coverage, generally through motorcycle insurance, to legally operate either one on state roads.

Ways to Establish Financial Responsibility

When you establish financial responsibility, it means you're able to cover damages resulting from an accident. Tennessee allows you to establish financial responsibility by:

  • Purchasing liability insurance from a carrier licensed to sell auto coverage in the state.
  • Depositing cash or a bond with the Department of Safety. (Please check with the Tennessee DOS whether this is possible for your situation.)

Two- and Three-Wheeled Vehicles Defined

If you're unsure about whether your vehicle requires registration and liability coverage, contact your local county clerk

  • Motorcycle―In this state, a motorcycle is any vehicle with 2 or 3 wheels and with an engine the size of 125 cc or more. Motorcycles require registration and insurance.
  • Motor-driven cycle―Also known as a scooter, a motor-driven cycle is a vehicle with 2 or 3 wheels and an engine of up to 125 CC. Motor-driven cycles require registration and insurance.
  • Moped―In this state, a moped is any motor-driven cycle with an engine under 50 cc. Because these vehicles can only venture into certain areas, you don't have to register or insure them; however, the DOS strongly suggests both register and insuring your moped if you plan to operate it in one of the few allowable public areas.

Tennessee Insurance Requirements for Motorcycles

If you opt to purchase a motorcycle insurance policy rather than post a cash deposit or bond, the DOS recommends speaking with your insurance carrier about the minimum liability coverage requirements you must meet.

In Tennessee, your motorcycle insurance policy must include the following minimum coverage limits per accident:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury per person.
  • $50,000 for total bodily injury if multiple people are hurt in the accident.
  • $25,000 for property damage.

Meeting the minimum liability coverage requirements doesn't always mean you're fully protected. Research the various types of coverage available with insurance policies to choose the right amount of coverage for your needs.

How Coverage Affects Helmet Requirements

No matter how much motorcycle insurance coverage you purchase, or how significant a cash deposit or bond you post, you must wear a helmet whenever you operate or ride along on a motorcycle, scooter, or moped.

Proof of Insurance and Financial Responsibility

You don't have to show proof of insurance when you register your motorcycle or scooter, but you do have to show it if you're ever involved in an accident or a police officer pulls you over. You can prove your financial responsibility when you show:

  • An insurance card, binder, or declaration binder your insurance carrier issues you.
  • Certificate from the TN Department of Safety for a cash deposit or bond.

Penalties for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility

Failure to maintain financial responsibility for your motorcycle or scooter is a Class C misdemeanor and can bring an assortment of penalties, such as:

  • Paying a fine of up to $300.
  • Having your license suspended.
  • Having a STOP against your vehicle file (this prevents you from renewing your motorcycle registration).

Generally, you'll need to pay the fine and establish and show proof of financial responsibility before you can reinstate your license; however, you should contact the DOS at (866) 903-7357 for instructions specific to your situation.

The best way to avoid any of the penalties is by maintaining your motorcycle insurance.

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