Tennessee Motorcycle Insurance Requirements & Laws
Posted in Motorcycle accidents on January 21, 2023
If you are going to operate a motorcycle in the state of Tennessee, it is absolutely crucial to know the laws surrounding these vehicles. This includes understanding your responsibilities on the roadway as well as insurance requirements.
Tennessee Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
Just like operating a regular passenger vehicle in the state of Tennessee, every motorcyclist must obtain and maintain proof of insurance. Motorcycle insurance policies can be purchased by just about any type of vehicle insurance carrier. In Tennessee, the state requires the same basic coverages for motorcyclists as they do for any other driver. This includes bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. In order to comply with state law, motorcyclists must purchase the following policy limits at a minimum:
- $25,000 in bodily injury per individual
- $50,000 in total bodily injury per accident
- $15,000 in property damage per accident
These are just the minimums required, and we encourage all motorcyclists to purchase higher coverage amounts. Additionally, even though uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not required, we encourage motorcyclists to consider purchasing this type of coverage as well. When it comes to a motorcycle collision, having more protection is better than having the minimum.
Failing to obtain and maintain motorcycle insurance could result in a rider receiving a citation from law enforcement officers. Additionally, failing to maintain insurance could result in the suspension of a person’s driver’s license and tags. Reinstating a license and vehicle registration can be costly.
Motorcycle License Requirement in TN
Motorcyclists in Tennessee can obtain a Class M motorcycle license if they are 16 years of age. The first step in the process is obtaining a motorcycle instruction permit, and riders are required to pass a motorcycle knowledge test and a sign test, as well as a vision screening and an on-cycle skills test.
Individuals aged 15 can obtain a special permit to operate a motorcycle, but this will come with various restrictions after they complete the requirements for a motorcycle license.
If an individual currently holds a valid Tennessee driver’s license, they can bring a completion certificate from a Tennessee Certified Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP), and they will be exempt from taking the motorcycle knowledge and skills test at a driver’s license service center.
Individuals who do not currently hold a valid Tennessee driver’s license will be required to take a knowledge test for a Class D license based on the Tennessee driver’s guide. If the individual has completed a motorcycle safety foundation course in any state, then they can present the completion certificate in order to waive the driver skills portion of the test. This does not waive the requirement for a knowledge test for the Class D license.
Penalties for operating a motorcycle without a valid motorcycle license can include significant funds and points against a license, and the motorcycle could be towed and impounded.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Tennessee
Every state is allowed to set forth its laws regarding motorcycle helmets. In Tennessee, a universal helmet law was adopted in 1967. This law requires that all motorcyclists, including motorcycle passengers, wear a helmet. This law is in place regardless of the age of the rider.
It is crucial to understand that only specific types of helmets approved by the Department of Transportation apply. These helmets must come with a label that indicates they have passed the Consumer Protection Safety Commission, Snell Foundation, or Southern Impact Research Center tests. This typically means that the helmet meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218. Most certified and approved motorcycle helmets will say that they are approved by the DOT and will also mention FMVSS No 218.
Please understand that there are many unsafe helmets on the market sold as approved helmets. We strongly encourage you to only purchase motorcycle helmets from approved and well-known retailers. There are many fake listings on online retailer sites, including eBay and Amazon.
Riding With a Passenger
When a motorcyclist is operating the vehicle with a passenger, the passenger must have appropriate seating and footrests. Additionally, do not forget that passengers are required to wear a helmet as well, even if you are just taking them for a short ride. If you do not have a helmet for your passenger, do not put a passenger on the bike.
Lane Splitting Laws in Tennessee
Even though some studies have shown there may be benefits to motorcycle lane splitting, this is not legal in Tennessee. Lane splitting is when motorcyclists ride down the center white lane of two lanes of traffic going in the same direction. This is often done to help the motorcyclist get out of heavy traffic and avoid rear-end collisions in stop-and-go traffic. However, Tennessee law specifically indicates that motorcyclists are not allowed to overtake or pass vehicles in the same lane occupied by a vehicle being overtaken. Lane splitting is illegal in Tennessee.
Every motorcycle is required to have the proper equipment. This includes a working headlight that remains on at all times, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, two mirrors, a horn, and front and rear brakes. Motorcycles do not have to have front windshields, but if the motorcycle does not have a windshield, then the operator must wear a face shield, safety glasses, or goggles. If the motorcyclist intends to have a passenger, there must be a passenger seat installed with footrests for the passenger.
Have a Lawyer Ready
Regardless of how safely you operate your motorcycle, you cannot control the actions of other drivers around you. If you or somebody you love has been harmed due to the careless or negligent actions of another driver, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses, property damage losses, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, and more. It is not uncommon for insurance carriers to treat motorcyclists partially during the claims process, but when you have a motorcycle accident attorney in Nashville by your side, you will have an advocate working to ensure your rights.