Crashes Involving Deer are Not “Collisions”…According to Your Car Insurance Policy

Category: Personal Insurance

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, deer-car crashes cause around 200 deaths each year in the U.S., and the total number of collisions between cars and animals is vastly greater. Deer-vehicle collisions spike in October through January when deer are mating, migrating and most likely to dart out into the road.

You might think that a collision with an animal would be covered under the collision portion of your auto insurance policy. Collision coverage typically pays for damage to a vehicle if you hit or are hit by another vehicle or object. So you’ve hit a deer. Must be a collision claim!

Think again. Most insurance companies consider damage caused by an animal to be an “other than collision” claim under your comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage typically provides coverage for damage to your vehicle due to wind, hail, flood, fire, vandalism and theft. And apparently, deer.

It is important to know that if you swerve to avoid hitting a deer, and instead hit another car or an object, your accident becomes a collision claim.

If you hit a deer you might wonder whether or not you should file a claim with your insurance company. Is your damage more costly than your comprehensive deductible? Have you filed any other recent claims? If you have a lot of damage and you do not have a large deductible, it is probably a good idea to file the claim to help you cover the costs of repairs. Most insurance companies will not hold a driver responsible for comprehensive claims—even hitting a deer—so you don’t have to worry about your rates going up or your policy being canceled if you file that claim. However, if you file too many claims of any kind in a certain period of time, your rates could go up or your policy could be non-renewed.

The best thing you can do this time of year is to drive safely and be aware of your surroundings. Remember the following tips for avoiding an accident with a deer.

  • Be extra careful during pre-dawn hours and between sunset and midnight when deer are most active.
  • Pay attention to deer crossing signs; slow down and be alert in deer crossing zones.
  • Deer travel in packs. If you see one, there are likely others.
  • Use your high beams at night if you are driving in a rural area with no oncoming traffic.
  • If you see a deer in the road, honk your horn in one long blast to frighten it away.
  • Don’t swerve to avoid hitting a deer. You could hit a car instead and create an even worse situation.
  • If you do hit a deer, do not go near it or touch it. The animal could still be alive, frightened, confused and dangerous.
  • Call police or 9-1-1 for help if you hit a deer.

Have you ever hit a deer with your car? Did you file an auto insurance claim? Do you need help getting the appropriate comprehensive coverage for your vehicle? Call us today to learn more.

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