According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 1.5 million car accidents involving deer per year. And, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the average collision cost for this type of accident is $2,800, with the figure leaping to $10,000 if injury is involved.
These numbers are for deer alone, excluding other wandering wildlife like moose and coyotes.
With such alarming statistics, it’s in your best financial interest to maintain car insurance coverage protecting you against wildlife collisions; otherwise, you’ll be out of luck if you expect the deer or its surviving herd to pay for your car damage.
Car Insurance for Wildlife Accidents
You can protect your vehicle against wildlife collisions with comprehensive car insurance. Comprehensive protection covers you for damages not resulting from collisions with other vehicles. This includes vandalism, theft, fire, and acts of nature such as hail damage or flooding.
Damages sustained from hitting, say, a deer or a moose, are considered acts of nature, allowing you to file a property damage claim under your comprehensive insurance policy’s physical damage coverage.
Remember, the key here is comprehensive coverage. You will not be protected if you only carry liability insurance or if, instead of comprehensive, you carry collision.
Filing a Car Accident Claim
If your vehicle sustains damages after hitting a deer, you’ll need to decide whether or not to file a claim. If, for example, your deductible is $1,000 and the estimated damage is $465, you will not be covered. You will be protected under the same scenario, however, if the damage total is say $1,780. After paying the deductible, your auto insurance company would then pay the remaining $780.
If you do file a claim, there is a chance you may experience an increase in your insurance rates. Though you’re not considered at fault when hitting a deer, you still may be penalized. The rules governing increased rates for a comprehensive claim depend on your state and your insurance company. For clarification, check with either your state’s insurance department, or with your insurance provider.
If you do decide to file, be sure to take plenty of pictures, from different angles, of the car damage.
Driving Tips for Avoiding Deer
- Increase awareness around dusk and dawn when deer are most active.
- Increase awareness during October and November, the two months with the highest number of deer-caused car accidents.
- Slow your speed in posted deer crossing areas.
- If you see one deer, there are usually more hidden off to the side of the road.