Are Accidents with Deer Covered Under my Car Insurance?

Car insurance is complex, covering many of the things you’d expect and some of the things you wouldn’t. But that cover doesn’t always extend to places where you need it. The question we’re addressing today is whether or not your car insurance policy will cover you if you hit a deer or if you swerve, miss, and hit a wall, tree, car or simply drive off the road.

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Will Auto Insurance Cover you for Car Accidents Involving Deer?

State minimum insurance cover typically only covers you for costs incurred by the other driver. If you have a car accident, liability coverage will ensure that bodily injuries and property damage are covered for the other driver and their vehicle. However, your vehicle will not be covered. For that, you need collision coverage.

The problem is, collision coverage only pays out if in the event you hit another vehicle or veer into a tree or wall. It does not pay for animal collisions and, in most cases, you will need comprehensive insurance.

Comprehensive coverage is expensive but is the only form of auto insurance that will cover you if you hit a deer. Comprehensive coverage is designed to cover losses associated with all non-collision events, such as vandalism and weather.

The same applies to liability coverage. This applies to the damage you do to others, not to yourself, so it won’t cover you in the event you are injured during an animal collision.

What if I Swerve?

The official advice states that you should never swerve when an animal runs into the road. Apparently, this is how most deaths occur in accidents involving animals. Instead, you should hit the brakes and wait for impact. But you’re only human, and if you see a living creature in front of you, your first instinct isn’t, “I need to mow it down and protect myself”.

At least, we hope not.

The good news is that if you swerve and hit a tree, you will be covered by collision insurance. Even though an animal was involved, you didn’t actually make direct contact with that animal and so should be covered. The same applies if you hit a guardrail or roll your car.

Should I File a Police Report?

You’re not required to file a police report following deer-related accidents, but it always helps to have such a report on hand as it may help with your case. This is especially true if there is an injury to you or to another party, as a detailed injury report may be requested.

How Likely are you to Hit a Deer?

Every year, there are just under 2 million claims resulting from US motorists hitting animals on the road. Across the whole of the United States, this means you have roughly a 1 in 116 chance of hitting an animal. However, this increases significantly depending on where you live:

  • Alabama = 1 in 92
  • Alaska = 1 in 321
  • Arizona = 1 in 439
  • Arkansas = 1 in 79
  • California = 1 in 426
  • Colorado = 1 in 186
  • Connecticut = 1 in 211
  • Delaware = 1 in 105
  • D.C. = 1 in 826
  • Florida = 1 in 409
  • Georgia = 1 in 90
  • Hawaii = 1 in 731
  • Idaho = 1 in 106
  • Illinois = 1 in 144
  • Indiana = 1 in 102
  • Iowa = 1 in 55
  • Kansas = 1 in 84
  • Kentucky = 1 in 85
  • Louisiana = 1 in 169
  • Maine = 1 in 84
  • Maryland = 1 in 104
  • Massachusetts = 1 in 107
  • Michigan = 1 in 60
  • Minnesota = 1 in 64
  • Mississippi = 1 in 61
  • Missouri = 1 in 79
  • Montana = 1 in 48
  • Nebraska = 1 in 96
  • Nevada = 1 in 506
  • New Hampshire = 1 in 152
  • New Jersey = 1 in 155
  • New Mexico = 1 in 221
  • New York = 1 in 130
  • North Carolina = 1 in 76
  • North Dakota = 1 in 80
  • Ohio = 1 in 102
  • Oklahoma = 1 in 115
  • Oregon = 1 in 161
  • Pennsylvania = 1 in 52
  • Rhode Island = 1 in 111
  • South Carolina = 1 in 68
  • South Dakota = 1 in 54
  • Tennessee = 1 in 123
  • Texas = 1 in 157
  • Utah = 1 in 159
  • Vermont = 1 in 115
  • Virginia = 1 in 74
  • Washington = 1 in 258
  • West Virginia = 1 in 38
  • Wisconsin = 1 in 57
  • Wyoming = 1 in 56

As you can see from the list above, residents of West Virginia are more likely to be involved in an animal collision than residents of any other state. These statistics apply to all animals, not just deer. Claims may be made for everything from dogs to moose, birds, and more, but deer are certainly more common.

These collisions are more likely to occur during the fall and increase significantly if you live in rural areas. Obviously, deer accidents are pretty sparse in built-up areas, but claims can still result from other animal collisions.

The important thing to remember is to always wear your seatbelt and to avoid swerving. Hitting the brakes is more effective, as more deaths occur from swerving than actual deer collisions. Not only will slamming on the brakes keep you safe, but it will lessen the impact on the animal and give them more time to get out of the way of the vehicle.

Bottom Line: Your Cover

Every time you make a car insurance claim, you risk increasing your premiums. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll see a big jump in your car insurance rates just because of a single deer-vehicle collision. 

But if you live in an area with a large deer population and often see these creatures on the road or the side of the road, you should definitely look into acquiring optional car insurance coverage, making sure you’re prepared for any eventuality and will not be left with a sizable repair bill if you’re in an accident.

Caution is also advised when traveling on roads near large deer populations. These creatures are easily spooked, but they are also somewhat reckless during mating season and are known to dash in front of oncoming traffic in their efforts to chase a mate.

Their unique vision is great for seeing clearly during the night, but it also means they can be blinded by high beams, which is why they seem to have a death wish when they stand in the middle of the road staring at oncoming cars.

They’re not going to help themselves, so you need to be vigilant to avoid hitting them and make sure you’re covered if the worst casino scenario does occur.