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Deer Collisions & Your Car Insurance

Sep 29, 2017

Each fall there is a spike in deer activity along roadways and consequently a spike in auto claims. In Texas, drivers have a 1 in 288 chance of colliding with a deer.

Deer-vs-vehicle collisions are most common October through December, with November being the most dangerous.

The number of insurance claims for crashes involving animals is nearly three times higher in November than any other month and the average claim exceeds $4,000. Most of these collisions result in significant damage to the vehicle, with some also resulting in injuries to the driver, passengers, and other motorists.

So, if the worst should happen and you have an deer-related accident, are you covered by your insurance? Do you know where your coverage lies?

Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage

Most people assume that an accident with a deer will fall under the collision portion of your auto insurance policy, which pays for damage to your vehicle if you hit or are hit by another vehicle or object.

However, animal-related damage is typically treated as an “other than collision” claim and is covered under comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive car insurance covers damages from an “act of God or nature” or events that are not caused by a vehicle driving into something else.

To further illustrate this difference, consider the following scenarios:

Scenario 1:
A deer runs into the roadway and directly damages your vehicle.
You have no control over when or why the deer decided it was a good time to cross the road. This kind of accident should be covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto policy.

Scenario 2:
You swerve to avoid hitting a deer but end up crashing into a nearby tree instead.
Your actions to avoid hitting the deer resulted in crashing into the tree. This should be considered a collision, and your collision coverage would pay for these damages.

Deer vs. Your Deductible

Whether an accident falls under comprehensive or collision, it’s important to know that both coverages have deductibles and limits.

The good news is that comprehensive coverage deductibles are usually lower than collision coverage deductibles, and comprehensive claims typically have less impact on your insurance premium when it comes time to renew. Be sure to check the fine print of your insurance policy for the specific details.

Drivers often boost their deductibles to save on their premiums, but a run-in with a deer can wreck that cost-cutting strategy.

Steer Clear of Deer

It’s important to practice safe driving and keep an eye out for animals on the roadway—  no matter where you live. It’s becoming more and more common to spot deer in residential areas just as frequently as on country roads.

Drivers should also take extra caution driving at dusk (5 p.m. to midnight) and dawn (5 a.m. to 8 a.m.) when deer are most active.

Wearing your seat belt and practicing defensive driving tactics could make a significant difference.

Driving Safety Tips for Deer Season

— Slow down and use extra caution in posted deer-crossing areas.
— Don’t rely on deer whistles or roadside reflectors; they have not been proven effective.
— If you see a deer, remember that more are probably nearby.
— Use the vehicle’s high beams at night (when there is no oncoming traffic) to help spot animals on roadways.
— Don’t swerve if you see a deer; you could end up rolling your vehicle or hitting a tree.
— If a deer is frozen in your headlights, honk your horn in a loud, sustained blast.
— If you can’t avoid a deer, calmly brake and stay in your lane. Don’t swerve. Don’t endanger other vehicles by going into other traffic lanes.

Have questions about your coverage options? Get in touch with an insurance expert through the form below.

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