Deer Collisions vs. Insurance: How Much Damage Will Your Car Insurance Cover If You Hit a Deer?
During the deer season, collisions can happen quickly and unexpectedly.
The question is, how much damage can a deer do to your car and will your car insurance cover you if you hit a deer?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are around 1 million car accidents with deer each year, which kill about 200 Americans.
Why Are There So Many Collisions with Deer?
According to the NHTSA, deer populations are constantly on the rise. In 1930, there were around 300,000 deer in the United States—compared to over 30 million today.
The more deer there are, the greater the risk of a collision.
Overall, the average U.S driver has a 1 in 116 chance of hitting a deer with their vehicle each year. This figure varies enormously though, depending on which state you are in.
The top ten states for deer collisions are:
- West Virginia (1 in 38)
- Montana (1 in 48)
- Pennsylvania (1 in 52)
- South Dakota (1 in 54)
- Iowa (1 in 55)
- Wyoming (1 in 56)
- Wisconsin (1 in 57)
- Michigan (1 in 60)
- Mississippi (1 in 61)
- Minnesota (1 in 64)
You Can Avoid A Deer Collision with the Right Approach To Driving
The U.S. Army advises that you should use defensive driving techniques to avoid hitting a deer.
While being attentive and looking out for danger, you also need to know when deer will be a threat on the roads.
If you do hit a deer, certain types of car insurance, such as comprehensive coverage, will cover the accident.
This is why you need to be sure you have the right car insurance coverage in place.
How Much Damage Can a Deer Do to a Car?
Even when you take the proper precautions, sometimes road accidents involving wildlife are unavoidable.
If an accident involves a deer collision, you can expect quite a bit of damage—especially to the front of your vehicle.
Here are some of the most common damages you can expect:
Shattered or Broken Headlights
Your headlights are used to illuminate the road in the dark. You may also have fog lights installed which give you a clear view of the road in low-visibility conditions such as mist.
These lights can be badly damaged by an accident with a deer. You may need to replace the headlight housing and covers, as well as the bulbs.
It’s important to note that your vehicle’s bumper is not actually the plastic or fiberglass material visible on the lower front or rear of your vehicle.
It’s actually the metal bar behind this covering which protects the car during a collision. The impact from hitting a deer is likely to severely damage both the bumper and the bumper cover.
Cracked or Shattered Windshield
Depending on the speed you were driving, the deer may roll over your hood and crash into the windshield.
This can cause significant damage, which means that you would need to get your windshield replaced.
Bent or Dented Hood
Your vehicle’s hood is designed to protect the engine bay. However, with a deer collision, it may get badly dented or bent if the deer rolls up onto it.
The impact can also cause damage to the engine underneath the hood, depending on how large and heavy the deer is.
These under-the-hood damages most commonly include punctures to the radiator which can cause leaks.
Damage to Brakes and Shocks
While your brakes stop the vehicle, your shock absorbers dampen and spread the energy out to keep your vehicle stable on the road.
You could damage your brakes and shock absorbers by swerving and stopping suddenly when trying to avoid a collision with a deer.
Key Point: What Does the Term ‘Totaled’ Mean and Will Damages Affect My Car Insurance Payout?
A damaged car is considered a ‘total loss’ when the estimated cost of doing the necessary repairs exceeds the actual value of the car. In this case, the car is considered ‘totaled’.
The amount that your car insurance company will pay out will depend largely on the value of your vehicle versus the cost of the repairs to fix it following an accident with a deer.
How Can I Avoid Hitting a Deer with My Car?
Deer are most active when people are commuting to and from work—which tends to be either at dawn or dusk.
In other words, you are most likely to encounter deer on the roads early in the morning and during the late afternoon to early evening.
Key Point: Always Wear a Safety Belt
It’s always important to wear your safety belt whenever you are behind the wheel of a car, and ensure that your passengers are wearing safety belts too.
This can prevent injuries to you and your passengers if you are involved in a car accident.
Here are some defensive driving tips you can use to avoid hitting deer while driving:
Watch from one side of the road to the other, and look as far ahead as you can. Be especially careful around bends, or where there are bushes or grasses that obstruct your view.
Watch for group behavior
Deer often travel together in groups. If there is one deer crossing the road, there is a good chance that some others will follow.
Use your high beams
Where you can (and not in the face of oncoming vehicles), use your high beams or fog lamps to see clearly farther ahead.
Slow down in wooded areas and watch for the eye-shine of deer near road edges.
Try to drive straight instead of swerving and use your horn and high beams instead to alarm the animal. If you do swerve, the deer is more likely to get confused and run into your car.
What Should I Do after a Collision with a Deer?
A collision with a deer is an accident that can happen to the very best of us.
Deer can cross the road at the most unexpected moments and despite your best efforts at defensive driving, you may still hit one at some stage in your driving career.
Key Point: It May Be Illegal to Hit a Deer and Drive Off
While in some states it may be okay to leave the scene after hitting a deer, in others it is considered a crime.
If you are in any doubt as to the laws of the state you are driving in, contact the local authorities after a collision with a deer has occurred.
Move your vehicle to a safe place
Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers of the accident and try to move your car to the side of the road.
Call the police
Phone the local authorities in the area and let them know if the deer is blocking traffic or causing danger to any other road users.
If the collision has caused any property damage, you may need to fill out an official incident report, particularly if you want to file an insurance claim.
Document the incident
If it’s safe to do so, take photographs of the incident including the road, your vehicle, injured passengers, and the deer.
Stay away from the deer
Even if you do need to take photographs, be sure to stay a distance away from the deer. A wounded deer may become scared and use its sharp hooves or strong legs to defend itself.
Contact your auto insurance company
The sooner you are able to contact your insurance carrier to file a claim, the sooner they will be able to process the claim for you.
Always keep the phone number of your car insurance company stored on your phone for easy access when you need it.
Check your vehicle
Ensure that your car is driveable after the accident by checking the damage. This may include:
- Leaking fluids.
- Loose parts.
- Tire damage.
- Broken lights.
- A damaged hood.
Hitting a deer will be considered an accident by a car insurance company, and depending on your insurance coverage, you may be paid out for any damages to your car.
How Is Hitting a Deer Covered by My Auto Insurance Policy?
It’s important to know the differences in auto insurance coverage if you are involved in a deer accident. You will need to know how and where you can claim.
Let’s take a closer look at what insurance will cover you if you hit a deer.
Minimum Liability Coverage
If you have minimum liability coverage, this will unfortunately not cover you in the event of a collision with a deer.
Although you must carry liability coverage in most states, this insurance is intended to only cover you for bodily injury and property damage.
It does not include additional accidents that are covered by comprehensive insurance.
Although collision coverage is often paired with comprehensive insurance, a collision claim will not pay out for hitting a deer.
This is because a collision insurance policy only covers you if you hit an object or property.
It’s good to remember that if you swerve to avoid hitting a deer and collide with an object or property instead, you can put in a collision claim.
You will need to have comprehensive insurance coverage in place in order to make any insurance claims after a deer accident.
This applies specifically to instances where the animal was injured by your car.
Hitting a still object, such as a wall or a tree, is different from an unexpected and unpredictable event such as a deer accident.
Comprehensive coverage helps to pay for the repairs to your vehicle from unpredictable events such as fire, theft, vandalism—or hitting a deer.
Key Point: Do I File My Claim Under Comprehensive or Collision Coverage?
If you hit a deer, your claim can be filed under comprehensive coverage, but if you swerve to miss a deer and crash into an object, you will claim from your collision coverage.
Will the State Pay for Damage Resulting from Hitting a Deer?
There are no states in the U.S. that will pay for repairs to your vehicle as a result of deer accidents.
Although your state does have the responsibility of managing deer populations, they unfortunately can’t prevent deer from running into the roadway completely.
This is particularly true during the mating and migration season from October to December.
Your best defense is driving carefully during this time, and ensuring you have comprehensive coverage for your car.
Will My Car Insurance Premiums Increase after a Claim?
If you have comprehensive coverage and you need to make an insurance claim after a deer accident, your insurance premium will not go up.
This is because deer accidents are not seen as the result of risky driving.
However, with many insurance companies, your auto insurance rates will increase if you make a certain number of claims within a specific period.
In other words, if you have made several insurance claims in the past few years with your auto insurance company, then this could push up your insurance premiums.
Hitting a deer is a stressful event that can distress even the most seasoned driver.
The damage to your vehicle can be extensive, depending on where and how fast you were driving.
If you practice defensive driving, you’re more likely to avoid an accident, and reduce the chances of you and your passengers being seriously injured.
Remember to always contact the local authorities if you have been involved in a car accident. This will be essential if you want to file an insurance claim.
How Can I Get Cheap Comprehensive Car Insurance?
While having minimum liability insurance is essential in most states, it’s definitely a good idea to get comprehensive and collision coverage if you live in a state where deer accidents are more likely to happen.
The best way to kickstart your search for the cheapest auto insurance quote is to first use our free quote generator.
This will allow you to get an immediate idea of how much you could be spending on car insurance.
From here, you can decide which insurer you would like to get a formal quote from.
Getting car insurance should be a stress-free process. At CheapInsurance.com we’ve got you covered!
Once you’ve entered your zip code, you can start comparing quotes today.