Cars aren’t the only things that show up on the road. From deer to coyotes, wild animals can make their way onto the pavement and stand in the line of fire of oncoming traffic, causing costly and even life-threatening collisions. As a driver, you might wonder: Does auto insurance cover animal collisions? In this blog, we’ll answer this question and provide critical information about these collisions.
Does Car Insurance Cover Animal Damage?
It should, as long as you have comprehensive coverage, which is one of the types of car insurance coverage you can get on your policy. Comprehensive car insurance covers damage not caused by a collision with another vehicle, and animal collisions usually fall under this category. Other examples may include:
- Falling objects, such as trees, branches, or ice
- Windshield damage
Comprehensive coverage is typically optional in most states. However, if you plan to lease or finance your vehicle, most lenders require you to purchase this coverage. Also, comprehensive coverage usually comes with a deductible — the out-of-pocket amount you agree to pay before your coverage kicks in. Deductibles commonly range from $250 to $2,000. Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium will be.
States with the Most Animal Collisions
According to the data from the Insurance Information Institute, these states have the highest likelihood of drivers hitting an animal:
- West Virginia: 1 in 38 odds
- Montana: 1 in 53 odds
- Pennsylvania: 1 in 59 odds
- Michigan & Wisconsin: 1 in 60 odds
- Iowa: 1 in 63 odds
- Mississippi: 1 in 64 odds
- South Dakota: 1 in 69 odds
- Virginia: 1 in 78 odds
- Missouri: 1 in 80 odds
- Minnesota: 1 in 81 odds
While many animals can cause collisions — e.g., cows, moose, coyotes, etc. — deer are by far the most common culprits. According to a paper published in Current Biology, researchers estimate that deer were involved in more than 90% of the 1 million-plus car accidents they analyzed between 1994 and 2021. They also suggest that these deer accidents are most frequent in November since this period is mating season. Since they’re so focused on breeding, deer may pay little attention to their surroundings, such as high-speed cars.
Tips for Animal Crossing
Whenever you’re driving in rural areas where there may be animals crossing the road, it’s important not to be distracted. Here are some tips on how to avoid hitting a deer or any other animal.
- Slow down: Don’t go too fast, especially at dusk and dawn when deer are most active.
- Stay alert: Look out for deer-crossing signs near woods or water. Also, scan the road and shoulders ahead of you, as this helps give you enough reaction time to slow down when spotting an animal.
- Turn on your high beams: If there’s no oncoming traffic, use your high beams. These lights help improve visibility and may scare the animal away when pointed in its direction.
- Assume there are more deer: If you spot one deer, it’s safe to assume there are more nearby since deer travel in groups.
- Don’t use deer whistles: Deer whistles are devices drivers put on their front bumpers to help scare deer away. However, there’s no evidence supporting that these devices work.
- Brake, don’t swerve: If a collision is unavoidable, brake as quickly and safely as possible. Swerving out of the way can put you at risk of hitting another car or losing control of your vehicle.
- Always wear a seatbelt: Wearing a seatbelt is your best defense against an animal collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), seat belts have saved an estimated 374,276 lives from 1975 to 2017.
So, what do you do if you hit a deer or another animal? Move your vehicle safely to the side of the road, call the police, and don’t try to touch the animal. Additionally, take pictures of the scene and call your insurance company to initiate the claims process.
Does hitting a deer raise your insurance? It might. If you file a comprehensive claim after hitting a deer, it will go on your insurance record. Claim frequency is a factor insurers look at when determining premiums, so if you’ve had previous violations or accidents, adding an animal collision claim to your record may increase your insurance rate.
The best way to avoid animal collisions is to slow down and stay alert on the road, especially when the sun sets. However, if you’re involved in an animal collision, your auto insurance will usually cover it as long as you have comprehensive coverage. Looking for new insurance? Mercury offers best-in-class coverage at an affordable rate.