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Does car insurance cover hitting a deer?

Family white-tailed deer cross road

Portions of this article were drafted using an in-house natural language generation platform. The article was reviewed, fact-checked and edited by our editorial staff.

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If you’re a driver in an area with a high deer population, you may be aware that deer and car collisions are unfortunately a common occurrence. Deer behavior can be unpredictable, which can result in deer colliding with vehicles on the road, even if the drivers are paying attention. When this occurs, the accidents can cause significant damage to your vehicle. Some types of car insurance will cover the costs related to hitting a deer, but not all car insurance policies will.

Does liability car insurance cover hitting a deer?

The liability portion of your car insurance does not cover damage to your own vehicle caused by hitting a deer. Liability insurance only covers bodily injury and property damage that you cause to another person or people in an accident. If you hit a deer, your liability insurance policy will cover any damage (up to policy limits) that the collision causes to another person’s vehicle or property, but it will not cover the cost to repair your own vehicle.

Does full coverage car insurance cover hitting a deer?

If you have full coverage car insurance, which includes both collision and comprehensive insurance, you will be financially protected if you hit a deer and it causes damage to your vehicle. If you purchase a full coverage car insurance policy, you have coverage for vehicle impacts with deer and other animals under your comprehensive coverage.

When you purchase comprehensive coverage, it may benefit your budget to consider the deductible amount. The higher you raise the deductible, the lower your premium tends to be. If you decide to choose a higher deductible, make sure you can pay the deductible amount out of pocket when you file a car insurance claim.

What happens if I swerve to avoid a deer?

Most car safety experts advise against swerving to avoid a deer. If you can’t safely slow down, swerving may cause you to lose control of your vehicle or potentially cause a multi-vehicle crash or even a rollover accident. If you swerve to avoid a deer and hit another car, you may be deemed at fault for the collision and you will likely be responsible for damage to the other vehicle. If you have full coverage insurance, your collision coverage may apply in this situation, but it might be safer to hit the deer than risk a more serious accident.

Will hitting a deer raise my insurance?

The insurance company you are insured with, your driving record, your claims history and multiple other factors are used to determine how your car insurance is priced at each renewal or when you switch to a new carrier. While a comprehensive claim usually does not increase insurance rates as much as a collision claim, it’s still likely that you’ll see an increase in your premium at your next renewal if you file a claim for an accident involving a deer.

How can I avoid hitting a deer?

Deer move quickly and can be unpredictable. This means that if you live in an area with large deer populations, you may be at risk for hitting a deer even if you’re driving safely. These tips may help you avoid a collision with a deer.

  • Reduce your speed: Most deer collisions occur in the fall around dusk and dawn. Reducing your speed during these times, especially on roads with low visibility, may give you more reaction time if a deer does cross in front of you.
  • Scan the roadway for deer: Deer often blend into their surroundings, but scanning the road and surrounding areas for signs of deer may help you anticipate a potential collision. If you see deer on the side of the road, reduce your speed and expect that there may be more in the area.
  • Use your high beam headlights: If there are no other vehicles around, using your high beam headlights may help improve visibility and give you more reaction time to potential deer in the road.
  • Use your horn: The Insurance Information Institute recommends using a single long horn blast to scare a deer off the road if you are at risk of colliding with them. However, this should only be done if the deer is already on the road; otherwise, you risk scaring it into the road. Be mindful of other vehicles if you do this as well.

Frequently asked questions

    • It’s a good idea to file a police report after any accident, including if you hit a deer, especially if there are injuries. The police can also assist with removing the deer from the road, which can help prevent another accident. If you are unsure about filing a police report after an accident, you can call the non-emergency police phone number to get assistance. Before you get out of the car to assess the damage after a deer accident, move your car to a safe location.
    • If you hit a deer and need to file a claim, how much you pay is determined by your comprehensive deductible amount. For instance, if the deer causes $2,000 worth of damage to your car and you have a $500 comprehensive deductible, your insurance company will pay out $1,500 if the claim is approved, which is the cost to repair your car minus your deductible. If hitting the deer totals your car, the insurance company will pay you the book value minus your deductible amount.
    • If you hit a deer and it’s still alive, you should first stop the car and assess everyone inside your vehicle for injuries. Move the vehicle from the road into a safe location and call 911 or the state patrol. If the deer is still alive, keep your distance and notify the authorities of your location and whether the deer is in the roadway. If an ambulance is needed for you or another person in your vehicle, ask for assistance when you call the police about hitting the deer.
    • You can hit a deer at any time of the year, so it’s best to always be alert to avoid an accident. However, deer crashes happen most often between October and December, with the largest number occurring in November, which is peak mating season for deer. You are most likely to be involved in a deer accident when driving at dusk and dawn.

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