Does insurance cover hitting a deer?

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You might be wondering, “Does insurance cover hitting a deer?” If you have comprehensive auto insurance, the answer is yes. (Shutterstock)

In the United States, about 2.1 million vehicles collided with animals between July 2020 and June 2021, according to a State Farm annual analysis. Of those crashes, the majority – about 1.4 million of them – involved deer.

If you’re one of those unfortunate drivers who’s had to deal with a deer, your car insurance should cover your expenses if you have an all-risk policy. Here’s what to expect from your insurance company and what to do if you hit a deer on the road.

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Does car insurance cover hitting a deer?

Auto insurance costs are rising regularly over the past few years, so you may want to consider reducing your coverage. But the last thing you want to find out after a collision is that your car insurance doesn’t cover the damage.

As long as you have full insurance coverage, then yes, your car insurance policy should cover you if you hit a deer. Comprehensive auto insurance coverage will kick in to replace broken headlights, repair a broken windshield, or even pay for larger repairs.

In some cases, hitting a deer can cause so much damage that a vehicle is considered a total loss. Comprehensive auto insurance covers the cost of repairing (or replacing) your vehicle up to your policy limits. You will only be responsible for any excess on the policy or costs that exceed your coverage.

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Does car insurance cover other animal-related damage?

Complete car insurance also covers other types of damage caused by animals, even if there was no collision. For example, if squirrels chew through your car’s electrical wiring or if a bear gets into your truck and trashes the interior, a comprehensive policy will likely cover your repairs.

Your full coverage will not cover damage if you swerve to avoid missing a deer and hit another object instead. If you go off the road, hit a fence or even hit another vehicle, your collision coverage will kick in.

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Does insurance cover injuries after hitting a deer?

If you have injuries after hitting a deer, your insurance could step in to cover — or at least share — those costs. This is especially true if you have optional medical payment coverage as part of your auto insurance policy.

Also known as MedPay, Medical Payments Coverage can pay certain medical expenses for you and your passengers following an accident. Every policy is different, but MedPay coverage will generally kick in for things like:

  • Visits to the doctor
  • Emergency care
  • Diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs
  • Medical insurance deductibles and co-payments
  • Surgical costs
  • Funeral expenses

MedPay often goes hand in hand with health insurance plans. Your usual health insurance coverage will likely cover the bulk of your expenses, such as doctor visits, diagnostics, and even physiotherapy. If you are responsible for an annual deductible or an individual co-payment, MedPay can cover them and save you from having to pay anything out of pocket, up to the coverage limit you choose.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage may also cover your medical expenses in this situation.

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What to do if you hit a deer

Once you’ve made sure you and all of your passengers are safe after the collision, follow these steps:

  1. Get to a safe place. If possible, immediately move your vehicle off the roadway and into a safer location. Turn on your hazard lights and move onto the shoulder, into a driveway, or even into the grass near the road. Do not approach the deer at this time.
  2. Contact the police. Depending on your location, the severity of the collision, and if anyone is injured, call 911 or contact the non-emergency police line in your area. When you call, let them know if the deer is blocking the road, as it could be dangerous to other drivers.
  3. Document the accident. Take photos (once it is safe to do so) showing any damage to your vehicle or other personal property. You can also photograph the roadway, showing where the animal entered and where the collision occurred. If another driver or pedestrian witnessed the incident, ask for their account of the event and obtain their contact information.
  4. Make sure your vehicle is safe to drive. In many cases, a collision with a deer will cause damage to the vehicle, but not enough to require towing. If you plan to drive your car home, it’s important to check it thoroughly to make sure it’s safe to drive. Inspect the headlights, tires, windshield and undercarriage. A dented hood probably won’t stop you from driving home, but a broken headlight at night will.
  5. File a complaint. Once you get home or to a safe place, contact your auto insurance company as soon as possible to begin the claims process. The officer may ask you to file a statement explaining the collision or provide them with any photos or diagrams you may have.

Will hitting a deer increase your monthly premium?

Each time you file a claim against your own auto insurance coverage, it has the potential to increase the cost of that coverage in the future. The answer really depends on your insurer, your condition, and whether or not your insurer considers the collision a “at-fault” accident.

In some cases (and in some states), hitting a deer and filing a claim against your full coverage will not increase your premiums. In other cases, however, you might find that even an unavoidable accident with a deer is all it takes to see your premiums go up.

At the end of the day, you will need to check with your insurance company. Your insurer can tell you what kind of impact a deer collision could have on your premiums, what coverage is available, and how much you would be expected to pay for a claim, if any.

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