It’s kind of the worst nightmare of many drivers: a deer darting out into the road right in front of the car too suddenly and too close for you to stop (why they do it no one really knows.) Of course, you don’t want to hit the poor thing. But you don’t want to swerve either. Well, you’ve got a question concerning our hypothetical: am I covered by car insurance if I hit a deer? We’re going to explain.
What do I do if I hit a deer?
If you end up hitting a deer, try to stay calm. Follow these steps:
- Get to the side of the road and turn on your hazards.
- Phone the police.
- If the deer is still in the road, do not walk up to it. The animal might still be alive, and if it’s frightened it could strike out with its legs and injure you.
- If safe to do so, take pictures of the damage to the vehicle and the accident scene.
- Make sure the vehicle is safe before driving off. There could be tire damage, smashed lights, leaks, or parts that have come loose. If in doubt, get the car towed.
Am I covered if I hit a deer?
Well, it depends on what coverage you have for your vehicle.
If you only have liability insurance, the damage to your car due to hitting the animal will not be covered. Liability insurance only covers your legal obligation to another driver if you’re at-fault in an accident – for example, their medical bills, car repairs or replacement, and court-ordered judgments if they sue.
So, if you hit a deer and you only have liability coverage…bummer. For you and the deer.
However, if you have comprehensive coverage, you should be covered. That’s because comprehensive coverage is designed to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged by something other than an accident. That means it covers you for losses like:
- Falling objects (like trees)
- Animal strikes (Here’s where the deer thing comes into play)
Hitting a deer can damage your car pretty badly. But the bright side is that your comprehensive insurance would pay to repair or replace it. You’d only have to pay your deductible.
What if I swerve, miss the deer, and hit something else?
So, you swerve around the deer, miss it … and then hit a fence. First, hopefully, you’re okay. That’s Priority A. But chances are that fence did a number on your car.
In this situation, you didn’t actually hit the animal. You hit a fence. So, you would need collision insurance in order for the damage to your car to be covered. Collision insurance protects you by paying to repair or replace your vehicle if you’re in an accident or if you collide with something (i.e. a tree, fence, and so on.)
So – in the case of a surprise deer…then a swerve…then a surprise fence…you’d be covered so long as you have collision insurance.
(But note that if it’s a choice between swerving and hitting the deer, you should probably hit the deer. Swerving could cause you to careen off the road or into the path of another vehicle.)
Deer danger times.
Deer are usually most active in the fall. That’s because it’s mating season for them. This means those are the months with the highest occurrence of deer strikes, so be extra careful driving in the fall.
Also, deer are typically most active between dusk and dawn, like many animals, so take extra care if you’re on the road during those hours.
Another thing to remember is that deer travel in groups. There will probably be more than one. So, if you see one dart across the road up ahead, chances are that more could be behind it and follow. (A mama deer might have babies with her, for instance.) Try to slow down safely and proceed carefully.
Okay, so that’s the deal about deer and your car insurance. You have to be careful during the autumn months and stay alert for potential runaways. But if you do ever, unfortunately, hit one, you’re covered if you have comprehensive car insurance.
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