Does Car Insurance Cover Animal Damage?

Tips for Car Accidents Caused by Animals

Camel, elephant and giraffe crossing city street
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A lot of car accidents are caused by animals every year. Animals are unpredictable, and when they dart out from tall weeds, a home, or a nearby forest, they can be impossible to avoid. Some car insurance covers animal damage, and nearly all animal car accidents are handled the same by car insurance carriers.

Comprehensive Insurance Covers Animal Accidents

Knowing what damage to look for and how to handle an animal damage car insurance claim can save you both time and money.

  • All animal car accidents can potentially be covered by your car insurance if you have purchased comprehensive coverage. Take photos of the damage, and call your insurance agent if you need help filing the claim.
  • The cost of the damage must exceed your deductible. If you haven’t hit your annual deductible yet, you’ll be on the hook for the full cost of repairs. 

Making a police report is a good idea. Even though there’s no “suspect” for them to arrest or ticket, letting the police know about your accident proves to your insurance company that it happened. 

Tips for Specific Types of Animals

Handling different types of animal damage varies according to whether or not the animal has an owner. Pet owners are often held liable for animal accidents. Of course, wild animals such as deer don't have owners, but you may be asked about it when filing a claim. It is all a part of the process so the claim can be filed accurately.

Deer

Deer are easily the most common animals hit on U.S. roadways. Deer are large enough to do severe damage to your car and sometimes can even cause injury to the driver and passengers. It all depends on the vehicle's speed and type of vehicle. Because deer are so prevalent, it is a good idea to get a police report. Police reports come in especially handy if you recently purchased your car insurance policy or if you recently filed another deer claim. A police report will verify information about the accident to your insurance claim adjuster. Some insurance carriers do not require a police report; if you are unsure, check with your agent.

Dog

Hitting a dog with your car is a little different when compared to hitting other animals because dogs usually have owners. Owners are responsible for damages caused by their dog when it has not been appropriately restrained. The standard procedure is for the dog owner's homeowners' policy to cover the damage. However, if there is no home insurance, the dog owner would be held personally responsible.

Sometimes the owner would prefer to cover the damage out of pocket versus filing a claim. And other times, small claims court is required. It all depends on how the owner responds to the situation. If you cannot locate the dog's owner, your car insurance policy's comprehensive coverage will cover the damage. 

Bird

Often the only damage birds cause is to the windshield. Windshield coverage is also provided under comprehensive coverage. If you have a deductible, check around with local glass companies to see if they waive deductibles.

Raccoon

A raccoon might seem small and harmless when it comes to a car accident, but it is still possible for them to do a lot of damage, depending on what kind of car you drive. If you hit a raccoon with your car and you drive a compact, be sure to get it checked out immediately. The animal is likely to have damaged the undercarriage, and that can severely affect your vehicle if left unfixed.

Cow

As you can imagine, your car is likely to sustain substantial damage when hitting such a large animal. Similar to hitting a dog, the cow's owner would be responsible for any damages because the cow should not be in the roadway. It is possible to file a comprehensive claim under your car insurance policy and then have your insurance company subrogate the claim. This means the insurance carrier would go after the animal's owner. It's possible your vehicle may be repaired sooner if you file the claim under your car insurance policy.

Comprehensive Coverage

Your comprehensive coverage would cover animal damage not listed here, as well. Comprehensive is the one coverage that protects your vehicle against physical damage to your car NOT involving a stationary object or another vehicle. You will also find comprehensive coverage to be helpful if you encounter storm damage, flying debris, fire, or theft.

Check your car insurance policy to verify your coverage. Your declaration page should state comprehensive or other than collision on your policy if you have purchased this coverage.