How Deer Accidents Affect Car Insurance Claims

Deer on Crosswalk
••• Chris Tobin / Getty Images

The number of deer-related accidents spikes every fall, to the point of being staggering. Deer have a mind of their own and react unexpectedly. The only thing you can control is your own reaction to seeing a deer in your path, and sometimes that won't be enough. Prepare yourself for a potential deer accident and learn the answers to common questions regarding your car insurance.

First, Try to Avoid the Accident 

Never swerve to try and avoid a collision. Once you swerve, you are at a much greater risk of hitting oncoming traffic, a tree, light post, mailbox, or ditch. The damage from hitting a deer is often minimal in comparison to hitting one of these other objects.

The consequences for swerving to miss a deer can be significant in regard to your car insurance policy, too. Hitting an inanimate object with your vehicle is a collision. Collision accidents often come with higher deductibles and higher surcharges than those covered by comprehensive policies, which usually cover animal accidents. Simply take your foot off the gas, brake as much as you safely can, and keep a straight course.

Deer Accidents Are Somewhat Covered

Deer accidents are covered under the comprehensive coverage of your insurance policy. If you are unsure of your coverage, locate your declarations page to verify. A quick phone call to your agent or customer service representative can also clarify what coverage you have listed on your vehicle.

Sometimes after a deer accident, a tow may be required. If you have comprehensive coverage, the tow will automatically be covered as part of the claim. If you do not have comprehensive coverage but have roadside assistance, your tow will be covered. Without either policy, you will be on your own for both the damage to your vehicle and the tow.

Your Deductible

Comprehensive coverage is often purchased with a deductible. Some companies do offer a zero deductible, so it depends on how you set up your policy. Comprehensive is less expensive than collision and is often sold with a lower deductible. If you have a deductible listed on comprehensive, it should apply to a deer-auto accident. Check your declarations page or call your agent to verify your deductible.

How Your Rates Are Affected 

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to the question of how your rates will be affected by hitting a deer. Insurance companies have varying rules on comprehensive claims. Many times, comprehensive claims do not affect your insurance rate, but it is something you have to verify with your carrier. Some insurance carriers will apply a surcharge to your policy if you have hit more than three deer in three years. Others apply a small surcharge for any deer-car insurance claim filed.

Filing a Police Report 

Police reports are handy with any insurance claim. Usually, however, they are not required for a deer claim to be paid out. It's a good idea to get a police report, though, especially if you have hit multiple deer recently. Documentation makes the claim process cut and dry. If you are able to get a report filed with the police department, get it done.

The Bottom Line

Deer accidents are frequent in many areas of the U.S. Knowing how to react when you see a deer can minimize your injuries and insurance bills. Know what your coverage is before a claim arises. Understanding how much your deductibles are and when they apply will prevent a lot of hassle. Speak with your agent or customer service representative if you have any questions about your coverage.

Article Sources

  1. Consumer Reports. "How to Avoid Collisions With Deer This Fall." Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.

  2. Insurance Information Institute. "What Is Covered by Collision and Comprehensive Auto Insurance?" Accessed Feb. 7, 2020.