Do Deductibles Apply to Deer Car Accidents?

Deer crossing road caught in headlights
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Deer season for hunters is also deer season for drivers. Body shops love this time of year, while insurance companies (and those who drive at night through wooded, rural or windy roads) dread it. A common deer accident question is whether or not a deductible applies. As an insurance agent in Michigan, I get this question all the time.

Deer accidents are so frustrating because they often occur due to no fault of the driver-- and it’s not like the deer has an insurance company you can negotiate with!

Rumors fly around about deductibles being waived because a deer accident is an act of God. Or that the state pays your deductible because of the high number of deer. Neither is true in any state or for any insurance company. Whether or not a deductible applies depends on how you originally set the car insurance policy up.

If you only have liability insurance, you are probably out of luck. But damage to your vehicle from hitting a deer is covered under the comprehensive coverage, or a policy / add on sometimes referred to as "other than collision" -- though in this case, it helps you in the event of a collision, too! Some companies offer a zero-deductible on comprehensive, but you pay a higher price for that option. A small deductible is recommended because it will help reduce the cost of your insurance expenses. Meanwhile, it is still manageable when you go hunting with your car.

How Do Deductibles Work?

A deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket when your insurance claim is approved.

Having a deductible, or even a slightly higher one, will reduce the overall cost of your car insurance policy. Insurance companies love them because they know you have something invested, motivating you to protect your vehicle. And you should love them, too, because during the years you don’t have any accidents, as long as you set the money aside (maybe in an interest-earning savings account?), it will likely still be yours at the end of the year rather than going to an insurance company!

But still, most people hate deductibles. They feel they should not have to pay for any repairs since they are paying the high cost of insurance. The thing is, they are necessary. Think about how much money it costs the insurance company to fix your car in an accident, and think about how much they save having even a small deductible amount. Now think about removing them. All car insurance premiums would be unaffordable. Deductibles also give drivers incentive to try to protect the vehicle to the best of their ability.

Pick the Best Deductible for Comprehensive Coverage

What makes a good deductible? The cost of the coverage versus the dollar amount of the deductible. Check the cost of different deductible limits. I believe you will find, a higher deductible on comprehensive coverage does not save a whole lot of money. Often, a low deductible on comprehensive is the best option. So many perils, causes for loss, fall under the coverage making it highly possible at some point in time you will file a claim.

Comprehensive does not only cover deer-car accidents. It will cover damage from hitting an animal, fire, theft, vandalism, tree fall, hail, flood, and other weather-related losses. The deductible you select for comprehensive coverage will apply to all these types of losses.

Make sure you can afford your car insurance policy and your deductible. So many people choose the wrong deductible. Either they choose too low of a deductible making the policy too expensive or choose too high of a deductible making it so they can't get their vehicle repaired once the damage occurs.

Call Your Car Insurance Agent

Deductibles are a discussion best left for your agent. Find out what your options are, what you currently have on your policy, and decide what is the best option for you and your family. There really is no wrong choice, the options are available so you can pick what is best for your particular situation. Regardless of what you select, know that you will be required to pay your deductible if you hit a deer or even if the deer hit you.

You will probably have better luck getting the state to pay for a pothole damage deductible versus a deer accident, however, even that can be extremely difficult.