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Does my car insurance cover hitting a deer?

Here's what you need to know...

  • Liability-Only policies will not cover damage to your vehicle caused by a deer.
  • Most deer claims will be covered under your Comprehensive coverage.
  • If anyone is injured during the accident, you should file a police report.
  • You may have to pay a deductible after your vehicle has been repaired.

Deer-related accidents are anything but rare. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, each year approximately one and a half million vehicles are involved in crashes because of deer. Don’t be concerned that your insurance only covers collisions with other vehicles. Unless you have a Liability-Only policy, this isn’t the case. A Full Coverage policy includes many other types of damage to your vehicle besides two-car accidents. However, should your existing policy fail to meet your current needs, try using an online comparison tool to find a policy that suits you. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

How to Tell If Your Claim Will Be Covered

If you have a Liability-Only policy, there is, unfortunately, no coverage for damage caused by deer regardless of whether you hit the deer or it hit you. The only exception to this instance would be if you have a Liability-Only policy with added Comprehensive coverage. Since this is the portion of an auto insurance policy that most often pays for damage caused by deer, in this example, you would have coverage for the incident.

A Liability-Only policy merely affords coverage for property that is damaged by your car while you are driving it.

To see whether your policy has this coverage before you contact your agent, take a look at your ID card or policy declarations page. All policies should have Bodily Injury and Property Damage listed, followed by a number such as 50/100/50 or $50,000/$100,000. These numbers pertain to your liability limits in the event that you hit another car. For the most basic Liability-Only policy, these will be the only coverages listed.

However, if you have added Comprehensive coverage, that should be listed underneath the Liability limits and it should be followed by a number as well. The most common deductibles for Comprehensive coverage are $250 and $500. Don’t be concerned if you see a zero after Comprehensive; this means that you have the coverage without a deductible. So, you won’t have any out of pocket expenses after filing a deer claim.

If you are not sure whether there is enough damage to file a claim, it is a good idea to get a free estimate from a body shop before you begin the claim process. It doesn’t have to be the body shop you plan on using to repair the damage; any respectable auto repair shop will be sufficient.

How Your Claim Will be Handled

So, how does an insurance company decide if they will pay for damage to a vehicle that has had a run-in with a deer? After a claim has been filed, an appointment will be made with a claims adjuster. He or she will determine several things pertinent to the claim based on his or her assessment of the vehicle.

  1. He will look at all affected areas of the vehicle to determine the scope and amount of damage.
  2. The adjuster will decide whether or not the damage appears to have been caused by a deer.
  3. Your adjuster will conclude which coverage will be used to pay for the damage.
  4. The insurance company will make out a check payable to the body shop that repairs your vehicle’s damage.

Typically, this type of incident will be covered by your Comprehensive coverage. Whenever an object hits your vehicle, such as hail, falling trees, or animals, your Comprehensive coverage should cover the damage. Since Comprehensive deductibles are usually lower than collision, most people would prefer that this coverage be used for deer-related claims. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible.

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Signs Your Claim Will Be Filed Under Collision

Not all accidents caused by deer will be covered by Comprehensive coverage. For example, if a deer runs out in the road in front of you, causing you to hit someone else’s property, another vehicle, or tree, the claim will be filed under Collision. This coverage is almost always subject to a deductible–usually five hundred or a thousand dollars– which will be your responsibility to pay out of pocket once repairs have been completed.

Be aware that if the damage your vehicle sustains in the accident is less than your deductible, no payment will be made by the insurance company.

For instance, if your deductible is a thousand dollars and a body shop estimates that it will cost eight hundred dollars to repair your car, no payment would be made by your Insurer. Despite the fact that the deductibles for this coverage are typically higher than Comprehensive deductibles, the good news is that most claims of this type are Non-Fault accidents and shouldn’t count against your driving record.

Recommended Steps When Your Claim Is Not Covered

Should you find yourself needing to file a deer claim but without adequate coverage to do so, you will, unfortunately, have to pay for your vehicle’s repairs out of pocket. While you may add comprehensive coverage to your policy to be used in the event of future deer claims, you will not be able to add it retroactively for an accident that has already occurred.

Additionally, although you may be tempted to proceed with filing a claim in hopes that your insurance company will decide to cover the damage, you should refrain from doing so. Filing a claim when there is no coverage or the deductible exceeds the amount of damage is something that should be avoided at all costs. Insurance carriers retain the right to non-renew your policy if you file several claims in a short period of time. Therefore, extraneous claims can absolutely be detrimental, even if nothing was paid.

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How to Avoid Future Deer Claims

Unfortunately, in some areas, it’s almost impossible to avoid deer forever. However, if you follow the tips outlined below, you may be able to drastically reduce your chances of colliding with one. These helpful hints should help you navigate safely through deer territory:

  • Always drive with your lights on during low-light times of day, and use your high beams if no other drivers are around. This helps increase your visibility and may allow you to see a deer before hitting it.
  • Drive slowly on back roads or areas where there appears to be a heavy deer population. A slower speed will give you more time to stop if a deer jumps in front of your car.
  • Proceed cautiously after a deer has crossed the road without incident. Often, another may be close behind.
  • Deer are most active within an hour of sunrise and sunset, especially during late fall, so whenever possible, limit your driving during these hours.
  • If you’ve noticed deer on the side of a road you frequently travel, find a different route since this is a good indicator there’s a heavy deer population in this area.

Having a deer-related accident can be traumatic but the claim doesn’t have to be. If you know what to expect, it can greatly ease your anxiety about filing your claim and getting your vehicle repaired. Take comfort in knowing that the insurance company wants to make this process as simple as possible for you and will work with you in order to take care of the damage. On the other hand, if you decide to shop for a new policy after having a claim denied, the easiest way to do this is to use a price comparison tool. This tool will let you compare rates from multiple carriers simultaneously to make your insurance buying experience as painless as possible. Before you know it, your deer claim will be a thing of the past. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare rates now!

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