don't have to be a hunter to come into the crosshairs of wildlife during the
fall months. Depending on where you live, chances are you and your vehicle may
be in the same path as deer, raccoons, birds, cows and even bears. Rutting or
mating season for many animals is October through December. It's also the time
many herds migrate. This rise in the active animal population significantly
increases your risk of hitting an animal while driving your vehicle. More deer
accidents occur in October and November than the rest of the year. The National
Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) reports there are about 1.5 million annual
deer-related auto accidents. The National Association of Insurance
Commissioners has these tips to make sure you understand what insurance
coverage you need before a collision and how you can enhance your safety when
Are You Covered?
Damage to a vehicle from
a collision with an animal is covered under an auto policy's optional
comprehensive coverage. If you only have collision coverage or liability
coverage, your insurance carrier will not cover damage to your vehicle
resulting from a collision with an animal. The NHSA estimates damage caused by
deer accidents alone result in more than $1 billion in annual insured losses.
To make sure your vehicle is covered for animal collisions, contact your agent
or carrier to discuss adding comprehensive coverage to your policy. Filing a
claim for an accident covered by your comprehensive coverage means you'll still
need to pay a deductible. After that, your insurer will cover the costs of the
claim up to your policy limits.
How to Avoid an Animal
These tips may help
reduce your chances of an animal collision:
- Deer tend to travel in herds, so if you see one, look for
more that may follow.
- Deer signs are placed at known deer-crossing areas. Pay
attention and reduce your speed when you see these signs.
- Be extra cautious during dawn and dusk hours, when
animals tend to be more active. Stay alert and watch your speed.
- Make sure your headlights are in working order to
improve your night vision. Using high beams can help spot wildlife, but be
considerate of other drivers when using them.
- Stay focused while driving. Do not text, talk on your phone
or allow passengers to distract you.
- Always wear your seat belt. This won't prevent a
collision but it can save your life in the event of an accident.
What to do After an
Some accidents are
unavoidable. Knowing how to react in the event of an animal collision can help
keep you safe. If you are about to hit a deer or other animal, hold firmly onto
the steering wheel, apply your brakes and come to a stop. If you can't avoid a
collision, try not to swerve. If you do swerve, you could lose control and hit
a tree or veer into oncoming traffic. After a collision with an animal, follow
- Stay calm.
- If possible, move your vehicle to a safe place and turn
on your hazard lights. This may mean pulling over to the shoulder of the
- If you can't move your car, or the animal carcass is
blocking traffic, alert the authorities so they can clear the roadway.
- Document the incident by taking photos of your vehicle
damage, the roadway and any injuries sustained.
- Check to see if your vehicle is safe to
operate. Check for leaking fluid, damaged lights, loose parts or other
safety hazards. When in doubt, call a tow truck.