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How To Cover Accidents With Wildlife Through Car Insurance

According to State Farm, there were 1.23 million car accidents involving deer between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. This number is higher than many drivers would expect and doesn't include accidents with other types of animals. 

If you live or drive in areas that are wooded or that regularly see deer or other wildlife on the road, you are subject to a collision with an animal. When this happens, there is only one driver to cover the expenses; so if you don't have comprehensive coverage, you'll find yourself stuck with all of the costs. Depending on the size of the animal, your speed at the time, and other factors, the accident could cause significant damage. 

We'll review how you can ensure that your car insurance will help you pay for these expenses, should this type of incident occur.

Car Insurance for Accidents with Deer or Other Wildlife

Even though a car accident with wildlife is technically a collision, it is not covered by collision insurance. You will need comprehensive car insurance to pay for these types of accidents. 

What Is Comprehensive Coverage? 

Comprehensive protection covers you for damages not resulting from collisions with other vehicles. This includes: 

  • Vandalism. 
  • Theft. 
  • Fire. 
  • "Acts of God," such as hail damage or flooding.
  • Collisions with deer or other animals. 

Filing a Claim Under Your Comprehensive Coverage

If you get into an accident covered by your comprehensive coverage, you'll be responsible for filing your claim and paying your deductible (the amount of money you'll be required to pay out of pocket). Once your deductible is paid, your car insurance company will pay your claim (up to the limits of your policy). 

Remember, only comprehensive coverage will pay for this type of accident. You will not be protected if you only carry the required liability insurance or if, for example, you only elect collision coverage and not comprehensive. 

Should I File a Claim? 

If your vehicle sustains damages after hitting an animal, you'll need to decide whether or not it makes sense to file a claim. 

For example, say you got into an accident with a deer and: 

  • Your deductible is $1,000.
  • The estimated damage is $465.

In this case, you would not be covered. 

You would be protected under the same scenario, however, if the damage total was $1,500. After paying the deductible, your auto insurance company would then pay the remaining $500.

Consider Surcharges

When you consider whether to file a claim, think about the fact that your auto¬†insurance premium may increase. 

Unless you have accident forgiveness, you might see a surcharge (or premium increase) after you file an accident claim. The rules governing increased rates for a comprehensive claim depend on your state and your insurance company. For clarification, check with your auto insurance agent. 

If you know you'll see a surcharge for filing a claim against your car insurance, think hard about whether the payment you'll get will be worth the future costs. If you've only incurred a few hundred dollars worth of damage, you might be better off paying it out of pocket and avoiding increases in your car insurance rates. 

Driving Tips for Avoiding Deer and Other Animals

When you're driving in areas that see deer or other wildlife, there are precautions you can take to prevent animal collisions. They include: 

  • Staying alert around dusk and dawn when deer are most active.
  • Increasing your awareness during October and November, the two months with the highest number of car accidents involving deer. 
  • Slowing your speed in posted deer crossing areas.

Remember, if you see one deer, there are usually more hidden off to the side of the road. 

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