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Does Car Insurance Cover Hitting A Deer?

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 08/21/2012

What to do after hitting a deer, car insurance coverage that fixes the damage, and how to prevent it in the first place.

Deer Running from Oncoming Car

Comprehensive coverage will repair the damages to your car if you hit this deer.

Between 2005 and 2008 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that there were about 275,000 accidents in the United States that involved a vehicle hitting a deer.

Deer are fast and are easily hidden in the trees so they are hard to see until you are just about to come in contact with them.  So if you do hit a deer what do you do and is there any way of preventing it from happening in the first place?

Or more importantly, does car insurance cover hitting a deer?

What to do After Hitting a Deer

Once you have hit the deer pull over to the side of the road to make sure that everyone in your vehicle is okay and then call 911. Do not try to move the deer out of road or you could be hit by a car yourself. You also never know when a deer is actually dead or just stunned and if you try to move them and they are only stunned they may end up injuring you if they wake up.

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Never take the deer home with you!  This is considered poaching in most states, especially if you do not have a hunting license and it is not deer season.  If you want to take the deer home as a trophy and are caught you will be slapped with a huge fine, lose your hunting privileges and Fish and Game will seize your trophy.  It’s just not worth the risk.

What Insurance Covers Hitting a Deer

Even though you have had a “collision” with a deer it is actually your comprehensive insurance that will cover the damages to your vehicle, not your Collision coverage. This is good news for most as this also means that you will only have to pay your Comprehensive deductible and most people carry a lower Comprehensive deductible than they do Collision deductible. Other coverages may also be available for you in this case, like towing and rental car coverage, but only if you purchased these coverages on your policy in advance.

Tips to Decrease your Chances of Hitting a Deer

An accident involving hitting a deer is just something cannot be avoided most times, but here are some ideas that may at least decrease your chances of hitting one:

  • If you can, do not drive after sunset.  Deer are out in the highest numbers at night.  Also combine this with the interference in vision from the setting sun and the lack of light at night and your chance of getting into an accident with a deer increases.
  • Don’t assume that it is only the one deer.  Most deer travel in herds so keep on the lookout for more.
  • If a deer is running alongside your vehicle, get in front of it to prevent it from having the chance to jump out on the road in front of you.
  • If the vehicles in front of you are slowing down keep an eye out for what they are slowing down for.

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Michele Wilmonen

Michele's first introduction to insurance was working for a major insurance company as a file clerk and a mailroom supervisor in a regional office. She learned insurance directly from underwriters and claims adjusters from questions and also watching them do their job. Since then, she's earned a number of insurance certifications from the Insurance Institute of America and also a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho. She blogs at Car Insurance Guidebook.

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