The chances of hitting a deer while driving are the same as last year, but the cost is up – the average deer strike claim is $4,135, up 6 percent from 2014 ($3,888), according to State Farm.
Odds of a Bambi collision are 1 out of 169, but that likelihood doubles during deer season, from October to December. In West Virginia, the state where deer collisions are most likely, the odds are 1 in 44, up almost 11 percent from 2014, State Farm says.
The Mountain State, which has been No. 1 on the list of states most likely to have deer strikes for nine consecutive years, is followed this year by:
- Montana – 1 in 63
- Iowa – 1 in 68
- Pennsylvania – 1 in 70
- South Dakota – 1 in 73
Doe! Deer collision rates all over the map
Other notable developments in State Farm's annual deer collision report include a 21-percent hike in Indiana and 13 percent uptick in Iowa. The top 10 states stayed the same from 2014, just in slightly different order. What causes changes in deer collision rates?
"Changes in collision rates from year to year are a reflection of changing deer densities or population levels – more deer in a given area increases the potential for collision. Deer populations are also affected by conditions such as new or improved roads with higher speeds near deer habitat, winter conditions, and other related factors," Ron Regan, executive director for the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, said in a written statement.
Drivers in deer-dense states should carry comprehensive insurance
Sometimes the deer isn't the only victim. Injuries, vehicle damage and fatalities all can result from vehicle collisions with deer. There were 191 deaths in 2013 caused by collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most often struck, according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Damage from vehicle-to-venison mishaps are covered by comprehensive insurance, which is optional coverage. It also covers theft, vandalism, hail, fire and other incidents largely beyond your control. Comprehensive claims don't generally raise your rates unless you have recently filed additional claims, says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for Insure.com.
If you swerve to miss a deer and are successful but crash, say you hit a tree or guardrail, that damage is covered by collision insurance, says Gusner. If your vehicle doesn't make contact with the animal the damage is considered a collision claim because you hit another car or object (or rolled your vehicle).