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Car hits deer - Will insurance cover the damage?


Deer near road

These are the most common questions from readers about deer-vehicle collisions and their car insurance policies.

I hit a deer. Am I covered?

To be covered for a run-in with a deer, you need to have comprehensive coverage as part of your car insurance policy. Although the accident with the deer wasn’t your fault, you still will have to pay your comprehensive deductible amount. Your mandated state car insurance does not include comprehensive coverage.

You might think a deer strike would be covered by collision, since this coverage normally covers when your car has an impact with another vehicle or object. However, contact with animals (wild or domestic) is specifically listed as a loss covered by “other than collision,” which means comprehensive coverage.

If you have only liability coverage, then your insurer won't pay for damages from hitting a deer. Liability insurance covers the damage you do to others and not your own vehicle.

I swerved to miss a deer. Am I covered?

When you hit a deer, your claim is filed under comprehensive insurance. But if you swerve to miss a deer and crash, it is a collision claim.

Although a deer may have started the chain of events that led you to crash the car, if your vehicle didn’t actually have contact with the animal, it isn’t a comprehensive claim. If you collide with another car or an object (such as a guardrail or tree) or roll your vehicle, the claim for your damages falls under your collision coverage.

Will the state pay for the damage, or for my deductible?

No. No states will pay for repairs to your vehicle, or even your deductible, if you hit a deer. Yes, your state may have an agency to manage the deer population, but it’s not as if they can prevent deer from running into the roadway, especially during mating and migration season.

Do I need to file a police report?

In general, car insurance companies don't require you to fill out a police report to file a comprehensive claim for hitting a deer, but it’s advisable to contact authorities anyway.

Having a police report to back up your claim will help you be able file this claim under your comprehensive coverage. If the claims adjuster can't validate your claim that you hit a deer, the claim may end up under your collision coverage instead.

Even if your insurance provider doesn’t require a police report, your state may require a police or crash report for accidents where there is any injury, or property damage above a certain amount.

Will my insurance go up?

Comprehensive claims, such as one for hitting a deer, don’t typically increase your car insurance rates. However, with many companies, if you file a certain number of claims within a specified period, your rates can go up. So, if you already have had a few auto insurance claims in the past few years with your car insurance company, then this one could push your premiums higher due to the total amount of claims you’ve made.

What are the odds of hitting a deer?

It depends on where you live. According to a State Farm study on the odds of hitting a deer, by state, your odds are 1 in 167 in the United States. State Farm found that there were an estimated 1.33 million auto collisions with deer, elk, moose and caribou from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018. West Virginia led all states in deer collisions per capita; drivers in the Mountain State have 1 in 46 odds of hitting a deer during a year. The average car insurance claim for deer strikes increased by $162, State Farm claims data show. The national cost per claim average for animal strikes was $4,341, up from $4,179 (2016-17), according to State Farm.

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9 Responses to "Car hits deer - Will insurance cover the damage?"
  1. Maksym

    We drove through the parts of a deer (whole body, legs and horns) on a highway and damaged our wheels, from the horns I think. It took place at a deep night (after 3:00 AM). Two cars with special yellow lights were standing on the sidelines. I have video recorded by my dash cam with all information. On Facebook people said they saw the same parts of the deer after 14 hours. I don’t know if anyone out there has an answer but, I have questions. 1. Why they didn't clear the road? 2. Who is responsible for this inactivity? 3. Can I do a claim to the organization responsible for keeping road clean?

  2. Beau

    A deer committed suicide by running into a car I was driving, but do not own. Does my own auto insurance cover the damage? I carry comprehensive and collision.

  3. michele

    I hit a deer and my claim is being denied because of a late payment. Is this fair?

    1. Christina April 18, 2017 at 6:54 AM

      If your payments were not past due at the time of the accident than, no, it isn't fair. But if they weren't, than it is your own fault that you do not have coverage.

        Reply »  
  4. Eddie

    I swerved to miss a deer, hit the deer, took out a guardrail, rolling my car down a hillside, causing the car to be totaled, and suffering bodily injury that has been documented by hospital. Insurance has paid the cost of the vehicle but won't give me any compensation for bodily injury.

  5. Telk

    States may not be able to prevent deer from running across roads - but they sure as heck can reduce the deer population by allowing more hunting of the useless 200lb rodents. The only cute deer is the one laying on its back gutted and waiting to be butchered.

  6. layena

    The deer's family might sue for wrongful death.

  7. Tom

    Is the coverage different if 1) I hit the deer with my car or 2) the deer hit my car as in running into the side of the car and denting a door and breaking glass?

    1. Steve December 21, 2012 at 8:32 AM

      Tom - there is no difference in scenarios 1 or 2. Both cases would require comprehensive coverage in order to file an insurance claim.

        Reply »  
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