The odds of experiencing a collision with an animal are 1 out of 127 — that likelihood doubles during deer season every year from October to December.
State Farm estimates there were 1.8 million animal collision insurance claims in the U.S. between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.
West Virginia continues to lead the nation as the state where you are most likely to hit an animal while driving with a likelihood of 1 in 38, according to a 2023 State Farm analysis. Montana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin round out the five worst states for animal collisions.
Which states are the worst for animal/vehicle collisions?
West Virginia continues to top State Farm’s annual list with similar odds of a vehicle/animal crash as in previous years at 1 in 38. Following West Virginia is Montana at 1 in 53, Pennsylvania at 1 in 59, Michigan (1 in 60) and Wisconsin (1 in 60).
Rounding out the top 10 states where drivers are most likely to collide with an animal are Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, Virginia and Missouri. The months drivers are most likely to collide with a large animal in the U.S. are (in order) November, October and December.
See the table below for the states with the highest risk of animal/vehicle collisions.
Why should you carry comprehensive car insurance coverage?
To be covered if your vehicle strikes an animal, you’ll need comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive auto insurance also covers theft, vandalism, hail, fire and other incidents beyond your control.
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. If your vehicle doesn’t contact the animal the damage is considered a collision claim because you hit another car or object.
Comprehensive claims don’t generally raise your rates unless you have recently filed additional claims, but your coverage will only pay out up to the actual cash value of your car, and you will have to pay the deductible.
“In general, drivers expect that making a claim will cause their rates to go up, which isn’t always the case. Most insurance companies will only increase your rates if you’ve had a lot of other recent claims with them,” says Ian Lang, senior car advice editor for Bumper.com, a website to help consumers in their car-buying experience. “Hitting an animal once and making a claim through your comprehensive coverage when you’ve had an otherwise uneventful driving history shouldn’t raise your rates. This, like policy restrictions, is evaluated on a per driver, per incident basis.”
Comprehensive and collision coverage typically won’t bust your budget, but it is about $1,000 more than liability-only coverage.
According to a 2022 CarInsurance.com rate analysis, the average rate for liability-only coverage is $637 per year. The average rate for a full-coverage comprehensive/collision policy with 100/300/100 limits is $1,682 per year.
Tips for avoiding animals on the road
State Farm says that there are things drivers can do to avoid hitting animals while they’re driving.
Here are a few tips:
- Stay alert: Mind “deer crossing” and “wildlife crossing” signs and be cautious near woods or water.
- Use high beams: Flashing your high beams at an animal on the road may cause the animal to run away. High beams also help illuminate dark roads.
- Don’t swerve: If a crash is inevitable, maintain control of your vehicle and never veer off the road.
- Brake and honk: If you can avoid hitting the animal, reduce your speed, honk your horn, and tap your brakes to warn other drivers. If there are no drivers behind you, brake hard.
- Remember, peak season is in the fall: Animal collisions happen most during October through December, which is hunting and mating season.
- Watch out at mealtime: Watch for animals between dusk and dawn.
- Watch for herds: If you see one deer, there are probably more nearby.
- Don’t use a whistle: No scientific evidence supports that car-mounted deer whistles work.
- Wear seat belts: Always obey posted speed limits and wear seat belts.
Methodology & Resources
State Farm Simple Insights. “How likely are you to have an animal collision?” Accessed October 2023.