Car Insurance and Hit or Miss an Animal?

I’ve never hit a deer or other large animal, but I have come close, usually when heading out to or home from a backpacking trip. I’ve seen them walk in front of an oncoming car and just miss getting hit. Luckily for the drivers of the car, and the deer, they were able stop the car or SUV safely without a loss of control and give the deer another day. Not everyone is so fortunate, as the amount car insurance companies and the Federal Highway Administration reports.

According to an article on MSN, a 2008 Federal Highway Administration report to congress stated the cost of collisions with animals to motorists and taxpayers was $8 billion a year. State Farm estimates there were 1.22 million collisions between vehicles and deer alone in the US between 2012 and 2013 with damage to vehicles at about $4 billion a year.

Spring and fall are the time of the year when crashes with animals spike. This is attributed to animal migration and mating seasons. There is also a spike when Daylight savings time starts and ends which may mean animals have trouble adjusting to changes in human commuting times! Regardless of the cause, this is a time to be watchful for deer and other animals, especially around sunrise and sunset when they begin to move about. Here are 2 tips to help you avoid running into one of our furry neighbors, and what to do if you can’t avoid them.

Watch the Signs: Those signs along the roadway showing the leaping deer, elk, or walking bear are there for a reason. These tend to be locations where animals frequently cross the road or highway and may have been hit. Look for them in the median and along the sides of the road.

Be Prepared: Knowing what to do is half the battle. Slow down and be prepared to stop if possible. Turn your lights on to better help you see them and for them to see you. Their coloring helps them to blend in and avoid predators so look for their silhouette.

Hit or Swerve: I don’t know anyone wants to hit an animal, but if they can’t be avoided, don’t swerve or run off the road. Swerving can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and running off the road could result in you hitting something. In either case, you have a greater likelihood of hurting or killing yourself or someone in your vehicle which would be even worse than hitting and killing the animal.

Insurance Perspective: Insurance companies view hitting an animal as a comprehensive claim even though it involves a collision. If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, the impact is much less than wrecking your car to avoid the animal. An accident caused by avoiding the animal is usually determined to be an at fault accident, which can cause your rate to jump.

As a teen, I was a passenger with my family when my dad hit a horse (see It was horrific to watch the horse trot into the car. My dad slowed as fast as he could, moved to the right lane, honked, and flashed his lights, but nothing swayed the horse from running into us. I’ll never forget the impact or sound. I’m simply grateful none of us were hurt. Share your comments, suggestions, or experiences with me on our Google +, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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