One of the most unpleasant accidents for a motorist is hitting a deer or other animal. Motorists are most likely to collide with an animal in October and November, which is mating season, as well as spring once the next generation has been born. Additionally, if you live in or are ever driving through a rural area, there is always a chance of stray livestock wandering onto the roadway. As deer and livestock are fairly large, the damage to the vehicle can be substantial.
Here are some things to be aware of when reviewing your car insurance:
The key coverages that would pay for your car repairs are either collision or comprehensive. It all depends on the nature of the accident. You should have these coverages anyway, but they are optional and sometimes people don’t purchase them to avoid the additional premium.
Comprehensive coverage would cover the cost of repairing the damage if you hit the animal as it walked or ran on the roadway. Accidents with animals walking or running in front of your vehicle are covered by comprehensive because these accidents are considered out of your control.
This coverage would pay if the animal you hit was lying dead in the roadway, perhaps having been hit by another vehicle. Collision pays because if the animal was motionless on the roadway, there is a reasonable assumption that you should have been able to stop or maneuver around the carcass.
If you are injured in the accident, your car insurance would typically not pay for your injuries to be treated. However, you can buy a rider to your policy called medical payments coverage which will cover your medical costs after you are hurt in a car accident, even if you are at fault. The coverage is usually capped at a fairly low amount, like $10,000. Most likely, you will need to use your health insurance to pay for any medical bills in a situation like this.
Here are some tips for avoiding animal collisions:
- Be extra alert when driving in areas near forests and farms, especially at dawn or dusk when animals are most active.
- Watch your speed, especially at night.
- Constantly scan your path and surroundings. If you have passengers, ask them to keep an eye out for animals.
- If you see one animal, there may be more since they often travel in groups.
- If you see animals on the road, take your foot off the gas and gently brake.
- Most importantly, always wear your seatbelt.
- Pull over to a safe location, and turn on your hazard lights.
- If you get out of your car, stay off the roadway.
- Call 911 if anyone is injured.
- Call the local police if the animal is injured, blocking traffic or creating a hazard for other drivers.
- Do not approach the animal, especially if it is injured.
- Inspect your vehicle and document any damage. If there’s damage, call the police and your insurance company to report the accident.
- If your vehicle seems unsafe to drive, call a towing company.
- If you can drive your car, check underneath for any leaking fluid. Also check for broken lights or other damage that could make it unsafe to drive.