Wildlife and Car Insurance

A deer in the headlights can be a very unfortunate reality for drivers. Collisions with wildlife can occur whether you're driving through neighborhoods or taking a road trip along dark highways. The fact that deer populations are on the rise in many parts of the country means that you're more likely to encounter one while driving than ever before. Drivers also have to be on the lookout for cows, bighorn sheep, moose and many more creatures in certain regions of the country.

Wildlife is something to take seriously while driving because vehicles across the United States hit an estimated 1 million to 2 million animals every year. It works out to a collision happening roughly every 26 seconds. The wildlife-related accidents that occur each year result in an average of 200 human fatalities, 26,000 injuries and $1 billion in costs.

What Portion of Your Auto Insurance Policy Covers Wildlife?

You may be wondering if auto insurance policies cover encounters with deer and other wildlife. Certain policies do, but the coverage may not come in the form that you would expect. It might seem intuitive that a car accident involving a deer would be classified as a collision. However, such an accident isn't covered under the collision portion of a car insurance policy.

Accidents caused by or involving wildlife are taken care of by a policy's comprehensive coverage. Of course, not every policyholder opts to add comprehensive coverage because it is an optional form of coverage that comes with an extra cost. It is very important to know that you will not be protected if you've chosen to only carry the required liability car insurance for your vehicle at the time that an accident involving wildlife occurs.

What to Do When You Have an Accident Involving Wildlife

You would treat an incident involving wildlife the same way you would treat any other accident you are involved in while on the road. Here's what to do if you have comprehensive coverage that may cover damages:

  • File a claim with your auto insurance company.
  • Pay the deductible.
  • Collect the claim amount up to the limits of your policy.

The fact that impact-related damages caused by wildlife typically tend to be less expensive to repair than other types of damages can affect whether or not filing a claim is really a worthwhile endeavor. Factors like the type of animal involved and your speed at the time of the accident will ultimately determine the estimated cost of the damage. One important thing to remember is that damages that cost less than your deductible amount will not be covered. For instance, repairs that cost $300 won't be covered if your deducible is $1,200.

How to Make Sure Wildlife Accidents Are Covered

While you can encounter animals everywhere, your odds of colliding with wildlife while driving are especially high if you live in a densely wooded area, in the mountains or near sprawling meadows. You are even more likely to encounter deer if your daily commute places you on the road during the times around dusk and dawn. The only way to make sure a collision with an animal is covered is to add comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy.