Although August is statistically the most dangerous month for traffic accidents according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, fall and winter bring a new set of hazards for drivers. Surprisingly, bad weather isn’t the biggest cause of vehicle collisions October through December. Animals, notably deer, are, because that’s when they’re mating and migrating. And while no state mandates that you to carry comprehensive car insurance, one run-in with a large wild animal will make you wish you had it.
- The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), which claims that animal-automobile accidents are about three times higher during fall and winter than the rest of the year, also reports that the average car insurance claim for a deer-car dust-up is $3,100. That’s about $3.6 billion a year in vehicle damages.
- State Farm Insurance data estimated 2.3 million deer-vehicle collisions during the two-year period between July 2008 and June 2010 – an increase of more than 21% from five years before.
- In addition to the damage caused to vehicles, the estimated 1.6 million deer-car encounters each year are responsible for 200 fatalities, 10s of thousands of injuries and about a billion dollars in out-of-pocket medical costs.
- West Virginia drivers are most likely to run into deer (1 in 39 per year). Hawaii drivers are least likely (1 in 9,931). In general, eastern states including Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and both Carolinas have higher than average deer-driver collision rates, while residents of southwestern states have lower than average rates.
- The hours shortly before sunset, from sunset to midnight and shortly before sunrise represent the highest risk for a deer-car collision.
To avoid collisions with deer or lessen the chance of severe injury in the event of a run-in, pay attention to road signs alerting you to animal crossings and always wear your seat belt. If you see a deer, brake firmly but stay in your lane to avoid hitting another car or running into a fixed object. If you do hit a deer or other animal, do not approach it. An injured animal can be unpredictably dangerous. Pull off the road, put on your emergency blinkers and call the police or highway patrol.
The comprehensive portion of your optional collision and comprehensive car insurance coverage typically will cover the damages caused by running into a deer or any other animal, for that matter. Check your agent to see what your specific policy covers, or shop for comprehensive car insurance on this website.