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Hitting a deer can cause major damage to your car. But does your auto insurance policy cover these types of accidents? The answer depends on your coverage:

  • Comprehensive coverage will typically pay for deer collisions and related repairs or a totaled car.
  • Collision coverage applies if you swerve and crash avoiding a deer.
Coverage TypeApplies to Deer Accidents?
CollisionOnly if you crash avoiding a deer

Confirm your deductible amount and how an accident could impact your insurance rates.

Your collision coverage won't cover your vehicle from hitting a deer, only Comprehensive will do

Try to Avoid Hitting the Deer

When a deer suddenly appears in the road, your instinct may be to swerve or slam on the brakes. But it's important to remain calm and avoid overreacting.

Avoiding a collision entirely is ideal, but swerving sharply or braking hard increases your risk of losing control, hitting another vehicle, or running off the road. Here are some tips for responding safely:

  • Take your foot off the gas to begin slowing down.
  • Apply steady, firm pressure to the brake pedal to continue decelerating. Don't brake hard enough to lock up the wheels.
  • Keep holding the wheel straight without swerving. Stay in your lane.
  • If impact seems inevitable, brace yourself. Hitting the deer head-on is safer than veering off the road.

Why Swerving to Miss a Deer is Risky

Swerving to avoid the animal often leads to a much worse outcome:

  • Sideswiping another vehicle
  • Striking a tree, pole, or guardrail
  • Flipping or rolling your car

These situations would require a collision claim rather than a comprehensive claim. Collision coverage has a higher deductible and can increase your insurance rates.

Safest Response to a Deer in Your Path

To minimize damage and injury risk:

  • Keep control of the vehicle
  • Don't swerve or abruptly turn the wheel
  • Brake gradually if you can spare stopping distance
  • Impact the deer head-on if unavoidable
Safe Response Unsafe Response
Brake gradually Swerve suddenly
Keep wheels straight Jerk the steering wheel
Hit deer head-on Veer off the road

Stay calm, focus on maintaining control, and drive in a way that keeps you and others safe. This gives you the best chance of avoiding a collision or minimizing damage if impact occurs.

File a Police Report After a Deer Collision

After a deer collision, it's important to file a police report even if the damage seems minor. A report creates an official record of the incident and can help with your insurance claim.

Here are steps to take at the scene:

  • Move your car to a safe spot on the shoulder. Turn on hazard lights.
  • Call 911 to notify police, especially if the deer is blocking traffic.
  • Remain in your car until help arrives if the deer is still nearby.
  • Take photos of damage to your car and the deer (if possible) for documentation.

Do not try to move the deer yourself - leave that to the police or highway agency.

Information to Share with Police

Provide as many details as possible to the responding officer:

  • Date, time, and exact location of the crash
  • Your contact and insurance information
  • Description of events leading up to impact
  • Direction you were traveling
  • Posted speed limit
  • Estimated speed you were driving
  • Parts of your car damaged
  • Injuries to you or passengers

Having the report to accompany your comprehensive claim can speed up the process and set clear expectations with your insurer.

When a Report May Not Be Required

In minor accidents with only vehicle damage, police may allow you to exchange information and let you leave without a report.

But even if not mandatory, it's wise to request a report to protect yourself later. Lack of a police record can lead your insurance company to:

  • Dispute or deny your comprehensive claim
  • Classify it under collision instead

Getting a report covers you in case questions arise down the road.

Comprehensive Coverage Applies for Deer Accidents

Comprehensive coverage is the part of your auto policy that will pay for deer collisions and resulting damage. This covers your vehicle in incidents like:

  • Hitting a deer, moose, coyote, or other animal
  • Impact with a stray shopping cart or fallen tree
  • Vandalism, theft, or flood damage
  • Fire, explosion, earthquake, hail, or glass breakage

What Comprehensive Insurance Covers

If you hit a deer, comprehensive will cover costs related to:

  • Repairing dents, scrapes, body damage
  • Replacing broken lights or windows
  • Fixing mechanical or electrical issues
  • Totaling your car if repair costs exceed its value
  • Towing your vehicle to a repair shop

It provides protection against random mishaps beyond your control. Without it, you'd pay these expenses out-of-pocket.

Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage

Collision only applies if you swerve to avoid a deer and hit something else, like:

  • Another vehicle
  • A guardrail, tree, pole, or ditch

Here's a comparison:

Type Covered Incidents
Comprehensive Hitting a deer or other animal
Collision Crashing your car to avoid a deer

Comprehensive is broader protection for damage from external forces, while collision covers crashes with other objects.

Having both comprehensive and collision coverage provides the most complete protection on the road. Contact your provider to ensure you're fully covered in a deer accident.

Collision Coverage If You Crash Avoiding a Deer

As discussed, comprehensive covers the actual deer collision. But what if you swerve or lose control trying to avoid the deer and hit something else? Now collision coverage comes into play.

When Collision Applies

If you crash your vehicle trying to miss a deer, collision pays for damage from hitting:

  • Another car
  • A tree, pole, guardrail, or ditch
  • A bridge or highway barrier

Or if you roll or flip your car swerving, collision covers the resulting harm.

Why Collision is More Costly

Filing a collision claim rather than comprehensive has two main drawbacks:

  • Higher deductible amount
  • Likely increase in insurance rates

Here's a comparison of deductible and premium differences:

Coverage Typical Deductible Premium Impact
Comprehensive $200-$500 Usually none
Collision $500-$1,000 Rate increase likely

Since collision claims are considered "at-fault," they can drive up your costs over time. Comprehensive claims don't get counted against you.

When to File a Collision Claim

If you cause crash damages, a body shop estimates over $1000, and your deductible is $500, it may be worth filing a collision claim.

But if damage is minor and the deductible is $1000, you might pay out-of-pocket rather than risk your premium hike. Talk to your agent about the tradeoffs.

Carefully weigh factors like repair costs, your rates, and deductible amount when deciding whether to file a collision claim after swerving to avoid an animal.

Pay Your Comprehensive Deductible

When you file a comprehensive claim after hitting a deer, you'll need to pay your comprehensive deductible before insurance covers the remaining repair costs.

What is a Deductible?

Your deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance benefits kick in. For example:

  • Your damage estimate is $3,000
  • Your comprehensive deductible is $500
  • You pay the first $500, your insurer pays the remaining $2,500

Deductibles typically range from $200 to $1,000 for comprehensive coverage. Higher deductibles can lower your premiums but mean more money you pay per claim.

When to Expect a Deductible

You'll owe your deductible for claims like:

  • Hitting a deer, tree limb, stray shopping cart, etc.
  • Vandalism like a smashed windshield
  • Storm, flood, or fire damage
  • Theft of car parts or the entire vehicle

Any covered loss with a payout would require your deductible payment.

Strategies to Cover Your Deductible

Some options if you lack funds to cover the deductible:

  • Tap your emergency fund or savings
  • Use a credit card with rewards you can apply
  • Borrow from family or friends if needed

Setting aside a “deductible fund” each month is a smart way to prepare for this situation. Having a plan makes it less stressful if you need to pay your deductible after an accident.

Effect on Your Insurance Rates

After a deer collision claim, how your insurance rates are affected depends on your state, insurer, and claims history.

Rate Increase Factors

Potential reasons your premium could go up:

  • Multiple comprehensive claims within a set timeframe
  • Significant payout on your claim
  • Having previous at-fault accidents on your policy

But a single deer claim is unlikely to impact your rates with most insurers.

When Rates Typically Don't Rise

Filing a comprehensive claim often won't drive up your premium if:

  • It's your first claim in 3-5 years
  • The payout is under $2,000
  • You have a good driving record
  • You're with an insurer that doesn't raise rates for comprehensive claims

No-Fault and Deer Collisions

In no-fault insurance states like Florida and Michigan, insurers can't increase your premium based on not-at-fault accidents - including deer collisions.

But in other states, it varies by carrier. Shopping around could find savings if your provider does raise rates after a deer claim.

Checking Your Policy Details

To understand potential rate impacts, review your policy and ask your agent or insurer:

  • Will my premium go up after using comprehensive for a deer claim?
  • What causes rates to increase for comprehensive coverage?
  • How many no-fault claims are allowed before it affects my price?

Know the specifics of your policy and provider when filing a claim.

Totaling Your Car from a Deer Accident

A serious deer collision can lead to your car being "totaled". This means the repair costs exceed your vehicle's value, and your insurer deems it a total loss.

When a Deer Accident May Total Your Vehicle

Factors that make a total loss more likely:

  • High speed at point of impact
  • Small car colliding with large deer
  • Head-on collision or direct side impact
  • Older car with lower value
  • Frame or suspension damage

Newer cars with comprehensive coverage are less prone to being totaled by deer.

The Total Loss Threshold

Insurers use a threshold percentage to determine total loss:

  • Repairs reaching 70-100% of car's value = totaled
  • Below 70% of value = repairable

For example, if your car is worth $5,000:

  • $3,500 or more in repairs = totaled
  • Under $3,500 in damage = can be fixed

The exact percentage varies by state and insurer. Older cars need less damage to total.

If Your Car is Totaled

If your provider says your car is a total loss after a major deer impact, comprehensive coverage will pay out:

  • Actual cash value of your car before the accident
  • Minus your comprehensive deductible

You can use this payout toward a replacement vehicle. Make sure to update your policy to maintain proper coverage on any new car.

Avoiding Total Loss

To reduce total loss risk, use comprehensive coverage and consider:

  • Newer vehicle with anti-collision technology
  • Higher deductible to lower premiums
  • Higher liability limits in case you injure others

Weigh options to guard against deer collisions totalling your vehicle.

Tips to Avoid Deer Collisions

While you can't control when a deer leaps across the road, smart driving can help avoid accidents.

Time of Day and Seasonality

Be extra vigilant during peak activity times:

  • Dusk to dawn when deer are most active
  • Fall months during mating and migration seasons

Slow down and keep eyes scanning if driving at these high-risk times.

Stay Alert in Deer-Prone Areas

Watch for deer crossing signs in known hot spots. Forested areas and country roads are high risk.

Don't be complacent on familiar local roads - deer can always appear unexpectedly.

Scan Roadsides and Ditches

Look well ahead on sides of the road in addition to the driving path:

  • Deer may linger in ditches and brush waiting to cross
  • Their eyes can reflect headlights at night

Catching reflections early gives you more reaction time.

Don't Overreact If You See a Deer

If a deer jumps out, avoid slamming your brakes or swerving sharply. Stay centered in your lane and slow gradually. Resist the urge to veer off the road.

Other Defensive Driving Tips

Additional ways to prevent collisions:

  • Use high beam headlights when possible
  • Honk your horn to scare deer away
  • Bring your car in for routine maintenance
  • Consider a deer whistle to deter animals

Staying vigilant and controlling your reaction are your best defenses against potentially dangerous deer accidents.

Conclusion - Confirm Coverage with Your Provider

Hitting a deer can happen unexpectedly. To protect yourself:

  • Review your auto insurance policy and know what coverage applies. Comprehensive is key for deer collisions.

  • Understand your deductibles so you're prepared if you need to pay.

  • Ask your provider directly how filing a claim could impact your insurance rates.

  • Drive cautiously, particularly at night and during fall months. Avoid swerving if possible when deer appear.

No one wants to hit a deer, but it's a common accident in many areas. Take preventive measures and confirm your comprehensive coverage will cover damage from these unpredictable accidents on the road. Drive safely!

Other readers were also interested in the following posts:

Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage for Theft

Does My Comprehensive Car Insurance Cover Me to Drive Another Car? 

Comprehensive Insurance vs Collision: Which One is Right for You?

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