Does Car Insurance Cover Bear Damage to Your Vehicle?

Driving along a wooded road, you round a bend and suddenly a bear cub darts out in front of your car. You slam on the brakes but can’t avoid striking the animal. Thankfully you aren’t hurt, but your front bumper is crushed and steam pours from the mangled hood. Will your car insurance policy cover the damages?

Collisions with wildlife like bears can be terrifying and dangerous. And the costs to repair vehicle damage can be expensive. Let’s look at how different types of car insurance respond when bears or other animals damage your auto.

Will Collision Coverage Pay for Bear Damage?

Collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident with another car or object. Striking a bear would likely be covered.

However, collision does not cover damage from impacts with animals in every scenario:

  • If you swerve to avoid a bear and hit a tree, collision may not apply since you didn’t directly strike the bear. Comprehensive would cover the tree impact instead.

  • Collision covers the vehicle itself but not personal items inside that may have been damaged.

  • You will need to pay your collision deductible before coverage kicks in. With high repair bills, this could be $500-$1000 out of pocket.

  • If the collision was due to negligence like driving recklessly fast on a dark road, your claim could be denied.

Key Point: Collision responds to direct impacts with bears but has limitations on damage payouts.

When Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover Bear Damage?

Comprehensive coverage is specifically designed to cover animal collisions as well as damages from vandalism, storms, fires, and theft. It will pay for bear damage even if you don’t directly hit the animal.

Here are some examples of bear damage covered by comprehensive policies:

  • You swerve to avoid a bear in the road and drive into a ditch or tree.

  • A bear breaks into your locked car and shreds the interior.

  • You accidentally back into a bear cub in your driveway.

  • A roaming bear dents your parked car door by bumping into it or scratching the paint.

  • Flying gravel from a bear collision chips your windshield or paintwork.

Key Benefit: With comprehensive, bear damage claims won’t also trigger a collision deductible. There is just one deductible for all comprehensive losses.

What Bear Damages Won’t Comprehensive Cover?

While very broad, comprehensive insurance does have some exclusions to be aware of:

  • If your parked car was unlocked or unattended with food inside, a bear break-in claim could be denied. You must take reasonable precautions.

  • Damage to personal property inside the car like a laptop computer isn’t covered.

  • Intentionally chasing or approaching bears could lead to a claim denial for negligence.

  • Gradual damage from bears repeatedly accessing your unattended vehicle over time may be excluded.

The takeaway: Comprehensive covers most bear incidents but you must take prudent steps to avoid losses for coverage to apply.

How Much Does Comprehensive Car Insurance Cost?

Comprehensive is relatively affordable coverage. Expect to pay $150-$300 per year for comprehensive, depending on factors like:

  • Where you live – Rural and wooded areas with more bears have higher rates.

  • Your deductible amount – $500 is common but you can choose $250 or $1000. Higher deductibles are cheaper.

  • Car model and age – Comprehensive costs more for expensive luxury or classic vehicles.

  • Your driving record – Better drivers get lower rates.

  • Discount eligibility – Bundling with renters insurance saves up to 15%.

Compared to potential repair bills from bear damage, comprehensive insurance is a good value. Make sure to get quotes from multiple insurers to find the best rate.

Steps to File a Bear Damage Claim with Comprehensive

If your vehicle sustains bear damage, follow these steps for filing an insurance claim:

  1. Document evidence at the scene – Take dated photos or video showing any paw prints, fur, or other signs indicating a bear caused the damage.

  2. Report serious bear incidents to authorities – If the bear exhibited threatening behavior or if you struck and injured it, notify wildlife control or law enforcement.

  3. Get collision repair estimates – Ask your mechanic for a written assessment of the damage and repair options with pricing.

  4. File the claim with your insurer – Provide details on what happened and the repair quote. Send any police reports if applicable.

  5. Allow a claims adjuster to inspect your car – Point out the evidence that the damage is from a bear so your claim isn’t denied.

  6. Get reimbursed for covered losses after paying your deductible – Comprehensive payouts are based on actual repair costs, not car value.

Tip: Retain all documentation proving the damages resulted from a bear encounter in case the insurer disputes paying the claim.

Can You Add Comprehensive Coverage After Bear Damage Occurs?

Unfortunately, once bear damage happens you can’t then add comprehensive and make a claim. Insurance policies only provide coverage for future damages occurring after the coverage starts.

However, it may be possible to backdate your comprehensive policy start date up to 30 days depending on your insurer. This would potentially cover existing damages if you can prove the loss happened within that prior 30 day window.

It’s best not to wait until after an incident occurs to get comprehensive protection. The small monthly premium investment can save you thousands in repair bills down the road.

Preventing Bear Damage to Your Vehicle

Here are some smart precautions to help deter bears and avoid comprehensive claims:

  • Roll up windows tightly and lock doors when parking outdoors. Never leave food inside.

  • Use sealed trash cans and remove garbage frequently so it doesn’t attract bears.

  • Install bright motion-sensor lights on garages and driveways to scare bears away.

  • Avoid parking near dumpsters or garbage collection areas.

  • Honk your horn and drive slowly if you see cubs or bears near the roadway.

  • Keep the exterior clean since bears are attracted to smells.

  • Consider an aftermarket car alarm or anti-theft device to scare off curious bears.

  • Call animal control if you notice bears frequently accessing vehicles in your neighborhood.

Staying proactive is your best defense against potentially damaging bear encounters. Comprehensive insurance provides affordable peace of mind if a collision still occurs despite your preventive efforts.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair Bear Damage?

Repair bills will depend on the severity and location of the damage:

  • Minor scratches or dents under $1000 may be repairable with paintless dent repair techniques.

  • Front bumper or hood replacement due to impact can cost $2000-$4000 for parts and labor.

  • Ruined side panels or roof from climbing damage could total $5000 or more.

  • Shredded interior from a break-in often requires $6000+ for new seats, carpet, and panels.

  • A cracked windshield replacement may be $700-$1200 depending on the vehicle.

  • If the bear damaged critical engine components or electronics, repairs could far exceed $10,000 and potentially total the vehicle.

The takeaway: Even a minor bear encounter can easily cause several thousand dollars in vehicle damage which makes comprehensive coverage essential.

What If My Car is Totaled by a Bear?

If the cost to repair bear damage exceeds around 75% of your vehicle’s current market value, insurers will likely declare it a total loss instead of paying for repairs.

If your car is totaled by a bear, comprehensive will pay you the actual cash value or ACV, which is the car’s worth in its current condition before the bear incident occurred.

The settlement payment will help you purchase a replacement vehicle. Make sure to negotiate fair ACV with the insurer and be ready to provide auto dealership pricing data and classified ad values to justify your requested payout amount.

Will My Rates Go Up After a Bear Damage Claim?

Filing a comprehensive claim for bear damage should not directly increase your car insurance rates. Insurers consider comprehensive claims out of your control, unlike at-fault accidents that signal higher risk.

However, some insurers indirectly raise rates for all policyholders in regions with frequent wildlife collisions. And if bear incidents become very common in your area, you may see a small premium increase at renewal time.

Tip: Avoid filing small, inexpensive bear damage claims to help keep rates low. Only make claims that exceed your deductible by a fair amount.

Bear Damage Insurance Claim FAQ

If my car is parked when a bear damages it, does that affect my claim?

No, comprehensive insurance covers bear damage regardless of whether your car was parked or you were driving it at the time. The coverage has no exclusions for parked or unattended vehicles.

What if I don’t have comprehensive coverage?

Without comprehensive insurance, you would need to pay for all bear damage repairs out of pocket, which can easily amount to thousands of dollars. Adding comprehensive now can protect you from future incidents.

Am I covered if I swerve trying to miss a bear but don’t actually hit it?

Bear vs. Car: Does Insurance Cover Animal Damage?


Will insurance cover damage from a bear?

Homeowners insurance generally only covers wildlife damage caused by animals like deer or bears. Damage from smaller pests like squirrels and other rodents generally isn’t covered by your home insurance policy because the infestations are considered preventable.

Does auto insurance cover hitting an animal?

You’re covered for hitting a deer or other animal on the road if you have comprehensive, an optional coverage you can add to your auto policy. Most drivers add comprehensive coverage, but it isn’t required unless you’re leasing or financing your car.

What type of insurance pays for a bear runs out in front of your truck causing major vehicle damage?

Comprehensive coverage helps cover the cost of damages to your vehicle when you’re involved in an accident that’s not caused by a collision. Comprehensive coverage covers losses like theft, vandalism, hail, and hitting an animal.

What damage won’t car insurance cover?

Damage caused by freeze or ice. Anything that occurs if you’re using your car for business (including driving for rideshare companies like Lyft) Routine maintenance, like oil or tire changes. Fancy custom parts (over a maximum of $1,000)

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