Does Insurance Cover Deer Damage?

Deer collisions are a common occurrence on roads across the United States. State Farm estimates there are over 1.5 million animal collision insurance claims each year. If you hit a deer with your vehicle, you’re probably wondering – does my car insurance cover the damage?

The answer depends on the type of coverage you have. Here’s what you need to know about filing an insurance claim after hitting a deer or other animal.

What Type of Insurance Covers Animal Collisions?

Damages from hitting a deer, bear, moose or other animal are generally covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that isn’t caused by a collision with another car. This includes:

  • Animal collisions
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Hail
  • Falling objects
  • Missiles

Collision coverage, which pays for damage to your car from hitting another vehicle or object, does not apply to deer hits.

Is Comprehensive Coverage Required?

Comprehensive is an optional add-on with your policy – it’s not required by law. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you own your vehicle outright, comprehensive is optional. You can decline it and won’t be penalized.
  • If you have an auto loan or lease, your lender will require comprehensive coverage to protect their investment in your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive is recommended for all vehicle owners since animal collisions, vandalism and other covered incidents can happen anytime. Declining comprehensive means paying for repairs out-of-pocket.

Approximately 78% of U.S. drivers carry comprehensive coverage. It’s a common and affordable supplement to collision insurance.

What Does Comprehensive Cover After Hitting a Deer?

With comprehensive insurance, you’re covered for the direct results of hitting a deer or other animal, including:

  • Damage to your vehicle – dents, scratches, broken glass from impact.
  • Towing charges to transport your disabled vehicle after accident.
  • A rental car while your damaged vehicle is being repaired.
  • Injuries to you and your passengers during the collision.

Your deductible will apply to repairs just like with a collision claim. If your deductible is $500, you’ll pay the first $500 of damage repairs and your insurer will cover the rest.

How to File a Claim for a Deer Collision

Follow these steps if you hit a deer or other animal while driving:

1. Move to a Safe Location

Pull off the roadway and turn on your hazard lights if possible. Get out of the flow of traffic – an oncoming vehicle may not see you in time to stop.

If your vehicle is inoperable, move a safe distance away from it while waiting for help.

2. Document the Scene & Damage

Take photos of your surroundings, any injuries to passengers, and damage to the vehicle. Try to get images of deer hair or blood on the car as evidence you hit the animal.

If there are witnesses, get their contact information and written statements. Police can provide official reports as well.

3. Call the Police

Alert police so they can clear the animal from the road if needed. File an official report for your records, especially if anyone was injured.

4. Call Your Insurance Agent or Company

Notify your agent or insurance company about the loss right away. Provide details about the accident, your location, and the claim-related documents you’ve gathered.

You can often start a claim immediately over the phone or online. Your insurer will walk through the claims process and required steps.

5. Don’t Assume Your Car is Safe to Drive

Inspect for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, steering issues or other safety concerns before attempting to drive your vehicle post-accident.

If it seems unsafe for the road, have it towed to avoid further damage.

6. Get Your Vehicle Checked by a Mechanic

Even if your car seems drivable, take it to a repair shop and have it checked for issues like frame damage, disconnected sensors or parts misalignment. Collision impacts can cause hidden problems.

7. Pay Your Deductible for Covered Repairs

Your insurance will pay for covered deer collision repairs beyond your comprehensive deductible amount. Be sure the body shop has correctly documented damages so your insurer will reimburse.

8. Consider Increasing Your Comprehensive Coverage

If the claim resulted in out-of-pocket expenses, talk to your agent about raising your comprehensive deductible to avoid that in the future. They can help determine ideal coverage limits.

What to Do if You Hit a Deer in Another Driver’s Car

If you’re driving a borrowed or rented car and hit a deer, notify the car’s owner and their insurance company right away. Follow the claim-filing steps above.

The car owner’s comprehensive insurance should cover animal collision damage, but double-check with their insurer. Your liability coverage may help pay their deductible amount in some cases.

Can You Keep a Deer Hit by Your Car?

Laws about keeping roadkill deer and other animals vary by state. In some areas you must report the accident to authorities and obtain a permit before taking the deer meat.

Contact your local wildlife agency to ask about regulations in your state. Don’t attempt to load a deer into your vehicle until given official guidance.

Avoiding and Preparing for Animal Collisions

Though animal collisions can happen anytime, anywhere, drivers can take steps to reduce their odds:

  • Use extra caution at dusk and dawn when deer and other wildlife are most active.
  • Scan roadsides carefully for reflecting eyes or moving shadows.
  • Slow down when traveling through marked animal crossing zones.
  • Brake firmly but avoid swerving if an animal appears – you’re more likely to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Use high-beam headlights at night when possible to better illuminate the roadway.
  • Look for deer crossing signs installed in known animal migration areas.

Drivers who take precautions, carry comprehensive coverage, and know how to respond after an accident will stay safest on the road. Stay alert and follow insurance claim best practices if you do hit a deer or other large animal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Deer Collision Insurance Claims

How much does it typically cost to repair deer collision damage?

According to State Farm data, the average deer collision resulted in over $4,000 in vehicle damage in 2020. Repair costs can range from a few hundred dollars for minimal scratches and dents to $10,000 or more for major body damage, a shredded bumper or related issues.

Will my rates increase after filing a deer collision comprehensive claim?

Insurers consider comprehensive claims when deciding to renew your policy and setting rates. However, a single deer-related claim is unlikely to impact your premium. Frequent comprehensive claims for any reason could make your rates rise over time.

What if I don’t have comprehensive coverage?

Without comprehensive insurance, you’ll pay deer collision repair bills completely out of pocket. No coverage means covering the full cost yourself.

Will my health insurance cover medical bills if I’m injured by a deer collision?

Yes, your health insurance will cover any necessary medical treatment just as it would for any other accident. Your auto policy may also provide additional injury coverage.

What if the damage is minor and seems cheaper to pay for myself?

Even minor scratches and dents can be surprisingly expensive to fix. Get a repair estimate before deciding to pay yourself. Using insurance provides guaranteed quality repairs.

Can I avoid a rate increase by paying for small deer damage repairs out of pocket?

Insurers don’t penalize drivers for using their comprehensive coverage as intended. There’s no need to cover tiny costs yourself in hopes of preventing a future premium increase. File a claim anytime your out-of-pocket expenses would exceed your deductible amount.

What if the deer I hit was already dead in the road?

Damage from a collision with an already-deceased animal generally falls under comprehensive just like hitting a live deer. Your insurer should cover the claim if you have the right documentation.

Hitting a deer can be startling and stressful. Following proper post-accident protocol will ensure you get your vehicle repaired promptly and are protected financially. Comprehensive insurance combined with smart driving remains your best defense on debris-filled roads.

You just hit a deer, now what? Find out what insurance covers


Does hitting a deer count as an accident on CarFax?

A CarFax or similar history report will disclose the accident. That should not substantially affect the car’s resale or market value, again, so long as it has been repaired.

Does AAA cover hitting a deer?

Comprehensive coverage can help pay for damages from theft, fire, vandalism, riots, and other civil unrest. It also covers windshield damage and damage from hitting an animal. However, it does not cover normal wear and tear or engine failure.

What happens when you hit a deer in a rental car?

File an Insurance Claim If you purchased the rental car company’s collision damage waiver, you’re likely covered for the costs to repair or replace the vehicle – unless the accident was due to reckless driving or another breach of your rental agreement.

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