Does insurance cover hitting a deer?
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. If you only carry liability coverage, you likely won't be covered for hitting a deer.
Is hitting a deer covered by comprehensive or collision coverage?
Vehicle damage from hitting a deer is covered by your auto policy's comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive can cover damages to your car caused by events that are out of your control, like hitting a deer or other animal. For your comprehensive coverage to cover the accident, your car must come in contact with the animal. Here are a few common scenarios that can occur:
- You run into a deer or other animal on the road.
- An animal runs into your car.
- An animal burrows into your car (It sounds crazy, but raccoons can tear into seat cushions and rodents can chew wires under the hood.) Depending on the circumstances, coverage may apply.
Note: If you swerve to avoid hitting a deer or other animal and then hit another vehicle, collide with an object, or overturn your car, you'd need collision coverage to cover damage to your vehicle. If you have comprehensive, you likely also have collision, but check your policy to be sure.
See a comparison of comprehensive vs. collision.
Are injuries from a deer accident covered?
Because comprehensive and collision only cover vehicle damage, claims for medical bills after hitting a deer would be covered by your medical payments coverage or your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage — if you have either. Regardless, be sure to give your health insurance information to your health care providers. The injury-related coverage your auto insurance provides could pale in comparison to your total medical bills, and health insurance can help cover the difference.
How does hitting a deer affect insurance?
It depends on the state you live in and your insurer whether hitting a deer will affect your insurance premium. In some states, your rate won't increase if you hit a deer because you're typically not considered at fault when you hit a wild animal.
How does insurance classify hitting a deer?
Generally, car insurance companies might classify a deer accident under comprehensive coverage, which covers non-collision and animal-related damage to a vehicle. Depending on the insurance company, hitting a deer might be considered a not-at-fault accident, however that does not guarantee the driver's premium will not increase.
To find out if your car insurance policy would cover damage to your vehicle if you hit a deer, review your insurance policy, and understand what coverages you have and what coverages you'd like to consider getting for peace of mind.
Every insurer sets car insurance rates differently. And every state has its own rules about car insurance — from minimum coverage requirements to potential discounts. Find out about your car insurance in your state.
What to do if you hit a deer
Move your vehicle to the side of the road, away from the animal
Turn on your car's hazard lights and remain in the vehicle until it's safe to exit.
Call the police
Let them know if the animal is blocking the road, as it could pose a danger to oncoming drivers.
Stay clear of the deer or animal
When a deer is hit by a car, it will be frightened and could harm people. The police will handle the situation once they arrive.
When it's safe, document the accident
Take pictures of the road, surroundings, damages, and any injuries to you or your passengers. If another motorist stops to help, document their account of the incident and ask for their contact information.
Contact your insurance company to file a claim
Make sure your car is safe to drive
Common questions about hitting a deer
Do you have to call the police if you hit a deer?
Yes, you should always call the police because the deer could pose a potential threat to other drivers. Filing a police report can also help with the claims process for any property damage or injuries.
Remember, it's up to the authorities to move the deer if needed. For your safety, never approach or try to move an animal after an accident.
Do you have to pay a deductible if you hit a deer?
When you added comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy, you chose a deductible amount (typically between $100 and $2,000). If you hit a deer and file a claim, you'll have to pay that deductible, and your insurer can cover the rest. If your car gets totaled in the accident, your comprehensive coverage can pay out the actual cash value of your car, minus the deductible.
Learn more about how car insurance deductibles work.
Can hitting a deer total your car?
Yes, your car can be totaled in a deer vs. car incident. Speed, point of impact, car size, and animal size can all play a role in how much damage your vehicle sustains. Smaller cars like sedans are more likely to be totaled than larger SUVs and trucks.
Learn more about what happens if your car is totaled in an accident.
Are you at fault if you swerve to avoid a deer?
Yes, you could be at fault if you swerve to avoid hitting a deer and cause a crash involving another driver or someone's property. If swerving to avoid a deer causes damage to others, the swerving driver may be found negligent, and they may be found to be at fault for the accident.
Why do deer run in front of cars?
A common reason deer run in front of cars is they are frightened and confused. Car headlights can stun and confuse deer, causing them to behave erratically, according to World Deer.
Even if your vehicle isn't damaged beyond repair, hitting a deer can result in broken headlights, windshield damage, a crushed bumper, and more. Make sure you have the right amount of auto insurance coverage in case expensive repairs are needed.
Does hitting a deer go on your driving record?
A deer accident won't go on your driving record (formally known as your motor vehicle report) unless another person's vehicle or property sustains damage. If you file a claim with your insurance, though, it will be added to your claims history.
How to avoid hitting a deer
A few simple tips can help you avoid hitting a deer on or near the road.
- Deer often travel in groups, so slow down and stay alert for more if you see one while driving.
- Pay attention if you see a yellow, diamond-shaped sign with a deer on it — a signal that deer frequently cross the road in that area.
- Your headlights can reflect light off a deer's eyes, making them easier to spot while driving.
When are deer accidents most likely to occur?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, deer season generally runs from October through December, which is when the most deer-vehicle collisions occur each year. Purdue University reports that most collisions with deer on the road occur between dusk and dawn on high-speed rural roads. Be especially vigilant during these times when deer are most active.