RICHMOND — Autumn brings a sharp increase in insurance claims related to vehicle collisions with animals, particularly deer. November is the peak month and Virginia is among the states with the highest risk of these types of collisions. With this in mind, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginia motorists to use caution, especially when driving at dawn or dusk and in areas where deer are prevalent.
“Mating season and migration are among the factors that contribute to the dramatic uptick in vehicle-deer collisions during the fall," said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham. “Watch out for wildlife on the highways and contact your insurance agent or company to determine if your policy provides coverage for this type of loss.”
Damages caused to your vehicle as a result of a collision with a deer or other animal typically are covered under the optional “other-than-collision” (also known as comprehensive) portion of your automobile policy. This covers such things as wind, hail and flood, as well as fire, vandalism, and theft. Keep in mind that if you have a liability-only policy, your policy does not cover your vehicle for any damages it receives in an accident with a deer or other object.
At least half of all vehicle-deer collisions occur during the months of October, November, and December. Increased development of traditionally rural and wooded areas, reduced daylight hours as a result of the transition from daylight saving time to standard time, and increased deer activity during their October through December breeding season are among the factors that contribute to the increase in vehicle-deer collisions during the fall.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1.5 million vehicle accidents occur each year with deer killing as many as 200 Americans, causing more than 10,000 personal injuries, and resulting in more than $1 billion in vehicle damage.
To reduce your chances of hitting a deer, slow down and use caution when you see one. If it is too late to avoid a collision with a deer, stay in your lane and slow down as much as possible to minimize damage. Should you collide with a deer, notify law enforcement and your insurance company as soon as possible. Take pictures of the accident scene and vehicle damage in the event you file an insurance claim. Don’t assume that your vehicle is safe to drive. Check for leaking fluid, tire damage, broken lights and other damage. When in doubt, call a tow truck.
The Bureau of Insurance stands ready to assist Virginians with their questions regarding auto and many other types of insurance. For more information, call the Bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9741 or visit its website at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi.