RICHMOND — Each year in the United States, deer are involved in more than one million collisions with vehicles, resulting in as many as 200 human deaths, thousands of personal injuries and more than $1 billion in vehicle damage. The average insurance claim nationwide for a vehicle-deer collision is estimated to be $4,000.
Autumn brings a dramatic 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 (approximately 1 in 94 chance) of these types of collisions. With this in mind, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginia motorists to use caution, especially when driving at dawn or dusk and in rural areas or other places where deer are prevalent.
“The uptick in vehicle-deer collisions during the fall is driven, in large part, by mating season and migration,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Buckle up; keep your eyes on the road; pay attention to deer crossing signs, and watch out for wildlife on or near roadways. Contact your insurance agent or company to determine if your policy provides coverage for this type of loss.”
Damage to your vehicle due to a collision with a deer or other animal typically is covered under the optional “other-than-collision” (also known as comprehensive) portion of your automobile insurance policy. This covers such things as wind, hail, flood, fire, vandalism and theft. Keep in mind that if you have a liability-only policy, your policy likely will not cover your vehicle for any damages it receives in an accident with a deer or other object. Consult your insurance company or insurance agent for information on your specific coverage.
At least half of all vehicle-deer collisions occur during the months of October, November and December. Increased development in traditionally rural and wooded areas, reduced daylight hours due to the transition from daylight saving time to standard time and increased deer activity
during their October through December breeding season all contribute to the increase in vehicle-deer collisions during the fall.
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. Do not 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 can help 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.