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Two deers in a car looking out the window

Oh Deer! What Happens When You Hit A Deer

The months of November and December bring a lot of things with them; the first snowfall, spending outrageous amounts of money on presents, turning the heat on, but one thing you may not have thought of is deer collisions. The risk for deer collisions during these months is greatly increased because it is the deer’s migration and mating season. If you have ever been involved in an accident with a deer you know how serious it can be. So be on the lookout for Bambi and company when you are driving this season or you may find yourself saying “oh deer”.

Photo taken from the Oregon Trail

Photo taken from the Oregon Trail

Insurance Implications from Hitting a Deer

So what happens if you do hit a deer? Well if you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident with a deer there are a few situations. The first situation revolves around your vehicle actually hitting the deer. The second situation is if a deer jumps in front of you and you avoid it, but this causes you to drive off the road and damage your vehicle. The final situation is… Well, I will just let you watch the video.

 

Situation #1: Comprehensive Coverage

The comprehensive portion of an auto policy covers your vehicle for damages that aren’t caused by an “at fault” collision. This would cover you from things such as theft, fire, falling objects, etc. In this case hitting a deer is a collision; however, it is not considered an “at fault” accident because as much as we’d like to, we can’t pin the deer at fault because the deer didn’t intentionally jump in front of your vehicle. Plus deer’s aren’t like humans, they live on the edge and don’t carry liability insurance (I don’t know how they can sleep at night) so we refer to your own comprehensive coverage. Typically when your comprehensive coverage applies, since there is no fault assigned, your auto insurance rates won’t increase.

 

Situation #2: Collision Coverage

Ok, so here is where it gets a little confusing and maybe frustrating for some. Situation #1 we know that a deer was hit because, well, the front end of your car is mangled and there is a dead deer beside your vehicle. But along comes situation #2, in this case the same thing happens; a deer lunges in front of your vehicle but you being the masterful driver you are, swerve to avoid it so the deer gets away scot-free but you still go careening off the road and damage your vehicle. In this case you would need collision coverage, which protects you for an “at fault” accident. I know what you are thinking, why am I “at fault” for trying to save this deer? The sad truth is that is just the way it is. In this situation it does not seem fair but hopefully you can appreciate a situation where someone is say, texting and driving, they swerve off the road and knowing that this is their fault they say, “I swerved off the road because Bambi is my favourite Disney movie and I didn’t want to hit poor Bambi”. They know this isn’t true but the insurance company would have a hard time proving otherwise, so unless they see a deer you must have collision to be covered. This typically results in a surcharge that may increase your insurance rates.

*You can skip the entire next paragraph if you don’t intend on watching or don’t want to read what I have to say about the movie Unfinished Business*

If you need a visual of what not to do when approaching a deer on the road, go to Netflix because I know you have an account and search for the movie Unfinished Business (if you click the link you will see that rotten tomatoes only gives it a 1 out of 5 star rating, yikes!). It stars Vince Vaughan and James Franco’s little brother and despite its poor rating I still think it is a decent little comedy. If you are sitting and reading this and just don’t have the time to watch the entire movie, but are now curious about the scene, fast forward to 1 hour, 11 minutes and 38 seconds (I made this time up) and you will know exactly what not to do when a deer is on the road.

*I wanted to post the clip to avoid writing that entire last paragraph, but copyright infringement would get me in trouble so sorry about that.

Ahh Flügeschlagen (You will only get this joke if you watch the movie)

 

Situation #3: Lucky

This brings us to our final situation and if this is the one you find yourself in then consider yourself lucky. Just check out the video below:

This deer clearly used to be in the Olympics for high jump. You got lucky!

What You Need To Know

Collisions with animals do happen. To make sure you are safe in the event of colliding with a deer, or any animal for that matter, you need to carry comprehensive coverage. If you carry comprehensive coverage your insurance company will pay for the damages to your vehicle less your deductible. And don’t be hesitant or scared to call your broker as soon as a claim such as this occurs. A claim that is covered under the comprehensive section of your policy will not count against you when it comes to calculating your insurance rates. And as long as the damage is greater than your deductible (standard is $500) then your insurance company will help cover the costs. If you swerve to avoid the deer and find yourself in an accident you need to carry collision coverage or you will not be covered. This likely will hurt your insurance rates. The moral of the story is hit the deer, you get a free meal and you will be covered if you carry a comprehensive policy. Of course I am just kidding, the main thing is to be careful this winter when you are driving, not all deer have red noses!

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