You hit a deer: Are you covered?

Here are the answers to 5 common questions drivers ask after a wildlife collision.

By MSN Money Partner Oct 10, 2011 6:03PM

This post comes from Penny Gusner at partner site on MSN MoneyCars strike more than 1 million deer each year, mostly during the fall mating season. Each of those collisions represents about $3,100 in damage to vehicles, according to insurer State Farm.


These are the most common questions readers have submitted about deer-vehicle collisions and car insurance coverage:


I hit a deer. Am I covered? To be covered for a run-in with a deer, you need to have comprehensive coverage as part of your car insurance policy. Although the accident with the deer wasn't your fault, your comprehensive deductible amount will be due.


You might think a deer strike would be covered by collision because this coverage normally covers when your car has an impact with another vehicle or object. However, contact with animals (wild or domestic) is specifically listed as a loss covered by "other than collision" or comprehensive coverage on policies normally.


If you have a liability-only policy, then you should know that your policy doesn't cover your vehicle for any damages it sustains in an accident with a deer or any other object since a liability policy covers the damage you do unto others and not your own vehicle.


I swerved to miss a deer. Am I covered? When you make contact with a deer, your claim is filed under comprehensive coverage; however, if you swerve to miss a deer and crash, it is a collision claim.


Although it may have been a deer that started the chain of events that led you to crash the car, if your vehicle didn't actually have contact with the animal, then it isn't a comprehensive claim. If you collide with another car or an object (such as a guardrail or tree) or roll your vehicle, then you need to make the claim for your damages under your collision coverage.


Will the state pay for the damage, or for my deductible? No. Presently, there aren't any states that will pay for repairs to your vehicle, or even your deductible, if you hit a deer. Yes, your state may have an agency to manage the deer population, but it's not as if they can prevent deer from running into the roadway, especially during mating and migration season.


There have been a few states where proposals have called for the state to pay for damages, or a set amount like $250, to a car owner after his vehicle has been hit a deer. So far, none of these bills has been passed into law.


Do I need to file a police report? In general, car insurance companies don't require you to get a police report to file a comprehensive claim for running into the deer, but it's advisable to get one anyway.


Having a police report backing up your claim that your car's damages were due to contact with a deer will help you place this claim under your comprehensive coverage. If the claims adjuster is not able to validate your claim that you hit a deer, there is the possibility that the claim may end up under your collision coverage instead.


Even if your insurance provider doesn't require a police report, your state may require a police or crash report be filed for accidents where there is any injury, or property damage above a certain amount.


Will my insurance go up? Comprehensive claims, such as one for hitting a deer, don't typically increase your car insurance rates. However, with many companies, if you file a certain number of claims within a specified period, your rates can go up. So, if you already have had a few auto insurance claims in the past few years with your car insurance company, then this one could push your premiums higher due to the amount of claims you've made in total.


More on and MSN Money:


Dec 10, 2011 10:04PM

Surely, only a Democrat or a Communist would expect the government to pay for them hitting a deer on the road.


Surely, only a Republican would even think of posting something that unintelligent.

Dec 10, 2011 10:02PM

However, the value of the venison must be reported to the IRS as unearned income.


LOL - is there anyone who actually does report?  In this area people kill a lot of wild animals - no one would even think of reporting that to the IRS - let alone road kill - where there is no record that you even loaded the deer up and drove off with it.

Oct 10, 2011 10:49PM

Surely, only a Democrat or a Communist would expect the government to pay for them hitting a deer on the road.

This article failed to address the one question I was hoping it would cover: WHO GETS THE VENISON?

Nov 3, 2011 11:45PM

Nope, not a Tea Bagging Republican either. Libertarian!

Don't knock road kill 'till you try it.

After a bit of research, I've discovered that most states will let you keep the deer. However, the value of the venison must be reported to the IRS as unearned income.

Oct 13, 2011 4:33PM
....only a Tea Bagger would want to eat roadkill.
Oct 11, 2011 6:37PM
if it is during deer season---from the sheriff dept you can request a salvage tag for the deer then it is yours
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