Does my car insurance cover hitting animals?

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Things to know...
  • Car insurance policies are like multiple policies rolled into one
  • If you have comprehensive coverage on your policy, you will be covered if you hit an animal
  • There are tips you can follow to decrease the chances of hitting an animal, such as steering in the direction that the animal came from

While you may be informed on the very basics of auto insurance, sometimes questions arise that may not seem to have straightforward answers. You may not know all of the answers, however, you can be assured that you are getting the lowest rates possible when you use an online price comparison tool to shop for auto insurance coverage.

How Car Insurance Coverage Works

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Your auto insurance policy is like several different smaller policies rolled into one. They all exist for the purpose of protecting your finances and assets should an accident occur. However, which coverages you can rely on depending on what has happened to cause damage to your car or another party’s car or property.

For instance, does car insurance cover hitting animals? Thankfully, this doesn’t happen as often as everyday fender-benders which means that many people, including yourself, may not know the answer to this question. The answer depends on what type of policy you have.

Covering a Wildlife Accident

Since property and bodily injury liability do not pay for damages to you or your own property in an accident or another event, you will need to consider adding these two additional coverages to your policy:

Collision

If you are in an accident, your collision coverage will cover the damages to your vehicle up to your policy limits. You will need to pay your deductible, which is usually between $250-$1,000, and the rest will be covered under your collision coverage. If a lower deductible is important to you, you will end up paying higher monthly premiums.

Comprehensive

There are instances where your vehicle can be damaged outside of an auto accident. Comprehensive coverage is designed for those circumstances. This can include theft, vandalism, fires, floods, natural disasters and hitting wildlife or other animals. It is important to note that if you hit an animal, it is imperative that you have comprehensive coverage, otherwise this event will not be covered.

If you have elected comprehensive coverage, your auto insurance will cover you hitting an animal after you have paid your chosen deductible and up to your coverage amount. Similar to collision coverage, common deductibles are between $250-$1000.

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Filing a Comprehensive Claim

If you have hit an animal and suffered damages to yourself or your vehicle, you will need to call your auto insurance company to file a claim. Making sure you are okay is the top priority, although you should report your claim to your insurance carrier as soon as possible. You will be asked to give your account of the accident and assigned to a claims adjustor who will work with you to get your vehicle fixed and your medical bills paid if you have them.

Tips to Avoid Hitting Wildlife and other Animals

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In some cases, little can be done to prevent hitting a stray dog or a deer who darts out in your path. However, there are some tips you can follow to decrease the chances that you will hit an animal while driving your vehicle.

  • Anticipate natural wildlife– Be aware of where you are driving and the natural wildlife that may be present. This is especially important at dawn and at dusk when many wildlife happen to be more active. Anticipating the presence of wildlife can help you react faster should a deer or other animal dart in the road in front of you.
  • Watch for clues– While you may not see an animal until it is in front of you, there are clues you can watch for to tell you that one is near. For instance, movement of fescue along the road can indicate the presence of wildlife. In a residential area, a ball or a frisbee coming across the road can be a clue that a dog might be nearby. If you notice any clues be sure to slow down and pay close attention.
  • Steer in the direction the animal comes from– Even with your best efforts, sometimes it is impossible to avoid hitting an animal. However, your instinct may be to steer your vehicle in the direction that the animal is traveling, since initially, it is away from the animal. Instead, you should be mindful to steer in the direction that the animal came from as this can help you avoid hitting it as it continues on your path.
  • Expect more than one– Up to 70 percent of car and deer collisions happen because a driver slows down for one deer that crosses the road and then speeds up. Upon speeding up, a subsequent deer appears and is then hit. Since many different types of wildlife travel in groups or stay with their mothers for long periods of time, always expect there to be more than one in the same area.
  • Be extra vigilant between the months of October and December– Collisions with deer happen most frequently during these months. During hunting season, deer are displaced and look for places to run or hide. With decreased leaves and tall grasses to hide in due to the season, they are more likely to run.

With a little bit of effort and time, you can decrease the chances that you will hit animals or wildlife. You can also save money on your auto insurance and get the coverages you need to protect yourself in the event that you are in an accident or do hit an animal. Check out what coverage is best for you with our free comparison tool below! 

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