Wildlife Collision – Are You Covered?
June 20, 2016
New Englanders are no strangers to deer and moose sightings. In some areas the deer out number people. So it’s no surprise that there are times we share the roadways and wildlife collisions are unavoidable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, yearly collisions involving just deer alone total 1.5 million car accidents. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety puts the average collision cost at $2,800.
The first and foremost thing to remember is to be safe. If you’ve spotted wildlife in your lane you may decide to swerve to avoid hitting it. Each situation will vary depending on oncoming traffic and surroundings. From an insurance standpoint, if you swerve or don’t swerve, here’s what you should know.
Damage to a vehicle from a collision with wildlife is covered under an auto policy’s optional comprehensive coverage. If you only have collision coverage or liability coverage, your insurance carrier will not cover damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with an animal.
Should you swerve to avoiding hitting the animal and instead hit an object such as a tree or a guardrail or should you hit another car, the collision portion of your insurance policy will cover the damage once your deductible is met. It is important to note, however, that in this situation your insurance premiums may increase regardless of why you swerved.
The best way to protect yourself is to be informed and stay alert to avoid wildlife related accidents. Here a few tips:
- Deer are most active between sunset and midnight and during pre-dawn hours so keep alert for deer especially when in areas identified as deer crossings. Bears and moose are most active at night.
- Deer mate and migrate during the October to January timeframe and during June so be extra cautious as you may see an increase in deer sightings.
- Headlights have an illumination range of 200 to 250 feet. To allow for sufficient brake time, reduce your speed to 45 mph at night.
- Whenever possible, especially on rural roads, use your high beams for better visibility in spotting deer and other wildlife.
- If you do hit a deer or other wildlife, first make sure everyone is ok, call the police, do not touch the animal, and when it is safe to do so, take pictures of the accident scene for your insurance claim.