Is Hitting a Deer Really That Dangerous?

Every year, people from all parts of the country collide with wildlife with their vehicles at some point. The department of transportation helps to alert drivers of areas where animals are likely to cross the road with signs like deer crossings, but it’s not something you can solely rely on. To avoid car accidents like this, you will need to know when to look out for animals, like deer and why it’s essential to avoid hitting them if you can.

When should you be more aware of deer?

A deer on the road in a city environment.
Deer in the road | Getty Images

Deer are always around, but their most active season is in the fall. That’s for a couple different reasons. One is because that’s when deer hunting season takes place. Hunters actively roam fields, wooded areas, and designated hunting lands. 

This drives deer from their hiding spots to open areas, which includes crossing roadways. Another reason is that it’s their mating season. These animals will travel quite far to find a mate, and busy roads won’t stop them. 

You will also need to be more aware from dusk to dawn. This is when deer will begin to move around. You’ll see them more between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., but they can move throughout the night. 

How much damage can a deer do to a vehicle?

On average, hitting a deer in the fall can cost you as much as $3,600 per claim. It can be more or less depending on the situation. If you collide with one of these animals any other time of the year, it can be around $2,800 because deer aren’t as active during that time. 

It’s even possible to have a car totaled because of the collision, wherein the insurance company may pay for a replacement or a certain amount toward a new vehicle. 

However, coming into contact with a deer can be more dangerous to you if you choose to swerve and avoid hitting it, just to avoid paying for damages to the car. According to Erie Insurance, in 2016 alone, 189 deaths occurred when the vehicle went off the road, causing a more severe accident. 

In other years, it’s been as many as 150 fatalities. So, sometimes it’s better to hit the deer rather than swerve and risk rolling the car or colliding with another object. 

How does insurance pay for the damages?

Insurance companies will cover an accident with a deer, but it would depend on what’s covered under your auto policy. Comprehensive coverage will take care of that, but it has to be included with your insurance. According to Allstate, no states require comprehensive, but many will ask for some form of liability insurance. 

It will also depend on the deductibles you choose to include with your policy. So, if you hit a deer and the damage costs $3,000 and you have a $500 deductible, the insurer will reimburse the $2,500 to repair it. You would then be responsible for paying the remaining $500 out of your own pocket. You will likely pay the total amount if you have no comprehensive coverage. 

Your insurance will do things differently if the car is totaled. How much the company will pay toward replacing your vehicle depends on your comprehensive coverage details. Whatever the policy’s limit is under that coverage will dictate the amount the insurer will pay you. Sometimes, it might not be near as much as you owe on a car loan. 

Hitting a deer with your vehicle could cause serious damage that will be costly to repair. Learn to be more aware of your surroundings while driving at any time of year, but be especially careful in the fall at dusk and dawn, so you can avoid harming the deer or your car. 

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