Q

Does car insurance cover animal damage?

A

Yes, comprehensive coverage covers animal damage, including chewed electrical wiring, scratches, and damage to your car after a collision with an animal.

Stephanie Nieves author photo

By

Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in home and auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Published August 11, 2021|3 min read

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From chewing on your car’s electrical wiring to totaling it in a collision, animals can cause some serious damage to your car. But whether or not animal damage would be covered by your policy depends on the coverage you have. If you have comprehensive coverage, then animal damage is covered, along with other damage that can happen when you’re not driving.

Most forms of animal damage are covered by car insurance, like if a rodent chews through your electrical or if you accidentally hit a deer while driving. But if an animal destroys personal items in your car, your insurance won’t pay to replace those items.

Key Takeaways

  • With comprehensive coverage, most forms of animal damage are covered, like if you hit a deer or if mice chew through your engine wires

  • Comprehensive coverage is what covers other non-driving perils, like fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects, and extreme weather

  • You can prevent animal damage by parking in an enclosed space, getting rid of food from inside your car, and using chemical deterrents to keep the pests away

Does car insurance cover damage from animals?

Yes, car insurance will cover animal damage as long as your policy includes comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is a type of car insurance coverage that covers damage to your car when it’s not being driven, like damage from vandalism, extreme weather, falling objects, and yes, animal damage. 

If you have comprehensive coverage as part of your policy, you’ll be covered for things like rodent damage, pest infestations, and hitting a deer — but without comprehensive coverage, you won’t be paid out by insurance for damage caused by animals.

Animals getting inside your vehicle

Yes, if an animal, like a possum, gets into your car, scratches up your seats, and chews up your gear shift, your car insurance policy may pay to repair the damage (although it may not be costly enough to justify filing a claim). If you think animals have damaged your car’s interior, look around for any critters that may be hiding in your car or engine before you drive it.

Rodents chewing wires

Yes, if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, repairing chewed wires would be covered. If your engine light is activated or if your car won’t start, that could be a sign of animal damage, but you should look around for droppings or paw prints as further clues. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage and rodents chew on your electrical wiring, you'll have to pay for the damage out of pocket.

Hitting a deer

Yes, hitting a deer is covered by comprehensive coverage. Deer are the most common animal hit on U.S. roadways [1] , and can cause severe damage to your car and injury to you and your passengers. If you hit a deer, you should call the police to help clear the animal off the road and file a police report. When you’re ready to file a claim, a claims adjuster will be assigned to you who will investigate the damage and determine how much your insurance will cover you.

Damaged personal items

No, comprehensive coverage will not cover you if an animal breaks into your car and damages your personal belongings, like a backpack or phone. The damage that occurred when it broke in, however, would be covered (like if it breaks your door handle). In general, damage to or theft of your personal belongings would be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy.

What is comprehensive coverage?

Along with collision coverage, comprehensive coverage is optional coverage you can add to your auto insurance policy to cover damage to your vehicle. Unlike liability insurance, it’s not required in any state, although if you lease or finance your car, your lessor or lender will probably require you to have both comprehensive and collision coverage in your policy. Comprehensive insurance covers your car when it is damaged by a non-driving peril. This includes damage from:

  • Fire

  • Theft

  • Vandalism

  • Extreme weather

  • Falling objects

Some insurance companies offer comprehensive coverage bundled with collision coverage, while others treat them as two separate products. If your car is stolen or completely damaged by any of those perils covered by comprehensive coverage, your comprehensive coverage will pay out up to the actual cash value of your vehicle.

➞ Learn more about comprehensive vs. collision coverage

How to prevent animal damage

Animals can cause hundreds of dollars in damage to your vehicle, and the damage can range from small scratches to totaling your car completely. But while car insurance can pay for your car repairs after the fact, it would be better to prevent the animal damage from happening in the first place. Here are some ways to protect your vehicle from animal damage:

  • Park your car somewhere secure - If you usually park outside, small animals may have easy access to your vehicle. Park your car inside a garage, away from grass, if possible, and seal any holes in your garage with sheet metal or steel mesh to prevent rodents from entering 

  • Don’t keep food in your car - Food attracts animals, so remove it from your car as soon as you can. Make sure trash cans around your car are tightly sealed and that you don’t store pet food in your garage where rodents can access it

  • Use chemical deterrents - Ultrasonic repellents emit a high frequency noise that keeps rodents away, so you should consider getting one for your garage. Spicy rodent tape or bitter and sour sprays can also work to keep pests from chewing your cars wires 

  • Move your car frequently - Pests are more likely to make a home out of your car if it is stationary, but driving your car every day or at least a few times a week might discourage them from moving in 

  • Drive carefully in wooded areas - Slow down and pay close attention to deer crossing signs. If you see a deer, safely come to a stop, flash your headlights, and honk your horn to encourage it to move — but don’t swerve, as that can be dangerous to you and other drivers on the road

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to pay a deductible if you hit an animal?

Any time you hit an animal and file a claim, you have to pay a deductible to be paid out for the damage. Deductibles for comprehensive and collision coverage are typically set to $500 or $1,000. And if your car is totaled in the accident, your car insurance will pay for the actual cash value of your car, meaning its value at the time of the accident, minus your deductible amount.

Can you die if you hit a deer?

As is the case with any collision, hitting a deer can lead to fatal injuries. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), animal collisions lead to about 200 deaths per year.

Will hitting a deer make my insurance go up?

Your car insurance tends to go up when you cause an accident, but hitting a deer is rarely under your control. However, your car insurance can still go up after a not-at-fault accident, depending on your insurer and the state you live in. One 2017 report found that Progressive raised rates nearly 17% after a not-at-fault accident, and rates at GEICO went up around 14% after a not-at-fault claim.