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Does car insurance cover hitting a deer?

Comprehensive car insurance covers hitting a deer, but if you only have liability insurance you’ll be stuck paying for the damage yourself.

Andrew Hurst

By

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Updated|4 min read

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Your comprehensive insurance covers the damage that’s caused by hitting a deer, while your car insurance policy’s collision coverage could pay for your vehicle’s repairs if you swerved away from a deer and hit something else.

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Although your insurance does cover you if you hit a deer with your car, you won’t be covered if you don’t have full coverage. Your liability insurance doesn’t cover you if you’re in an accident with a deer. Without full coverage you’d have to pay for the damage yourself.

Key takeaways

  • As long as you’ve got a full-coverage policy, your car insurance covers the damage from a deer hitting your vehicle.

  • Your policy’s comprehensive insurance usually covers you after you hit a deer with a car, though your collision insurance could apply if you swerved to miss the deer.

  • Liability insurance doesn’t cover you when you hit a deer, so you’d have to pay for the damage to your vehicle if you weren’t fully insured.

What insurance covers hitting a deer?

The damage from hitting a deer is covered by your comprehensive coverage — a part of full-coverage insurance. Your comprehensive coverage protects you from damage that’s caused by something other than a collision, like theft, vandalism, weather, fires, and other animals besides deer.

Although insurance can cover deer damage, not everyone has comprehensive coverage. Nearly every state requires drivers to carry some form of liability insurance, but no states require comprehensive insurance.

Although collision coverage is often paired with comprehensive coverage, collision insurance doesn’t cover damage from hitting a deer (or any other animal). But collision coverage would pay for the damage to your car if you swerved to avoid the deer and hit another object or vehicle.

→ Learn more about what different types of car insurance cover

Do you have to pay a deductible if you hit a deer?

You’ll have to pay an insurance deductible — the amount that’s subtracted from any settlement after certain claims — if you make a comprehensive claim after hitting a deer. If you pay for repairs yourself, then you won’t have to pay a deductible.

Your insurance won’t cover your car’s damage after you hit a deer if your deductible is greater than the cost to repair the damage. In the event of a total loss, your comprehensive coverage will pay your car’s actual cash value — after you pay your deductible.

Does liability insurance cover hitting a deer?

Liability insurance does not cover damage from hitting a deer. Instead, your policy’s liability insurance covers you when you’re responsible for damaging another person’s property or hurting someone else with your car.

Since neither of the types of liability insurance protects you after you hit a deer with your car, you would have to pay for the damage yourself if you have a policy with just liability insurance instead of full coverage.

→ Learn more about your insurance policy’s liability coverage

Does hitting a deer raise your insurance rates?

Your car insurance rates will likely go up if you hit a deer, but they might not go up by very much. Insurance companies raise your rates after you make a claim for damage, but claims are evaluated differently by each insurer.

The average cost of car insurance for drivers with a clean record is $1,652 per year. After a not-at-fault accident, like hitting a deer, your insurance increases by an average of $137 per year. But after an at-fault accident, your rates increase by $901.

Driving record

Annual cost

Difference from average

Clean record

$1,652

$0

Not-at-fault accident

$1,789

$137

At-fault accident

$2,553

$901

Annual cost of full-coverage car insurance.

Hitting a deer wouldn’t raise your insurance rates if you have accident forgiveness. Usually, companies offer accident forgiveness — which ensures your premium won’t increase after a crash — for a small fee.

Is hitting a deer an at-fault accident?

No other cars are involved when you hit a deer, so hitting a deer isn’t an at-fault accident. At-fault accidents are when you’re responsible for a crash that injures another driver or damages their property, like after you’re speeding or because you were texting and driving.

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Who do you call when you hit a deer?

After you hit a deer, you should pull over to the side of the road so you can call the police and your car insurance company. If you can’t move your vehicle but are able to exit the car, just make sure to stay out of the way of incoming traffic.

When you’re in a safe place, call the authorities so that you can find out if the damage is bad enough that you have to fill out a report. You should also photograph the damage and make notes about where you hit the deer, the time of day, and what led up to the crash.

When you can, call or contact your car insurance company to let them know about the damage to your car. You might have to make an insurance claim if the crash was serious enough — but don’t have to if you’d rather pay for the repairs yourself.

How to prevent hitting a deer on the road

According to a yearly report on deer collisions published by State Farm [1] most claims for deer-related accidents are filed from late fall to early winter. Exercise caution especially during this time of year in low-light situations, using the high beam when necessary while driving. 

Watch out for groups and look out for deer crossing signs, especially in states with high deer runs. The five states where you’re most likely to hit a deer are according to the study are:

  1. West Virginia

  2. Montana

  3. South Dakota

  4. Michigan

  5. Pennsylvania

The good news is that If you get into an accident while visiting or passing through one of these states, your car insurance should still cover you. Since comprehensive coverage extends to a wide range of benefits, it may be something to consider, even if you don’t live in a state with frequent run-ins with deer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance cover a deer hitting your car?

Yes, your insurance can provide coverage if a deer hits your car. However, your vehicle will only be protected from damage if you have a full-coverage policy. Hitting a deer isn’t covered if you have just enough coverage to meet your state’s minimum requirements.

Is hitting a deer comprehensive or collision?

Hitting a deer is covered by your policy’s comprehensive coverage, which protects your car from damage that’s not caused by a collision. If you swerved off of the road to avoid hitting a deer and collided with an embankment, another vehicle, or something on the side of the road, your collision coverage would pay for the damage.

How does hitting a deer affect your insurance?

Hitting a deer is classified as a not-at-fault accident by insurance companies. Unlike an at-fault accident, when you’re judged responsible for an accident and are liable for someone else’s injuries and medical bills, your insurance rates won’t increase significantly when you hit a deer.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

editorial standards.
  1. State Farm

    . "

    How Likely Are You to Have a Collision with an Animal?

    ." Accessed July 26, 2022.

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

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