Be on alert! Fall is peak time for deer hits
Knowing what to do can help prevent injury and costly damage
Deer-vehicle collisions are more common in November than any other month. Knowing how to react in this situation can help prevent personal injury and costly vehicle damage.
Drivers are reminded to stay vigilant as the risk of deer-vehicle collisions increases during the months of October and November. Deer pose a major threat to drivers this time of year, and the financial cost of these accidents has increased in recent years.
In 2018, American Family Insurance paid a total of more than $149 million to almost 40,000 customers who had vehicular run-ins with animals.
Last year American Family saw the most claims in its home state of Wisconsin, followed by Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas and Iowa.
Repair costs up
In 2018, the company’s average claim payment for a deer hit was $4,000, up from an average claim payment in 2017 of approximately $3,600. The increased cost is partly attributed to advances in vehicle technology, which include features that are expensive to replace.
An estimated 1.5 million deer-vehicle crashes occur on U.S. roadways each year, resulting in thousands of injuries and multiple deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Between the risk of injury and the rising cost of vehicle repairs, now is the time to get educated on best practices when deer are active.
Drivers can reduce the chances of injury and vehicle damage by keeping these tips in mind:
- Stay alert and avoid distractions while driving, including your phone. Check the road and roadside ahead, and actually look for deer. Pay close attention at dawn and dusk, when visibility is low and deer are on the move.
- Take extra caution when driving through deer crossing zones; these are heavy traffic areas for deer.
- If you see a deer on the road, brake firmly and blow your horn. Deer often fixate on headlights, so it may not be effective to just flash your lights.
- If you can’t stop, don’t swerve. Swerving can lead to greater injury if you hit a tree or another vehicle.
- If you see a deer cross the road up ahead, take caution and watch for other deer as they often travel in groups.
- Always wear your seatbelt. Most people injured in deer-vehicle crashes were not buckled.
What to do if you hit a deer:
- Move your car off the road, if possible, and turn on your hazard lights.
- You may be legally required to report an accident with significant vehicle damage, depending on state laws. This documentation will also be helpful when filing a claim with your insurance company.
- Take photos of your car and the accident scene but stay off the road and away from the animal. A wounded animal can become frightened and act aggressively.
- Contact your insurance company to report your claim. Collision with an animal is covered under the comprehensive section of your auto insurance policy. Since comprehensive coverage is optional, be sure to check your auto insurance policy for specific coverages.
About American Family Insurance
Madison, Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance group is the nation's 13th-largest property/casualty insurance group and ranks No. 306 on the Fortune 500 list. The company sells American Family-brand products, including auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance, primarily through its exclusive independent contractor agents in 19 states. American Family affiliates (The General and Homesite) also provide options for consumers who want to manage their insurance matters directly over the internet or by phone. Affiliate Main Street America sells insurance products through independent agents. Web www.amfam.com; Facebook www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter www.twitter.com/amfam.