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Fall is peak time for deer hits

Knowing what to do can help prevent injury and damage


Deer-vehicle collisions are more common in October and November. 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 2017, American Family Insurance customers filed approximately 32,000 deer-vehicle claims, with an average claim payment of $3,631. By comparison, just under 30,200 deer-vehicle claims were filed in 2016 and the average claim payment was $3,494. The increased cost is partly attributed to advances in car technology, which include features that are expensive to replace.

In Wisconsin, where American Family Insurance is headquartered, just over 9,000 American Family customers filed deer-vehicle claims in 2017, down from approximately 9,400 in 2016. The average payment in 2017 was $3,362 up from $3,175 in 2016.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported more than 20,400 deer hits statewide in 2016, the last year for which data is available.

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. With risk of injury or worse, and the rising cost of vehicle repairs, now is the time to get educated on highway safety during the autumn months.

Drivers can reduce the chances of injury and damage to their vehicle 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.
  • Contact authorities. 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. 311 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 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. Web; Facebook; Twitter