The Low Down on Deer Damage and Auto Insurance
Ah, autumn. It brings the familiar sight of leaves transmuting into a dizzying array of goldenrod, burgundy, plum, burnt orange and chestnut hues. You might also enjoy the fall flavors of tart apple cider, decadent caramel and piquant pumpkin spice. Unfortunately, it’s also the prime time of year for vehicular collisions with one of nature’s most plentiful woodland denizens: deer. Being organized doesn’t just mean having a tidy home or office, it also means having your affairs in order. Like your insurance. It’s a good idea to know what your auto insurance covers just in case you have an unanticipated run-in with one of these creatures. Hopefully, you won’t find your bumper buried into the side of a five-point buck.
Risk Factors in Your Area
In a 2016 Bankrate article, contributor Doug Whiteman revealed key statistics about the risk of deer crashes across the United States. The odds of a motorist colliding with these animals is the highest in the Midwest, the South and the Plains states. Specifically, North Carolina drivers face a 1 in 115 chance of ending up in an accident with deer. As a NC resident, I know plenty of sad, unfortunate people who have had run-ins with deer. They are everywhere! Moreover, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety revealed that 186 people died from animal-related collisions in 2015, the last year for which data is available on the subject. Also, deer damage claims averaged around $4,100 each during that same year.
How Does Your Insurance Cover Deer Damage?
You might expect that a close encounter of the hooved and antlered kind would be addressed by the collision portion of your auto policy. Nevertheless, Bankrate explains that this is usually not the case, although it’s a common misconception among drivers. The comprehensive portion of your insurance-the same one that deals with wind, hail, fire, vandalism and theft-is what kicks in when you inadvertently go bumper-to-hide with a whitetail. The good news is that these are considered non-fault claims and usually result in a rate increase for a one-time incident.
If you have a newer vehicle that you’re financing or leasing, you should already have comprehensive coverage along with your collision and liability. Even so, people with older automobiles or with models they’ve already paid off might have discontinued everything except their liability insurance. In those cases, you’;re unfortunately on the hook to pay for your own repairs. Even if you still have full coverage on your automobile, it’s important to pay attention to the deductible you select for the comprehensive part of your policy. You’ll have to fork over that amount before you’ll see reimbursement for deer damage. And a run-in with a deer causes a lot of damage.
How to Cut Your Risk of Deer Collisions
Thankfully, you can avoid a vehicular run-in with a member of Odocoileus virginianus. They tend to emerge between sunrise and sunset, so keep an eye out when driving during these hours. Also, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety recommends using high-beam headlights when there’s no oncoming traffic to help illuminate the eyes of any deer present. Decrease your speed in areas where there are deer crossing signs, or near farms and woodlands, to give yourself plenty of time to brake. Finally, slow down and honk your horn if you see these woodland creatures in the middle of the road.
Stay Connected With Your Insurance Agent
Whether you live in an urban area or close to deer country, it doesn’t hurt to have a strategy for deer damage. Driving carefully during the fall season and adopting some smart tactics should help you steer clear of a collision. However, it’s vital not to neglect your insurance options. It’s prudent to contact your Raleigh insurance agent and get advice on the best indemnity products for your finances and driving habits. Choosing comprehensive coverage with a sound deductible limit, along with maintaining a good driving record, should ensure that you get reimbursed easily for any claims you incur.
My father was an insurance man. He drummed in me early the need to make sure you are adequately covered. My wish for you is that you never have a run in with the beautiful deer so plentiful in our woods. But you know, just in case, check your insurance.