4 Aug, 2023

Does Insurance Pay If I Hit a Deer With my Car?

Author Todd A. Strong
Old headlights and deer. Concept of i hit a deer with my car
Old headlights and deer. Concept of i hit a deer with my car

A motorist who hits a deer on a highway or roadway might wonder, “Does insurance pay if I hit a deer with my car?” Whether your insurance will cover the costs of hitting a deer with your car depends on your insurance policy. If you have comprehensive insurance, your insurer can pay for the damage caused by events that are not your fault, such as hitting a deer. Be sure to read your insurance policy carefully to know what is covered and what is not.

A comprehensive claim won't increase your insurance rates, although insurance companies consider your claims history when determining rates. Taking the right steps after hitting a deer can help safeguard your right to pursue compensation. These steps include documenting the accident scene and calling the police, as well as other best practices.

Does Insurance Cover Hitting a Deer?

Does insurance pay if I hit a deer in Illinois? That is the question you might ask after hitting a deer on a highway or roadway and suffering injuries and property damage. Well, vehicle damage from hitting a deer is typically covered by comprehensive coverage offered by your car insurance provider.

Comprehensive coverage can cover damages to your car caused by events out of your control, such as hitting a deer or other animals. But for it to cover the accident, your car must come into contact with the animal.

Comprehensive and collision coverage only covers vehicle damage. Claims for medical expenses after hitting a deer will be covered by your medical coverage or your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, if you have either.

Medical coverage pays for medical treatment costs for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. PIP, on the other hand, pays for medical expenses, as well as lost wages and other expenses.

Whether you have medical payments or PIP coverage, you should give your health insurance information to your healthcare providers. The injury-related coverage your car insurance offers may not be enough to cover your total medical bills. As such, health insurance can help cover the difference.

Does Liability Insurance Cover Hitting a Deer?

Minimum auto insurance coverage, referred to as liability insurance, is the least coverage necessary to legally drive or operate vehicles on the road in most states. It covers the cost of injuries or property damage you cause to other people or property in an accident. However, it excludes coverage of cost of damage to your car, even if someone else was at fault for the accident. It also does not cover medical expenses for you or your passengers and lost wages or other expenses you incur due to the accident. Your primary liability insurance will cover any damage your car causes to someone else’s car or property following a collision with a deer.

What to Do if You Hit a Deer

The first thing to do is to stay calm and assess the situation. If you can, move your vehicle to the side of the road, out of the flow of traffic. Then turn on your hazard lights and remain in your vehicle until it's safe to exit.

You should check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately. If the deer is still alive, call animal control or a wildlife rehabilitation center. Take lots of pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the deer, and the surrounding area, and get the contact information of any motorist who stops by or is involved in the accident.

Call the police to report the accident. The police officers will show up at the accident scene and compile an accident report. They may also help you with animal control or wildlife rehabilitation. You should also hire a lawyer to help you prepare and file the insurance claim.

Your insurance company must know about the accident to start processing your claim. It may also be willing to help you with towing and repairs. You can also count on your insurer to cover the cost of repairs minus the deductible if your vehicle is damaged.

What Type of Information Should You Share With the Police?

The police expect you to cooperate during the investigation and will ask you to give a statement. By sharing this information, you can help complete the investigation and file an accurate report. Here's what you should share with the police after hitting a deer:

  • Your name, address, and insurance information.
  • The date, time, and location of the accident.
  • The direction you were traveling and the speed.
  • A description of the deer, including its size, color, and any distinguishing marks.
  • Whether the deer was alive or dead after the collision.
  • Details of anyone injured in the accident, damage to the vehicle, witnesses, and pictures or videos of the accident scene.

Will My Rates Increase After Hitting a Deer?

Comprehensive insurance can cover damage to your vehicle caused by events out of your control, like hitting a deer. However, a claim for hitting a deer will likely not result in an increase in your insurance rates.

The methods for evaluating surcharges after a car accident vary from one insurance company to another. Talk to your insurer if you need clarification on whether a deer-vehicle accident will affect your rates.

You must have comprehensive insurance to recover costs for damage caused by hitting an animal. Your comprehensive insurance will have a deductible, which is the out-of-pocket payment you make before your insurance company pays for repairs. The amount of your comprehensive insurance premium will vary with your car's make and model, your driving record, and your location.

Will Your Rates Increase if You Start an Injury Claim After a Deer-Vehicle Collision?

If you get injured in a deer-vehicle collision, you should file a PIP claim with your insurer. The PIP will take care of your medical bills and lost income, regardless of the party liable for the accident.

Filing a PIP claim will not necessarily impact your insurance rates, because deer collisions are considered “not at fault” accidents. As such, you may not be responsible for the accident.

However, some insurance companies may still raise your rates if you file a PIP claim, even if you are not at fault. The amount of your insurance premium increase depends on the extent of injuries, your medical expenses, and your insurance company's policies. Fortunately, the increase is likely to be small.

Should You Call the Police if You Hit a Deer?

It is always a good practice to call the police after hitting a deer. Do this to report the accident and file a police report, which will help with insurance claims and legal matters. Illinois requires motorists to file a police report for a deer accident if it results in $1,500 or more in damage.

Tips to Avoid Hitting a Deer

Deer-vehicle collisions can cause serious injuries and even death. They may cause significant damage to your motor vehicle. They may also cause damage to property, such as fences and mailboxes. You can help keep yourself, others, and the environment safe by following the following tips:

  • First, familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Check deer crossing signs on the road and examine the roadsides for the deer’s eye shine, which is basically the headlight's reflection in its eyes.
  • High beams at night can help you see deer far away, giving you more time to react. When passing near wooded areas, fence rows, and field edges, be cautious. Deer are more likely to be found in those areas.
  • Deer are more likely to cross the road at curves, so you should slow down and be prepared to stop. If you see a deer by the roadside, slow down and be ready to step on the brakes, since more deer may follow it. Deer may also suddenly stop in the highway or roadway, or change direction, so be prepared for the unexpected.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes or swerving sharply, as controlling the car may become difficult. Honking your horn and flashing your headlights when deer are near the road may scare them away, causing them to run into the road. Instead, leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the car in front of you to get more time to react if a deer runs into the road.

Hiring a personal injury lawyer after hitting a deer and sustaining serious injuries can help you get the most money from your accident. The lawyer will investigate your case, assemble evidence, handle communications and negotiations with your insurer, and represent you in court if necessary. The lawyer will also ensure you know your rights and answer any questions you may have throughout the claims process. 

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.