Headlight Drama: Average Deer-Car Claim Cost Is Up 14 Percent

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Deer strike season is here. Make sure you have sufficient coverage.

This post comes from Michelle Megna at partner site CarInsurance.com.

The chances of hitting a deer while driving are up 3 percent this year, and so is the cost: The average deer strike claim is $3,888, up 13.9 percent from last year, according to State Farm.

Odds of a Bambi collision are 1 out of 169, but that likelihood doubles during deer season, from October to December. In West Virginia, the state where deer-car collisions are most likely, the odds are 1 in 39, up almost 5 percent from 2013, State Farm says.

The Mountain State, which has been No. 1 on the list of states most likely to have deer strikes for eight consecutive years, is followed this year by:

  • Pennsylvania — 1 in 71.
  • Montana – 1 in 75.
  • Iowa – 1 in 77.
  • South Dakota – 1 in 82.

(See the odds of a deer collision for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.)

Doe! Deer collision rates all over the map

Other notable developments in State Farm’s annual deer collision report include a 21 percent hike in Indiana and an 8 percent uptick in Virginia. South Carolina debuted in the top 10 for the first time, with a 1-in-93 chance of a vehicle-to-venison incident.

Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, offered some insight on why there are such significant changes in the car-deer wreck rates. Regan said in a written statement:

Changes in collision rates from year to year are a reflection of changing deer densities or population levels — more deer in a given area increases the potential for collision. Deer populations are also affected by conditions such as new or improved roads with higher speeds near deer habitat, changes to hunting seasons to manage wildlife, winter conditions, and other related factors.

Drivers in deer-dense states should carry comprehensive

Sometimes the deer isn’t the only victim. Injuries, vehicle damage and fatalities all can result from vehicle collisions with deer. There were 175 deaths in 2012 caused by collisions with animals, with deer being the animal most often struck, according to the Insurance Information Institute and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Damage from car-to-mammal mishaps are covered by comprehensive insurance, which is optional coverage. It also covers theft, vandalism, hail, fire and other incidents largely beyond your control. Comprehensive claims don’t generally raise your rates unless you have recently filed additional claims.

If you swerve to miss a deer and are successful but crash, say you hit a tree or guardrail, that damage is covered by collision insurance. If your vehicle doesn’t make contact with the animal, the damage is considered a collision claim because you hit another car or object (or rolled your vehicle).

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