Hit a Deer? Find Out if Liability Insurance Covers It

Does liability insurance cover hitting a deer? Liability insurance covers you if your vehicle collides with another person or property. This coverage protects you from paying medical and legal fees out of pocket. In the event of a deer collision, liability insurance does not apply. This is because hitting a deer is completely random and outside of your control. For coverage against animal-related damage, you will need comprehensive coverage for your vehicle.

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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Written by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier

Cynthia Lanctot is an insurance professional with ten years of industry experience. Cynthia is licensed in several states, and holds an associate in claims law, as well as a bachelor’s degree in English. Cynthia’s experience includes the New England and Northeast states. She currently works as a liability claims professional and an occasional online contributor.

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Reviewed by Cynthia Lanctot
Licensed Agent Cynthia Lanctot

UPDATED: Jan 14, 2022

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A Concise Overview

  • Liability insurance covers any instances of physical damage to people or property
  • Deer collisions are covered under comprehensive insurance plans
  • If you hit a deer, immediately notify your insurance company of the accident

Across the United States, collisions with deer are all too common. Nearly one million vehicular accidents related to deer occur annually, with an average of 10,000 Americans sustaining injuries. Most deer accidents happen during the autumn months at dawn or dusk, the hours when deer are most active.

So does liability insurance cover hitting a deer? Unfortunately, liability insurance does not cover accidents involving deer. Liability insurance is designed to cover your liability when you cause an accident (i.e. the other party’s injuries or property damage). However, there are other insurance plans available which do cover these types of collisions.

This article will go over what liability insurance is, what damages are covered by a liability insurance plan, and what plans can be used to cover other accidents.

As you read this article, you may consider picking an insurance plan that would cover you in the event of a deer accident. You can get a free quote by typing your ZIP code in our free quote tool, where you can compare the best rates from different insurance companies in your area.

What is liability insurance?

If you are responsible for an accident, you may legally be held to cover any expenses for the injured party. Such expenses may include medical bills, damage to the vehicle, or legal fees.

Liability insurance is designed to help you avoid paying out of pocket for these bills. To ensure that you are capable of covering the injured party’s expenses, every state has minimum liability limits set in place.

There are two distinct types of liability insurance:

  • Bodily Injury Liability: Bodily injury liability covers any expenses related to physical injury. This includes medical fees, emergency aid at the scene of the accident, and compensation for any wages lost by the other party.
  • Property Damage Liability: Property damage liability covers the cost of any damages to property caused by an accident. In addition to vehicle repairs, this coverage can also extend to homes, businesses, or other objects damaged in a collision.

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Why doesn’t liability insurance cover deer collisions?

By its design, liability insurance is meant to benefit any parties which are involved in an accident. The party responsible for the accident is protected from covering the damages by themselves, and any party which sustained injury or damage is given due compensation.

This isn’t possible in cases involving deer accidents. Oftentimes, only one vehicle is involved in the accident. Therefore, there is no second party that would be entitled to financial compensation.

Liability insurance would apply in instances where a driver damaged people or property while trying to avoid a deer, but since no contact was made with the deer, it would not count as a deer collision.

Another complication is that many accidents with deer are outside the control of people.

An attentive driver can avoid just about any accident, but they cannot account for a deer randomly leaping out of the woods and onto the road, right in the path of their vehicle. Liability insurance is not designed to protect people from random, outside events.

What insurance plan covers deer collisions?

If you want to insure your vehicle from deer collisions, you will need to invest in comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive insurance covers the cost of any damages to your car not caused by a vehicular collision.

Rather, comprehensive insurance plans protect your vehicle from damage caused by outside factors, including animal damage.

In addition to damage caused by animals, comprehensive coverage extends to the following events:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism (including any caused by civil disturbances)
  • Natural disasters
  • Fires
  • Falling objects (trees, debris, etc.)

When you purchase a comprehensive coverage plan, you will be asked to select a deductible. This deductible is a set amount of money which you pay out of pocket to cover any damages, with your insurance company paying for the rest.

For example, if your vehicle is damaged in a deer collision and you have a $500 deductible, then you will be expected to put $500 toward repairs.

It’s worth mentioning that comprehensive coverage plans are not required by law. While every state requires drivers to have a liability insurance plan, comprehensive insurance is completely optional.

Of course, it’s worth having this type of coverage in place in the event you have a deer-related accident.

Does collision insurance cover deer accidents?

Collision coverage is an insurance plan which covers the cost of any damages sustained to your vehicle. In addition to accidents involving other drivers, collision insurance covers single-car accidents as well.

If your vehicle were to roll over, for example, then you would be protected with collision coverage.

Similarly to liability insurance, collision coverage does not cover any deer-related collisions. If your vehicle makes physical contact with a deer, then it would have to be covered under comprehensive insurance.

The only instance where you can file a collision claim is if you swerved out of the way of the deer, only to hit another vehicle or object instead.

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Will hitting a deer affect insurance rates?

Hitting a deer will generally affect your insurance, but the impact may not be as big as you expect. This is because deer accidents are counted as outside events, and thus fall under comprehensive coverage. Your comprehensive rates will go up, but this coverage is typically more affordable than collision coverage in the first place.

That being said, it’s important to note that your insurance rate is determined by the number of claims you file. If you file several different insurance claims in a short period of time, then you’ll notice your rates rising.

Under these circumstances, a deer collision could potentially affect how much you pay for insurance.

What To Do After Hitting a Deer

The immediate aftermath of a deer accident is undoubtedly stressful. Not only will you have to deal with a damaged vehicle, but there’s a chance that you or any passengers in your vehicle may be injured as well.

There’s also the matter of the deer itself, since it will have to be properly disposed of if it died in the collision.

If you hit a deer, take the following steps if you are able to:

  • Pull off the road: Regardless of the state of your vehicle, it’s imperative that you try to move it into the breakdown lane. Staying in the middle of the road could potentially cause another accident and lead to traffic building up. Turn on your hazard lights as well.
  • Inspect your vehicle: Check every part of your vehicle for damage, even in places that didn’t come in contact with the deer. Look for broken headlights, parts that are loose or broken off, and any fluids leaking from the vehicle. Take pictures of the damage for insurance purposes.
  • Assess any injuries: Take note of any injuries that you or your passengers may have sustained due to the accident. Contact emergency services immediately if anything serious is discovered.
  • Contact the authorities: Call the police immediately after the accident. Explain the situation with as much detail as possible, and be sure to give them your location if you can. Once the police arrive, you will need to fill out a police report for insurance purposes. They will also handle the deer if it is dead.
  • Stay away from the deer: Whether the deer is alive or dead, it’s best to keep your distance. Wounded deer are especially dangerous, as they can lash out with their antlers or powerful legs. Moving a dead deer yourself isn’t recommended since you could put yourself at risk of catching diseases.
  • Contact your insurance company: Call your insurance company to let them know you will be filing a claim. Report the accident and give them as much information as you are able to. Take pictures of the damage to send them so you can support your claim.
  • Have your vehicle towed: If your vehicle is totaled, or otherwise unsafe to drive in, call for it to be towed. Stay by your vehicle at all times.

The Last Word on Whether Liability Insurance Covers Hitting a Deer

You’re now aware that while liability insurance doesn’t cover deer collisions, there are other insurance plans available that do cover these types of accidents.

If you are interested in finding an affordable coverage option, please enter your ZIP code down below. You will receive free quotes from insurance companies in your area, allowing you to pick the best plan available.

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