Car Insurance When You Hit a Deer (or a Deer Hits You)

This past Friday night, I got a call from our 17 year old son. He had gone out for the evening and, on the way over to his friend’s house, a deer bolted out of the woods and crashed into the side of the car.

As it turns out, he wasn’t driving our Highlander (he was in our CR-V), but I still think that this story is relevant to readers of this site. Thankfully, he wasn’t hurt, but there was a fair amount of damage to car.

Deer vs. car

The deer ran headlong into the driver’s side front quarter panel (fender) and dented it pretty badly. There was also a bit of damage to the front edge of the driver’s side door, as well as to the left side of the hood.

Once we got over the initial shock of what had happened, I told him to take pictures of the damage while I started thinking about the implications. My main concern was the possible effect of this incident on our insurance rates.

This would likely be a costly repair, and I didn’t want to cover it out-of-pocket. But, at the same time, he’s a teen driver and I wasn’t sure what filing a claim would do to our rates. So…

I went online to investigate. And guess what? I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned about insurance coverage when you hit a deer.

Collision vs. comprehensive

As it turns out, collisions involving wildlife (e.g., car vs. deer) are typically subject to the coverage under the comprehensive portion of your policy. As such, claiming such an incident shouldn’t effect your rates.

As a reminder, comprehensive (as opposed to collision) coverage applies to things like vandalism, theft, fire, so-called “acts of God,” and… Yup, you guessed it… Damage due to deer or other animals.

Of course, not everyone has comprehensive coverage. In that case, you could wind up covering the cost of repairs yourself. In our case, however, we not only have comprehensive coverage, we also have a zero deductible.

With this info in hand, I contacted our insurance company (State Farm Insurance) and started the claims process. They confirmed that, yes, this sort of thing would be considered a comprehensive claim, so it’s all good.

As for the total cost, we haven’t seen the final estimate. I’ll try to update when I know. But, honestly, the total cost doesn’t really matter. Our zero deductible means that State Farm will be picking up the tab.

Do you need a police report?

Oh, and just in case you were wondering… We didn’t need to get the police involved. I actually called the local Sheriff’s office to be sure.

In our area at least, incidents like this only need to be reported if: another party was involved, there were injuries, or it resulted in a disruption to traffic flow (like a carcass in the middle of the road).

They did, however, encourage me to check with the insurance company, as some insurers want a police report to support the claim. According to State Farm, however, incidents like this are common enough in our area that they don’t require a police report when you file a claim.

So there you have it. By the end of the week, we should have the car back from the body shop, and all will be well.

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