Does Hitting a Deer Raise Your Car Insurance Rates?

Hitting a deer can be a scary and dangerous experience for any driver. These unpredictable animals can dart out in front of your vehicle unexpectedly, leaving you with little time to react. The resulting collision often causes extensive damage to your car.

After such an incident, one of the first questions on your mind is probably “What will this do to my car insurance rates?”

The answer depends on several factors:

How Insurance Companies View Deer Collisions

Insurance companies generally classify a deer collision as a “comprehensive claim.” Comprehensive coverage protects against damage from non-collision events like weather, vandalism, and animal strikes.

Unlike at-fault accidents, comprehensive claims are usually out of the policyholder’s control. For this reason, hitting a deer is not considered an at-fault accident in most cases.

However, each insurance company handles deer claims differently when it comes to rates:

  • No rate increase: Some insurers do not raise rates after a comprehensive deer claim. They view it as an unavoidable accident.

  • Slight rate increase: Other insurers may implement a small rate hike after a single deer collision. But one claim is unlikely to drastically impact your premium.

  • Multiple deer claims: Making multiple comprehensive claims for deer collisions within a short period can cause a more significant rate increase. Some insurers consider this high-risk driving behavior.

  • Major rate hike: In rare cases, an insurer may count a deer collision as an at-fault accident and apply a large rate increase. This is more likely if you swerved to avoid the deer and caused additional damage.

State Regulations

Laws regarding deer claims and insurance rates also vary by state:

  • No rate increase allowed: Some states prohibit insurers from raising premiums after a single deer collision claim. For example, Michigan law bans rate hikes after the first deer-related claim.

  • Rate increase allowed: Other states permit insurers to raise rates to some degree after a deer claim. The amount of the potential rate increase depends on the insurer and coverage details.

  • Surcharge allowed: A few states allow insurers to apply a surcharge (dollar amount added to the premium) after a deer collision claim. Minnesota, for example, allows up to a $100 surcharge.

So in states that restrict rate hikes for deer claims, a single incident is less likely to impact your premium. But in states with looser regulations, your insurer has more discretion on whether to increase your rate.

Factors That Determine Rate Impact

Assuming your insurer does raise rates after a deer collision, some key factors influence how much your premium could increase:

  • Number of deer claims: As mentioned above, multiple deer-related claims within a few years are more likely to result in a significant rate hike than a single incident.

  • Time between claims: Deer claims spaced out over several years are less concerning to insurers than multiple claims within 12-24 months.

  • Driving history: Drivers with clean records and no prior deer claims typically see smaller increases than those with past deer collisions or other infractions.

  • Claim payout: A deer claim resulting in $5,000 of damage may impact your rate more than a $500 claim. Higher payouts can indicate greater risk to insurers.

  • Insurer: Some insurance companies are more forgiving than others of comprehensive deer claims. Compare rate increase policies when choosing an insurer.

  • Deductible amount: A higher deductible leads to lower premiums. So even if your rate increases after a deer claim, choosing a higher deductible could offset some of the rise.

  • Discount eligibility: Maintaining eligibility for multi-policy, safe driver, and other discounts can help minimize the impact of a rate increase.

Steps to Take After Hitting a Deer

To make the claims process smooth and get your car back on the road quickly, be sure to take these steps after colliding with a deer:

  • Move your vehicle to a safe place and turn on hazard lights. If it’s not drivable, call roadside assistance.

  • Document the damage and scene through photos or video. Include shots of any injuries.

  • Call the police to file an accident report. This creates an official record of the incident.

  • Report the claim to your insurer as soon as possible. Provide details like the police report case number.

  • Pay your collision deductible to get repairs started quickly. Your insurer will reimburse you once they evaluate the claim.

  • Ask your insurer directly about how the claim could impact your rates. This allows you to give informed consent on filing the claim.

Ways to Offset a Rate Increase

If your premium does go up, there are ways to offset the added cost:

  • Increase your deductible. This typically reduces your rates.

  • See if you qualify for any new discounts through a policy review.

  • Consider dropping optional coverages you may not need, like rental car reimbursement.

  • Ask about safe driving programs your insurer offers. Completing one can help improve your policy standing.

  • Shop around with other insurers before your renewal. Compare quotes to see if another carrier offers better rates.

Preventing Deer Collisions

While not every deer encounter can be avoided, there are defensive driving measures that can help reduce your risk:

  • Use high beam headlights when possible to better illuminate the road and shoulders.

  • Scan roadsides carefully for deer, especially at dawn and dusk when they are most active.

  • Slow down when driving through areas marked with deer crossing signs.

  • Apply steady, even brakes if you spot a deer. Do not swerve suddenly.

  • Use your horn to spook deer away from the road.

  • Always wear your seatbelt to minimize injuries in a collision.

Ask Your Insurer About Coverage

The impact of a deer collision on your car insurance premium depends on your insurer’s practices, state laws, and other elements like your driving record.

To fully understand the rate implications in your situation, have an open conversation with your provider when filing the claim. They should clearly explain any rate increase you can expect.

Knowing what to expect can help you make an informed decision on whether to file a deer claim or pay for repairs out-of-pocket instead.

Hitting a deer can be an upsetting experience. But taking proactive steps in the aftermath can get your car back on the road safely and keep insurance rates reasonable. With preparation and diligence, a deer collision doesn’t have to become a financial burden.

You just hit a deer, now what? Find out what insurance covers


Does your insurance premium go up if you hit a deer?

Hitting a deer generally doesn’t cause your car insurance rate to increase. Rates typically go up in the event of “chargeable accidents.” A chargeable accident is one where the driver is 50% at fault or higher. It also has to involve damage to someone’s property (such as their car or fence), bodily injury, or death.

Is hitting a deer considered an act of God?

Normally when you are driving and hit something in the road then the damage would be covered under collision. However, hitting a deer (or any other animal) is considered a comprehensive claim since it is an unexpected variable and falls under the category of an “act of god,” much like hail damage or vandalism.

Will my insurance go up if I hit a deer Geico?

However, hitting a deer doesn’t carry the same risk of rate increases as hitting another vehicle. More than likely, you won’t pay more for auto insurance after hitting a deer, but you still have to pay your deductible before the insurance company covers the repairs.

Is it better to avoid or hit a deer?

Swerving to avoid an animal can put you at risk for hitting another vehicle or losing control of your car. It can also confuse the animal as to which way to go. Instead, just slow down as quickly and safely as you can. Your odds for surviving an accident are better when hitting an animal than when hitting another car.

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