Cars and deer can be a lethal combination. An increase in urban sprawl and more roads being built through wildlife habitats have displaced deer from their natural habitat, leading to a rise in deer-vehicle collisions, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I)
Deer migration and mating season generally runs from October through December, and causes a dramatic increase in the movement of the deer population. As a result, more deer-vehicle collisions occur in this period than at any other time of year, so drivers need to be especially vigilant.
An estimated 1.23 million deer-vehicle collisions occurred in the U.S. between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, costing more than $4 billion in vehicle damage, according to State Farm, the nation’s leading auto insurer.
Damage caused by an accident with deer or other animals is covered under the optional comprehensive portion (not the collision portion) of an automobile insurance policy. Comprehensive auto insurance includes coverage for: fire, theft, vandalism or malicious damage, riot, flood, earthquake or explosion, hail, windstorm, falling or flying objects, damage due to contact with a bird or animal and sometimes, depending on the policy, windshield damage.
The average claim for deer-vehicle collisions between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012 was $3,305, up 4.4 percent from the previous year with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of the damage. Over the last four years, the number of deer-related claims paid out by State Farm increased 7.9 percent, while other claims involving moving vehicles (i.e. first-party, physical damage claims not caused by weather, criminal activity or fire) declined 8.6 percent.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) noted that deer-vehicle collisions in the U.S. cause about 200 fatalities annually.