What to Do When You Hit a Deer

by Bianca Garrison - October 2, 2019
Deer about to cross a road

What To Do When You Hit a Deer

Beginning in late October through December, the number of deer-vehicle collisions tend to go up. Of course, this can happen any time of year, but this time of year is the mating season (and also hunting season) for deer. Do you know what to do if you hit a deer with your vehicle? Will your insurance cover it? Should you call the police? Read on to learn more.

If I Hit a Deer Does Insurance Cover It?

Imagine driving down the road late at night or early in the morning. You see the posted deer crossing signs, but you maintain your speed because you have never seen any deer on this road. Out of nowhere, a deer jumps out and you panic, slam on the brakes and collide with it because it does not move.

Deer are nocturnal animals. They have photoreceptors in their retina that allow them to see better in low light, so they have fantastic night vision. They can look for food, and predators, at night while most of us are sleeping. But when you approach a deer in the middle of the road, and they look directly into your oncoming headlights, they don’t move because the lights blind them.

In this situation, some drivers swerve to avoid the deer collision, but this can result in damage to your car or property.

Damage to your vehicle from hitting a deer is covered under comprehensive coverage. Collision insurance and liability insurance may not cover animal collisions. There is no animal collision insurance, but some insurance policies can write in deer and livestock so that you are covered. It depends on your state and insurance provider.

Deer Collision Statistics

According to The National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA), deer-related car accidents have consistently risen over the years due to the increasing deer populations and destruction of their habitats.

  • There are approximately 1.5 million deer-related car accidents annually
  • There are around 175-200 fatalities every year and 10,000 injuries
  • The cost of these accidents results in over $1 billion in vehicle damage
  • The vast majority of deer-related accidents happen in the Midwest
  • Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio have been in the top ten states for fatal deer collisions every year

What to Do If You Hit a Deer

If you hit a deer, stay calm. You don’t want to frighten the deer and make things worse. If the deer is still alive, stay in your car and follow these steps:

  • Call the police to report your accident. Be sure to let them know you hit a deer and report on the condition of the deer
  • Call your insurance company
  • Wait for help to arrive before getting out of the car
  • Take photos of the damage to your car

There is no sure way to avoid hitting deer, especially if you live in an area with a high deer population. The best thing to do is to pay attention to posted deer crossing signs, drive with your high beams on, and stay alert. Honking at deer or using deer whistles have not been proven to work.

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