Does My Car Insurance Cover Me if I Hit a Deer?

Written by April Weismann on 11/21/2023 05:24 PM in Auto Insurance.

Hitting a deer is a risk that every driver, especially in New Hampshire, must consider. It is an experience that is unpredictable, terrifying, and expensive if you don't have the proper insurance.  Here is what you need to know regarding hitting a deer and how your NH car insurance can financially protect you.comprehensive insurance

Does Car Insurance Cover Me If I Hit a Deer?

Like anything in insurance, the answer depends. If you have comprehensive coverage, aka "other than collision" (OTC), you likely have coverage should you strike a deer or other animal.

As the name suggests, "other than collision" coverage (aka comprehensive coverage) applies if the insured vehicle sustains damage from an event other than colliding with another vehicle or object.  This includes damage from events such as theft, vandalism, fire, wind, or water, or contact with a bird or animal.

Comprehensive is a vital coverage option

If you have a loan or a lease on your vehicle, your lender will require you to purchase comprehensive coverage, as well as collision coverage, so the bank's financial interest in the vehicle can be recouped if it’s damaged. 

Comprehensive is still essential if you don’t have a loan or lease, as it can pay for expensive repairs if you hit a deer, moose, or other animal. Without this coverage, you would have to pay the repair bills yourself as there is no other party to file the claim with, unlike if you are in a multi-vehicle accident and found not at fault.

As agents, we often recommend an insured keep comprehensive coverage on their car insurance policy as it is less expensive than collision coverage and incidents covered by OTC are less predictable.  Even if you are a careful driver without any moving violations or accidents in your history, there is little you can do if a deer jumps out right in front of you driving at 50 mph.

Medical Payments may cover injuries as a result of hitting a deer

If someone in your vehicle is injured due to hitting an animal, medical payment coverage may also apply for medical expenses needed to treat the injuries. Generally, the medical payments coverage within car insurance covers injuries to the driver and any passengers in the vehicle, regardless of the cause of an accident.

If you purchase liability insurance, you likely have medical payments coverage as well, as it is sold together.  That said, medical payment limits are often low, often providing just $5,000 in coverage, though more coverage may be available.

Am I covered if I swerve to avoid a deer and hit something else?

There are tons of different scenarios that can impact coverage. Generally speaking, if you don't make contact with an animal, and hit another vehicle or object, such an incident would likely fall under collision coverage if purchased (to repair the damage to your own vehicle) and possibly liability coverage (to repair the damage to someone else's vehicle, bodily injury, fence, etc.) as a result of the accident.

Oh, deer.... 

The bottom line is that life is unpredictable, which is why you purchase insurance.  Though always unfortunate to hit a deer or other animal, it is comforting to know that you can at least purchase the protection needed to get you back on the road.

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