Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Simple. But what happens when the chicken (or insert a different, much larger animal, say, a deer or moose) doesn’t get to the other side and you instead hit it with your car?
What happens then?
We regret to inform you that auto insurance liability coverage does not cover animal collisions in any form. Contrary to what the name suggests, collision coverage won’t help you out either.
Instead, animal collisions are grouped into another category with vandalism, theft, windstorms, hailstorms, fire and flooding. Because of this, a comprehensive coverage policy will be the only thing helping you in the aftermath of an animal collision.
Let’s take a closer look at animal-related accidents, how often they occur and what we can do as motorists to avoid them.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a collision with wildlife occurs every 39 minutes on average, with 89 percent of those collisions occurring on two-lane roadways. Deer are the most common animal hit, reportedly causing 150 fatalities a year and over $1 billion in vehicle damages. The average cost per vehicle-deer collision? $2,800.
Finally, State Farm estimates that 1.25 million insurance claims are filed each year due to collisions with big-game animals such as deer, elk, moose and bears. The cost-per-claim for these big-game collisions? $4,135 as of 2014, a 6 percent uptick from the previous year of $3,888.
It’s Not an At-Fault Accident, Though
You won’t be found at-fault by your insurer for hitting an animal. After all, when something pops up in front of us allowing for little to no time to react, what else are we supposed to do without putting other drivers on the road at risk?
If you don’t hit the deer, instead swerving off the road and colliding with a tree, you can expect to be found at fault. That’s right, you can cost yourself a lot of money by simply trying to do too much in a potential animal collision. If you have comprehensive coverage, your vehicle’s damage and your injuries will still be covered, but you can expect to pay a higher premium moving forward.
Hitting the Neighbor’s Dog
In cases where a domestic animal is hit, such as a cat or dog, you could potentially be found at fault if driver negligence could be proven in some way. In these cases, the pet owner would most likely only receive the pet’s initial value back, versus the thousands in vet bills. For the majority of cases however, if negligence either didn’t occur or cannot be proven, your insurer will pick up your vehicle costs and may try to get the money back from the pet owner through a process called subrogation. Leash laws in many states put the burden on pet owners to control their animal, though it’s always best to consult an advisor in your specific state, as laws do vary.
So to summarize, make sure you have comprehensive coverage if you want to be covered for impromptu animal crossings. There’s a time and a place for auto insurance liability coverage, but animal collisions are not those times.
Find comprehensive coverage for the price you want today at CoverHound.