Does My Automobile Insurance Cover Hitting a Deer?

Drivers should be vigilant about avoiding collisions with deer, especially on rural or secondary roads.  Typically, the mating season for white-tailed deer occurs between October and December.  During this time, deer are on the move and more likely to be near roads.  As a result, about 45 percent of deer-related accidents happen during mating season.  

Your chance of hitting a deer while driving in SC is about one in 93.  Fortunately, your automobile insurance covers deer-related accidents under your policy’s Comprehensive Coverage.  Comprehensive coverage covers damages to your vehicle caused by events like hitting deer or other animals.  

Are Human Injuries Sustained in Deer Collision Covered?

Claims for medical bills related to deer-auto collisions may be covered by your Medical Payments Coverage or Personal Injury Protection Coverage.  Your health insurance may help cover some of the costs as well.

If you swerve to avoid a deer, but hit another vehicle instead, your Collision insurance covers damage to the vehicle.

Deer-Related Accidents Are Increasing

Deer-Related AccidentsThe South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports that more than 2,500 deer-related accidents happen yearly.  However, in 2022, the agency received reports of approximately 6,000 such accidents.  

Although these SC statistics seem high, other states in the Northeast and upper Midwest report about 30,000 to 50,000 deer collisions annually.  

Nationwide, about 1.5 million deer-auto collisions occur annually causing over $1 billion in damages, 10,000 injuries to humans,  and 175 to 200 human fatalities.

What To Do After Hitting a Deer

No one wants to be faced with hitting a helpless animal, but it can happen to anyone.  Although hitting a deer is not an at-fault accident, you should not just drive away.  If you’re involved in a deer-related accident, take the following steps to ensure your safety:

  • Move your vehicle to the side of the road and turn on the hazard lights. 
  • Report the accident to the SCDPS or local law enforcement.
  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Document the incident by taking photos of the road, your surroundings, your vehicle damage, and injuries sustained.  Get contact information from witnesses, if any.
  • Stay away from the injured animal.  Their powerful legs and sharp hooves can inflict injury.
  • Check your car for loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, or leaking fluid that may make it unsafe.

You may keep the deer for personal consumption if you wait for the police to arrive and they determine the animal was accidentally killed by your vehicle and not hunted illegally.  

How Can You Prevent Deer-Related Accidents?

Generally, deer-related accidents happen near dusk and dawn because deer are more active during these times.  Since more people are commuting during those hours, the risk of hitting a deer is high.  Generally, deer are more active between 5:00 – 8:00 in the morning and between 6:00 – 10:00 in the evening.  In most cases of deer-related accidents, a driver got little to no warning that a deer was about to cross the road.

Although deer can seemingly appear out of nowhere, you can do some things to reduce your risk of hitting one:  

  • Don’t ignore deer crossing signs.  The yellow, diamond-shaped signs with a deer on them indicate areas where deer have been hit previously.  The signs don’t necessarily indicate specific deer trails.
  • Reduce your speed.  Driving slowly during dawn and dusk may help reduce your chance of hitting a deer.
  • Use the headlight’s high beam.  Driving with your headlights on high beam will help you spot a deer and avoid a collision.
  • Avoiding swerving.  Although it’s an automatic response, swerving to miss hitting a deer may cause more damage and injuries.  Swerving could cause a head-on collision with another vehicle or cause you to run off the road and hit a tree or roll the car over.  Therefore, experts advise slowing down as much as possible and allow your car to hit the deer.

Hitting a deer won’t go on your driving record (MVR) unless another vehicle or someone’s property sustains damage.  However, it will be added to your claims history on your automobile policy if you file a claim for damages or injuries.

Contact Sandifer Insurance Agency to Learn More About Automobile Insurance 

Deer-related accidents in South Carolina are high, so you want to be sure you are protected.  If your vehicle is paid for, you aren’t required to have Collision or Comprehensive Coverage.  But, you may want to consider adding it if you aren’t covered for hazards such as deer collisions.  

Sandifer Insurance Agency will be pleased to assist you and answer your questions about auto insurance.  We have over 40 years of experience in helping South Carolina drivers get affordable, reliable insurance.  Our agency can also help you with homeowners, life, farm, and commercial insurance.  Contact us today by phone, email, or online to talk with one of our agents or get a free quote.  


Sources: – South Carolina Drivers Should Watch for Deer on State Roads – Collisions With Fixed Objects and Animals – How Many Car Accidents are Caused by Deer? – South Carolina State Officials Warn of Increased Deer-Vehicle Collisions

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