Blog Does Hitting A Deer Affect Insurance?

Jul 28, 2021

Most Wildlife Collisions Involve Hitting A Deer

Two deer crossing the road on a snowy day with mountains in the background

Did you know approximately 80% of wildlife collisions involve deer? Moose, elk, bears, coyotes and other wildlife make up the remaining 20%. No one wants to hurt an animal on the road, but it does happen.

Ontario is known for the most collisions with wildlife – around 14,000 are reported every year according to the OPP. No matter what season it is, it’s a good time to brush up on some safety tips and precautions to take on the road.

Here are some driving techniques if you come face-to-face with wildlife on the road to keep you and other drivers safe. We clarify how a wildlife accident can affect your Ontario car insurance and when you should contact your insurer to submit a claim.

When Do Accidents With Deer And Other Wildlife Happen?

Animals are active 24/7, however, the peak time of day for them on roads is between 6 p.m. and midnight. Studies show that the risk of hitting wildlife is higher during dusk and dawn, when light is lower, animals are most active.

Incidents also spike when driving in the fall because it is mating season for moose and deer. There is also an increase in spring due to animals coming out of hibernation and looking for food.

How To Minimize Damage From A Wildlife Collision

As you learn in driving school, your actions on the road should put your life and other drivers first. If you spot a deer or any wildlife on the road and it is too late to safely avoid an accident, here is what you should do to lessen the impact :

  • Stay calm : Panicking can lead to swerving and fast movements on the road which can put others and yourself at risk.
  • Press on the brakes : Quickly check your rear-view mirror and if it is safe, firmly and evenly place your foot on the brake.
  • Ease up on the brakes before contact : Releasing some pressure of the brakes before becoming in contact can prevent it from going through your windshield.
  • Steer towards the animal's direction : If the animal is coming from the right, steer towards the right shoulder. This can encourage the animal to cross the road faster – increasing your likelihood of missing it or at least minimizing the impact. Be careful not to hit the guardrail or roll into a ditch.

What To Do After You Hit A Deer With Your Car

Yellow sign warning for deer crossing on-road

If you are in an accident with a deer or any wildlife on the road, here is what you should do :

  1. Regain control of your vehicle and pull over when it is safe.
  2. Turn on hazards lights to alert other drivers as they approach you.
  3. Call 911 right away if anyone is hurt.
  4. Inspect your vehicle and call for help. Cal 911 if your vehicle is blocking traffic or is no longer safe to drive.
  5. Try to determine if the animal is dead or injured but keep your distance. Contact animal control services if you believe the animal is injured. Otherwise, contact local highway maintenance services to collect it.
  6. Take photos of the scene of the accident – if you must make a car insurance claim, photos will help your insurer process it.
  7. Call your insurer and be prepared to provide as many details as possible about the incident.

How Does Hitting A Deer Affect Insurance?

A collision with a deer, or any wildlife, would generally be covered under comprehensive insurance or all-perils. These are both option types of coverage that come with a small additional price – if you don’t have either, you may not be protected in the event of hitting wildlife. However, if you make multiple claims around the same time, you will likely see an increase.

9 Tips To Help Prevent Hitting A Deer Or Other Animals

Winding road surronded by forest

The number of animals involved increased by 47% from 1999 to 2014 according to the Ontario Road Safety Annual Report. There are 14,000 wildlife-vehicle collisions happening in a year in Ontario. There are some ways we can prevent these accidents from happening.

Here are nine tips to prevent an accident with wildlife :

  1. Be aware of your surroundings : Keep your eyes on the road and check your mirrors regularly so you are always aware of what is happening around your vehicle. Wooded areas and driving at dusk or dawn have an increased risk of wildlife.
  2. Look for signs : You’ll often see warning signs posted near the road that will alert you of areas that are prone to wildlife activity.
  3. Use high-beams : When you are driving at night, use your high-beams in poorly lit areas and on country roads.
  4. Use your horn : If you see an animal standing near the road, try honking your horn in short bursts to encourage it to leave.
  5. Look for glowing eyes : Scan the side of the road when you’re driving. Most animals’ eyes will glow brightly when they meet headlights.
  6. Slow down or stop safely : If you see an animal cross, assume there will be more behind it. Try not to get too close and let the animal have space while they are crossing. Turn on your hazards to alert other drivers you are slowing down and there is a hazard ahead.
  7. A second set of eyes : If you have a passenger in your vehicle, ask them to watch for signs of wildlife along the road.
  8. Drive defensively : Brush up on defensive driving techniques to help you anticipate the actions of those around you, including wildlife.
  9. Think “what if” : It’s good to mentally prepare and think about what you will do if you encounter wildlife.

Wildlife Collision Statistics

The Traffic Industry Research Foundation published a study about accidents that involve wildlife in Canada. Here is a look at some of their key findings :

  • 89% of wildlife-vehicle collisions occur on rural, two-lane roads.
  • There is a wildlife-motor vehicle collision approximately every 38 minutes.
  • 1 out of of every 17 motor vehicle collisions will involve a wild animal.
  • Each year, wildlife-car collisions cost about $800 million across Canada.

FAQs About Hitting A Deer

A collision with a deer will be covered under comprehensive or all-perils policies. However, if you do not have these optional types of car insurance, you likely will not be covered.

If you hit a deer, in most cases you will need to pay your car insurance deductible. The amount you pay will be outlined in your policy.

Yes. Hitting a deer could be deemed as an at-fault accident – it depends on the situation and insurer. Some insurers will not consider hitting a deer at-fault, but you may be at-fault if you swerve and cause a collision with another vehicle or a guard rail.

If you hit a deer with your vehicle, it will be considered a comprehensive claim so it will go on your drivers abstract, but generally will not increase your costs.

There is no ticket or fine if you are involved in an accident with a deer.

Deer and other large wildlife can total your car if you are involved in an accident. It depends on the size of your vehicle, how fast you were driving, and where the animal was located.

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