What To Do When You See a Deer in Your Headlights

Sep 27, 2021 | Personal Insurance

The fall season is rapidly approaching, the temperature is gradually falling and the mating season has begun. Every year, an estimated 1-2 million wildlife-vehicle collisions occur in the United States. In Colorado alone, there are 3,300 deer-vehicle collisions reported each year. Across the country, animal-vehicle collisions resulted in 26,000 injuries, 200 deaths, and $8 billion in auto and property damage. To avoid hitting deers, here are some tips on what to do when you see a deer in your headlights.

Tips on How to Avoid Vehicle Collisions with Animals

Colorado is the home for thousands of wildlife animals particularly deers and elk. Colorado’s deer population is estimated to be over 25,000, with white-tailed deer dominating. The Colorado Department of Transportation in collaboration with other groups developed an awareness program, to reduce the number of animal-vehicle collisions. The goal of “Wildlife on the Move” is to inform motorists about the dangers of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Here are some tips to help prevent wildlife and deer-related accidents.

  • The mating season starts when the temperature drops down. Most wildlife animals usually mate from October to January. Because of the mating season, wildlife animals, especially deers are less concerned about road surroundings. That’s why cases of car collisions involving wildlife animals especially deer are the highest during this time.
  • Always remember that elks and deers belong to a herd. If you see one, slow down in driving and expect that there are more coming as elks and deers often travel by pack. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings when driving. Pay attention to road warnings indicating deer or animal crossing signs.
  • Upon seeing highway deer crossing signs, drive slowly and stay alert. 
  • Be especially alert during dawn and dusk. Wildlife animals are most active when dark. 
  • Follow the safe driving speed limit. Driving slowly gives enough reaction time for drivers to react in case of deers jumping in front of your car.
  • Don’t swerve to avoid deers on the road. Never swerve instead brake firmly and stay in your lane. Swerving may lead to loss of vehicle control. It may lead to a more serious accident like hitting other vehicles or properties. Damaging other property is more expensive than hitting a deer.
  • If you’re driving on a multilane road, it is best to stay safe on the middle lane, if allowed. This gives the deer plenty of space to cross the road. 
  • If you’re driving in wooded areas, honk your horn to scare deer away from the road.  Studies have shown that mounted reflectors and deer whistles are not effective in keeping deers away from vehicles.
  • Turn your headlights on high beam settings to help spot animals at night. Only use a high beam setting when roads are clear and there is no oncoming traffic. Turn off high beams when other cars are approaching.
  • Always scan the sides of the road for signs of animal movements nearby. Watch out for the shining eyes of animals which may look like car headlights.
  • Always wear your seatbelt when driving. With or without deers crossing the roads, wearing a seatbelt is a must. Seatbelts save drivers from serious physical injuries in case of car accidents. 

What Should You Do If You Hit a Deer on the Road

  • Check the area and pull to the side of the road.
  • Turn on your hazard lights. Check the surroundings and make sure the area is safe before going out of the car. 
  • If there are casualties involved, call the emergency services.
  • In case of property damage, call and inform the local police department.
  • Do not approach the deer. It is dangerous to approach a frightened and confused deer. Inform the local police if the animal is still alive and lies on a dangerous part of the road.
  • Document the scene. Take pictures of the road, the surroundings, vehicle damage, and any injuries sustained. If there were witnesses around, ask for a statement and contact numbers.
  • Contact your insurer to report the accident and vehicle damage.
  • Inspect your car for any damages. Hitting a deer can cause vehicle damages. Check for leaking fluids, tire damage, broken lights, or loose parts. If you think your vehicle is unsafe to drive, call a tow service company.  

Am I Covered?

Wildlife and deer accidents may cause injury and property damage. Auto insurance coverage varies according to state laws and driver’s needs. Drivers living in areas heavily populated with deers must have protection against deer-related auto accidents. The risk of vehicle collisions with wildlife animals is one in every 116 American drivers. If you live in an area with a large wildlife population like Colorado, better secure a coverage that will protect you against wildlife-vehicle collisions. The standard auto insurance coverage does not cover drivers from vehicle collisions. Comprehensive coverage protects motorists against different covered perils including deer collisions. 

Types of Auto Insurance Coverage

Insurance companies offer various auto insurance coverages. Some coverages are mandatory according to your state laws. Some are optional and depending on the driver’s needs and preferences. Here are the six most common car policies insurers offer:

Most states require motorists to carry liability coverage. Drivers must purchase a minimum liability according to state laws and requirements. Liability coverage has two parts:

  • Bodily Injury Liability 

If the insured driver causes an accident, this coverage will pay for the medical expenses of third-party injuries. 

  • Property Damage Liability

This coverage will help you pay for the damage you caused to another vehicle while driving.

Some states require drivers to purchase these coverages while some are optional. It is important to check your state laws for mandatory auto insurance coverage requirements. You may check the list of required auto insurance coverage of every state from the Insurance Information Institute. 

  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

In case of an auto accident involving an uninsured driver, UM coverage will save you from medical or vehicular repair expenses. 

  • Underinsured Motorist Coverage UIM)

Underinsured drivers have auto insurance but their coverage limit is not enough to cover all related expenses. UIM coverage will help you pay for the exceeding medical and repair expenses in case you get hit by an underinsured driver. 

States Requiring UM and UIM Coverage
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia (only UM coverage)
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri (only UM coverage)
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Collision Coverage

Property damage liability only covers third-party insurance claims. Collision coverage will help you pay for the damages you caused to your car. It will cover the expenses of your car repairs or replacement. For totaled cars, the insurer will pay for the car’s actual cash value minus depreciation. This coverage is optional but often required for leased or loaned vehicles. Although deer collision is a type of collision accident, it is not covered by collision coverage.

  • Comprehensive Coverage

This coverage protects car owners against covered perils. If your car gets damaged by a covered peril, comprehensive coverage will pay for the repair expenses. For totaled cars, the insurance company will pay for the replacement cost of your car. The replacement cost will be the car’s actual cash value minus depreciation. Though state laws do not typically require this coverage, car lenders and lessors often require this.

Covered Perils By Comprehensive Coverage

  • Fire 
  • Earthquake 
  • Explosions
  • Flood
  • Falling objects
  • Hail
  • Windstorm
  • Riot 
  • Missiles
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Collision with animals like deer-vehicle collision 
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

PIP coverage helps pay for your medical expenses and other expenses associated with your injuries. It provides financial support to cover child care expenses or loss of income. 

States That Require PIP Coverage

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay)

MedPay will cover you and your passenger’s medical expenses in case of an accident. It covers the cost of medical visits, x-ray, surgeries, and more. Only two states require drivers to carry medical payments coverage. It includes Maine and Wisconsin. 

State Laws and Requirements for Auto Insurance

The standard auto insurance coverage varies according to state laws and requirements. In the state of Colorado, all motorists must carry an auto insurance policy with the following coverages:

  • A minimum of $25,000 coverage for bodily injury or death per person in an accident.
  • $50,000 coverage limit for bodily injury or death for everyone involved in the accident.
  • Property damage coverage amounting to $15,000 in every accident.

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim

  • Contact the police and report the accident. Call 911 if someone is needing medical treatment. Request a police report for claims purposes.
  • Document and take pictures of the accident. If there’s another vehicle involved in the accident, get the details of the driver. Write a summary of what happened before, during, and after the accident.
  • Report the accident to your insurance provider and open a claim. 
  • Submit all the necessary documents needed for your insurance claim. Communicate with your claims specialist to discuss settlement and payout.
  • Wait for the insurance carrier’s decision about settlement and payout. 

Whether you’re driving for family or business trips, it is important to adhere to safe driving practices to reduce accidents. Following simple driving precautions will make a big difference to you and your passenger’s safety. With all the hazards present in the roadway, defensive driving is beneficial. To make sure you’re protected from all these types of road hazards, secure car insurance coverage according to your needs. Whether hitting a deer or colliding with other vehicles, the AIS team is here to help drivers get protected. Call us now for a free auto and home insurance review.