Does Car Insurance Cover Me If I Hit A Deer?

Written by Sara East
Written by Sara East

Insurance doesn’t have to be boring. That’s why we hired Sara East to be our BA insurance writer. Maggie specializes in making mundane subjects hella-entertaining.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

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When does my car insurance cover hitting a deer?
How does my car insurance cover me hitting a deer?
How much of the damage will be covered?
How much do I have to pay if the damage is not fully covered?
Expert(s) Found on this Page

When does my car insurance cover hitting a deer? 

I was driving at night when a deer came out of nowhere and jumped in front of my car. I tried to swerve, but hit the deer with my car. Will my car insurance cover this accident? 

No matter when or how you hit a deer, your insurance will cover the damage. This isn't the case with hitting all things, but fortunately when it comes to a deer, you'll either be covered by your collision insurance or comprehensive insurance.

Insurance companies know that hitting a deer is not the result of negligent driving or on purpose. No one wants to have their car destroyed. For these reasons, you'll be covered. 

How does my car insurance cover me hitting a deer? 

I accidentally hit a deer when I was driving through the mountains, and I know that my insurance company will cover it. I've heard there are a few different ways that insurance can cover hitting a deer, so how exactly do they go about it? 

Hitting a deer is covered by one of two things in your insurance, either your collision policy  or your comprehensive policy, also referred to as "other than collision." There's a bit of a difference between the two, so let me tell you about them. 

  • Collision coverage: Coverage for hitting another object
  • Other than collision coverage: Coverage for everything except hitting another object, like flooding, vandalism, or theft. 

Not every driver is required to have collision coverage, even though I highly recommend it. Comprehensive coverage is often considered an added bonus, but it's another I recommend. If you have both of these coverages, you'll get to choose whether you want it to come out of  your collision or comprehensive coverage. Typically, the other than collision deductible will be lower. It's also important to point out that other than collision implies that it's not your fault. Collision implies that it is your fault.

These are all factors to consider when determining which coverage to use if you hit a deer. Claiming a collision could cause your insurance company to treat you differently in the future because you'll have an at-fault collision on your driving record. But in the end, if you only have collision coverage, you'll still be covered. 

How much of the damage will be covered? 

I took my car to the shop to assess the damage from hitting a deer. They're saying it's going to cost several thousand dollars to repair. How much of that damage will I be responsible for and how much will my insurance cover? 

Your insurance policy will cover all of the damage to your vehicle, you'll only be responsible for your deductible. Everyone's deductible varies depending on their insurance coverage, company, age, driving history, and a variety of other factors. 

There is one exception to this though. In the event that you have a constructive total, you will not be responsible for the deductible. If you're wondering what a constructive total is, let's talk about it. 

A constructive total is when the repairs to your vehicle will cost more than the value of the vehicle. Let's say you have a 10-year-old car and you hit a deer. The cost to repair the car might be $5,000 but the car is only worth $2,000. In this event, you would not need to pay the deductible. The insurance company would pay you the cost of the car minus the deductible.

How much do I have to pay if the damage is not fully covered? 

If I hit a deer, is there any chance that not all of the damage will be covered? And if so, how much will I have to pay? 

If the damage to your vehicle is more than the cost of your vehicle, then you'll have to pay the difference to repair your car. However, you don't have to choose to repair it. In fact, I would never recommend spending more money than a car is worth to repair it. You can total the car, your insurance company will write you a check for the car's value, and you can use that as a down payment for a new vehicle.

The only cost you'll have associated with hitting a deer is paying your deductible. Depending on the person, this can be anywhere from $250 to several thousand dollars. This is a good time to check what your deductible is, and if it's seeming too high to afford should you get in an accident, then I recommend reaching out to your insurance agent to see how you can get your deductible lowered. 

If basic car insurance does not cover hitting a deer, what will? 

I don't have collision insurance so I'm worried that my car insurance wouldn't cover me should I hit a deer. I want to make sure I have a policy that does cover me, so what coverage can I get to make sure I'm properly insured?

Having a collision policy or comprehensive policy will cover you if you hit a deer. I already went through the difference between these two policies in my first response, and its rare that someone would have car insurance without one of these two coverages.

I always recommend collision coverage, since most accidents are a result of collision and you never want to be caught without insurance. Comprehensive policies are an added insurance bonus, and if you can afford to have it, I recommend it. 

If you're deciding whether comprehensive insurance is right for you, just ask yourself how much your car means to you and whether you have the financial means to pay for it should you get in an accident without insurance. 

No one expects to hit a deer, but it happens. I just hit a deer myself several months ago. If you live where it's possible that you'll hit a deer or plan on driving somewhere that has deer, I recommend looking into adjusting your insurance policy to make sure you're covered. 

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