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What to Do if You Hit a Deer with Your Car

Friday, 15 July 2022

Our Canadian landscape is filled with beautiful wildlife, but as cities grow larger and highways continue to expand, we encroach on the natural habitat of many of these animals. This means the wildlife we work to protect are more frequently finding their way into developed areas and onto our roads. It’s important to know what to look out for on the roads to ensure your safety and avoid a collision with wildlife. In this blog, we will share some tips on how to reduce your risk of a wildlife collision and what to do if you hit a deer with your car.

Wildlife Collision: The Facts

  • The majority of collisions with wildlife in Ontario take place on rural, two-lane roads.
  • Collisions often happen near a water source or place of habitat and forage near the roadside.
  • The peak time of day for these collisions is between 7 pm and midnight.
  • Collisions are highest when light and visibility levels are lower and animals are more active, generally dusk and dawn.
  • Wildlife collisions spike during autumn (October-December) and spring (May and June).

How to Avoid Hitting Wildlife with your Car

There are some steps you can take to try to avoid hitting a deer with your car or other wildlife that may appear on the road. Here are some things you can implement into your regular driving habits. 

  • Learn About Animal Behaviour
    • Wild animals have a fight-or-flight response and react unpredictably in unsafe situations.
    • Animals will unexpectedly bolt or jump across the road.
    • Animals such as deer or bears travel in groups, meaning if one crosses the road, more may follow.
  • Look for Wildlife Crossing Signs – In Ontario, you will see yellow diamond-shaped signs, often with an image of a deer. These signs remind us to stay alert and look out for wildlife in these areas.
  • Watch Your Speed – The one thing a motorist can do to reduce the risk of a wildlife collision is to slow down. You will have more to time to react appropriately in braking or steering away from unexpected objects. It will also reduce the force of impact and injury in the event of a collision.
  • Use Defensive Driving Techniques – pay attention to your surroundings and anticipate the actions of those around you, including wildlife. Look out for animals on the road, shoulder, or along the side of the road. Shining eyes may indicate your headlights are reflecting off an animal’s eyes.

How to Hit a Deer With Your Car

If a crash with wildlife is unavoidable, train your eyes for where to look. Aim for where the animal if coming from rather than where it is going. Fix your eyes on where you want your vehicle to go, not on the animal.

AVOID SWERVING or other evasive actions. Swerving into oncoming traffic or leaving the road may cause a more serious collision and greater injury.

Brake firmly, hold onto your steering wheel, and come to a controlled stop.

What to Do if You Hit a Deer with a Car

Even if you’re alert and follow these steps to avoid a wildlife collision, you may still hit a deer with your car. Try not to panic and take it one step at a time. If this happens to you, here’s what to do if you hit a deer with a car:

  1. Move your vehicle to the side of the road if it’s safe to do so.
  2. Turn on your hazard lights and stay off the road.
  3. Call the police to alert them if the deer or collision is blocking traffic. You may also need to fill out an official report which may prove helpful when you file an insurance claim.
  4. Document the incident – if it’s safe, take photos of the roadway, damage to vehicles, and any sustained injuries. Collect contact information from any witnesses.
  5. Stay away from the animal – a frightened animal is more likely to react to approaching humans and cause harm to you.
  6. Contact your insurance broker, or use our 24/7 claims line at 1-866-670-0905.

Does My Insurance Cover me if I hit a deer with a car?

Liability insurance is a requirement in Ontario; however, collision and comprehensive coverage are not mandatory. You will need to speak with your broker to find out if you have coverage if you hit a deer or other wildlife with your car. If you have comprehensive coverage when you hit a deer with a car, your claim will likely be covered by your insurer. Comprehensive coverage helps to cover damage to your car from unpredictable, random incidents such as glass, theft, fire, vandalism, and if you hit a deer. If you hit a tree or a fence to avoid hitting the deer, your claim could be filed under a collision claim and may have more adverse effects on your insurance record. It’s important to note that some other wildlife collisions (ie. coyote) may be considered an at-fault collision claim and would require collision coverage.

Do You Have the Pay a Deductible if you Hit a Deer?

When you select your insurance coverage with a broker, a deductible is set for collision and comprehensive coverage. A deductible is an amount you agree to pay out of pocket towards a covered claim. Your individual policy will dictate whether you must pay a deductible; however, if you have comprehensive coverage, you will most likely have a deductible that will need to be paid. Your insurance company will then cover the rest of the damage after you have paid the deductible. If you hit a deer and your car is totaled, your comprehensive coverage limit will dictate the maximum amount your policy will pay out to help you replace your vehicle.

If I Hit a Deer, Will it Affect My Insurance?

If you hit a deer with your car, it will be considered a comprehensive claim. Any comprehensive claim does go on your record but generally will not affect your premiums as you are not at fault. If you end up with a high frequency of not-at-fault claims, your insurer may require that you increase your deductible to cover the cost of the damage. Generally speaking, at-fault claims can increase your insurance premiums more adversely unless you have accident forgiveness.

At BIG, we recognize the importance of staying protected on the roads no matter where it takes you. Even when you follow all of the steps to reduce your risks, accidents still happen, and you want the peace of mind of quality coverage at an affordable price. Contact your broker to make sure you are covered in the event that you hit a deer with your car with comprehensive coverage. To get a no-obligation auto insurance quote, contact us to get in touch with a trusted BIG broker!

By: Amy Legault