My wife and I were driving up to Bridgton Maine last Friday night around dusk. We were on a winding stretch of road running from Hiram to Denmark where we often see deer on or near the road. That night we only saw one standing off to the side. It was a good thing it was on the side because we did not see it until we were directly beside it. If it had been spooked into the road there would have been some serious damage to my truck and injuries to the deer and perhaps my wife and me.
We would not have been alone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 1.5 million car accidents involving deer per year. And, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the average collision cost for this type of accident is $2,800, with the figure leaping to $10,000 if injury is involved.*
But the good news is that collision with an animal is not considered a “collision” loss on the auto policy but rather a “comprehensive” loss. This is good news for the driver of the car as most single-vehicle collision losses carry surcharges. For instance, if you hit a wall, telephone pole, fence etc. you will be surcharged. If you hit a deer, moose, coyote etc. you will not be surcharged.
Another positive is that many people carry lower deductibles on Comprehensive than Collision. This is because the Comprehensive premiums tend to be much lower than the Collision and the benefit of carrying a higher deductible minimal. For most clients we find that $1,000 is the optimal Collision deductible while the optimal Comprehensive deductible is only $300. In this case treating the accident as a Comprehensive loss reduces the policy holder’s payout by $700.
* Source DMV.org