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Deer and Vehicles—Are You Covered?

Originally posted on https://oci.wi.gov

Madison, WI—The deer hunting season is here and Commissioner of Insurance Ted Nickel reminds consumers to check their auto insurance policies to make sure they have coverage for deer hits.

“Deer are on the move and active generally mid-October through the end of November,” said Nickel. “When we start to hear warnings about the deer season from the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Transportation, it is a good reminder to check your auto insurance policies. Without the proper insurance in place, you’ll be faced with a large repair bill, or worse, a totaled vehicle with no coverage.”

Deer hits and other auto-animal collisions are covered under the comprehensive coverage of an auto policy, sometimes referred to as “other than collision.” This optional coverage is found in the section entitled “Coverage for Damage to Your Auto.” Comprehensive coverage provides financial protection beyond that of collision coverage, including hail, theft, falling objects and deer hits. Drivers should call their insurance company or agent and check their policies to see if they have comprehensive auto coverage.

In addition to hunting season, fall is also the mating season for deer in North America. This means that male deer are bolder in their movements and less focused on their environment. This can add up to tremendous costs for Wisconsin drivers. The National Transportation Safety Administration estimates that car/deer collisions cost approximately $1 billion per year.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation figures show that in Wisconsin law enforcement reports of car/deer collisions totaled 18,895 in 2012, which was an increase of approximately 5% over 2011 data. October and November had the most vehicle/deer crashes with 2,771 and 4,133, respectively. Dane County had the highest number of car/deer collisions of any county in Wisconsin with 851. Shawano County had 800 collisions and Waukesha County had 710 in 2012, for the second and third highest number of car/deer collisions in the state.

Commissioner Nickel encourages Wisconsin’s drivers to be aware of the increased chance of hitting deer in the coming months and take the proper precautions. Drivers are encouraged to heed the following suggestions:

  • Be attentive in the early morning and evening hours; this is the most active time for deer.
  • Pay close attention to deer crossing signs; they are installed in places where there are typically more deer crossings.
  • Wear your safety-belt, stay sober, keep your headlights correctly adjusted, and use your high beams where possible.
  • If you see a deer near the side of the road, slow down and blow your horn; some suggest also flashing your headlights to scare the deer away.
  • If you see a deer in front of you, brake firmly, don’t swerve, stay in your lane and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop. It is better to hit the deer than to swerve and lose control of your vehicle and risk rolling over or hitting a tree or oncoming traffic.
  • If you hit a deer, do not leave your vehicle. The injured deer could hurt you. Try to get your car off the road and call the police.

OCI publications such as Consumer’s Guide to Auto Insurance can be ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, calling 800-236-8517 or visiting the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov.

Created by the Legislature in 1871, Wisconsin’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI’s mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.