- Collisions with wildlife increase by 67 percent during the fall months
- The average wildlife-vehicle collision auto claim is $4,135
- Your Auto Insurance policy will pay for damage to your vehicle from a collision with wildlife if you have optional Comprehensive Coverage
SEATTLE – Vehicles and wildlife can be a lethal combination on Washington roads. As the weather gets colder and days get shorter, you face a greater risk of collisions as deer and other wildlife migrate from the mountains and dart across roads and highways.
During the fall months, animal collisions increase by 67 percent because of migration patterns, according to the Farmers Insurance 2016 Seasonal Smart Digest. The Washington Department of Transportation reports that annually more than 1,100 wildlife/vehicle collisions are reported to the Washington State Patrol (WSP). The collisions cause nearly 1,200 injuries and average two fatalities each year.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, an estimated 1.5 million wildlife-vehicle collisions occur each year resulting in approximately 150 occupant deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The average wildlife-vehicle auto claim is $4,135.
“Collisions between vehicles and large animals can cause severe damage and serious injury to drivers and passengers,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council president. “Using caution and staying alert can save your life and eliminate the need for costly vehicle repairs.”
Brine said a standard Auto Insurance policy will pay for damage to your vehicle, less the deductible, if you hit a deer or any other animal – but only if you have optional Comprehensive Coverage.
“All drivers are required by law to carry an Auto Liability Insurance policy when they drive, which provides coverage to pay for injuries or damage suffered by others in an accident which is your fault,” Brine said. “But to be protected if you are injured or your own car is damaged in a collision with wildlife, you’ll need Comprehensive coverage, which is an inexpensive addition to your auto policy.”
According to Farmers Insurance, 37 percent of all comprehensive insurance claims from September through November in the Pacific Northwest are because of collisions with animals.
NW Insurance Council and Farmers Insurance offer the following defensive driving tips to help you avoid wildlife while on the road:
- Be attentive from sunset to midnight and the hours just before and after sunrise. These are the highest-risk periods for deer-vehicle collisions.
- Drive with caution when moving through wildlife-crossing zones, in areas known to have large deer and elk populations and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland. Also be aware that wildlife collisions also happen on city arterials and suburban neighborhood streets.
- Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others may be nearby.
- When driving at night, use high-beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic and no cars directly ahead of you.
- Brake firmly when you notice deer or elk in or near your path and stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid an animal and hit another vehicle or lose control of their car.
- If you hit an animal, pull over and call law enforcement to direct you to your next step. Some states have special requirements regarding animal collisions.
- Always wear your seatbelt. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that 60 percent of people killed in deer-vehicle collisions were not wearing a seatbelt.
If you have questions about your policy coverage, contact your insurance agent or company. For more information, call the NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942 or visit www.nwinsurance.org.
NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.