Not all policies cover deer accidents

Posted at 8:41 AM, Nov 20, 2015

Thousands of deer are hit by drivers each year. And not all of those drivers' cars are covered. That's because you need to have a specific type of insurance policy.

"This is the time of year when there are many of them. Because it's mating season and deer hunting season and that causes the deer to be moving," said Lori Conarton, Insurance Institute of Michigan.

Conarton says Michigan's insurance policy involving deer accidents can be confusing.

"We have seen a lot of crashes recently and how that impacts your insurance is you would need comprehensive coverage to have a collision with a deer covered under your insurance policy, and that's an optional coverage in Michigan," said Conarton.

Comprehensive coverage protects drivers from storm damage, theft, and animal damage. But most drivers have collision coverage, which covers drivers whose vehicle has been damaged or destroyed due to an accident.

Here's where it gets difficult.

If a driver, with both insurance policies, hits a deer he is protected by his comprehensive plan. If the driver veers for the deer and hits another car or a light pole, than he would be covered by collision.

"Under comprehensive coverage, a crash is not considered an at fault accident. So you would not get an increase in your insurances premiums that way," said Conarton.

While drivers won't see their insurances rates go up overnight, it will increase over time.

"Somebody has to pay for all of those damages, right? There is an impact on overall rates to cover deer crashes," Conarton said. "Individually if you hit a deer it's not going to automatically raise your rates tomorrow. But three to five years those losses have to be paid somehow."

Most drivers are unaware if their car is covered by deer collision. Prices that range from a hundred dollars with some damages costing upwards of $10,000.

"We have customers come in all the time with deer claims. Actually I have a car here right now. I wrote an estimate, they thought they had collision coverage on it. They don't, they only have just PLPD, so limiting coverage," said Brandon Tripp, manager of Lansing's Tripp's Collision Center.

In the past two weeks he's seen more than 40 deer accidents.

"Deer collisions are major major major this time of year. October to December is our biggest time of year when we have deer claims," said Tripp.

The shop expects to see more cars and more drivers without coverage in the next few weeks.