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Accidents with Animals: Does Your Auto Insurance Protect Your Car?

Don’t we all just love animals? Unfortunately, not all human-animal interaction is pleasant and safe. Many roads pass through forests, deserts and other wildlife habitats, which means that we can sometimes encounter them in adverse situations.

Many car accidents are caused by animals every year. This usually happens when animals enter a road suddenly, without much time for the driver to swerve around them. If you run over an animal on a road, there are many initial concerns: Is everyone in the car okay? Is the animal okay? Are we safe? After the situation has been assessed, the next question emerges: what about the car? Who pays for it?

In most cases, you only need to worry about damage to your vehicle if the animal is really big, like a deer, coyote, bear or moose. These animals can cause great damage and sometimes even injury to you or other passengers.

Does your car insurance cover the cost of damage after hitting an animal?

This will depend on the coverage selected when you signed up for insurance. Most standard policies do not cover an animal-related accident and you will have to pay for the damage to your vehicle in addition to the trauma of hitting a helpless creature. However, if you have chosen comprehensive coverage, you are covered and will only have to deal with the trauma itself.

Comprehensive coverage can help save your pockets if:

  • You come across a deer or other animal on the road.
  • An animal hits your car, even when it’s in park.
  • An animal burrows into your car (this may sound crazy, but raccoons can tear up seat cushions and rodents are known to gnaw on threads under the hood).

Comprehensive coverage can cover damage to your car caused by events beyond your control. 

IMPORTANT: If you manage to dodge the animal (whew!), but end up hitting another car or any other object, such as a sign, a tree, or a fence, then the type of coverage needed will change. In that case, you will need collision coverage, but don’t worry, if you have comprehensive coverage you will probably have collision as well.

What kind of animal is involved?

Dealing with different types of damage from animals will vary, mainly depending on whether or not the animal has an owner/guardian. This information can make a difference when using insurance and when dealing with the animal itself.

Pet owners are often held responsible in situations like this. Wild animals such as deer have no owners, but you might be asked about this when making a claim. 

Deer

Deer are the hardest-hit animals on US roads. They are large enough to cause serious damage to your car and can sometimes injure passengers. It all depends on the speed at impact and the type of vehicle.

Since accidents with deer are so common, it is very important that you make a police report. This report is important for recording and for proving the accident, especially if you have just taken out the insurance or if you have recently used it for the same reason. Some insurance companies will require this documentation in order to authorize repairs. 

Pets

Nobody wants to hit an animal with their vehicle, especially a pet because they have owners, which are an extra pain to deal with. It is important to note, however, that pets with owners actually change the dynamics with insurance. This is because owners are responsible for damage caused by their dogs when it has not been properly restrained.

Standard procedure is for the dog owner’s policy to cover the damages. However, if this insurance is not available, the dog’s owner will be personally liable. If you are unable to locate the dog’s owner, your car insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage will cover the damage.

Birds

Often the only damage caused by birds is to the windshield. Windshield coverage is also provided in comprehensive coverage.

Raccoons

A raccoon can look small and harmless when you consider damage to the bodywork in an accident, but there are other types of damage a raccoon can cause depending on the type of car you drive.

If you run over a raccoon with a compact vehicle, check it out right away. It is likely that the animal has damaged the chassis, which can seriously affect the vehicle if not repaired.

Cow

Unlike the raccoon, we can only imagine very considerable damage from hitting such a large animal. Similar to hitting a dog, the owner of the cow would be responsible for any damage, because a cow shouldn’t be on the road.

What to do if you hit an animal

It is very important to understand when insurance coverage can protect your car and who is held responsible for damage. Even before this, however, it is important to know what to do if you are involved in an accident of this nature. 

  1. Move your vehicle to the side of the road, away from the animal. Turn on your car’s emergency lights and stay in the vehicle until it’s safe to exit.

  1. Call the police. Let them know if the animal is blocking the road as it may pose a danger to oncoming motorists.

  1. Stay away from the animal. When an animal gets hit by a car, it can get scared and aggressive. The police will take care of the situation as soon as you arrive.

  1. When it is safe to do so, document the accident. Take pictures of the road, your surroundings, any damage and injuries to you or your passengers. If another driver stops to help, document the incident report and ask for their contact information.

  1. Contact your insurance company to file a claim.

  1. Make sure your car is safe to drive. Look for fluid leaks, broken lights and make sure your doors and trunks can safely close. Determine if there is a need for help transporting the car.

Do I always need to use the insurance?

It is possible that even with sufficient coverage, you might realize that the damages were not so great and will not exceed your deductible. It is up to you to assess the need.

If your fear is that a claim will increase your insurance rates, you can breathe easy and call your insurance company. Triggering your comprehensive coverage will likely not raise your rates. However, if you were to activate collision coverage because you ran off the road and hit an oncoming car, your rates could go up.

Soul BRZ, e você?

When in doubt, you can always look to BRZ. Our agents are here to answer all your questions.

If you still don’t have extra coverage on your auto insurance, review your policy now or simulate your auto insurance and find out just how affordable it is to stay safe!


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