Doe! Deer collisions dip, repair costs rise

By Posted : 10/02/2013

Your chances of hitting a deer while driving in the coming year fell by 4.3 percent, but the average property-damage cost for deer-collisions inched up 3.3 percent from a year earlier, according to a new State Farm report.

comprehensive insurance and deer collisions

State Farm, in an analysis of its own insurance claims and accident statistics gathered from the Federal Highway Administration, predicts that motorists face a one in 174 chance of crashing into a deer during the next 12 months. That compares to the one in 167 odds the year before.

The average property-damage cost of incidents during the last half of 2012 and the first six months of this year was $3,414, compared to $3,305 for the same period last year.

The insurer calculated the deer collision numbers for each state by comparing accident totals with the amount of licensed drivers. Among the 41 states where these encounters are most likely, here are those that are expected to have the biggest declines, according to State Farm:

  1. North Dakota: a 24.8 percent decline
  2. Nebraska: 22 percent
  3. South Dakota: 12.6 percent
  4. Michigan: 11.4 percent
  5. Kansas: 11.3 percent

West Virginia, for the seventh year in a row, is where deer-related collisions are most likely. Here are the states with the biggest chances of a crash:

  1. West Virginia: A one in 41 chance of an accident during the next 12 months -- still an 8.3 percent drop from the previous year.
  2. Montana: one in 65
  3. Iowa:one in 73
  4. South Dakota: one in 75
  5. Pennsylvania: one in 77

As with West Virginia, State Farm says the probability of a deer-crash in those four states has declined from the earlier 12-month period.

Hawaii has the lowest odds of an accident, one in 6,787. The insurer says that's about the same as "a middle-of-the-pack National Football League team running off 13 wins in a row."

What type of car insurance coverage pays for deer collisions?

Deer collisions are covered by your car insurer if you've opted for comprehensive coverage on your policy -- comprehensive ensures that you're reimbursed for repair costs after a collision with an animal.

But many people consider dropping comprehensive and collision insurance to save money, especially if they have an older vehicle. If you're leaning that way, be sure to consider the consequences, especially if you live in an area with a large deer population. Also keep in mind that used cars are retaining their value longer.

A safer journey through deer country

The Insurance Information Institute (III) suggests protecting yourself by taking these steps:

  • Deer typically do not travel alone. They tend to wander in herds, so be aware that if you see one, others are likely to follow.
  • Deer-crossing signs denote high-traffic areas, so pay attention to them when driving.
  • Be especially cautious from 6 to 9 p.m., when deer are most active.
  • Use high-beam headlamps as much as possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.
  • Though it seems counter-intuitive, don't swerve if you think you're going to hit a deer. You may lose control of your car or crash into another vehicle.

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