If I Hit a Deer, Will My Auto Insurance Cover Me?

Accidents with deer and other wildlife are common in Maine. Some studies suggest that the odds of hitting a deer in our state are less than 1 in 125 per year.  And accidents with deer, moose, or other large animals can do serious damage to your vehicle and cause personal injuries to you.  So what steps should you take after such an accident?

If you have an accident with an animal, domestic or wild, then the property damage to your vehicle is not usually covered by your Liability coverage or your Collision coverage. If you hit a deer, your insurance company will only pay to repair damage to your vehicle if you have what is called Comprehensive coverage.  Unfortunately, not everyone buys Comprehensive coverage when they sign up for insurance.  As a result, your first step after you have an accident with an animal should be to call your insurance company and speak with an adjuster who is familiar with your policy.  Your adjuster has an obligation to tell you what coverage you have and what you need to do to make an insurance claim.  This is also a good time to ask for a complete copy of your insurance policy if you don’t already have one at home.[1]

The rules are different if you sustain personal injuries in an accident with an animal. Most drivers in Maine have Medical Payment insurance that can be applied after an accident, regardless of who was at fault or how the accident occurred.  Medical Payment coverage typically covers your medical bills related to the accident up to a certain dollar limit.  In Maine, the dollar limit is usually $2,000.00 or $5,000.00, but it can be more in some cases.

To illustrate how this might work after an accident, consider the following situation:

You have a collision with a deer that causes damage to the front of your car and causes you to experience whiplash injuries and incur $2,000.00 of medical bills. Unless you have Comprehensive coverage, it is very likely that your insurance company will not pay anything to help you fix your car.  However, you probably still have Medical Payment coverage, which you can use to cover some or all of your medical bills related to the whiplash, or any other personal injuries that you sustained in the accident.

If you or someone you know has questions about insurance coverage, please contact Braden Clement and the Personal Injury / Insurance Coverage attorneys at Skelton Taintor & Abbott. We will work with you to help you identify and utilize the insurance coverage available to you and help you maximize your recovery.

This article is not legal advice but should be considered as general guidance in the area of personal injury law. You can contact us at 207.784.3200. Skelton Taintor & Abbott is a full service law firm providing legal services to individuals, companies, and municipalities throughout Maine. It has been in operation since its founding in 1853.

[1] To make things more confusing, if you swerve to avoid the deer and you miss the deer but hit a tree instead, then the damage to your vehicle will no longer be covered under your Comprehensive policy. By swerving and missing the deer, you have converted the accident into the type that is covered by Collision insurance.  Again, not all drivers buy Collision coverage, so it is always worth it to speak with your insurance agent to be clear about the kind of coverage that you do have.