Are You Covered if a Deer Crosses Your Path?
Madison, WI—Deer are on the move, and Commissioner of Insurance Ted Nickel reminds consumers to check their auto insurance policies to make sure they have coverage for deer hits.
"The fall is mating season for deer in North America, which means that male deer are bolder in their movements and less focused on their environment," stated Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel. "As a result, it is important for drivers to pay particular attention mid-October through the end of November," continued Nickel. "Soon the deer hunting season will open requiring drivers to be even more careful. Without the proper insurance in place, you'll be faced with a large repair bill or, worse, a totaled vehicle with no coverage."
Deer hits and other vehicle/animal collisions are covered under the comprehensive coverage of an auto policy, sometimes referred to as "other than collision." This optional coverage is found in the section entitled "Coverage for Damage to Your Auto." Comprehensive coverage provides financial protection beyond that of collision coverage, including hail, theft, falling objects and deer hits. Drivers should call their insurance company or agent and check their policies to see if they have comprehensive auto coverage.
Deer hits can add up to tremendous costs for Wisconsin drivers. The National Transportation Safety Administration estimates that car/deer collisions cost approximately $1 billion per year.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation figures show that in Wisconsin law enforcement reports of vehicle/deer collisions totaled 18,312 in 2014, which was a decrease from the last two years. The top three counties for vehicle/deer crashes remain Dane (863 crashes), Shawano (725 crashes) and Waukesha (700 crashes).
Commissioner Nickel encourages Wisconsin's drivers to be aware of the increased chance of hitting deer in the coming months and take the proper precautions. Drivers are encouraged to heed the following suggestions:
- Be attentive in the early morning and evening hours; this is the most active time for deer.
- Pay close attention to deer crossing signs; they are installed in places where there are typically more deer.
- Wear your safety belt, stay sober, keep your headlights correctly adjusted, and use your high beams where possible.
- If you see a deer near the side of the road, slow down and blow your horn; some suggest also flashing your headlights to scare the deer away.
- If you see a deer in front of you, brake firmly, don't swerve, stay in your lane and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop. It is better to hit the deer than to swerve and lose control of your vehicle and risk rolling over or hitting a tree or oncoming traffic.
- If you hit a deer, do not leave your vehicle. The injured deer could hurt you. Try to get your car off the road and call the police.
OCI publications such as
Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance can be downloaded by visiting the OCI Web site at
oci.wi.gov, ordered free from the agency by writing to OCI Publications, P.O. Box 7873, Madison, WI 53707-7873, or by calling 800-236-8517.
Created by the Legislature in 1870, Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was vested with broad powers to ensure that the insurance industry responsibly and adequately met the insurance needs of Wisconsin citizens. Today, OCI's mission is to lead the way in informing and protecting the public and responding to its insurance needs.