Deer Hits—Are You Covered?
Madison, WI—Commissioner of Insurance Ted Nickel reminds consumers to review their auto insurance policy as the season of increased deer activity on Wisconsin roads approaches.
"Hitting a deer can add up to tremendous costs for Wisconsin drivers," said Commissioner Nickel. "Now is a good time for drivers to check their auto insurance policy as we generally see a spike in deer activity on Wisconsin roads from mid-October through November. Without the proper insurance in place, drivers may be faced with a large repair bill or, worse, a totaled vehicle with no coverage."
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, last year Wisconsin law enforcement agencies reported a total of 20,413 crashes between deer and motor vehicles. Dane County had the most with 1,006, followed by Waukesha County with 871 and Washington County with 766. In the counties of Green Lake, Kewaunee, Shawano, Vernon, and Waupaca, more than half of all reported crashes in 2016 involved deer.
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.
Commissioner Nickel encourages Wisconsin's drivers to take the proper precautions including the suggestions below:
- 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.
Consumer publications such as Consumer's Guide to Auto Insurance are available on the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance's Web site at oci.wi.gov 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.