By avoiding this one thing, Americans could save billions in auto insurance costs

November is the peak month for deer collisions; PCI says make sure you have adequate coverage if you can’t steer clear

deer_900pxIt’s that time of year, when deer are more active and more likely to dash across a road or highway. While sometimes it’s impossible to avoid hitting a deer, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), motorists can take simple steps to prevent some collisions and help reduce the tens of thousands of injuries and billions in vehicle damage that occur each year due to these accidents.

“While we all try our best to avoid deer accidents, the good news is that they are covered by automobile insurance, if you have comprehensive coverage, and insurers will be there to help you through the claims process,” said Robert Passmore, PCI’s assistant vice president of personal lines policy. “Although deer-auto collisions can happen anytime of the year, we generally see a spike in the number of claims during the fall. One moment the road is clear and the next instant you encounter a deer. At best, you avoid a collision and are merely shaken up but when you collide, the accident can be extremely serious causing injuries and sometimes death. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings especially during dawn and dusk hours, when deer tend to be more active.”

Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) research demonstrates that animal strike claims peak in November and then drop off during the winter months. The high number of claims coincide with deer mating season, when bucks have the tendency to roam. This spike in accidents makes the fall a good time of the year to make sure you have enough insurance coverage.

“It is important to recognize that collision and comprehensive insurance coverage are both optional and so you should contact your agent or company to make sure you’re adequately covered,” said Passmore. “It’s also a good idea to make sure to replace any expired insurance identification cards in the event you need to prove you have insurance after an accident. It’s never a bad idea to be prepared.”

Be Aware of Deer on the Roads: PCI Tips to Avoid Deer Vehicle Collisions

  1. Buckle up, and drive safely. Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure kids are in the proper car or booster seats.
  2. Time of day is critical. Often deer are more active during dawn and dusk hours, so make sure you are paying attention to your surroundings and stay alert.
  3. Avoid distracted driving. Remember to put the phone down and never text while driving. Be careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as distracting as a cell phone.
  4. Have a plan for roadside assistance. If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready so you know who to call. Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident and you could find yourself facing excessive fees or complications recovering your car from the tow yard.
  5. Update your proof of insurance. Before hitting the road, make sure to either replace any expired insurance identification cards or where available, download your digital insurance ID card, in the event you need to prove you have insurance after an accident. Nearly every state accepts digital insurance IDs, call your insurer today to see if they offer this feature.
  6. Watch for the road signs. The signs will often suggest areas that are populated with more deer.
  7. Stay in your lane. If you see a deer, brake firmly but do not cross the center lane into potentially oncoming traffic.
  8. Honk your horn. A long blast of your horn may scare the deer, causing it to run out of the way. However, deer often travel in packs so be on the lookout just in case you scare other deer into your path.

As we move from fall to winter, PCI reminds motorist and homeowners that winter weather often produces traffic accidents, collapsed roofs, power outages and damage caused by ice dams. Be sure you’re covered for whatever Mother Nature has in store by talking with your insurance company or agent. You can also get tips and information from PCI’s Winter Storm headquarters.

Follow PCI on twitter at @PCIAA #ohdeer for more safety tips.