Updated: September 2016
If you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy, hitting a deer is typically a covered loss. Comprehensive coverage may help pay to repair or replace your vehicle if it's damaged when you hit a deer.
Keep in mind that for comprehensive coverage to apply, your vehicle must make physical contact with the deer. In other words, if you swerve to avoid hitting a deer and crash into another object or vehicle, you would need collision coverage to help repair damage to your car.
So, why does comprehensive coverage — not collision coverage — typically apply when your vehicle collides with a deer?
Well, hitting a tree or another car is certainly different than the random and unpredictable act of a deer dashing across a highway or rural road. And comprehensive coverage may help cover damage to your car from random, unpredictable incidents, such as theft, fire and vandalism — or hitting a deer.
Collision coverage, on the other hand, may help pay to repair your vehicle if you hit another car or object (such as a fence or tree).
Either way, it's important to know that both coverages typically have deductibles and limits.
When you purchase comprehensive or collision coverage, you choose a set deductible. That's the amount you'll pay out of pocket before your insurer reimburses you for a covered claim.
For example, say a deer causes $2,000 in damage to your car in a covered loss. If your comprehensive coverage has a deductible of $500, you'd pay $500 toward your vehicle's repairs, and your insurer would reimburse you for $1,500.
On the other hand, say your car is totaled in a covered loss after you hit a deer. Your comprehensive coverage's limit would dictate the maximum amount your policy would pay out to help you replace your vehicle.
From October through December, drivers' chances of hitting a deer increase, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). In fact, the organization says more deer crashes occur in November because it's the height of mating season. Additionally, be extra cautious if you're driving at dusk or dawn, as the III says these are the highest-risk times for deer crashes.
Hitting a deer can be costly: According to the III, the average cost of deer-crash insurance claims was $4,135 in 2015. To help protect your vehicle (and your wallet), talk to a local agent to make sure you have the proper car insurance coverage on your policy.