Long Island is filthy with deer. It’s a serious problem. They have ticks which carry Lyme disease. They eat my garden!
On a recent drive this November, I experienced the other big problem with deer: car accidents. A big buck decided to jump out in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, but SMACK!
Probably because we weren’t going very fast, the humans suffered no injuries. My son slept through the whole thing. (Another one of those things for which I am thankful).
But the car did not look good. (Big Buck hobbled off into the woods, in case you were wondering).
On the way home, I started wondering what happens next, how much this would all cost, and how it would affect my insurance policy.
What Happens Next
1. File a Report
I immediately pulled into a parking lot to inspect the damage. Frankly, I didn’t really know what to do. Should I call 911? Should I call a tow truck?
I settled on calling the insurance company. A nice guy asked if everyone was okay (yes), if there was any property damage (no) and if any fluids were leaking from the car (no). He said calling the police to file a report and/or a tow truck was my decision and I should call the claims adjuster in the morning.
The next morning, I filed the official report with insurance company by phone. A claims adjuster would come out to inspect the damage, but it was going to take a few days, as they were still backed up due to Storm Sandy.
2. Get Rental Car
A rental car was covered for 30 days under my policy. The person I filed the report with got me to the right person, and it was all coordinated by the end of the same (long) phone call.
3. Claims Adjuster Estimate
The guy came out a few days later. It took about 15 minutes for him to inspect the damage and another 15 to write up the estimate. He confirmed that my car was not totaled (whew!). He recommended I have it towed rather than drive it to the shop.
4. Tow to Body Shop
This was all happening just before Thanksgiving, and the recommended shop was closed for the holiday. I was finally able to have it towed to the shop more than a week after the accident.
5. Revised Quote
The body shop says there is additional work to be done, and the claims adjuster will need to come out to revise the estimate. Apparently this is pretty common.
Costs and Insurance Policy
Our insurance deductible is $1,000. This means we pay for the first $1,000, and the insurance company will cover the rest. There is several thousands of dollars worth of damage.
We have comprehensive coverage. This means the car is covered when the vehicle is damaged by something other than a collision, such as theft, vandalism or natural disaster. I didn’t know that deer fell into this category before the accident, but it makes sense.
Since deer fall into the “natural disaster” category, my premiums should not be affected. I called my insurance agent to confirm this. (An accident with another vehicle would likely increase the cost of insurance, but this will not).
We used to have a $500 deductible, but I raised it to $1,000 a few years ago to lower my premium. Was that a mistake?
Not for us. Although the savings in premium was less than $500 per year, this was the first accident we had in many years, and the first ever for this vehicle. So if the higher deductible saved us roughly $150 per year, we would come out “ahead” as long as accidents happened less than every 3 years and 4 months (500/150 = 3.33).
The car is currently at the shop, so it’s still a work in progress. I also have to say that the insurance, rental car, body shop and tow truck companies have been easy to deal with and basically sympathetic to my plight.
I hope this article is helpful to anyone with questions about deer and their insurance policy. And I hope you never hit one!
*I recently learned that this is the time of the “rut;” which is basically deer mating season.
According to Wikipedia, “The rut is the time when white-tailed deer, especially bucks, are more active and less cautious than usual. This makes them easier to hunt, as well as more susceptible to being hit by motor vehicles.” Yes.
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