State Farm: Deer-Auto Crashes Fall, Especially in Middle of U.S.

Keep your eyes peeled when driving Mountain Staters: there might be deer in your headlights.

West Virginia again landed on top of State Farm’s annual report that analyzes the number of deer-vehicle crash claims the car insurance company sees.

According to State Farm, there is a 1-in-41 chance that a West Virginian will be involved in a deer-vehicle collision in the next year, an 8.3 percent improvement from that likelihood ratio from last year. It is the 7th year in a row that the Mountain State is the state where car-deer crashes are likeliest.

Other states with likely odds of deer-car crashes are:
–Montana: 1 in 65
–Iowa: 1 in 73
–South Dakota: 1 in 75
–Pennsylvania: 1 in 77

“This data is encouraging,” said Chris Mullen, a State Farm spokesman, said in a statement. “We would like to think the attention we call to this issue each fall has had an impact. Obviously there are other factors at play as well.”

Chance of Deer-Car Crashes Drops Nationwide

State Farm’s report is generated from claims data that the car insurer compares to the number of licensed drivers in each state.

According to State Farm, a driver in the U.S. has a 1-in-174 chance of hitting a deer in the next 12 months, a 4.3 percent drop from the 1-in-167 figure published in last year’s report. The car insurer said that the trend is “more pronounced” in states in the middle of the U.S.

There were 1.22 million crashes between vehicles and deer, this year’s report said, a 3.5 percent drop from last year.

The actual number of deer-car crashes has jump 2 percent in the last five years, but the odds of a driver hitting a deer has dropped 2.5 percent, when taking into account the increasing number of motorists nationwide.

Fall is when such crashes are most likely. November is the most likely month for a deer-car crash because it is the peak for deer mating season, according to State Farm, which reported that 18 percent of those crashes landing in that month.

Average Cost of Car-Deer Insurance Claims Rise

State Farm’s analysis also showed that the average claim for a deer-car crash rose 3.3 percent from last year and is currently $3,414.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the jump in claims cost “may partly be due to rising repair costs.”

Striking a deer with a vehicle will usually in a costly claim for motorists. A car insurance coverage claim involving deer-related damage is linked to two types of protection, depending on the circumstances of the crash. Deductibles apply.

The comprehensive, or other-than-collision, portion of your auto insurance policy covers most instances of a deer-vehicle crash. This type of coverage can also sometimes cover towing costs, according to the III, and also applies to fire, vandalism and weather-related damaged

However, collision coverage can apply to situations where a driver hits an object because they turned the vehicle to dodge a deer.

“If you swerve to miss a deer and hit an object, such as a tree, lamp post, fence or guardrail, the accident would fall under your collision coverage,” Loretta Worters, vice president for the III, said in a statement.

Be Aware is Best Advice

When it comes to avoiding a deer-related crash, the best advice is to “be aware,” according to the III.

“Drivers should stay alert and pay particular attention to the sides of the road, especially during the hours just before dusk and dawn,” Worters said. “They should always wear their seatbelt.”

Also advisable is:

  • Deer are not just found on rural roads near wooded areas; many deer crashes occur on busy highways near cities.
  • Deer are unpredictable, especially when faced with glaring headlights, blowing horns and fast-moving vehicles. They often dart into traffic.
  • Deer often move in groups. If you see one, there are likely to be more in the vicinity.
  • Pay attention to deer-crossing zones.
  • Use high-beam headlights at night when there is no oncoming traffic.
  • Be especially aware from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before or after sunrise, when the risk for a deer-vehicle collision is highest.
  • Brake firmly but stay in your lane. Swerving can lead to more serious damage because the driver can lose control of the car.
  • Don’t rely on on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer

(Photo Courtesy of State Farm)

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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