Does Insurance Cover Hitting A Deer?
According to the state Traffic Crash Reporting System annual report, there were more than 52,000 deer-involved crashes in Michigan in 2021. That continues the trend of increasing numbers from the previous five years. Additionally, deer-involved fatalities doubled in 2021, up to 10 from five in 2020.
In addition to leaving a lasting emotional impact, hitting a deer can cause personal injuries and substantial damage to your car. In many cases, the cost of repairs to your vehicle is covered by your car insurance. However, insurance companies do not treat deer strikes like a typical collision. If you do not have the correct type of coverage, you may find yourself personally responsible for any vehicle damage.
Even when an accident causes no serious injuries, you may still need a lawyer to help navigate the complex insurance system. The attorneys at Mike Morse Law Firm have experience handling all types of injury cases and can serve as an intermediary between you and your insurance company. Schedule a free case review to see if we can help you.
Michigan’s No-Fault Laws
Vehicle accidents, including those involving deer, are handled using a no-fault system in Michigan. That means claims for your initial medical bills go through your personal insurance, regardless of who caused the crash.
When more than one vehicle is involved in a crash, Michigan uses a modified comparative negligence rule to establish who can seek compensation. Under this system, you can seek compensation from another driver as long as you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. However, any compensation awarded to you will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Insurance Requirements in Michigan
Michigan drivers must carry three types of insurance —- liability, Personal Injury Protection, and property damage — and be able to provide proof of coverage upon request.
Liability coverage is an essential part of your auto insurance policy, which is why required minimums have been established in almost every state. It pays for injuries to other people and damages to cars other than your own if you are responsible for an accident. However, because of Michigan’s no-fault laws, you will usually only need to rely on this coverage in accidents that cause severe injuries or significant damage to other cars.
Property Damage Coverage
Property damage protection pays when an accident causes damage to personal property other than vehicles. For example, it covers repairs if you crash through a fence or hit a building.
Personal Injury Protection
PIP coverage is a critical component of Michigan’s no-fault insurance system. It pays for personal injuries after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. It also helps cover some lost wages if you cannot work up to your policy limits.
If treating your injuries costs more than your PIP coverage and an accident was caused by another driver, or you have endured pain and suffering, you may be able to pursue additional compensation through a personal injury claim.
Other Types of Car Insurance and What They Cover
The three required insurance coverages help ensure medical care is covered regardless of who causes an accident. Unfortunately, these parts of your policy are rarely sufficient to pay for damages if you hit a deer. Instead, you must have optional coverage in place. While these coverage options are optional under Michigan law, they may be required by your bank if your vehicle is leased or financed.
In many cases, the damage to your own car will be processed through your collision coverage if you are involved in a crash. You must pay a deductible that you choose when purchasing a policy before coverage takes effect.
Collision insurance does not cover certain accident situations or types of damage. For example, a broken windshield or hitting a deer are not eligible for coverage. Instead, they are covered through the comprehensive portion of your policy.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in specific situations. It is sometimes called other-than-collision because it usually covers repairs for non-accident related damage, such as hail dents or a rock breaking your windshield. However, it is also the portion of your policy that pays out when you hit an animal like a deer. Like with collision coverage, you must pay your deductible before the insurance company pays on a claim.
Towing and Rental Car Coverage
Towing and rental car coverage are two additional types of insurance that you may choose to purchase. These can help lower your out-of-pocket costs if you strike a deer.
Towing coverage is generally inexpensive and is often included as part of a roadside assistance program. Although there are usually some limitations, it typically pays to tow your vehicle if it is disabled.
Rental car assistance pays for you to rent a car if your car is not drivable after an accident. So, if you strike a deer and damage your vehicle, you can get a replacement while repairs are being made. This can help ensure you can get to medical appointments and continue commuting to work during that time.
Best Practices for Filing an Insurance Claim After Hitting a Deer
If you have comprehensive insurance coverage in place, you must file a claim with your insurance carrier to have it cover necessary repairs after hitting a deer. However, there are some things you can do to help make the process go as smoothly as possible.
File a Report
Michigan traffic laws require you to file a police report if an accident causes more than $1,000 in property damage. The high cost of most auto repairs means that even minor accidents can trigger the reporting requirement. That is why it’s a good idea to call for emergency assistance and file a report immediately after hitting a deer.
If you don’t file a report immediately, you should do so as soon as you find out that your repairs will cost more than $1,000.
It’s best practice to document every communication you have when dealing with an insurance claim. That includes verbal conversations, emails, and written communications. If you speak to someone over the phone, write down their name, ID number, the date and time of the call, and anything you discuss. You should also save copies of emails, letters, and notes from medical appointments in a dedicated file for easy retrieval.
Talk To an Attorney
It is easy to get overwhelmed when handling the aftermath of hitting a deer. An attorney can help you navigate the process. They handle all communications with insurance companies and can also maintain appropriate documentation.
Get Professional Legal Assistance After Hitting a Deer
Your insurance company has attorneys working on their side of a claim; you should not have to face them without the same support. The injury lawyers at Mike Morse Law Firm have experience getting clients the insurance benefits they are entitled to. In many cases, we can also help you get the maximum payouts possible under Michigan laws.
If you have hit a deer and your insurance claim has been denied, contact Mike Morse Law Firm to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys will conduct a free, no-obligation case review and review your options with you. Then you can proceed in the manner you think is best.