Drivers are reminded of the higher risk for deer-related crashes, and that insurance companies cannot add a surcharge to auto insurance premiums for such crashes.
“Under Pennsylvania law, a crash involving a deer or other wildlife is considered a not-at-fault accident, and insurers cannot add a surcharge to your premium for a deer-related crash,” said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman. “However, this exclusion does not apply if your car does not come in contact with a deer.
“Vehicle damage from these circumstances is handled under a driver’s comprehensive coverage.”
Figures compiled by State Farm indicate that Pennsylvanians have a 1-in-51 chance of being involved in an animal-related crash, the third highest in the nation. PennDOT reported more than 4,300 related crashes in 2019, resulting in more than 1,000 injuries and seven fatalities. The average cost of a deer-related collision is approximately $4,000, based on industry reports. Between July 2019 and June 2020, an estimated $1.5 million deer claims were processed across the country.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, dawn and dusk are peak times for deer activity. In addition, November is the month when drivers are most likely to have a deer-related crash, according to insurance industry reports. October and December are the second and third most likely months for animal-related crashes.
“Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are often more nearby,” said Altman. “The fall is breeding season for deer, and they may be less aware of their surroundings. It’s important to stay alert, buckle up, and don’t swerve your car. If an animal collision is inevitable, stay on the road.”
“The most important steps a driver can take to prevent deer-related and other collisions are to slow down, eliminate distractions, and never drive while impaired,” said State Police Commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick. “If you are involved in a reportable crash, get to a safe location and contact local law enforcement right away.”
In Pennsylvania, two types of crashes must be reported to police: crashes that result in one or more vehicles being damaged to the point that they cannot be driven from the scene and collisions that result in injury or death. Minor collisions or fender benders that do not result in injury may be reported to police, but it is not legally required.
Drivers involved in any crash with another vehicle are required to exchange license and insurance information with involved parties and render aid when necessary.
To report a dead deer for removal from state-maintained roads, call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD.
Consumers with questions about auto insurance may contact the Insurance Department Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388 or insurance.pa.gov. For information on deer-related crashes by county, click here.