Depending on what part of Arizona you’re driving through, you may notice a significant amount of wildlife or wildlife warning signs. Although Arizona as a whole it not thought of to be an area where an accident with an animal is especially common, you will likely notice a lot of elk, deer and cattle if you are in driving through Northern Arizona. Be especially cautious at dusk, or after dark – this is when wildlife will be the most active. We have a very large elk population; drive slowly and with care in these areas to avoid both the emotional and financial trauma associated with these incidents.
Have you ever thought about the insurance aspect of an accident with an animal and the claims process? Will your insurance cover damage to your vehicle as a result of an accident with an animal? Let’s investigate a little more.
First steps: what to do if you involved in an accident with an animal
The first thing you should do in the event of an accident is pull off the road and make sure you and everyone in the car are not in any immediate danger. Then, follow the steps below:
- Make sure you are safe. Move to the roadside so that you do not cause trouble to other drivers.
- Turn the hazard lights on.
- Alert the police. You should call the authorities if the traffic is blocked by the animal.
- An official report may be required if there is injury or damage to property. This will also help you while claiming for insurance.
- It is better to document the incident. Take pictures of the surroundings and the damage caused to your car. Take photos if you have suffered any injuries. If you have witnesses, don’t forget to note down their contact number.
- Stay away! Do not go near the injured animal. A wounded and frightened deer can bring you harm.
- Contact your agent. The sooner you report the incident, the better. Your agent can start processing to claim for damages quickly.
- Check your vehicle. It may or may not be safe to drive. Check for tire damage, loose parts or any possible leaking fluids, not to forget the lights! Tow would be the best option if you find your vehicle unsafe.
- Call an ambulance if you and/or your passengers are injured.
Will your insurance cover the loss?
If you have comprehensive insurance coverage, you will be able to file a claim for an accident with an animal and have the repair covered, minus your set deductible. If you only have collision, and not comprehensive, you may be in trouble. Here is a recap of the differences between types of insurance:
Comprehensive: This type of coverage refers to incidences that are not caused by a direct impact with another vehicle. It is not necessarily full coverage for everything, but it does cover the most common incidents beyond your control requiring a claim, including windshield repair, hail or storm damage, theft or vandalism, natural disaster and fire, as well as animal-related accidents. The deductible for this would be something you discussed when signing up for your insurance agency.
Collision: This insurance coverage option will cover you for any collision between your own vehicle and another vehicle or object. It can include hitting or being hit by another vehicle, as well as hitting a tree, telephone pole, fence, pothole, etc. There is also a deductible that you would have chosen associated with collision-based claims.
In summary, it can be very important to have both comprehensive and collision coverage on your vehicle in case of any accidents!
Impact on insurance rates
If you hit a deer and make a claim under comprehensive coverage, it is unlikely that your insurance rates will rise. This is generally considered a non-fault occurrence that would have been very difficult to avoid, thus most insurance companies will not raise rates on a good driver who had a bad day. However, each state and each insurance company is different. Contact your insurance company directly if you want to know more. Do note that although comprehensive claims typically do not increase your rates, collision claims very often will impact your insurance cost!
Choose the right insurance – having both comprehensive and collision insurance is the ideal choice if you are a frequent traveler and want to avoid any heavy vehicle costs that may not be covered. The best way to protect yourself is to double-check your insurance, and adjust as needed! Accidents with animals, though not an especially frequent occurrence, can be dangerous and costly. They are difficult to predict, and therefore you should make sure you are covered beforehand.