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Tips for Sharing the Road with Deer

Motorists are urged to drive cautiously in the weeks ahead

Springfield,Illinois (PR MediaRelease) November 15, 2018

November is a month when deer are prone to appear along rural roads, highways and interstates suddenly and without warning.  Seeing a deer is startling.  Motorists may have just seconds to react.  The Illinois Insurance Hotline, an industry-sponsored consumer resource, offered tips to help drivers reach their destinations safely.

Most important, do not swerve to avoid hitting the deer.  It is never a good idea to suddenly change the direction of a moving vehicle.  A sharp turn of the steering wheel may cause the driver to lose control.  There is more risk of critical injury and major vehicle damage if you crash into a bridge, post, tree or oncoming car.  Instead, take your foot off the gas, hold the steering wheel tight, maintain a straight course and brace for impact with the deer.  There will be vehicle damage, but you are less likely to be hurt in the crash.

Other deer-related driving strategies:

  • Pay extra attention to the road when deer are most active, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. to 8 a.m.
  • Deer are known to congregate in certain locations – wooded areas, field edges and near water.  Be alert driving through these areas.
  • Drive with high beam headlights at night when possible.
  • Slow down and honk the horn if you see a deer along the roadside.  More are probably nearby.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and insist passengers do the same.
  • Call 911 for assistance if you hit a deer.  Request medical help if you or your passengers are injured.
  • Pull your damaged vehicle to the side of the road and turn on emergency flashers.  Remain in your car until help arrives.  Do not touch the injured animal.

Vehicle owners often turn to an auto insurance company for assistance following a deer crash.  The Illinois Insurance Hotline reminded policyholders to find out what is and is not covered before an accident.  For example, a liability-only policy does not pay for repairs to the policyholder’s vehicle.  Liability coverage is required by law and pays when the policyholder is legally responsible for another person’s crash-related damages.  A vehicle owner with liability-only coverage must pay vehicle repairs for a deer-related crash out-of-pocket.

The vehicle owner’s auto policy must have physical damage coverage to share deer-related repair expenses with the insurance company.  Physical damage is divided into two separate coverages – comprehensive and collision.  Both typically have deductibles.  A deer accident is covered as a comprehensive claim if there is evidence of direct contact with the deer.  Without this, the crash is a collision loss.  Comprehensive claims generally do not affect the policy premium.  A surcharge is likely following a collision claim.  Check with your local auto insurance agent for specifics.

The Illinois Insurance Hotline also recommends policyholders be familiar with their duties following a loss.  Among these responsibilities:

  • Report the loss to the local agent or company representative as soon as possible if you have the appropriate coverage.
  • Check your deductible as this is how much you must pay out-of-pocket to repair the vehicle.  The comprehensive deductible applies if you hit the deer.  Otherwise, the loss is a collision claim.
  • Cooperate with the claim adjuster’s investigation.  Insurance adjusters are tasked with confirming insurance coverage applies to the loss, assessing damage, determining how the crash occurred and authorizing a claim settlement.  Provide credible, detailed information to speed the process.

The Illinois Insurance Hotline is a consumer resource sponsored by the insurance industry. Consultants provide general insurance information, educational materials and direction Monday through Friday from 9 – 4. Contact the Illinois Insurance Hotline at 1-800-444-3338 or

Janet Patrick
Illinois Insurance Hotline


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