It is deer season here in Dallas Texas, and although not as frequent as deer and car collisions, we do sometimes see some deer- RV collisions and we handle those types of repair. We occasionally see animal collision repairs spike from October through December when rutting season is in full swing and large populations of deer are on the move.
Because RV’s travel remote roads as well as highways, an RV is just as susceptible to crashing into a deer as any other vehicle on the road.
However due to the construction of RV’s and motorhomes, the collision with an animal could do some significant damage to an RV, unlike the typical fender bender repairs of an auto- deer collision.
Take for example this vacationing family from Littleton Colorado who are recovering after a deer crashed through the windshield of their motorhome — landing in a stunned 13-year-old boy’ s lap — on Interstate and interstate in Kansas.
As the family were heading home Sunday in their 25-foot motorhome pulling a ski boat, the driver said he saw a deer bounding over the eastbound lanes toward the RV and gently pressed the brakes to avoid the deer without swerving and flipping the motorhome.
“I was hoping he was going to make it past us. But he was in mid-air and he went right through the windshield on the passenger side where my 13-year-old son was sitting,” the father said.
The deer was relatively small and did not have antlers. The 13-year-old son was stunned as the deer crashed through the windshield and into his lap. The glass shards from the exploded windshield covered everyone, including the couple’s 6-month-old baby. Fortunately, the 13 year old escaped with bumps, bruises, stitches in his arm and a swollen nose and lips and no one else was in the family was hurt.
So keep in mind the dangers involved with deer and other wildlife while RV ing this fall and winter. If a deer hits car, the damage is usually minor since the entire car is built of steel or aluminum. Rv’s are often made of composite materials, fiberglass and aluminum sheeting over plywood structures.
Most of the time deer repairs can be fixed, but some severe instances where the deer strike leads to the driver loosing control of the RV cause a larger collision. Even sizeable collisions with deer and travel trailers such as in the image below can be repaired.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 1.5 million car accidents involving deer per year. And, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the average collision cost for this type of accident is $2,800, with the figure leaping to $10,000 if injury is involved.
As far as your auto insurance company is concerned, hitting an animal is typically a covered loss under your comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage protection often stipulates that “collisions with a bird or other animal” is covered.
Some states may actually let you choose whether you want to have these animal collision losses paid under collision coverage or your comprehensive coverage. It depends on whether your state is an “at fault” state. Because this type of collision is a not one where you are at “fault” for the damage, your car insurance company is most likely to process this through your comprehensive insurance coverage.
Remind me again of the different auto insurance coverage types?
Comprehensive Coverage (property damage) helps pay for damages on covered costs that aren’t caused by a collision. These events include storm damage, a rock hitting your windshield, or animal collisions.
Collision Coverage helps pay for vehicle repairs if you’re involved in a collision with another object like a car, or a tree.
It’s important to note that for an animal accident to be considered a comprehensive loss there must be physical contact with the deer, otherwise it will likely be processed as a collision loss.
Will My RV Insurance Rates Increase After An Animal Accident?
Hitting a tree, a person, or another car is viewed as a different circumstance than the unpredictable act of a deer dashing across a highway or rural road. Since deer accident claims are usually filed under your comprehensive coverage where there’s no fault assigned, it’s not likely that your auto insurance rates will increase. Bear in mind that if you have other prior claims under different circumstances within the last couple of years, your rates might go up. Everything is a risk variable. So check with your local insurance agent to see if you should file a claim.
Every state and every individual scenario is different so there is no one fit all answer. Some insurance companies risk formulas are different, and the animal collision could raise your rates even if only slightly. If your state allows it, and you choose to file the loss under collision coverage, your rates may be impacted.
Prevent Deer Accidents Before They Occur
- Deer tend to migrate and mate between October and December, so they’re more active and apt to be near roadways beginning in late fall. Remember too that the nocturnal nature of deer means you’re more likely to encounter them between dusk and dawn. You can help decrease your chances of a deer accident if you:
- Stay attentive and drive the speed limit. You’re more likely to see deer and react more quickly when you’re alert.
- Use your high beam headlights at night. In areas known for their deer population—look for deer crossing signs—your high beams will better illuminate the sides of roadways. You can also see the light reflected in their eyes better with your high beams on.
- Remember that deer often travel together. If you see one deer, chances are there are a few more you can’t see. Slow down as a precaution.
- Don’t swerve! While you may be tempted to do anything to avoid hitting the deer, jerking the wheel may point you straight into oncoming traffic or cause you to lose control of the car altogether. With an RV, you could possibly even flip the RV causing more damage than the Deer will do.
Filing An Accident Claim after an Animal Accident
If your RV sustains damages after hitting a deer, you will need to decide whether or not to file a claim. Let’s say for example, that your deductible is $1,000 and the estimated damage is $465, in this case you will not be covered because the damage is less than your deductible. However, if the damage total is $7,980, After paying the $1,000 deductible, your auto insurance company would then pay the remaining $6,980.
You should contact your insurance company and determine if it makes sense to pay the whole amount out of pocket and avoid the risk of an increased insurance rate, or worse, having your insurance company drop you.