Officials have reminded drivers of the higher risk of deer-related accidents in the fall and that insurance companies cannot add extra to car insurance premiums for such accidents.
“Under Pennsylvania law, an accident involving a deer or other wildlife is considered a no-fault accident, and insurers cannot add extra to your premium for a deer-related accident,” said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altmann. “However, this exclusion does not apply if your car does not come into contact with the deer.
“Vehicle damage from deer-related collisions is dealt with under comprehensive driver coverage,” she added.
State Farm data shows that Pennsylvanians have a 1 in 54 chance of being involved in an animal-related accident, the fifth highest in the country. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reported more than 5,581 deer-related accidents in 2020, up from 4,300 in 2019. Crashes in 2020 resulted in 1,028 injuries and four deaths.
Between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, approximately 1.9 million animal collision insurance claims were processed across the country.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, dawn and dusk are the peak times for deer activity. What’s more, November is the time when drivers are most likely to have a deer-related accident, according to insurance industry reports. October and December are the second and third most likely months for animal accidents.
Drivers should be aware of the following tips from the American Automobile Association to help prevent an accident or reduce damage from a collision:
• Watch out for traffic signs while driving. Yellow diamond-shaped signs with the image of a deer indicate areas of high deer activity.
• Drivers should constantly sweep the road in front of the vehicle looking for signs of animals and movement. Many accidents are caused by a driver hitting a
• Use the high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. Usually, the light reflecting off their eyes will reveal their location.
• Slow down and watch for other deer to appear. Deer rarely travel alone; if you see one, there are probably more.
• Resist the urge to swerve: Instead, stay in the lane with both hands firmly on the wheel. Getting away from animals can confuse them and they don’t know which direction to run. It can also put the vehicle in the path of oncoming vehicles or cause a driver to crash into something else.
• If the accident is imminent, drivers must take their feet off the brake. During hard braking, the front of a vehicle is pulled down, which can cause the animal to climb over the hood towards the windshield. Releasing the brake can protect drivers from impact to the windshield, as the animal is more likely to be pushed to one side of the vehicle or over the vehicle.
• Always wear a seat belt. The risk of being injured by hitting an animal is much higher if the driver is not wearing his seat belt.
“Fall is deer breeding season, and they may be less aware of their surroundings,” Altman said. “It’s important to remember to stay alert, to wear your seat belt and to try not to stray from your car. If a collision with an animal is unavoidable, stay on the road.
“Driving at the posted speed limit, eliminating in-vehicle distractions and choosing never to drive impaired are life-saving choices during the peak months of deer breeding season,” said the commissioner. Pennsylvania State Police Officer Col. Robert Evanchick. “If you hit a deer, pull over in a safe area and assess the situation to determine what to do next. If there are injuries requiring medical attention, if your vehicle must be towed or if the road is blocked, contact 911 immediately. “
In Pennsylvania, two types of accidents must be reported to the police: accidents that cause damage to a vehicle to the point that it cannot be left the scene, and collisions that cause injury or death. Minor collisions or wing bends that do not result in injury can be reported to the police, but it is not legally required.
Drivers involved in an accident with another vehicle are required to exchange information about their license and insurance with the parties concerned and to provide assistance if necessary.
To report a dead deer for removal from state-maintained roads, call PennDOT at (800) FIX-ROAD.
Consumers with questions about auto insurance can contact the Insurance Department’s Office of Consumer Services by calling (877) 881-6388 or at Insurance.pa.gov.