For drivers on their way to Thanksgiving dinner or just making the daily commute, deer on the move are a common highway hazard this time of year. Vehicle damage from hitting an animal is more than 3½ times as common in November as in August, a report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows. Insurance claims for damage from collisions with animals rise sharply each fall. The high claim period coincides with deer mating season when bucks are likely to be roaming. Claims are most common in West Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, HLDI found.
Damage to a vehicle caused by striking an animal is covered under comprehensive insurance. Of the 33 companies that provide HLDI with data on comprehensive coverage and claims, 18 provide information specifying whether the claim was for an animal strike or something else. Only data from those 18 insurers were included in the analysis. No data were available for Massachusetts.
From 2006 to 2011, there were an average of 6.5 animal strike claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years. An insured vehicle year is one vehicle insured for one year, two for six months each, etc. Each year there was a consistent pattern, with claim frequency rising dramatically in October, peaking in November and dropping off in December and January. Averaged over the six-year period, monthly frequencies ranged from 3.9 in August to 14.1 in November.
Of all the states, West Virginia had by far the highest frequency of animal strike claims, reaching a November average of 51.2 claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years. It was followed by Iowa at 30.6, Pennsylvania at 28.9 and Kentucky at 26.4.
National comprehensive claim frequencies for animal strikes,
January 2006 to December 2011