Standard auto insurance coverage is very limited in regards to animal damage. The problem is that most people purchase the bare minimum amounts of coverage and then get their vehicle damaged by an animal and are dumbfounded as to why they aren’t covered. The general rule of thumb for any driver is to at least purchase liability coverage, giving the party insured by the policy a safety net for any third party damages. Liability is what helps cover part of a lawsuit if an accident settlement is taken to court. However, in order to be covered for animal damages, you need a comprehensive policy, which will be more expensive than standard coverage.
The Big Problem: Standard Car Insurance can be Limiting
Unfortunately, standard automobile insurance policies do not cover all expenses sustained during accidents. Even though standard insurance policies would cover the damage sustained by other parties during accidents, drivers with standard insurance policies will generally NOT cover for vandalism, theft, weather damage (e.g. tornado damage, hail damage, etc.), “Acts of God,” or animal damage. All of these are covered by comprehensive car insurance policies, which will require an upgrade if you are a standard policyholder.
If drivers find their cars damaged by criminals or hurricanes, their standard insurance policies do not give them coverage. Damage sustained by accidental collisions with animals is also excluded from standard policies. As such, particularly for individuals living in high traffic areas where chance of theft and alternative damage is common, it may not be wise to drive your car without a comprehensive policy. One simple paint scratch can even cost a lot of money to repair and may not be picked up under standard policies.
How animals can damage your vehicle
Car accidents involving animals are extremely unfortunate. No one wants to drive down a highway and collide with an animal; it is a truly tragic event and can be traumatizing in some cases. Animals can cause significant amounts of damage to your vehicle when they hit your vehicle at high speeds. Examples of some animals that people often hit include: deer, coyotes, and moose. Obviously the animals you regularly see while driving will differ depending on your location, but the fact is that people do hit them.
Drivers without comprehensive auto insurance policies are fully responsible for repairs caused by animals. In other words, if you don’t have a comprehensive insurance plan, all of the payment will be out of your own pocket. Nonetheless, these scenarios are more than simply matters of money and the costs of the damages. Animal impacts can be traumatic for all parties involved, and for individuals stuck without comprehensive insurance policies, the damage can become even more significant.
Cases when animals may damage your car
If a person is driving down an empty highway and a deer wanders out into the road too soon for the driver to stop, the car is very likely to suffer severe damage. Deer are heavy animals and when a car strikes one at 65 miles per hour, not only will the animal end up hurt, but the car will also sustain damage based on the sheer weight of the animal. Chances are high that the front bumper will dent, headlights will break, the hood will warp, and the windshield will shatter.
Other than collision or “OTC” events
When this happens, the driver will be held liable for the damages if the driver receives coverage from a standard policy. This is because damage sustained by anything other than what the insurance company deems a collision is considered an Other Than Collision event, or an OTC event. OTC events include several circumstances including acts of God, theft, fire damage, and animal impacts. For this reason, a driver will enjoy the benefits of greater protection and coverage under a comprehensive insurance policy that covers OTC occurrences.
Animal damage may happen when your car is parked
OTC occurrences involving animals may also occur when cars are stationary. For instance, if a family takes a car out to the wilderness for a camping trip and a bear inflicts damage on the car in a search for food, this is considered OTC, not a collision. Because insurance companies do not consider incidents involving stationary cars as collisions, standard insurance policies and basic collision coverage plans do not cover this kind of damage. Only comprehensive car insurance policies will cover damage inflicted by animals on vehicles not in motion.
Swerving because of an animal vs. actually hitting an animal
While it may sound simple, auto insurance policies that cover animal damage can become more complicated. For instance, if a driver receives coverage by comprehensive insurance and accidentally strikes an animal, the driver will receive coverage only from a car insurance claim that is comprehensive. However, if an animal causes the driver to swerve out of control and hit a post, building, or guard rail, the insurance company will consider the incident a collision and as such, the driver will receive coverage from a collision claim.
Do you have enough coverage to protect yourself from animal damage?
Different factors affect the outcome of different animal damage claims. Some individuals shy away from comprehensive coverage because of the cost, but depending on the value of the cars they drive and the likelihood of run-ins with animals in their communities, paying a little extra for comprehensive coverage and dishing out a deductible will not add up to even half the cost of a new car. Therefore, it is important for individuals to know exactly what kind of coverage their respective insurance policies offer, providing security for drivers in the event of car accidents with animals.