ARLINGTON, Va. — 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, when claims are lowest, a Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) report shows.
Insurance claims for damage from collisions with animals rise sharply every fall. The high claim period coincides with deer mating season when bucks are likely to be roaming. Per vehicle, such claims are more likely to be filed in West Virginia than any other state, 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 from 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.
Average monthly animal strike claim frequencies, January 2006 to December 2011
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.
Highest November claim frequencies for animal strikes
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is a nonprofit research organization that publishes insurance loss statistics on most car, SUV, pickup truck and motorcycle models on U.S. roads. HLDI is wholly supported by auto insurers.