Will Auto Insurance Pay if You Hit an Animal With Your Car?

Last Updated on October 28, 2021

An animal can cause serious damage to your vehicle.

Auto insurance will cover the accident if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your vehicle outside of collisions with other drivers.

Comprehensive coverage is optional in all states. It covers hailstorm damage, fallen trees, theft, vandalism, and collisions with animals.

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about whether or not auto insurance pays when you hit an animal with your car.

if you hit a deer or another animal, will insurance pay?

Comprehensive Insurance Covers Animal Damages

If you have comprehensive coverage, then your car insurance policy will cover damages resulting from a collision with an animal.

Comprehensive coverage is optional. However, many drivers carry it for added protection. It’s part of full coverage car insurance.

The most common type of animal collisions are collisions with deer. However, car insurance does not discriminate based on the type of animal. Whether you hit a deer, a bear, a bird, or any other animal, your collision should be covered by comprehensive car insurance.

Comprehensive coverage also covers fallen debris, fire damage, theft, vandalism, and other damages that occur outside of an accident.

What Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover?

Comprehensive car insurance covers the following:

  • Collisions with animals
  • Fire damage
  • Environmental damage to your vehicle, including storm damage and fallen branches
  • Flood or water damage
  • Theft and vandalism

If your car has been stolen, then you can make a claim through your comprehensive coverage to receive compensation for your vehicle. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, then you will not receive compensation.

Similarly, if you hit an animal with your vehicle, then you only receive compensation if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage will cover the cost of repairing your vehicle to pre-loss condition after the collision with the animal.

How Car Insurance Works

Some drivers have minimum liability coverage, which is the lowest required coverage in the United States. Other drivers have full coverage, which is optional but includes added protection.

If you are leasing or financing your vehicle, then you must carry full coverage car insurance. If you own your vehicle outright, then full coverage car insurance is optional.

Here are the three main types of car insurance and how they work:

Liability Insurance (Required): All states require liability insurance. Most states require you to carry both bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. Other states require you to carry only bodily injury liability coverage. Liability coverage covers damage you inflict to other people and property when driving. If you injure someone or damage someone’s car, for example, then liability coverage will cover damages up to the limits of your policy. If you hit someone else’s pet with your vehicle, then liability insurance may cover it through property damage liability coverage.

Collision Coverage (Optional): Collision coverage is an optional car insurance policy that covers the cost of repairing your own vehicle after a collision, regardless of fault. If you collide with another driver and you are at fault, then you can make a claim through your collision coverage for compensation. If you lease or finance your vehicle, then your lender requires you to carry collision coverage. If you own your vehicle outright, then collision coverage is optional. If you swerve to avoid hitting an animal with your vehicle, then you may make a claim through your collision coverage.

Comprehensive Coverage (Optional): Comprehensive coverage covers damages that occur outside of an accident, including theft, vandalism, fire damage, flood damage, and collisions with animals. It’s optional in all states. However, lenders require comprehensive coverage on all leased or financed vehicles. Comprehensive coverage covers most collisions with animals, including any collisions with wild animals. Because it covers damage that is not related to collisions, it is often called other-than-collision, or OTC coverage.

Other Types of Car Insurance: Some states require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, and other types of car insurance. These coverages will not cover collisions with animals.

How an Animal Collision Car Insurance Claim Works

If you collided with an animal and have damage, then you may wish to make an insurance claim.

Generally, it’s worth making an insurance claim if the damage is higher than your deductible. If your vehicle has $1,000 worth of damage and your deductible is $250, for example, then it’s worth making an insurance claim.

Here’s how animal collision car insurance claims work:

  1. You collide with an animal and damage your vehicle.
  2. You contact your insurer to make a claim.
  3. You pay your deductible (typically $250 for comprehensive coverage), and your insurer covers all remaining costs of repairing your vehicle to pre-loss condition.

Will Insurance Rates Rise After My Collision?

Many states prevent insurers from raising rates after comprehensive coverage claims. Insurers typically only raise rates for liability or collision insurance claims.

Because an animal accident is considered a comprehensive coverage claim, it should not raise your rates.

However, some drivers report paying higher rates after making a comprehensive coverage claim – regardless of state law. Check with your insurer to verify your rates have not increased after your animal collision.

Types of Animal-Related Collisions and How They Work

There are multiple types of collisions with animals.

Sometimes, a deer jumps in front of you and damages the front of your vehicle. Or, your dog may try to jump in the front seat. Sometimes, you swerve to avoid an animal and roll your vehicle – even if you never actually hit the animal.

Insurers cover animal-related insurance claims in different ways, depending on the situation.

You Hit a Wild Animal

The most common type of animal collision is one where you hit a wild animal. The most common type of animal accident is a deer collision.

Car insurance covers wild animal collisions via comprehensive coverage. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, then you cannot make a claim for this collision, and you need to pay for any repairs out of pocket.

You Swerve to Avoid an Animal and Damage your Vehicle

Sometimes, you swerve to avoid an animal but end up damaging your car. In this situation, you can file a claim under your collision coverage.

Collision coverage insurance claims work differently than comprehensive claims. With collision coverage, your premiums will increase after the accident.

If a collision with an animal appears unavoidable, then the Department of Transportation recommends you avoid swerving. In most cases, swerving is more dangerous than hitting the animal. You can collide with other vehicles or roll your car. It also changes your insurance claim.

You Injured a Pet

If you hit your own dog or another person’s dog, then your animal collision insurance claim works differently.

Your Own Pet: Because your pet is your own property, your property damage liability coverage will not cover veterinary bills. Property damage liability insurance only covers damage you inflict to other people and their property (including pets). Property damage liability coverage never covers damage to your own possessions or property. However, some auto insurance companies include pet coverage for any pets inside your vehicle. It may be complementary. Or, you may pay a few extra dollars per month for it.

Someone Else’s Pet: If you injure someone else’s pet with your vehicle, then your liability insurance should cover the pet’s veterinary expenses. Because the pet is not your property, your property damage liability insurance will cover veterinary bills. However, you may not be responsible for the accident at all: if you were not negligent in the collision, then you are not obligated to pay. Owners must control their pets. If an owner failed to control the pet, then you may avoid making an insurance claim and covering veterinary expenses.

Final Word on Hitting an Animal with Your Car

Animal-related car insurance claims can seem complicated. However, most claims are straightforward.

If you have comprehensive coverage, then your insurer covers the cost of repairing any damage the animal caused to your vehicle.

Alternatively, if you swerve to avoid an animal but never actually hit the animal, the incident is covered by collision coverage. Or, if you hit someone else’s pet, it’s covered under your property damage liability coverage.

Contact your insurer to determine how your auto insurance will pay if you hit an animal with your car.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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