What to Do if You Hit a Deer

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By Deanna McCarty on April 15, 2020.

As a rule of thumb, we try to avoid wildlife on the open road! It will likely hurt the animal and damage your vehicle, so nobody wins there.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “from 1975 to the mid-2000s there was a general upward trend in deaths from collisions with animals.” Our goal is to protect you first and foremost and help you avoid on-the-road risks!

If you find yourself in a situation where swerving to avoid the animal puts you in danger or you don’t see the animal before it’s directly in front of your car – follow these steps.

1. Slow down as soon as possible

It’s crucial as soon as you see the deer to SLOW DOWN. While you might not be able to stop, hitting the animal at a reduced speed will help lessen damage and injuries. Also, deer often travel together so if you see one, there’s a good chance more are coming!

As a last resort, try honking to scare the animal off the road.

If these tactics don’t work and you collide with the deer, proceed through the next steps.

2. Pull off the road

At this point, your heart is likely racing and you may resort to panicking. It’s most important to make sure you are in a safe place before you do that. Since you most frequently see deer early in the morning or after dark, you must inform other drivers of your location. Turn on your hazards to help them understand they need to drive by your vehicle with caution.

3. Notify authorities

The police will come to your location to ensure your safety, warn oncoming traffic of the animal if it is obstructing the road, and help you with a damage report.

If you or any passengers are injured, calling an ambulance and telling them your location as soon as possible is crucial!

4. Take photos/notes

Documenting any damage to your vehicle, injuries of all people, the animal’s position on the road, and other details will help during your claim. While you might be out on a back-country road, hence the deer coming out of nowhere – if a witness stops and is able to give their account, make sure to record it on your phone and grab their contact information for your adjusters!

5. Keep your distance from the animal

While the deer might appear to be dead, do not try to move the animal. They commonly kick or run after people if they feel distressed or sense danger.

We’d also like to note it is illegal to claim a deer carcass without a permit to do so. If you would like to keep the meat or take it to a place to donate, a law enforcement officer could provide you with a permit.

6. File a claim in your My Say account or by calling 1-800-225-5729

Once you’re safely at your destination, you can log in to your My Say account and begin filing a claim. This will start the process! Additionally, if it is within our business hours, feel free to call our Say Service Squad to have them walk you through the claim process.

7. Investigate car before resuming your trip

Never assume damage was not done to your vehicle, even if it seems fine. If it’s dark, shine your flashlight on and around your vehicle to look for pieces that fell or broke off. Do a quick inspection to make sure it’s safe to continue driving.

This is not a fun process, but it’s important to know what to do if you find yourself in this situation! As always, be safe and err on the side of caution!

Deanna McCarty is the Director of Personal Lines Underwriting. She has overall responsibility for planning, directing and coordinating Personal Lines Underwriting operations. Deanna has been an Underwriting Director for 4 years, prior to that she was Manager of the St. Louis Claims Branch. She has been an employee of the company for over 20 years and has worked as Director for Say Personal Lines operations since its inception. Her experience in health claims, P&C claims, and underwriting has helped her gain knowledge of various aspects of the insurance world.