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Oh Deer! Vehicle Insurance and Liability for PA’s Most Popular Roadside Nuisance

The seasons are changing from summer to fall.  Days are becoming shorter and there is a nip to the air.  Step outside and you can often smell the fireplaces burning.  It’s fall in Pennsylvania, which means one thing…deer season!  I’m not referring to the deer season where hundreds of thousands of hunters take to the field – I am referring to the increased number of auto accidents caused by deer.

Ask anyone who has lived in Pennsylvania during the fall and they will tell you that deer are seen in abundance, often characterized by deer being seen lying on the side of the road having been the victim of being hit by a car.

Fall marks changes in deer behavior.  It is the time when fields have been harvested, so the deer are searching for food sources.  It is also when deer are rutting.  For those of you unfamiliar with “the rut” or “rutting,” it is the time of year when deer mate.  The rut typically lasts approximately three weeks, but can extend longer.  For several weeks leading up to the rutting season, there will also be increased activities in these animals.    The rut is the time when deer, especially bucks, are more active and less cautious than usual.  A buck has one thing in mind during this time of year; to find as many does as he can.  The buck will chase does for weeks – having barely eaten a thing.  Bucks’ increased movements, coupled with their less than cautious drive, make them a little easier to hunt, but also makes deer more susceptible to being hit by vehicles. This means one thing for drivers, an enhanced chance of hitting a deer due to the animals’ increased movements across our countryside.

Do you have insurance coverage that will cover damage to your vehicle due to hitting a deer?  Many people believe they do, only to learn they do not.  On more than one occasion I have been asked by someone whether their recent run-in with Bambi will be covered.  The conversation usually starts out with this person telling me they have “full coverage.”

The reality is there is no insurance company that will offer a driver “full coverage.”  When purchasing auto insurance in Pennsylvania, a driver will have a variety of coverage available to them for purchase. One option is “collision coverage.”  Most consumers mistakenly believe that if they purchase collision, they have, in fact, purchased full coverage.

Collision coverage covers your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident with another vehicle. This may include repairs or a full replacement of your covered vehicle, but will not cover accidents caused by an animal, like a deer.  For these damages, “comprehensive coverage” is required.

Comprehensive coverage will pay for damage to your vehicle caused by covered events, which are not collision related.  These events typical include theft, vandalism, hail and … deer! In these scenarios, comprehensive coverage covers situations that collision insurance will not.  In Pennsylvania, a driver must purchase collision and comprehensive coverage separately.  Because comprehensive coverage covers damages that differ from those covered by collision, it is always advisable to purchase both.  And here’s a secret, the cost for comprehensive coverage is minimal in comparison to collision coverage.

Before venturing out this fall, take a quick look at your auto insurance policy to ensure that you have purchased comprehensive coverage.  You don’t want to go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house this deer season without it.

For more information, contact Personal Injury Attorney Greg Bair.

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