You’ve probably seen animals like raccoons, coyotes, and deer near roadways. You might even have seen larger animals near the road, such as elk in mountain areas or cows in areas with open range. Most of the time these animals know to stay away from loud vehicles on the road, but sometimes they wind up on the road at the same time as a car.
No one wants to hit an animal while driving. In addition to hurting an innocent creature, colliding with an animal could cause injuries or serious damage to your vehicle. It’s important to know what to do if you do hit an animal on the road, as well as how you can help protect your car from expensive damage.
Follow these steps if your car hits animal.
1. Pull Over When It’s Safe
Hitting a large animal, like a deer or elk, could easily total your vehicle. Smaller animals, like raccoons, could also cause serious damage depending on the severity of the collision.
If you hit an animal, you should first remain calm and try to regain control of your vehicle. If you decide to pull over, guide your car to the side of the road as safely as you can. Be sure to turn on your hazard lights so you’re visible to other drivers.
Check yourself and your passengers for any serious injuries that may need immediate medical attention. Contact emergency services if you or a passenger needs medical care.
2. Contact the Police
An accident that causes damage to your vehicle does not always require a call to the police. However, they should be called if there’s an obstruction left in the road after the collision. For example, you hit and kill a deer when driving. The animal is still lying in the roadway and could become a potential hazard for other drivers. By calling the police right away, you reduce the chance of anyone else hitting the animal or your vehicle.
Most of the time, the police will ask you questions and fill out a police report. This report can also potentially help you when you file your insurance claim.
3. Inspect Your Vehicle for Damage
When it’s safe to move around your vehicle, get out and look for damage. Large animals are capable of causing serious damage to the body of your car, including dents or damage to your bumper.
Keep in mind that an impact with an animal could cause damage to interior structures or systems as well. Consider taking your car into a reputable auto repair shop after hitting an animal to make sure there’s no damage below the surface
4. Take Photos of the Accident
It’s usually a good idea to document the scene of the accident, even if your car doesn’t show damage. Take pictures of the area around the accident and make notes on what happened before, during, and after hitting the animal.
Be sure to get clear pictures of any damage to your vehicle, such as broken lights, mirrors or dented bumpers.
5. Avoid Approaching the Animal
If the animal you hit is hurt but not killed, your first impulse may be to see if you can help it. However, as difficult as it is to watch an injured animal struggle, it’s much safer to keep your distance. You should never try to approach an injured animal after a roadway accident.
Instead, contact animal control for wild animals or a local veterinary office or rescue organization for domestic pets. This not only gives the injured creature a better chance of recovering, but also keeps you safe from potential injury from the distressed animal.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
If your car is damaged and you have applicable collision or comprehensive coverage, please get in touch with Wawanesa’s 24/7 claim service to start your auto claim.
If your car is undrivable and you need a tow truck, our Claim Service team can assist you in arranging a tow related to your claim if you have comprehensive and/or collision coverage. Please contact the Claim Service team for further assistance.
If you don’t have this coverage, but have purchased optional Roadside Assistance coverage, you should review the information on your Roadside Assistance card for help.
By contacting Wawanesa right away, you have a better chance of remembering all the important details of the accident
Reducing Your Risk of Animal Accidents
The best way to reduce your chance of hitting an animal on the road is to practice defensive driving, especially at night. Be aware of your surroundings and the types of animals you might encounter on the road.
Driving on a narrow mountain road, for example, might increase your chance of seeing elk or deer. On the other hand, you’re probably more likely to encounter a dog in a residential area. Knowing which animals are more likely to be nearby could help you keep watch for them.
Remember too that most animals become more active in the early morning or evening hours. This is when many wild creatures look for food or move between their preferred habitats. Make sure to pay close attention to animal crossing signs and movement along the side of the road if you drive during these hours.
Will Insurance Cover Hitting an Animal?
You will most likely need comprehensive coverage for your policy to cover collisions with animals. Comprehensive coverage is an optional addition to your car insurance that helps repair or replace your car from damage outside of your control, such as hitting an animal, fire or theft.