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November Most Hazardous Month for Deer Strikes

Insurance claims for crashes involving animals are nearly three times as high as they are in other months of the year.

by on Nov.30, 2009

Mating time means hazards for drivers.

Mating time means more roadside hazards for drivers.

November is the cruelest month for animal strikes, and damage claim costs from these unfortunate accidents are climbing, according to the latest Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) analysis.

West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky have higher insurance claim frequencies than other states for animal strikes during the month of November.

West Virginia’s frequency of 51 per 1,000 insured vehicle years is 3.6 times the national average of 14.1 for the month — a year is a vehicle insured for 1 year, 2 vehicles for 6 months each, and so on.

Bucking Boring News!

Bucking Boring News!

Insurance claims usually do not specify the animals involved in crashes, but Institute research shows deer are the main ones, especially in serious crashes.

For every 1,000 insured vehicle years, 14.1 animal-related claims were filed under comprehensive coverage in November 2008, compared with an average of 5 claims per 1,000 during January-September. Results are in line with HLDI’s prior findings over the years.

The five states with the most deaths in collisions with animals in 2004-08 are:

  • Texas with 88, Wisconsin with 62,
  • Ohio with 51,
  • Pennsylvania and Michigan with 46 each.

State Farm estimates there were 2.4 million vehicle-deer collisions on US roads from July 2007 to July 2009, 18% more than 5 years earlier. West Virginia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania top the insurer’s list of states where deer crashes are most likely to occur.

Drivers are more likely to encounter deer during fall when bucks roam in search of mates, says Paul Johansen of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.

The average damage claim cost in November 2008 was $2,913, HLDI reports. This is 8% higher than November 2007’s average of $2,689 and 11% higher than in November 2006, when the average damage claim cost $2,618.

For the entire study period (January 2006 through April 2009), the average November claim cost of a vehicle-animal collision was $2,743.

“Drivers should be cautious about deer in November, particularly where they’re prevalent,” says Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president. “Luckily, most crashes with deer don’t kill car occupants.”

Federal data show animal crash deaths are increasing. In 1994, 131 people died in crashes involving animals. By 2001, the number was 177, and in 2008, it was 210. Many of these deaths would not have occurred if motorists used safety belts and motorcyclists wore helmets.

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