Steer clear of deer this fall

Consumer Alert

Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon is reminding drivers that as the nights get longer and we enter animal migration and mating season, to be on the lookout for deer on Louisiana highways. According to the National Highway Safety Administration there are about 1.5 million deer-related auto accidents annually.

A collision with a large animal can be very serious,” Donelon said. “Drivers should take precautions including wearing a seatbelt at all times and being especially vigilant during dawn and dusk hours when animals are most active. It’s also especially important to stay off your cell phone or mobile devices while you’re driving.”

Damage to a vehicle from a collision with an animal is covered under an auto policy's optional comprehensive portion. If you only have liability coverage, your insurance carrier will not cover damage to your vehicle resulting from a collision with an animal. The National Highway Safety Administration estimates that damage caused by deer accidents results in more than $1 billion in annual insured losses. If you want to make sure your vehicle is covered for animal collisions, contact your agent or carrier to discuss adding comprehensive coverage to your policy. Filing a claim for an accident covered by your comprehensive coverage means you'll still need to pay a deductible. After that, your insurer will cover the costs of the claim up to your policy limits.

Following a collision with an animal, follow the steps below:

If you can, move your vehicle to a safe place and turn on your hazard lights. This may mean pulling

over to the shoulder of the highway.

Stay away from the animal. A frightened or wounded animal can lash out and hurt you.

If you can't move your car, or the animal is blocking traffic, alert the authorities so they can clear the

roadway.

Document the incident by taking photos of your vehicle damage, the roadway and any injuries

sustained.

Check to see if your vehicle is safe to operate. Check for leaking fluid, damaged lights, loose parts or

other safety hazards.

When in doubt, call a tow truck.