Those who live and drive in West Virginia are no strangers to wildlife. In fact, this state ranks highest in terms of car to deer collisions and has done so for the past five years. West Virginia auto insurance companies see something in the ballpark of $57 million dollars in deer related damage claims annually. The state average anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 deer related accident claims each year.
While not every deer to car incident warrants an insurance claim, auto insurance firms in West Virginia seem to be around 1 in every 53 when it comes to deer related crashes. It is such a problem in this state that the West Virginia Office of the Insurance Commissioner releases annual deer reports to the public on their website.
However, the number of claims has gradually decreased since its peak in 2002 when it was around 28,000. In 2011, the number was closer to $21,000. However this dip in the right direction may mean a welcome change in the number of deer related accidents, but the costs of those claims has increased by nearly 50%. Car insurance rates would drop if the number of claims decreases, but this may not be the case if the amount of the claims is rising.
While these stats may seem alarming, area experts suggest that the data is only a small piece of a bigger picture. Often the expenses associated with these types of accidents aren’t fully documented. Many drivers only purchase the basic liability car insurance required in the state. This type of policy would not cover something like an animal accident since this type of coverage would only pay for damages the insured does to others. So, only drivers with comprehensive coverage, or another type of coverage that actually covers deer encounters, would need to be purchased before the collision. This skews the numbers when it comes to counting West Virginia claims.
Also, if a deer caused a vehicle to serve and get another car, and not the deer, this would be covered under collision coverage and would probably not get included in the claim data involving deer wrecks. Plus, information is extracted from only a handful of local car insurance companies meaning that not all the information for the area is included.
The heaviest time of year for this type of car accident is in the fall, when deer mating season begins and the creatures begin to roam around looking for a partner.