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Deer danger: Pa. high on crash list, but insurance can’t fault you

Pa. insurance commissioner says insurers may not bump premiums

Bad news, Pennsylvania: We’re No. 3 for deer-related vehicle crashes. But the state insurance commissioner has some good news about that.

In rolling out the annual warning to drivers to stay alert for four-legged hazards on the highways, Teresa Miller also reminded drivers that their insurance company cannot add a surcharge to their auto premiums for crashes involving deer.

“I want to remind drivers that under Pennsylvania law, a crash involving a deer is considered a not-at-fault accident, and insurers cannot add a surcharge to your premium for an accident with a deer,” Miller said.

November is the month when drivers are most likely to have a crash involving a deer, insurance industry information shows, with October and December right behind.

Vehicle damage from deer-related crashes is handled under a driver’s comprehensive coverage, Miller added, and surcharges also are prohibited for accidents involving other animals or fowl.

But you do actually have to hit the deer for the rule to kick in.

If the vehicle does not come in contact with the animal, the exclusion does not apply, Miller pointed out.

High risk

Pennsylvania drivers are the third most likely of motorists in any state to have a collision with a deer, figures compiled by State Farm Insurance show, with a one in 67 chance of a deer-related accident in the commonwealth.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reported more than 3,600 deer-involved crashes in 2015. Those crashes resulted in 639 injuries and six fatalities, PennDOT officials said.

According to State Farm, the average cost of a deer involved collision is just under $4,000.

Why is the risk higher at this time of year?

“The fall is breeding season for deer, and they may be less aware of their surroundings,” Miller said. “Deer also often travel in groups, so if you see one deer, there are often more nearby.”

Peak times of day for deer activity are dawn and dusk, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The return to Eastern Standard Time on Sunday also means more drivers will be commuting at those times starting next week.

Roger DuPuis
Roger DuPuis covers Cumberland County, health care, transportation, distribution, energy and environment. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at [email protected].

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