Does Car Insurance Cover Hitting an Animal?

Quick Answer

Damage to your car after an accident with an animal is covered under comprehensive auto insurance. Vet bills from an accident with a domestic animal are not typically covered by car insurance, but rather by the pet owner’s homeowners insurance.

Deer on the edge of the road just before vehicle

Hitting a deer, moose, coyote or even a bear doing 65 on the interstate can cause serious damage to your vehicle. Luckily, comprehensive car insurance will cover most animal hits.

If you live in an area with many wild animals crossing over roadways, consider upgrading your car insurance. Adding comprehensive coverage can protect against expensive vehicle repair bills if you hit an animal.

What Type of Car Insurance Covers Hitting an Animal?

Hitting a large wild animal can hurt your car and leave you with large repair bills (or even medical bills for yourself or other occupants of your vehicle). If you carry a type of insurance called comprehensive car insurance, you may be able to get these repair costs covered.

Though you have collided with the animal, it does not fall under a collision policy. This is one of the rare cases when comprehensive coverage pays instead, largely because comprehensive coverage is designed to pay for things that aren't your fault.

If you hit a domestic animal, such as a dog or a horse that gets loose, your comprehensive coverage may not be what pays. In this case, during the claim investigation process, your insurance company may pursue the animal's owner for compensation under their homeowners' insurance. This usually happens if your insurance company determines the animal owner was—even unintentionally—negligent in their animal getting loose. If this happens, it's often taken care of entirely between your insurance company and the animal owner's insurance company, but your insurance carrier will notify you if they're pursuing this avenue.

How Do I Sign up for Comprehensive Coverage?

To have coverage in case of an accident with an animal, you can purchase a comprehensive coverage policy. You can sign up for comprehensive insurance when you purchase car insurance online. Also, you can ask your insurance agent to add it to your existing auto policy.

Comprehensive is an extra coverage you must choose. Most states do not require that you carry it, so if you are carrying the bare minimum required where you live, you likely don't have comprehensive coverage yet.

On the other hand, if you financed your vehicle and you still have a loan on it, you probably do have a comprehensive policy. That's because most lenders require full coverage for their financed vehicles.

When making a claim through your comprehensive coverage, you must pay your deductible. Then the rest of the associated costs should have coverage. Though this is an extra cost, it may be worth it when you consider the damage a moose hit could do to your vehicle.

Will Insurance Cover Vet Bills if I Hit a Pet?

Similar to responsibility for repairs, you also likely will not be responsible for vet bills related to the accident. That is because the owner will be responsible for costs related to the pet being loose, including the vet bills associated with any injury.

If you are found liable for driving in a way that hurt a domestic animal, your liability coverage may pay for vet bills. Take action after an accident to limit your liability such as:

  • Not moving the injured pet if you can help it.
  • Calling the police; a pet is property that belongs to someone else, and if you leave it after causing injury you could get in legal trouble.
  • Contact the owner as soon as you can get their information.
  • Get in touch with your insurer if you plan to file a claim and see if you can cover any costs associated with the pet's injuries.

If you are driving responsibly and watching for people's pets when in residential areas, you will reduce your risk of an accident. In most cases, you would have responsibility only if you intentionally hurt a pet.

And remember, owners will be responsible for the damage to your car along with taking care of their pet. This is because they are responsible for keeping their pets contained. Though hitting a domestic animal may be traumatic, you may not have any financial responsibility as the driver.

The Bottom Line

If you live in an area with large wild animals, you may want to protect yourself from the costs associated with a possible animal accident. Carrying comprehensive insurance can help cover repairs from such incidents if you must file an insurance claim.

If you're looking for the best price on comprehensive insurance, using Experian's auto insurance comparison tool can help. It lets you efficiently and easily shop with multiple providers at once. Simply upload information about your current policy to get quotes from providers in minutes. See what savings you can find when adding comprehensive to your policy.