‘Tis the season: Watch for deer

Autumn offers a lot: gorgeous foliage, cozy sweaters, hot apple cider. But unfortunately, it’s also when deer-vehicle crashes peak.

According to Grinnell Mutual’s Claims division, more drivers are hitting more deer than ever before, continuing a three-year trend. In 2017, we received 5,474 deer hit claims, a 14 percent increase from the previous year. And 42 percent of all deer-hit claims came in October, November, and December — nearly twice as many as any other time of year.

In 2017, the average deer-hit claim for drivers insured by Grinnell Mutual was $4,217, a 56 percent increase from 2010.

From dawn to dusk

Deer are at their most active from predawn to mid-morning, and dusk to early evening, which corresponds with school and work commutes. But no matter what time you are on the road, here’s what you should know:

  1. Don’t veer for deer. Your vehicle is designed to keep you safest in a head-on collision. When a deer jumps in front of your vehicle, don’t jerk the wheel to avoid hitting the deer. You’re more likely to hit another vehicle or something stationary, or land in a ditch if you swerve. Instead, brake firmly. You may still hit the deer, but the chances of you walking away are much better.
  2. Herd’s the word. Deer rarely travel alone. You’re not necessarily in the clear if you avoid the one deer that leapt into your path. Slow down and leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles.
  3. Toss the toys. Science says — and many state departments of transportation agree — that deer whistles do not work. Instead, be aware. Rely on your own senses of hearing and sight.
  4. Play by the rules. Wear your seatbelt and obey all posted markings — even those deer crossing signs. They’re placed where they are for a reason. Use your high beams when there’s no oncoming traffic for a better look at adjacent woods and fields.
  5. No distractions. Whatever you do, don’t use your cell phone while you’re driving. The distraction could be deadly.

So, now what?

Sometimes, hitting a deer is unavoidable. Here’s what to do:

  1. Safety first. Get your vehicle off the road and out of the flow of traffic if possible.
  2. Call 911. Call first responders and report the incident.
  3. Don’t approach the deer. It may be wounded and frightened. A deer in shock could attack you, so it’s best to keep your distance.
  4. Record the facts: Note the date, time, and location of the accident and names, addresses, and telephone numbers of anyone else involved, including witnesses. Take photos of the scene and the damage.
  5. Report your claim. Fortunately, it’s only a click away with Grinnell Mutual’s Manage My Account, our policyholder portal. You can also call our Claims Call Center at 877-467-2252.

Contact your agent

A deer hit is usually covered under comprehensive insurance. Learn more about auto insurance coverages. And now may be a great time to review your personal auto policy with your independent Grinnell Mutual agent — before you need to use it. Find an agent today.

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October 2018