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Check insurance coverage for deer collisions

With the start of firearm hunting season Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services reminds people to review their auto insurance coverage to make sure they know what may be available for damage caused by a deer collision.

Though these types of crashes occur all year round, the hunt, coupled with shorter daylight periods, often increases the number of these crashes, which can cost thousands of dollars to repair.

“Auto insurance may not be at the top of your mind as we head into the colder months, but this is a good time of year to review your policy so you are prepared for unexpected mishaps, like hitting a deer with your car,” DIFS Director Anita Fox said. “… In most cases, you will need to buy an optional coverage called comprehensive insurance to cover damage caused by something other than a crash with another vehicle, so it is important to consider your family’s insurance needs and budget before a potential loss.”

Michigan annually has about 50,000 reported vehicle-deer crashes, according to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. About 80% of these crashes happen on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn, especially during the spring and during fall hunting season. A recent AAA study reported Michiganders pay an average of $130 million each year to repair vehicle damage caused by collisions with deer.

Vehicle owners should discuss their current auto insurance policy with their licensed insurance agent or company to make sure they are protected against this type of damage. An optional comprehensive coverage will be needed in most cases. Comprehensive pays if the vehicle is stolen, or for repairs if damaged by a falling object, fire, flood, vandalism or collision with an animal.

A few tips on what to do after a deer collision:

— Pull off the road, turn on the emergency flashers and be cautious of other traffic if getting out of the vehicle.

— Report the crash to the nearest police agency and your insurance company or agent.

— Document the incident. If it’s safe to do so, take photographs of the roadway, surroundings, damage to your vehicle and any injuries to yourself or your passengers. If witnesses stop, take down their account of what occurred, and ask for their contact information.

— Do not approach the deer. Wounded animals can be dangerous, and an animal that appears to be dead may only be stunned.

— Don’t assume the vehicle is safe to drive. Look for leaking fluid, loose parts, tire damage, broken lights, a hood that won’t latch, and other safety hazards. If the vehicle seems unsafe in any way, call for a tow.

Anyone with questions or concerns about an insurance policy or who wants to file a complaint can contact DIFS from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday at 833-ASK-DIFS (275-3437), or for complaints go online to Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints.

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Iron Mountain Daily News

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