Insurance and Deer Hitting 101

Two weeks ago, my wife woke up at 4:00 a.m. with a level 99 migraine headache and since it takes about an hour for her "miracle pill" to kick in, so that meant I needed to drive her to work. Let me say that this has happened countless times over the years and I certainly don't mind doing it. I got dressed, warmed the van up, got the dog in for an unexpected joyride and at 5:00 a.m. we left.

I got her to work at 5:30 and immediately put my favorite instrumental worship CD in so I could worship my Lord for the 30 minute trip back home. This I did, at least for the first 25 minutes of the trip driving on the Interstate. At 5:55 a.m. I pulled off the Interstate to make the 5 minute trip up the county road home. My most favorite song on the CD started at the same time.

Less than a minute later I saw out of the corner of my right eye movement, and before I could do a thing, a huge deer jumped from the side of the road directly in front of me. I slammed on the brakes but to no avail. I heard and saw the deer crash into the right front part of the van, fall and then get run over. In all my 40 years of driving, I had never hit a deer before.

My mind was awash in thoughts of trying to figure out what to do. Was I supposed to stop and help the deer? Was I to pull over and call 911 to report the "accident"? Was the van drivable? Was my insurance going to go up? What if the van was totaled, how would we afford a new one? It is truly amazing how many thoughts can simultaneously run through a person's mind in a matter of a few seconds. Incredibly, all I ended up doing was to continue driving home.

I did call my wife to tell her the bad news which pretty much erased the progress the migraine pill had made on her headache. Even hearing that the dog and I were fine did little to erase the fears of losing our vehicle and increased insurance rates. I told her I would call back when I got home and looked at the van.

When I got home and surveyed the damage I was both overjoyed as well as deeply concerned. I was happy the damage was not worse, but very concerned because I could see the entire right front end, hood, grill etc. were all going to have to be replaced. A 2002 van didn't leave much before being totaled by the insurance company.

Back in 1994 shortly after moving 50 miles out into the country, my wife was driving to work (at the same time of day) on a Sunday morning after an all night rain. She was on the Interstate going around a curve when suddenly a huge buck (male deer for any city folk) jumped the fence and raced across the Interstate. Instinctively my wife jerked the wheel on the little GEO Metro she was driving to swerve and miss the deer. She did succeed in doing that, but...

She proceeded to spin on the wet pavement and ended up crashing into the wall which separated the east and west bound traffic. Dazed, but only slightly hurt, she sat in the car for minutes not knowing what had happened. Fortunately a trucker stopped going the opposite direction, jumped the wall, opened the door and yelled at my wife to get out of the car before being hit by other cars.

He helped her out of the car and to his truck where he waited until the state police arrived a few minutes later. All the while my wife kept weeping because she wrecked the car. All the while the trucker (or angel) kept telling her, "Its only a bunch of metal" he kept reassuring her that what was important was that she was not severely injured.

In time I received the call and had to wait for some friends to drive 50 miles to pick me up to go her at the hospital for we only had the one car. Graciously they took us both back home. From the first officer on the scene to our insurance agent, everyone said the same thing. "Why didn't you hit the deer?" Evidently in the course "deer hitting 101" it is taught to always hit the deer and not swerve to miss it for the very reasons my wife found out about. Besides, hitting the deer is comprehensive insurance whereas hitting the wall was collision. Makes a huge difference in deductibles and rate hikes, as we found out.

Anyway, I picked up my van yesterday and it looks beautiful. In fact it looks better than before the deer hit. The final bill came in $250 under being totaled. Since we pay $10 every six months for a rental car clause, we had a replacement car the whole time. The final bill to me was the $100 deductible for a comprehensive claim.

None of us like paying for insurance. Many times it seems like a waste of money to pay ahead of time for something bad that might happen. But, all it takes is ONE TIME when you use that insurance to become eternally grateful that someone invented the stuff. Many times people drop their comprehensive insurance on older vehicles. Let me assure you that I believe the opposite should be done.

Keep your comprehensive and get a low deductable so if you hit a deer, drive through a hailstorm, have a tree fall on your car or numerous other things happen, you can still get your car repaired and it not cost a fortune. I thank God my insurance agent explained this to me years ago when he urged me to keep my comprehensive coverage on a 15 year old van long paid off. That old van did have a tree fall on it and I was amazed how much I got for it.

In these times when everyone is cutting back, I urge you to NOT cut back on the comprehensive coverage on your vehicles. Just having coverage for glass breakage alone more than pays the small premiums usually associated with the coverage. Unlike collision coverage, it is also easy to get 0 deductable comprehensive coverage for hardly anything. The rental car clause is very nice too. Have a nice weekend with no deer in the way.

Debra Unruh @fairhaven7 ·

Hello, B2Y! I really enjoyed your blog. I appreciated the wisdom in your thinking about insurance. My husband hates insurance, and calls it a necessary evil. Most of our lives, we have paid in huge amounts of money to never see it again. But in your case, it makes sense. I am glad you were taken care so well. I was talking to my brother in law who is a manager for Enterprise (car rentals). He is worried insurance companies may be biting the dust because of the ripple effect the economy is taking. I thought if they go under, America would be in much worse hurt than it is now. Anyway....

Thanks for a positive view on insurance. I think you are right. If you can at all afford it, keep it.

P.S. Here in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana we have a huge amount of deer and almost every night someone hits one. It is just terrible - and like you said, many don't know how to drive when it happens. My dad was a truck driver and always said, hit the deer, hit the deer, hit the deer! It's not worth your life for an animal.

Anna Jones @annajones ·

:clap::clap:My husband is a deer hunter, and has always told me "Hit it " dont try and miss it , you will regret it. So I will read this blog to him, just so he can say " I told you so " lol... he loves to be able to say that to me , every now and again,so I will share this with him. Thanks B2Y... AJ

Linda Young @savedbyegrace ·

There are more jokes in the Atlanta area about "stuff" on our interstates. One joke says if you drive the highways in metro Atlanta for one day, you can furnish your house.

A few years ago a man was killed hitting a dishwasher on 285. Which sounds really strange, but apparently someone was moving the dishwasher and it was not properly secured, fell off the truck. The driver who was killed saw the dishwasher fall, and frantically and abruptly swerved not to hit it. Well, he did not hit the dishwasher. He died hitting something else, the wall, if I remember correctly.

But oh, how alert and aware and quick-witted you must be to override your internal programming to hit something.

Glad you're okay. I was always taught the opposite wisdom to yours on the insurance question, so I won't remark on that :)


K Reynolds @kreynolds ·

Oh boy... I live in deer country too. I came out of my house one night and nearly ran smack into a doe that was calmly foraging around in my front yard.

I've only hit a deer once though and it was a miracle. It was back in 1991. My than six year-old and I were just leaving the Twin Cities to go visit my mom who was teaching in South Dakota. Suddenly the doe was leaping up in the air in front of me. I was driving a ten year-old vehicle which had seen better days and this was our good car! My son started screaming that I'd hit a deer and then pointed at the doe who was bounding off on three legs. "It's hurt, mom! Catch it! " :eek: I sat there in the pre-dawn light sobbing for a few minutes. We had insurance of course but it was just liability and I was just subbing back in those days.

I finally managed to get myself out of the car and nearly fainted at what I saw. The only evidence visible was a spot where my bumper appeared to have been dusted off. Of course, my little boy and I had to have a praise service right then and there. We'd both seen the deer holding it's left hind leg up as it ran down the road so we knew it had been hit but...thank God for His protection!

K :princess:

P.S. I believe insurance is prudent. After 21 years of paying premiums to the same HMO I finally got a "return" on my "investment". I also praise God there is no lifetime maximum on our policy. I checked it when one poor woman discovered she had a lifetime maximum of only $100,000.00...right in the middle of her treatment!

Kirk M @blessings2you ·

Final word of wisdom to anyone unfamiliar with the ways of deer. They are most active right before sunrise and just after sunset; so that is when to be most alert. Many times deer never see or hear you coming (as in my case), the deer is going his/her merry way and never notices a vehicle until it hits them. I have no idea what became of the deer I hit. I went back after the sun came up and could find no trace of it. I think deer just grow new legs and run somewhere else.

My wife goes into intense mourning if she runs over a woolyworm in the autumn. Seriously, she tries to avoid hitting those fuzzy creatures on our county road. I am so glad they don't travel at night.


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