Vehicle-Animal Collisions

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Steering Clear of Wildlife

 America’s roads are full of cars — but often, they’re also full of wildlife. That’s why an estimated 2 million vehicle-animal collisions happen each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fall and winter constitute the most dangerous periods for these incidents. Visibility is reduced, thanks to the shorter days and inclement weather, it’s migration and mating season for many animals, and also deer hunting season. But, you can still take steps to decrease the chances you’ll hit an animal. Here are five things to do:

  1. Be particularly alert at dawn and dusk. Visibility is low at these times, and animal activity is high.
  2. Keep an eye out for signs. If you’re in an area where wildlife is common, you may see posted warnings.
  3. Watch your speed. Avoiding any kind of collision is easier if you’re travelling at an appropriate rate of speed. And, it’s not just about the speed limit. In certain conditions, driving under the speed limit is more optimal.
  4. See an animal? Look for more. Missing one animal doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods, so to speak. There are probably others around.
  5. Don’t swerve. If possible, don’t make any wild maneuvers. You could end up hitting something worse than an animal — like another car — or going into a ditch or down an embankment. Use your brakes, use your horn, and use your good judgment.

Sometimes, though, collisions just can’t be avoided. If you do hit an animal, here’s what to do next:

  • Call 911 for assistance, especially if there are injuries to you or passengers.
  • Don’t touch the animal. They can be dangerous, even when hurt.
  • Document the accident scene and the damage to your car.
  • Get in touch with your insurance carrier or with us.

Keep in mind that the same attributes that make for safe everyday driving can also help you avoid animal collisions: Remain alert, maintain a safe speed for conditions and avoid distractions. Also, be sure to carry adequate car insurance in case something – animal-related or otherwise – does happen.

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I’m borrowing my friend’s car…am I covered?

autoMost people have an idea of what’s covered and not covered under their various insurance policies. But at West Town Insurance Agency, we get a lot of questions about borrowing or loaning a car.

Now that summer is almost here, and you might be looking to borrow your neighbor’s truck for a home-improvement project or a trip to the local landfill, we thought it was a great time to provide a little more information.

Generally, insurance coverage follows the vehicle rather than the driver. So in most instances, as long as the owner of the car has insurance, it’s covered even if someone other than the owner is driving it — as long as they have the owner’s permission.

The borrower’s insurance is considered secondary, meaning that in the event of an accident, it could apply if the owner’s insurance is insufficient to fully cover the damage.

It’s important to note that there are some exceptions to what is called “permissive use” coverage. For example, permission must be given by the owner, unless the borrower has a reasonable belief that they are allowed to use the car. However, the borrower cannot give permission to someone else.

Coverage might also be denied if the borrower operates the vehicle in a negligent or criminal manner. And if the borrower is using your car for business purposes, your personal auto policy likely won’t cover that.

If you have a regular long-term arrangement to either borrow or lend a car, the borrower should probably be added to the owner’s personal auto policy. Those who don’t own a car, but often borrow one, might also consider “named non-owner coverage,” an endorsement that provides bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured motorists coverage and more.

Ultimately, it’s usually safe to loan your friend your car for occasional errands or projects. And the same goes for borrowing a car. Just make sure it’s for “normal” use. You’ll want to confirm that the car has coverage and that your insurance, whether you’re the owner or borrower, will apply.

Feel free to give us a call at 252-368-4017 if you have any questions — after all, you don’t want to wait until after an accident to get answers!