Unswerving Advice For Drivers: STEER CLEAR OF DEER

deer in roadSoaring deer populations and weather conditions during travel this season can be a dangerous combination for motorists — especially uninsured ones.  Animals, particularly deer, are a factor in many traffic accidents. Although most deer and other animal-related accidents do not involve human fatalities, they do contribute to insurance claims and auto damages each year.

While most deer-related accidents involve only one car, if a motorist swerves away from an animal and hits another car or another’s property, he will likely be liable for any damage that occurs.  Foregoing liability coverage could mean an even bigger hit to one’s wallet.

Many deer-related accident fatalities occur in rural areas where the animals are prevalent, speed limits are higher and roads wind through heavily wooded areas.  This is not surprising since almost 60 percent of all auto accident fatalities occur in rural areas.  But increasingly, these incidents are becoming an urban and suburban phenomenon.  Heavily populated, growing areas are now experiencing serious deer-related accidents as suburban development infringes upon deer and other animal habitats.

Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents at West Town Insurance Agency offer the following advice for drivers:

  • Be alert when passing through a deer crossing zone.
  • Remember: the signs were put there for a reason.
  • Drive cautiously during early evening and early morning hours when deer are active.
  • Even in urban and suburban areas, rush hour commuters should be particularly alert for animals.
  • If you see a deer on the road, slow down and blow your horn to scare it away.  Deer often fixate on headlights, so it may not be effective to just flash your lights.
  • Look for other deer after one has crossed the road.  Deer seldom run alone.
  • If unable to stop to avoid hitting a deer, do not swerve.  It is better to hit the deer head- on.  The most serious injuries to motorists or passengers occur when a driver swerves to avoid a deer but hits a fixed object or moving car.
  • Ideally, to reduce damage and likelihood of injury, a motorist should brake until just before the point of impact, then, accelerate to lift the hood and prevent the animal from flying up onto the windshield.
  • If you hit a deer, don’t touch it.  If it is alive it may be dangerous.  Call the state or local   police to report the accident.
  • Immediately report any damage to your insurance agent.

 

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Vehicle-Animal Collisions

deer-crossing-sign

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.

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!