State Insurance Commissioner Warns About Vehicle – Deer Collisions During Hunting Season
Now that the general rifle hunting season is underway, Montana's Insurance Commissioner is warning drivers to be on the lookout for deer and sometimes elk on the highways.
Monica Lindeen says Montana is the number two state in the nation for vehicle versus deer and elk collisions.
"I just want to remind drivers that November is one of the top months of the year for deer collisions in Montana," Lindeen began. "In fact, it turns out that Montana is the second highest state in the country in terms of insurance claims in accidents that involve deer. I know that every Montanan has either had a close call or has actually hit one, but we just want to remind folks to slow down, because we certainly seem to have a lot of suicidal deer out there," she laughed.
Lindeen has some tips to help keep drivers from becoming a statistic.
"First, keep your high beams on to better see on the highways at night," she said. "If you hit your brakes when you see a deer, try not to swerve, and also always wear your seat belts, Thirdly, if you do hit a deer and have to file a claim with your auto insurance, that you can take your vehicle anywhere you want to get it repaired. You don't have to follow the insurance company's recommendation."
Lindeen said the average claim when striking a deer is over $4,000, and shared a personal experience.
"My husband and I were traveling up in the Seeley Swan area last year and we had a deer come out of nowhere and we hit on on the right hand side of our vehicle and it was over $10,000," she said. We were really lucky the the airbags didn't deploy, because the cost is much more expensive to have those reset."
Lindeen's office has tips to follow after a vehicle versus deer collision:
Move the vehicle to a safe location, out of traffic.
* Document the incident and the damage.
* Notify a law enforcement agency by dialing 911.
* Do NOT approach the animal; it may be wounded and dangerous.
* Before driving away, double-check your vehicle for damage and hazards including leaking fluids or loose parts.
In 2013, the Montana Legislature passed a law making it legal to harvest road kill.
Lawmakers said the purpose of the new law is to get meat into the freezers of people who could use it. They also don’t want animals killed in collisions with vehicles to go to waste.
According to the Billings Gazette, free permits can be downloaded from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ website. They can also be issued by authorities who respond to wildlife-vehicle collisions.