W. Va. Insurance Commission Warns Drivers of Dangers Interacting with Wildlife

November 1, 2004

West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline announced this week that the Insurance Commission has completed its annual study on auto related accidents involving deer and wildlife. The study estimates that more than 21,500 deer and wildlife claims were paid by the top auto insurance carriers in West Virginia.

“West Virginia’s wildlife is a great resource for our state; however, for many West Virginia motorists it can be a daily threat to life and property” Cline said. The average cost of a claim directly attributable to wildlife is reportedly more than $1,600 totaling approximately $36 million. Not surprisingly, the number of auto related accidents involving deer and other wildlife increase during the months of October, November, and December, which coincides directly with both hunting and mating seasons.

The study is based on data supplied by insures with 5% or more of the West Virginia market and includes only claims paid involving collision with wildlife. The data does not include damages caused by drivers avoiding wildlife and subsequently colliding with other objects. Although the number of claims is down from last year, they are reportedly comparable to previous years and represent a substantial impact on auto premiums paid by West Virginia drivers.

Cline urges motorists to be aware of deer crossing signs, stay alert, and always wear a seatbelt. Also, deer tend to move in groups, so if drivers see one there are likely to be more.

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