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If I only have liability car insurance and my car is totaled because I hit a deer, do I have any coverage?

Unfortunately, you would not be covered. Liability insurance pays only for damage you do to others. To get coverage for damage to your own car in a case like this, you'd need to have comprehensive coverage.

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All states, except New Hampshire, require you to carry a certain amount of liability coverage as a social responsibility to protect other drivers and property owners in case you cause an accident.

Comprehensive and collision auto insurance are optional, and some drivers forego those coverage types if their cars are older and not worth enough money to warrant paying the higher premium. Collision pays for damage to your vehicle in a car accident. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car caused by something other than a car accident, such as natural disasters, theft, fire vandalism and collisions with animals, including deer.

Deer-vehicle collisions happen more than many drivers might think, and the risk of hitting a deer is growing. Using its claims data, State Farm recently estimated 2.3 million such collisions happened in the United States between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2010, a 21 percent increase over the same time period five years earlier. Meanwhile, the number of miles driven by U.S. motorists increased by just 2 percent.

West Virginia tops the list of states where drivers are most likely to strike a deer, according to State Farm. Risk is next highest in Iowa, Michigan, South Dakota and Montana, respectively. The collisions are most frequent during deer migration and mating season in October, November and December.

For more, see car insurance basics.

Last updated: Feb. 12, 2011
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