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My daughter hit a deer while driving a car owned and insured by her grandmother. Will insurance pay to repair the car?

The answer depends on whether her grandmother has comprehensive auto insurance. Car insurance has several components. Most states require liability insurance, which covers damage the driver does to others. Some states also require personal injury protection and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

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Collision and comprehensive insurance, which are both optional, cover damage to the policyholder's vehicle. Collision covers damage from traffic accidents, and comprehensive pays for losses caused by other factors, including theft, vandalism, natural disasters and collisions with animals.

If your daughter's grandmother has comprehensive insurance, the policy should cover the cost of repairs, minus the deductible. A car insurance policy covers the policyholder and anyone the policyholder lets borrow the car, so coverage should have been in effect when your granddaughter was at the wheel, assuming she had her grandmother's permission. (However, people who live in the same household should be listed on the policy for coverage.)

Deer-vehicle collisions are more common than many drivers might think. About 1.1 million deer-vehicle collisions occurred in the United States from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, according to State Farm. The insurer based the estimate on its own insurance claim data and state licensed driver counts from the Federal Highway Administration. The average cost of property damage from those accidents was $3,171, the insurance company says.

The five states where deer-vehicle collisions are most likely to occur are West Virginia, Iowa, South Dakota, Pennsylvania and Michigan. November is the riskiest time of year for such accidents because it's peak deer migration and mating season.

For more, see Car insurance basics.

Last updated: Apr. 14, 2012
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