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I hit a deer while driving my girlfriend's car. Whose insurance company pays for repairs?

Generally car insurance coverage is tied to the car, rather than the driver. Typically a car insurance policy provides coverage when drivers outside the household use the vehicle with the owner's permission.

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However, car insurance policies vary, which is why it's important to check the policy before letting anyone borrow your car. Some policies include restrictions on covering "permissive users" under age 21 or 25, for instance. Your girlfriend should call her insurance agent to find out whether her policy fully covers permissive users.

Furthermore, she needs comprehensive insurance to have coverage for the repairs. Like collision insurance, which covers the vehicle if it's damaged in a traffic accident, comprehensive insurance is optional. Comprehensive coverage pays to replace or repair the vehicle if it's stolen or damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster, vandalism or collision with a deer or other animal.

Most states require car owners to carry liability auto insurance, which covers damage and injuries they, or drivers of their cars, do to others. Liability insurance doesn't cover damage to the policyholder's own vehicle.

Meanwhile, take care and avoid speeding in areas where deer are prevalent. People usually aren't injured in deer-vehicle collisions, although human fatalities in such accidents have risen, according to the most recent available federal data. The collisions can happen anytime of year, but they're most likely in the fall during mating season.

For more, see Car insurance basics.

Last updated: Aug. 29, 2012 Redesign Survey