In short, collision insurance will generally only cover those instances where your vehicle makes a direct impact with a wild animal, such as a bear or a deer. Comprehensive insurance can be added to your existing auto policy to cover damage done to your vehicle by an animal, but it is optional.
The longer answer is dependent on (1) how damage was done to a vehicle (either the damage resulted from a collision or it resulted from something else) and (2) the extent of the damage.
Deer are the most common animals hit by vehicles in the U.S.; in some states, your odds of hitting an animal while driving can be as low as 1 in 38. Deer are large enough to severely damage a vehicle and can sometimes cause significant injury to drivers or passengers. Collision repair resulting from colliding with a deer can be costly as well; although most repairs run between $2,500 and $4,999, some damage is significant enough to warrant repairs between $5,000 and $10,000. Because deer are common in the U.S., it is prudent to file a police report for your future records.
Typically, smaller birds like crows or even owls will cause damage to the windshield. However, impacts involving larger birds, like Canadian geese, can cause damage to the front or side of the car. Both of these instances are typically covered under comprehensive insurance.
Sometimes, bird poop will damage car paint because their waste droppings are acidic enough to burn onto the paint’s surface. The longer the bird droppings remain, the greater the damage to the paint. And although comprehensive insurance could cover the cost to repair the damage, most of the time the cost is too little to meet the average deductible.
Squirrels & Rodents
Sometimes, animals take shelter inside vehicles. This is true especially when it is particularly cold outside, and the vehicle can serve as a barrier to the harsh weather. But the proximity of animals to the vehicle can cause major issues. In fact, squirrels and other rodents have been known to cause damage to a vehicle’s electrical systems by chewing on the car wiring. One Ontario man, also known as “The Squirrel Man”, has been the victim of this exact problem three times in less than two years. The damage caused by the squirrels resulted in repair bills almost totaling $4,000. Typically, these instances will be covered by comprehensive insurance.
Generally, merely finding ants on your vehicle is nothing to worry about. If you see ants on the exterior surfaces of your vehicle, the ants are likely just exploring and will blow off your vehicle once you begin driving. However, if they come back, the issue can be typically resolved with a thorough car wash to remove anything stuck to your vehicle that serves as an attractant to the ants. Interior and exterior cleanings to remove ants generally fall under routine maintenance and do not warrant an insurance claim.
It is more concerning when ants are under the hood of your vehicle. Like squirrels or rodents, sometime ants will chew through wiring in the vehicle. The damage can be significant enough to warrant bringing your car into an auto shop for a professional inspection. Accordingly, in some of these instances, you may be able to file a comprehensive claim.
Dogs are a bit trickier when it comes to insurance claims. Typically, most dogs will have an owner, and the owner (or their insurance agency) will be responsible for any damage incurred while the animal was supposed to be restrained. But, in instances where a vehicle collides with a dog who has no owner, it will likely be treated by your insurance in the same way that it does other wild animals.
But what happens when the family pet gets up to no good while you are running errands? Some dogs have severe anxiety or PTSD, or sometimes they merely get bored and chew up the car seat. Ultimately, the answer here will be governed by the specifics of your insurance coverage. Some car coverage policies have exclusionary instances under which something like this would fall under, in which case, you may want to consider training Fido very well before trusting him to be alone in the car.
Claims filed under your comprehensive insurance will typically not count against you when it comes to calculating insurance rates. Whether a bear decides to destroy your vehicle trying to find pizza (true story – it happened in Juneau, AK) or you mistakenly hit a deer, it is important to be prepared for any scenario and to add comprehensive insurance added to your auto policy. Remember to take the time to read and understand your auto insurance policy so that you know exactly what is covered and what isn’t, and to talk to your insurance representative if you have any questions about what is included in your insurance policy.