Hitting a moose, deer or bear while driving at high speed can cause injuries and major damage. What do you do in the event of a collision? Does your auto insurance policy cover this type of accident? We look at the question from all sides.

Each year in Quebec, there are thousands of accidents involving wildlife; their populations are growing all the time as a result of increasingly warmer temperatures. While collisions with animals are more frequent at certain times of year, they can also happen when you least expect it, so it’s important to stay alert at all times. No one is immune to the risk of an unwanted encounter of this kind on the roads of our belle province.

What to do in case of a collision

Unfortunately, even the greatest vigilance doesn’t rule out the possibility of an unfortunate head-on collision with a large animal.

If such a collision appears inevitable, honk the horn and keep a strong grip on the steering wheel to avoid veering off the road. Brake sharply and bring your vehicle to a stop safely.

The first thing to do is check whether anyone in the car is hurt, and call emergency services if need be. Even if the driver and all passengers are okay, you must contact the police: the law states that any collision with an animal weighing more than 25 kg must be declared.

If another vehicle is involved in the accident, complete the joint report with the other driver and forward all necessary information to the police as soon as possible, so that they can write a report in a timely manner.

Like it or not, you’re responsible

In a collision with an animal, the driver of the vehicle is automatically considered to be at fault. If bodily injury results, the SAAQ will pay compensation to any victims, regardless of driver responsibility.

The same cannot be said, however, when it comes to any damage done to the vehicle. That will be covered by your private insurer, who will determine what compensation to pay out depending on your insurance policy’s coverage options.

An ounce of prevention...

Contact your auto insurer as soon as possible after a collision with an animal. If your policy covers only civil liability, you will have to pay all repair costs. But if you took out a policy that includes collision damage coverage, you’ll be ahead of the game: your insurer will take care of the cost of repairing or replacing the damaged vehicle (you’ll still have to pay the deductible stipulated in your insurance policy).

To avoid complications or a delay in processing your claim, be sure to forward, as soon as possible, the number of the police report that was written after the accident, the joint report (if there was one), and the contact information for your preferred garage or body shop, if applicable. Remember, your insurer must approve all repair costs before a mechanic or body repairer can start work.