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West Virginia is No. 1!

November 8, 2016 - Larry Claypool
Surprise! November is the peak month for deer activity in our region.

We know this because of the whitetail deer rut season is in full swing. And we’re reminded of this fact by Ohio’s Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who also serves as the Director of the Buckeye State’s Department of Insurance.

Auto insurance companies have a big stake in helping to reduce deer-vehicle crashes in the region. We have a stake in the process too because the number of car crashes reflect what we pay for auto insurance — now and in the future.

Last year was not a good year for Ohio drivers meeting deer on roadways. Taylor reports there were more than 21,000 people involved in deer-vehicle crashes in 2015 — the most since 2011.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety said among those crashes, there were 801 injuries and four fatalities.

Insurance companies in West Virginia are on high alert during this time of year too. The Mountaineer State may be one of the smallest states in this country (by population) but they lead a State Farm Insurance poll for drivers most likely to file a deer-vehicle claim this year. It’s the 10th straight year West Virginia has topped this ranking.

State Farm says 1 in 41 West Virginia drivers will be involved in a (reported) deer-vehicle crash this season. And that’s 5.4% “more likely” than last year. In that same study Pennsylvania ranks third (1 in 67 drivers) and Ohio ranks 19th (1 in 126).

State Farm says the claims for these accidents cost about $4,000, on average. The report also says that 80 percent of vehicles that strike a deer can be repaired; the other 20 percent are written off as a loss.

Note to car repair shops in West Virginia: do not hire hunters to work in your body shops because they’re going to want time off during your busiest season. You’re welcome, for that business tip.

Good luck finding someone in the Mountaineer State that does NOT hunt though.

Here’s my tips for hunters who seek whitetail deer in West Virginia. Find the counties with the most deer-vehicle crashes and hunt those areas — for three reasons: No. 1 - there’s probably more deer in that area; No. 2 - there may be more injured deer, as a result of deer-vehicle crashes; and No. 3 - there’s a good chance there are less hunters in that area.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d assume car insurance rates, or deductibles, in high risk counties in West Virginia are higher. State Farm, and other insurance companies, don’t keep statistics on these types of accidents just for the fun of it.

For Ohioans, you can find driving safety tips for this time of year at www.publicsafety.ohio.gov. Those in need of educational auto insurance information can visit www.insurance.ohio.gov or call 1-800-686-1526 with questions.

As part of Taylor's Think Again initiative, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the American Automobile Association have offered these tips: • Scan the road and shoulders ahead of you. • Use high beam headlights if there's no oncoming traffic. • Be extra cautious at dawn and dusk. • If you strike a deer or other animal move your vehicle to a safe place. • Contact law enforcement to report the traffic crash.

Taylor also provided important auto insurance considerations: • Check with you agent to ensure you have adequate insurance. • Keep you insurance card in your car. • The comprehensive coverage portion of your policy is most often used to pay repair damage for deer-vehicle incidents. A liability-only policy does not cover the damage. • Photograph any damage to support your claim.

This column ran in the November issue of the Ohio Valley Outdoor Times.

 
 

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State Farm says 1 in 41 West Virginia drivers will be involved in a (reported) deer-vehicle crash this season. And that’s 5.4% “more likely” than last year. Artwork by Metro Creative