Are you insured if your car is damaged from an accident involving wildlife along Daytona, Ormond and Flagler's rural roads and highways?

Daytona/Ormond and Flagler beach have many scenic routes that can take you through the rural areas of Volusia and Flagler county. Although these county roads and highways can provide beautiful vistas, there can also be additional dangers while driving that are not so common in our more urban areas. Many of these rural routes take you through heavily wooded areas or marshlands. These natural habitats are home to many of Florida's indigenous wildlife such as deer, bears and alligators. As such, it is not uncommon for these animals to wander onto a road, presenting a dangerous situation for an unwary driver.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there are about 1.5 million car accidents with deer each year that result in $1 billion in vehicle damage, about 150 human fatalities, and over 10,000 personal injuries. The actual numbers are probably higher because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's figures for deer accidents, rely on inconsistent state reporting- there is no standard reporting of deer accidents in the country yet, and a "reportable deer accident" varies significantly between states.

In Florida, we are not just limited to deer encounters, but also must be on the look out for any number of animals, large and small. There have been reported accidents involving collisions with black bears, wild boars and even alligators. However, it is not just large animals that can cause accidents, but smaller ones too such as rabbits, raccoons and opossums. When a driver sees one of these animals on the road, many times their first instinct is to swerve in an attempt to avoid hitting the animal. This action often leads to a driver losing control of their vehicle by over-correcting or running off the road. This can often lead to more serious accidents and injuries.

If you are involved in a single car accident due to an animal encounter, do you have the right insurance to cover your vehicle damage and if necessary, your medical bills? Since wild animals do not carry insurance, it will be up to you or your insurance company to pay for damage to your vehicle and cover any related medical expenses. If you have just the basic insurance required by Florida, you may have not have money to pay for damages to your vehicle and only the $10,000 personal injury protection to cover medical expenses and lost wages. As such, make sure you carry collision and comprehensive insurance coverage.

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car that was caused by events other than an accident involving another vehicle. Covered events can include theft, fire, vandalism, natural disasters and even hitting a deer or other animal. Comprehensive coverage usually insures only the actual value of your car, not replacement value. Whether you should pay the additional premium for comprehensive coverage really depends on the value of your vehicle.

Collision coverage will pay for the repairs to your vehicle if you are the one who is at fault in the accident (for instance you run off the road trying to avoid hitting a squirrel). This type of coverage is usually the most expensive to carry. Like comprehensive coverage, usually you will be reimbursed the cars actual value rather than replacement value. Again, your car's value really determines if this type of coverage is feasible or not.

In short, many accidents occur throughout Florida as a result of wildlife wandering onto highways and roads. In order to avoid these potential hazards, always keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel. Always wear a seat belt, its the law and could save your life. If you see an animal near the side of the road, slow down and keep your eye on it until you are safely past. You can never predict what an animal will do, but it would be a mistake to think the animal sees you and will not dart in front of you.

Volusia and Flagler counties have some of the most scenic routes in Florida. You can experience "old Florida" within a very short drive from Daytona and Ormond Beach. However, keep a watchful eye on your surroundings so a beautiful scene does not turn deadly.

If you have questions regarding car insurance or have been involved in an accident, please contact Johnson & Gilbert at 1-800-556-8890 for a free consultation.