No one can ever really prepare you for what it’s like to hit an animal with your car. It’s an upsetting experience and depending on the type of animal (wild or domestic) you might be overwhelmed with a lot of questions about what to do next, like what to do with your car, how to help the injured animal, and what your legal responsibilities are. And then there’s the question of insurance, like who’ll pay for the damage to your car?
Here are all the answers and more to help you cope with the immediate aftermath of hitting an animal with your car.
First, stop the car safely
Take a breath and calmly pull your car over onto the side of the road, taking care to mind other drivers and pedestrians as you do so. Make sure that everyone in the car is okay.
Secondly, check the animal
Once you’ve made sure that you and your passengers are alright, it’s time to check the animal. A word to the wise: Wounded animals are unpredictable and can quickly become aggressive, so don’t attempt to treat the animal yourself. Here’s some advice on what to do if the animal is wild, a pet, or already dead:
- Wild animals
- If the animal is alive but injured, don’t touch it. Report the incident to the nearest police station and call the regional SPCA who should advise you further.
- Pets and domestic animals
- While you shouldn’t touch injured animals, you might have to move it off the road which you can try by using a blanket or jacket, and then see if you can read its tags. In addition to reporting the incident to the police, call the nearest vet who can treat and even help find the owner.
- The animal is dead
You should report the dead animal to the local police and if the animal is obstructing traffic, call the local municipality to remove the remains. If the animal is a pet, call a vet to check for tags or chips so the owner can be found.
The third step is to check your car
After you’ve taken care of the animal and made the right calls, you can turn your attention to your car. Animals can cause a lot of damage and your car might not be safe to drive, so check for leaking fluids, wheel damage, or loose parts. You should also take this time to snap as many pictures of the damage in case you want to put in a claim with your insurer.
If you have any doubts about your car’s drivability, then rather play it safe and call your insurer to tow it to an approved garage. Remember, if you have car insurance and you don’t call your insurer to arrange a tow, you’ll have to pay all the costs yourself.
And lastly, what do about your insurance
Generally, comprehensive car insurance covers damage caused by hitting a wild animal. In some cases, it’s also covered by other policies, like chilli insurance from King Price, but this is something that you need to confirm with your current insurer.
If you have insurance, then even if you’re not sure that you’re going to claim, please make sure that you report the incident to the police on the same day and snap a lot of pictures of the damage to your car.
Something important to note is that cover for the damage caused by hitting a domestic animal or pet with your car is not usually covered by insurance companies in South Africa. This applies to any vet bills that may be incurred, although typically it is the animal’s owner who is usually responsible for deciding on the course of treatment and for covering all the expenses, because it’s their responsibility to keep their animal from running into traffic.
We hope that this helps you if you ever are in the unfortunate position of having hit an animal, something that’s more common in South Africa than you might think. If you don’t have car insurance, then this is the time to consider an affordable policy that shoulders the burden of these unexpected costs. You can click here to get a quote in just a matter of minute