Insurance on the highway: What to do if you hit a wild animal

Sign on Australian highway that reads: 'Caution wildlife in this area'.

You may have heard of the cheeky koala who wandered onto a freeway in southeast Adelaide a few weeks ago. The little furry friend caused a six car pile up! Luckily no one was seriously hurt and the koala in question was safely released back into the wild. However, this isn't always the case.

If you drive in Australia on a regional highway, especially at night, you'll know there's a chance of coming into contact with a wild animal. Some are simply trying to cross the busy road, while others can be spooked by headlights. With this in mind, we've gathered a few useful tips to help you increase your wildlife road awareness, including what to consider when it comes to insurance.

Wildlife road awareness

1) Avoid

To avoid hitting or coming into contact with a wild animal in the first place, wildlife organisation WIRES advises being extra vigilant on regional and urban roads. This especially applies in the early morning, late afternoon and when it's dark. If you are driving at these times, WIRES says to slow down, stay alert and use caution.

2) Secure your safety

If you do hit a wild animal, secure your own safety first. Ark Animal Hospital in Darwin advises checking for danger to yourself or any other drivers around you. Only pull over if it is safe to do so. On a busy highway, it may not be possible to check on the animal. If this is the case, the next time you stop you can call a wildlife rescue organisation and notify them of the incident. Depending on where you live, give these organisations a ring:

  • ACT - RSPCA Wildlife 02 6287 8100
  • NSW - WIRES 1300 094 737
  • NT - Wildcare NT Darwin 0408 885 341, Alice Springs 0419 221 128, Katherine 0412 955 336
  • QLD - RSPCA QLD 1300 264 625
  • SA - Fauna Rescue 08 8289 0896
  • TAS - Bonorong Sanctuary 03 6268 1184
  • VIC - Wildlife Victoria 1300 094 535

3) Approaching the animal

Once you have assessed the situation and only if it is safe to do so, pull over. Do not stop at a corner. WIRES advises putting your hazard lights on and a high-vis vest or brightly coloured clothing, so that you are visible to other motorists. WIRES does not advise approaching snakes, goannas, bats, large kangaroos or wallabies, or raptors. Read WIRES full advice booklet for drivers for information on how to help a surviving joey.

4) Be prepared

As you may have gathered, a lot of this work will require some special equipment. So if you are someone who drives on regional roads a lot, make sure you are always prepared. This means keeping the following items in your car:

  • a rescue basket or cardboard box
  • a torch
  • a high-vis vest or jacket
  • a blanket or pillow cases
  • towels
  • hand sanitiser
  • gloves

What about insurance?

In Australia there are on average over 7,000 insurance claims made in relation to collisions with kangaroos every year, according to a report from Huddle Insurance. Huddle worked out that kangaroos collisions could be costing drivers more than $6 million in excess payments annually.

Some insurance providers will also deem an 'accident involving an animal' as an at-fault claim. This is because it's a claim that can't be recovered from another party. So, if your car is damaged in a collision with an animal, chances are you could be hit with a pretty high excess.

Huddle is one of the only few insurance providers that offers cover for collisions with wild animals. This is called 'Kanga Cover' and is available as an optional extra with Huddle's comprehensive car insurance policy. If you opt for this, Huddle will repair or replace your wheels excess-free for your first animal collision each year.

In terms of the cost to treat the animal, vet clinics and wildlife organisations will not usually charge you to treat a wild animal. Although as animal hospitals do often need financial support, it's worth noting that Carpeesh's comprehensive car insurance provides cover for the 'recovery of injured wildlife.' With this, Carpeesh will donate up to $100 towards the animal's recovery. Or, if the animal passes away, the $100 will be given to a wildlife recovery centre in your state or territory.

Now that you've brushed up your wildlife road awareness knowledge, you'll probably also want to make sure your wheels have the right amount of cover. Head to Mozo's compare car insurance page to compare policies, or take a look at the plans below.

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