Early in the morning
on my way to work I hit a horse that came running across the
road. It caused considerable damage to my car, but no injury
to me. The police came and took hair samples and were able to
locate the horse's owner. Will my car insurance policy cover this?
Will a deductible be due? Will my insurance company claim
against the horse owner? How does this work?
It's great to hear that you were uninjured -- and that the
responding officer went the extra mile to take hair samples from
the horse and locate its owner. We hardly hear of that being
done. Even with the owner's name in hand, it'll likely be
much easier to place a claim through your own auto insurance policy
than dealing with the horse owner or his insurance company.
To file an
auto insurance claim
for this incident, you need to have
as part of your policy. If you only have liability insurance,
then you won't be able to make a claim since this coverage doesn't
cover your vehicle in any way.
Comprehensive covers your vehicle when it hits, or is hit by,
common animals, such as dogs or
, or other wildlife, such as horses, cows, elk or birds.
The deductible associated with your comprehensive coverage will
be due, but if the horse owner is found liable then there is a
chance your car insurance company will be able to recover this cost
with the owner.
the horse owner is liable, because depending upon your state's
negligence laws and open range rules, he may not be.
The horse is out of the barn
If the owner knowingly let the horse out into the roadway, then
it's possible he will be held responsible for it crossing your path
and being hit. If the owner were unaware that the horse was
set loose, such as someone vandalized his fence and it escaped,
then the owner may not be found liable.
Also, in some western states, there are still open or free range
laws that allow domestic and farm animals to roam free. These
laws are older, so some have been updated to take into account more
modern times and at least require for livestock owners to keep
their animals from roaming unattended on the right-of-way on
For example, Texas Agriculture Code section 143.102 basically
tells owners to keep farm animals off Texas highways and then
section 143.103 gives immunity to someone whose vehicle strikes,
kills, injures or damages an unattended animal that is running at
large on a highway and therefore is not liable for the animal
except if the driver is found to be grossly negligent in the
operation of their vehicle or showed willful intent to harm the
If, however, your state's laws allow certain animals to roam
free and puts the burden on the driver to keep from hitting these
animals, blame could actually fall on you for injury to the
Let your insurance company earn its money
Due to how complex the situation could get, we recommend filing
the claim through your comprehensive coverage and leaving the heavy
lifting to your insurance company. Their claims professionals
will determine if the horse owner is liable and if he has farm
liability insurance that would pay for the injured horse and your
vehicle's damages or if you are considered liable and the horse
owner could place a property damage liability claim against your
Since your car has considerable damage, it's possible that it
will be totaled out. If that is the case, you will get actual
cash value for it, and your deductible amount will be deducted from
the settlement amount. If the vehicle is to be repaired, the
deductible would be due to the repair shop before your insurer pays
the remainder of the repair costs. (See "What if I can't pay
Luckily, comprehensive claims don't usually affect your car
insurance rates; unless you've made a few claims lately, and then
the amount of claims you've made with your auto insurance company
may cause your rates to rise. If they do go up, just shop
around for cheaper car insurance rates because there is likely a
competitor that will offer you lower premiums.