If you live in West Virginia, you may want to hold on to your comprehensive car insurance -- Mountain State drivers are more likely to crash into a deer than drivers in any other state, according to statistics released this week by State Farm. (See: "Four questions to ask before dropping comprehensive insurance.")

This is the sixth year in a row that West Virginia has been at the top of State Farm's list, which shows the number of estimated deer collisions by state for the 12 months ending June 30, 2012.

The insurer calculated the odds of a deer collision for each state by comparing accident totals with the number of licensed drivers. Here are the states with the highest chances of a deer-related crash:

  1. West Virginia, 30,202 projected accidents; a one in 39.9 chance
  2. South Dakota, 8,863; one in 68
  3. Iowa, 30,117; one in 71.9
  4. Michigan, 97,856; one in 72.4
  5. Pennsylvania,115,571; one in 75.6
  6. Montana, 9,576; one in 77.7
  7. Wisconsin, 52,525; one in 78.7
  8. Minnesota, 41,165; one in 79.7
  9. Arkansas, 20,281; one in 102.5
  10. Virginia, 52,369; one in 103.2

Which state has the least risk? That would be Hawaii. State Farm says the odds of running into a deer in the Aloha State are one in 6,801, or about the same as getting struck by lightning. Here's the complete list of deer-collision estimates by state.

What type of car insurance coverage pays for deer collisions?

State Farm estimates that there were 1.23 million deer-related accidents in the U.S. from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, a 7.7% increase over the previous year.

"The probability that any single licensed driver in the U.S. was behind the wheel during one of those 1.23 million crashes also increased from one in 183 to one in 171, approximately equal to the odds that you will be audited by the Internal Revenue Service next tax season," according to a statement from the insurer.

But if you do hit a deer, the cost to fix a car after a collision is on the rise. According to State Farm, the average property damage cost for these crashes is $3,305, up 4.4% from the year before.

So are you covered if you collide with a deer? The comprehensive coverage option of a car insurance policy reimburses you for repair costs after a collision with an animal. (See: "Oh, deer: Repair costs climb even as deer collisions fall.")

If you drive an older car, you may be considering dropping comprehensive and collision insurance to save money. But if you live in a region heavily populated by deer, that could be costly, especially now that used cars are retaining their values longer. (See: "Something to hold on to: comprehensive and collision insurance.")

Fall is the most dangerous time for deer collisions

The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC), a safety group aligned with the Insurance Institute of Michigan, says motorists should be especially alert during the fall, when deer are friskier because it's mating season.

State Farm says that more than 18% of deer accidents happen in November, with October and December the next most dangerous months, respectively. "Deer-vehicle collisions are three times more likely to occur on a day in November than they are on any day between February 1st and August 31st," according to the company.

A safer journey through deer country

The Insurance Information Institute (III) suggests protecting yourself by taking these steps:

  • Deer typically do not travel alone. They tend to wander in herds, so be aware that if you see one, others are likely to follow.
  • Deer-crossing signs denote high-traffic areas, so pay attention to them when driving.
  • Be especially cautious from 6 to 9 p.m., when deer are most active.
  • Use high-beam headlamps as much as possible at night, especially in deer-active areas.
  • Though it seems counterintuitive, don't swerve if you think you're going to hit a deer. You may lose control of your car or crash into another vehicle.

The original article can be found at Insurance.com:
Doe! Deer-collisions and repair costs on the rise