With automobile insurance, there are generally four categories of coverage you can buy:
- Third party liability – Typically mandatory. Covers property damage and bodily injury.
- Accident benefits – Covers the insured's own medical payments.
- Uninsured, under-insured or unidentified motorist protection (UMP) – Pays if the other driver is at fault but does not have insurance, does not have enough, or has committed a hit and run.
- Own damage coverage – Optional coverage that pays for damage to the insured's vehicle.
Names and terminology may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
All four coverage sections work together to ensure that you are protected from the financial consequences of getting into a car accident. For example, if you accidentally rear-ended another car at high speed, the third party liability section would pay for any damage you caused to the other vehicle and its occupants, while your accident benefits would cover any injuries you might have sustained in the process. And finally, own damage coverage, if you purchased it, would pay for any damage to your own vehicle (for related reading, see The First Steps You Need to Take After Wrecking Your Car).
With that background information out of the way, the category we're concerned about for this question is own damage coverage. In the own damage coverage portion of your policy, there are several options available to purchase and collision coverage is one of them.
Collision coverage in most insurance policies is defined as when a vehicle hits something in contact with the ground. That includes walls, buildings, and other cars. But for some reason it excludes hitting animals. For insurance purposes, animals are not considered something that is "in contact with the ground."
If you are concerned about potentially hitting an animal, you should ask about adding comprehensive coverage to your automobile insurance policy. Comprehensive falls under the own damage coverage and covers all sorts of damage to your vehicle, such as impacts with animals, falling objects, or vandalism. For the best coverage, most people get all perils coverage, which combines collision and comprehensive.