Insurer reports rise in accidents involving wild animals

Elk have been known to even wander into densely populated areas such as Lasnamäe pictured here. Due to their sheer size, colliding with one in a car can be fatal for occupants as well as the animal. Source: ERR

An increasing number of insurance claims involving roadkill have been recorded in Estonia this year, some of which have caused serious accidents. According to ERR's online news in Estonian, the biggest culprits are goats, rabbits and elk.

Martin Kuke, head of vehicle insurance at If Insurance, said that 1,023 accidents involving animal kills or strikes have been recorded by the company so far this year, a 12 percent rise year-on-year.

"As many as 72 percent of accidents involved goats, and we are talking about serious accidents involving animals, motorists and their fellow travelers. People have been seriously injured or even lost their lives in these types of accidents," Kuke said.

Rabbits rank second at 6.5 percent of accident claims – which naturally have a lower risk to drivers, passengers or for that matter vehicles, with Elk in third place at 6.4 percent of accidents.

In the latter case, the sheer size of the animals mean these accidents can cause damage worth tens of thousands of euros in extremem cases, and on average €4,500 per claim, as well as the obvious danger to drivers and passengers.

Foxes and wild boar also account for a small percentage of accidents.

Peak danger time is late afternoon/early evening, between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. – from about October to March either dusk or in darkness – when 16 percent of accidents involving wild animals have been reported. 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. is another peak time with just a slightly smaller proportion, while between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. only around 2 percent of accident claims took place.

"Thus it pays to be especially careful during the evening," said Martin Kuke. 

"It is important to keep to speed limits and observe road markings. Unfortunately, a general rule is that the higher the speed and the larger the animal involved, the more dangerous the consequences for both passengers and vehicles."

If people are injured in any accident, they must immediately report it on emergency number 112. The Environmental Inspectorate should also be notified of any dead or injured animal, on their emergency number, 1313.

Insurance payouts for roadkill accidents have totaled over €2 million at If over the past year, the company says.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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