August 27, 2019

Hit wild animal. That’s not a suggestion or an instruction. Because hitting wild animals can be dangerous, as Bankstone News has found out to its cost on more than one occasion.

No, ‘hit wild animal’ is the ‘scientific’ term for the kind of motor insurance claim that arises when someone drives into a wild creature of some kind, resulting in damage to their vehicle.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous Insurance (AA), there’s a lot of it about these days. Hit wild animal motor insurance claims, that is.

Obviously colliding with wildlife whilst driving can be tiresome for the humans involved. But spare a thought also for the wild animals getting hit.

Britain’s woodland creatures have a lot to put up with. There’s being crudely caricatured in human children’s fiction. There’s having to move 500m north each year to allow for climate change. There’s plague-level tick and flea infestations thanks for warmer winters. There’s being gassed, shot at, and chased by dogs, and having your home dug up. Then – on top of all that – the poor little varmints now face the most life-threateningly challenging road-crossing conditions ever recorded, since records began.

If AA are to be believed (and naturally we’re making no judgements here), the number of hit wild animal claims has risen by 15% in the past three years. The negative effects of these incidents – aside, clearly, from the likely demise of any wild animals so hit – include an average £2,300 worth of damage caused to the vehicles involved.

That’s all well and good, you’re probably thinking (perhaps a little callously), but ‘wild animal’ sounds a bit generic. Precisely which animals are we talking about (and/or running down)? Bankstone News couldn’t be gladder you asked that question. Because we’re just about to tell you.

According to AA’s somewhat confusing statistics (as reported by Claims Mag, from whom we pinched this story), badgers and foxes top the RTI (Roadkill Traffic Incident) tables, at 51% and 48% respectively.

We say confusing, because if you think that leaves just 1% left for all the other wild animals, you honestly couldn’t be wronger. Pheasants come in next with 38%. Then you’ve got squirrels, and hedgehogs and boars.

Cows and sheep also get a look in – although, in Bankstone News’ experience, wild cows and sheep are none too common these days.

By now you’re probably feeling a little anxious about extra-urban driving. Reassurance could well be what you need. Well, here it is! The Department for Transport (Dep4Tra) has apparently addressed growing concern over animal incidents by unveiling ‘a new road sign advising drivers to look out for smaller animals’. As far as we can tell from the write-up in Claims Mag, AA don’t say where this sign is, but hopefully it will be a big help.

But why, you may ask, is this sign warning only about small animals? Another excellent question! It seems to be because large animals are easier to see than small ones (unless, as once memorably explained in popular clerical reality show Father Ted, they are ‘far away’). The smallness and lesser visibility of small creatures by no means nullifies the threat they could pose to your bodywork. A well-fed adult squirrel struck mid-leap can punch a pretty hole in any standard civilian vehicle doing 90 down some sylvan byway.

As AA’s Janet Connor explains, ‘Britain is blessed to have a variety of wild and wonderful animals, but while most drivers will be on the lookout for larger animals like deer and badgers, smaller animals like rabbits, hedgehogs and squirrels can cause damage too.’

And, you know what, Readers, she’s probably right about that.


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