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Tracking the Pulse

Posted: August 17, 2015

While this may look like a heart rate monitor, this is a different kind of pulse.
Click to Enlarge. Insurance claims for animal strikes, by month, per 1,000 insured vehicle years. Graph provided courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Click to Enlarge. Insurance claims for animal strikes, by month, per 1,000 insured vehicle years. Graph provided courtesy of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Insurance – no one likes it but we all need it. Home, auto, medical, dental, life, crop, travel – you name it and there is insurance for it. While insurance companies may not be our favorite people to do business with, they do come in handy when “life” happens.

In order to provide customers the service they need and be profitable to shareholders, insurance companies need to calculate costs. They do this by investigating factors that influence the filing of accident claims. They also care about the safety of their customers. Without their customers, there is no profit at all. So it is in their best interest to keep as many potential customers out there as possible.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has an excellent article on deer-vehicle collisions. In that article, they present a graph of insurance claims, by month, based on animal-vehicle collisions (although most claims involve -you guessed it- deer).

The graph looks eerily like that of a heart rate monitor you see on all those medical dramas that populate every channel on TV. Beep, Beep, Beep…steady and predictable.

Steady and predictable is good if you are trying to figure out costs and claims. Notice that most claims occur in November. And there is little variation. Not even in the months before or after.

This fits with what we know about deer breeding behavior. Go Figure! The rut does not change from one year to the next, as we discussed in How to Predict the Rut. Also, although the rut begins in late October, it peaks quickly and trails off into December because some fawns come into estrus (“heat”) a few weeks later (see Why 2 Weeks Later?).

Did you notice the second blip in June?

If you’re an avid reader of our blog, then you know that male dispersal occurs in spring and early fall. But female dispersal only occurs in spring (from late May to early July). And that our research in Pennsylvania found that about 7% of females die while dispersing whereas less than ½ of 1% of males meet their demise.

So that peak in deer-vehicle collisions in June - It’s probably those unlucky dispersing females that didn’t look both ways before crossing the street.

So while the steady and predictable pulse on a heart rate monitor signals life, on an insurance claim graph it’s quite the opposite!

-Duane Diefenbach

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