The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) has called a drop in the number of claims for drivers striking deer “a head scratcher” after numbers dipped to pandemic-lockdown levels last November.

The rate of animal-strike-related insurance claims in November is more than twice the yearly average, according to an analysis of claims from 2013 to 2022 conducted by the HDLI. The peak coincides with mating season, when deer are most active. The fewest animal strike claims typically occur in August.

The severity of claims, measured in dollars insurers pay to cover losses, also climbs during the peak month. The average cost of November animal strike claims over the ten-year period was $4,600, compared with $3,522 for February, the month with the least-severe crashes.

The data does not include information about the type of animal. However, both the timing of the spike in crashes and the greater damage they cause suggest that most of these collisions involve deer, rather than smaller animals.

While the seasonal pattern is familiar, HLDI said the November 2022 figures present a mystery.

“This is a real head-scratcher,” said Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI. “Originally, we thought we might get a big spike in November 2021, thinking more deer might have survived the 2020 season. Maybe an increase in hunting prevented that from happening. But that doesn’t explain the drop in 2022. It might be related to changes in commuting patterns as people continue to work from home, or we might just be seeing variations in the data. Time will tell.”