Auto body shops inundated with deer collision repairs, backlogged for months

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — It’s officially deer season in western Pennsylvania, and we’re not just talking about hunting.

Auto body shops across the area tell Channel 11 this has been the “craziest year ever” for deer collisions, with many cars, trucks, and SUVs not expected to get repaired for months.

At Chuck’s Auto Body in McCandless, phones are ringing off the hook.

“Probably 7/10 calls at this time are deer collisions,” said Chuck Eyerman, co-owner of Eyerman Brothers Enterprises. “I’m getting bombarded with estimates, and they’re like ‘other shops aren’t even writing estimates till January now because we are so booked.’”

Auto body shops like Chuck’s are inundated with requests for repairs, with driver after driver hitting the roads this holiday season and hitting deer in the process. Eyerman said his auto body shop is booked months out.

“What we’re trying to do is prioritize, kind of like an emergency room. We’re trying to take only those that are non-drivable and focus on fixing those for the insurance companies, and then the ones that are drivable, we’re pushing out a few months until it calms down and we can get them in the shop,” Eyerman said.

The reason for the surge? Eyerman says it’s a perfect storm, from an abundance of deer out and about to a shortage of both manpower and parts – but the biggest problem?

“The way the insurance companies are handling these claims are all through photographs. So they’re having your random person go out with cell phones, take pictures, send them to insurance companies…they’re writing an estimate from a photograph, so when it comes to the shop, they’re inaccurate,” Eyerman said.

This can lead to delays when getting authorization from insurance companies and sometimes having to order additional parts. But Eyerman said there are things you can do as a driver to help expedite the process, starting with deciding who will repair your car, then going through your insurance company’s process in following a comprehensive deer hit claim.

But even then, it could still take time.

“The holidays are coming, and they’re like ‘I can’t drive my car on a holiday trip with it like this. I need you to help me now,’ and unfortunately, you can only take so many people’s plea for help at one time,” Eyerman said.

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