In the wake of YouTube and personal wearable cameras, it seems a logical step to attach cameras to your vehicle. Cyclists have been wearing them for years, just in case they are involved in an incident as no one can argue with live video or recorded (and time stamped) footage, especially insurance companies.
The rise of the dash cam
Dash cams are growing in popularity for a number of reasons. First of all, the technology has improved, so footage can be taken at night and during adverse weather conditions. Devices have also come down in cost, so you can now get a good piece of kit for a reasonable price. The surge in dash cam usage has increased from 1% in 2013 to 15% of motorists in 2017, according to the AA.
Secondly, the driver-eye views of the front of your car (or both front and back views) are easily accessible and can help insurers settle a claim quickly – leaving you to get on with driving.
And while you may well be the safest driver in the world, even cautious drivers can be caught unaware – a blind-spot or a cyclist speeding out of a side street, for example – and there is always the threat of a dangerous driver or erratic motorist to contend with.
But with an in-car camera, the fear of someone making bogus claims or trying to dispute your claim disappears. You know you are in the right, and you are able to prove your innocence in any road accidents.
Benefits of dash cams
According to a 2017 report by insurance company Aviva, 76% of customers surveyed who use a dash cam said they have it for 'proof of any incidents' that may happen whilst on the road.
Plus, a third (33%) of those asked said they are afraid of 'cash for crash’ claims being raised against them, which is not without foundation, as Aviva claims it is currently investigating 16,000 suspicious injury claims.
Using dash cam footage to determine who was at fault in an accident and discovering fraudulent claims such as ‘cash for crash’ have allowed insurers to quickly establish who caused the crash or bump, saving time and money.
Customers can save money by not having to pay the excess fees after an accident is deemed not their fault, or if they have already paid the excess, they can have it reimbursed. It could even help to protect a no claims bonus, which can often take years to cultivate.
Dash cam usage is an effective way to track who is a good driver and who is at fault. And now, much like telematics boxes (a blackbox recorder for your car), some insurance companies are recognising dash cams as a way of making your policy cheaper.
Behavioural changes to driving
An added bonus is that people drive more carefully when they know they are on camera, therefore overall standards of driving should improve. Which means that having a dash cam can save you money, because if you are willing to prove you are a safe driver, then you should perhaps get a discounted rate.
Plus, aggrieved drivers can forward on footage to the correct authorities, such as the police, using a subscription to the Police Witness service. Meaning you can take action against suspected dangerous drivers, even if they don’t stop to exchange details.
Or if someone clips your car when stationary, or breaks off a wing mirror without leaving a note, you will have more evidence about who may be responsible for the damage and potential cost recompenses.
Which insurers use dash cam footage?
Not all insurers are convinced, however, that this isn’t just a fad or marketing ploy to persuade customers to buy dash cams in order to try to reduce their premiums. At the moment, it seems there just isn’t enough evidence for the big insurance companies to reduce their prices for those with dash cameras.
At the moment, the companies that offer this are few and far between, the two biggest insurers being AXA and RAC. But as more and more people catch on and buy dash cams, the pressure will grow for insurers to take up the ‘dash cam discount’ – as anything that makes car insurance cheaper is going to be a big seller.