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Dashboard-mounted cameras, or “dash cams,” have been used by law enforcement for decades to record driving activity. Over the years, dash cams have become popular for commercial and private use to capture checkpoints, driving habits, accidents and more. There may be many benefits to outfitting your car with a dash camera, especially if an incident occurs where specific details are being contested. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team put together a list of what you may want to consider before installing a dash cam, including how it may impact your car insurance.
Do dash cams impact your car insurance?
Typically, insurance carriers do not offer discounts to drivers specifically for having a dash cam in their vehicle. However, there may be potential cost-saving benefits associated with having a dash cam. Outfitting your car with a dash camera may indirectly impact your car insurance rates in a few positive ways:
Having a record of your accident
No one wants to get in a car accident, but accidents do happen sometimes. If there is any doubt or question of who is at fault for the crash, the claims process may quickly become messy. In some scenarios, proceedings can devolve into your word against that of the other driver, and you could end up being found liable or at least partially at fault. Being found at fault for an accident could bar you from recovering any damages from the other party’s insurance or require you to pay out of your own insurance coverage for repairs, which typically comes with a premium increase.
If your dash cam recorded the accident as it happened, the video could help remove or alleviate any question of fault during the claims process. A video from a dash cam might even be able to provide sufficient evidence to speed up proceedings and help you settle the claim faster.
Fighting insurance fraud
Car insurance fraud is far too common. If someone tries to involve you in a staged accident to receive a fraudulent claims payout, the result may be disastrous and might cost you thousands of dollars in legal fees and increased insurance premiums.
Having a video record of these events might help protect you financially from insurance fraud. If you believe you have been involved in car insurance fraud, you will likely want to contact law enforcement and turn over any video evidence you have as soon as possible.
Any recorded evidence of suspected car insurance fraud may also go a long way toward clearing your case with your insurance company.
Making you a better driver
Safe driving practices take years to master. If you are a new driver or have had a few close calls behind the wheel recently, you may want to review your dash cam video to see what could be done differently next time. Taking the time to refine your technique may help you avoid an accident in the future.
Safe driving also directly affects the price you pay for car insurance. If you can avoid traffic tickets and car accidents for a few years, many car insurance providers will reward you with a lower rate and potentially a good driver discount.
Capturing unexpected events
Although car accidents are always a danger while driving, many incidents that damage your car happen while parked. If your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, then incidents that damage your car such as theft, vandalism, falling tree limbs and damage from fires are generally covered.
Suppose any of these damaging events occur and your dash camera captures them. In that case, the video from the camera may significantly strengthen your claim and might speed up the claims process and subsequent repairs.
If you live in rural areas where crossing wildlife can be a hazard, having a dash camera record the moment of impact may also help your insurance claim. To file a claim of this nature, you’ll generally need to have comprehensive coverage in your policy.
Monitoring your teen’s driving
Adding a teen driver onto your policy can be an expensive policy change since statistics show that teenage drivers are more likely to get involved in an accident compared to other age groups. Due to their lack of driving experience combined with a tendency to make riskier decisions, insurance companies generally rate teenage drivers as high-risk motorists and charge a hefty premium to compensate for this risk.
Although the insurance company will not necessarily lower your costs because you have a dash cam in your teen’s car, your teen may be more conscious while driving, knowing that they are being monitored. You could watch whether your teenage driver is following traffic laws, speed limits or passenger limits and address any issues before a ticket or accident happens. You may even appreciate the extra peace of mind while your teen is on the road.
Acting as a security camera
Even if it is locked, there is usually no way to monitor or protect your vehicle when it is parked unattended, especially if you are not nearby. In cases where vandalism or theft occurs, there is usually little to no evidence of who committed the crime if there were no witnesses. Although comprehensive coverage may cover the damage, recovering stolen objects is nearly impossible when there is no one to hold at fault. However, a dash camera could act as a first-hand witness if there is sufficient dash cam footage to help law enforcement track down the perpetrator and in some cases, even recover your lost items.
Are dash cams worth it?
Although discounts may not be available specifically for dash cameras, a dash cam may still help to protect you financially against insurance fraud and maintain cheap car insurance rates. Additionally, installing a dash camera may help assist in the insurance claims process, adding convenience to your insurance experience. On the other hand, some drivers may be distracted by dash cams, which could draw your attention away from the road if you’re looking at or fiddling with the dash cam while driving.
The benefit you might get from a dashboard camera likely depends on the frequency and use of your car, as well as how much you spend on the camera. Generally speaking, a reliable dash cam costs at least $100, with top-of-the-line models running hundreds of dollars.
The less expensive models generally do not have their own screens for viewing, contain no internal battery and have few features other than HD recording. Higher-end models generally come with many features, such as their own screen, extended battery life and built-in GPS. You may want to consider what you want your dash camera to accomplish before making a purchase and make sure it’s running correctly before relying on it for any kind of video evidence.
Frequently asked questions
While most insurance providers in the U.S. do not currently offer specific discounts for policyholders with dash cams installed, choosing to install one may provide important video documentation during insurance claims and fraud accusations. If your dash cam can help prove you were not at fault during a disputed accident, it may save you from premium surcharges. Additionally, if your dash cam encourages safer driving habits, it may help you earn a safe driver or claims-free discount with some carriers.
Dash cams are legal, though each state has its own laws dictating what size of camera is permissible, as well as where and how the camera may be placed and secured.
Most dash cams available in commercial markets generally run about $100 to $500. For example, a Vantrue N1 Pro Mini dash cam costs around $80, depending on where you buy it, and comes with basic features.
On the other hand, a Nextbase 622GW Dash Cam will run you somewhere between $350 and $400, depending on where you buy it, and comes with more advanced features. For example, the dash cam may automatically alert emergency services following an accident.