Dash cams are becoming more popular these days. They help keep your car safe from theft and they could help insurers work out who’s at fault in an accident. Some insurers might even offer discounts to dash cam owners, if you're able to provide footage. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a dash cam?
A dash cam is a small camera that attaches to your car’s windscreen.
Sometimes dash cams use 2 cameras. One records out of your front windscreen, and the other records out of your rear window.
They constantly film the road, and capture any crashes or bumps that might happen.
A dash cam could help to reduce your car insurance costs too, as it shows you're happy to have your driving monitored.
How does a dash cam work?
Unlike a standard portable recording gadget or a mobile phone camera, a dash cam isn’t designed to be turned on or off or operated manually.
It records continuously whenever the engine is on, and no further input from you is required. Some have a further option that means they record only when the vehicle is actually moving.
So the good news is that you don’t need to remember to turn it on every time you get in the car. That is, unless you take it out of the car when you’re not using it.
Does having a dash cam lower insurance?
Insurers tend to look favourably on dash cam users, so they might offer you a cheaper car insurance quote if you have one.
It shows them that you’re willing to have your driving scrutinised – the camera doesn’t only record other drivers.
In this sense, it’s like having telematics - or a black box - fitted in your car, so it's worth mentioning when you're getting your insurance.
This sounds obvious, but insurers and the police need to be able to see what’s happening on the road in the footage.
If you’ve told your insurer you have a dash cam but later make a claim without having the footage to support it, you may have to repay any discounts you’ve had. It could also invalidate your policy.
Why could having a dash cam lower insurance?
Car insurance providers love safe drivers. Safe drivers make fewer claims, which helps keep costs low.
Our car insurance expert Alex Kindred says:
“If a customer is willing to have their driving recorded, it demonstrates to an insurer they regard themselves as a more accomplished driver.
“But there are lots of dash cams available, with varied picture quality, and the insurers who are now offering discounts only do so based on the higher-quality cameras.”
Also, a dash cam could help keep your car safe from theft or criminal damage. If your car is stolen and you have a dash cam with cloud storage, it could make recovery a lot easier.
This helps bolster your car security, which could help lower your car insurance costs.
What companies do dash cam insurance discounts?
As dash cams become more commonplace, fewer insurance companies offer specific discounts for having one installed.
Instead, what you might find is that certain car insurance providers offer a variable discount depending on:
- What kind of dash cam you have
- Whether it's permanently fitted
- Whether the dash cam automatically saves footage of a crash
When you compare car insurance quotes with us, we'll ask you if you have a dash cam fitted. We then send this information to 140 who can provide a more accurate car insurance quote.
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Can I use dash cam footage to support my insurance claim?
Most insurers are happy to use dash cam footage to support insurance claims, as they’re more reliable.
Geoff Rolls, a psychologist from the University of Southampton, says:
“Traffic accidents happen so quickly and cause such stress that it’s highly likely the recollections of the people involved will be sketchy, even without considering that people naturally interpret things to their own advantage.
“Dash cams provide a solution to this problem, and can even discourage dangerous or inconsiderate driving by making motorists accountable for their actions."
Where can I send my dash cam footage?
If you’ve got footage of a traffic accident or incident, you can submit your footage to the National Dash Cam Safety Portal.
The portal makes it easy for road users to submit footage of dangerous drivers to their local police forces.
What are the benefits of dash cams?
Dash cams are designed to capture footage on the road. If the camera records an accident, the footage can be used to determine who’s at fault.
This helps the authorities and insurance companies resolve the incident quickly and efficiently.
‘Crash-for-cash’ scams still happen on our roads. This is when fraudsters deliberately crash their cars in the hope of an insurance pay out. This payout is often used as part of a money laundering scheme.
Part of the scam is where they try to pin the blame on you for the accident. So having a dash cam provides undeniable proof that the accident was deliberate on their part.
Some dash cams have GPS tracking and location settings installed, giving information on where and when the accident happened. The more detail you can give to insurers and the authorities, the better.
Most dash cams also come with a parking monitor. When your car’s parked, the parking monitor should automatically turn on. The camera senses the motion of the car being broken into, triggering the camera and capturing thieves in the act.
Parking sensors are often built into dash cams, too, helping you get into those tricky parking spaces.
How to fit a dash cam
It’s pretty straightforward to install a dash cam.
Usually, the cameras come with suction cups that you attach to your window.
You should fit your dash cam on the windscreen behind your rear-view mirror. This means it shouldn't obstruct your line of sight and you should be able to film the whole road in front of you.
If you can’t place it directly behind your rear-view mirror, you can try placing it on the passenger’s side of the mirror.
But be careful –it can't intrude more than 40mm into any part of the windscreen covered by one of the wiper blades.
Wherever you mount it, don’t let the cable dangle down loosely on its way to the USB port or the cigarette lighter.
This can get in the way and potentially hamper your operation of the gear stick and handbrake.
Which dash cam should I buy?
There are two different types of dash cam: forward-facing dash cams and front-and-rear dash cams.
The most common are forward-facing dash cams, so when you come to compare them you have a wide range to choose from.
But, as their name suggests, they don’t record anything that happens behind your vehicle. So if you want all-around protection, it might be worth considering a front-and-rear dash cam.
They're more expensive than forward-facing dash cams, and you might find that installation is tricky without professional help. Some retailers might include fitting as part of the deal, though.
When you try to find the best dash cam for you, there are a number of things to consider.
What quality does the camera record in?
Generally, the higher the quality the better – usually 1080p is great. At that resolution you get a clear picture so insurers can see exactly what’s happening in the footage.
It's also worth considering:
- Does it have a G-sensor? This automatically detects moments of high impact. The camera stores these moments to use later, even if the SD card is full.
- Does it have GPS tracking? Some cameras have a built in GPS system that shows exactly where and when the collision took place.
- Is the SD card included? Footage from the camera records onto an SD card – you may have to get this separately.
- Does the dash cam store to the cloud? Having footage uploaded to the cloud means you can access it anywhere. This could be useful if your car is stolen and you need the footage to track it - and the thief - down.
As you would with any other tech purchase, check out user reviews before you buy.