It is becoming increasingly popular for drivers to install dashboard cameras, or dash cams, in their cars. These are used to record any number of incidents, from unexpected events to other drivers’ bad habits.
But where dash cams truly shine is in the many ways they can help you save money on your car insurance. They offer some notable benefits, but they’re not without their downside.
The Pros of Having a Dash Cam
Though there are not yet many (if any) discounts being offered by insurance companies for simply having a dash cam, the idea behind installing one in your car is that it can provide extra safety and security by catching any incidents on camera exactly as they happen.
By being able to prove that you weren’t at fault in an incident with recorded footage, it is thought that adding this feature to your car could save you from increased car insurance rates in the long run.
What’s more, dash cams can provide additional reliable details from an incident that might otherwise have been missed, forgotten, or misremembered, which can make the claims process run much more smoothly. They can also prove crucial in recording identifying features, such as license plate numbers, in the event that the other party involved in an incident tries to flee the scene.
Dash cams can also make for a great way to monitor your car while it’s parked. Those dash cams that include a parking setting can record while the car is not being used — thus they are in a perfect position to catch anyone trying to steal or vandalize your car, again making any insurance claims that follow easier to accurately report.
Similarly, instances of insurance fraud can also be caught on dash cams. Some forms of fraud include staged or faked accidents, or a pedestrian running into a car on purpose. Without any footage, this kind of fraud can be difficult to prove, but having a dash cam would allow you to show the recording as evidence and prove that you were not at fault, which in turn would prevent your car insurance rates from increasing.
If you ever find yourself getting a ticket for a traffic violation that you feel you don’t deserve, having a dash cam installed may come in handy when contesting your ticket. If your footage can prove that you were not guilty of any wrongdoing, you can avoid having to pay for both the ticket and any increase in premiums that probably would have resulted from having a traffic violation added to your driving record.
Another added benefit of installing a dash cam is being able to review your driving. This could be helpful in weeding out your own bad driving habits, or in coaching a new driver and trying to prevent the formation of bad habits in them. Because maintaining a clean driving record is one of the best ways to lower your car insurance rates, it certainly couldn’t hurt to use everything at your disposal, including a dash cam, to improve your driving.
On top of everything else, this little gadget is generally pretty affordable. With some cams selling for less than $50, you don’t have to spend big on your device. And if you ever do end up needing to use your dash cam footage to prove or support a claim, it will likely pay for itself in what you’ll save on expenses from the incident or increased premiums.
The Cons of Having a Dash Cam
The main objection brought up in the debate over whether one should install a dash cam is distracted driving. If you are trying to set or adjust the camera while you are driving, you are canceling out any extra security benefits of the camera by driving unsafely. You could end up receiving a ticket for distracted driving, or worse, you could actually cause an accident.
As with the use of any other form of technology in a car—from GPS to Bluetooth calling—the issue of distracted driving is easily remedied by taking some simple steps to ensure that you are using your dash cam safely.
First, be sure to install the camera in a place that is out of your line of vision so you won’t be tempted to look at it while driving.
Then, set up and adjust your camera in one sitting while the car is not being used so that you don’t have to worry about it once you’re on the road.
Finally, be sure to never mess with the dash cam while you are driving, period. You can always play around with it once you have reached your destination.
If the benefits of using a dash cam can be proved, maybe someday dash cams will be as standard as backup cameras in new cars, or maybe insurance companies will start offering dash cam discounts. Until then, it may very well be worth the investment to add one to your car now and potentially save on your insurance costs over the life of the car.