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From ensuring you have a record of accidents to allowing you to keep an eye on your unattended car, dashcams have plenty of great uses.
In the world of car tech, dashcams get a lot of buzz—but do you really need one? In this article, car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry is breaking down the advantages of having a dashcam in your car to help you make the smart decision.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about dashcams—what they are, how much they cost, and why you should have a dashcam in your car.
What is a dashcam?
A dashcam is a digital video camera mounted on your dashboard that records sounds and visuals while you’re driving. Since a dashcam records everything that happens on the road in front of you, it can be an expert and impartial witness if you’re involved in an accident.
You can also get a rear camera or two-way dashcam to record what’s happening behind or inside your car.
A dashcam plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter or hardwire it directly into the vehicle’s electrical system. The camera will record onto a micro-SD card, and when the card is full, it will begin recording over old footage—so you’ll have a constant record of what’s happening on the road!
Most dashcams come with a GPS tracker and helpful tech features like night vision and remote app-assisted operation. Depending on the price point, your dashcam could record in anything from basic 720p to crisp 4k resolution.
Pro Tip Many dashcams have a standby mode option for when you’re not in the car. If the camera senses motion it turns on, allowing you to catch suspicious or dangerous activity.
How much does a dashcam cost?
You can get a basic dashcam for under $100—but if you’re looking for a full suite of features like 4k resolution, GPS tracking, night vision, and 24-hour monitoring for your parked car, be prepared to spend between $200 and $400.
A high-end dashcam will give you increased connectivity and flexibility, but there’s no need to shell out the big bucks if you’re just looking for a simple recording device.
How does a dashcam work?
When you mount your dashcam on your windshield, you’ll either plug it into the cigarette lighter or hardwire it into your car’s electrical system. As soon as you turn the ignition on, the camera will start recording on a loop, storing the video on a micro-SD card.
Many dashcams will record footage of impacts in a separate folder using a g-sensor, which detects changes in acceleration. Separate storage makes it easy to find the recordings that matter—and they won’t be recorded over.
If you have a dashcam with parking mode, you’ll need to hardwire it into your car’s electrical system. This allows the dashcam to stay in standby mode for up to 24 hours, where it will detect movement around your car and record any impacts while your vehicle is parked.
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10 reasons why you should have a dashcam in your car
Now that you know how dashcams work, let’s talk about why you should have one. Here are 10 ways a dashcam could improve your driving experience—and give you the tools to avoid tickets, insurance claims, and rising premiums.
1. You have first-hand evidence of a car accident
The core function of a dashcam is to record footage of what happens in front of your car. When it comes to accidents, that footage means you’ll have an impartial witness to exactly what happened during a collision.
Car accidents can be traumatic events, and drivers often have different memories of what happened at the moment of impact. The last thing you want is to get slapped with an insurance claim for an at-fault accident because you couldn’t prove that you weren’t responsible.
But if your dashcam proves that you weren’t at fault, you can use the videotape as evidence—and avoid paying for the other driver’s damage.
MORE: Worst claim mistakes
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2. It helps you report undisciplined drivers
You could be a perfectly experienced, responsible driver—but all it takes is an undisciplined driver crossing your path to cause problems on the road. Having a dashcam allows you to report irresponsible driving, whether it’s a texting teenager or a drunk driver.
Using dashcam footage to report undisciplined drivers can help prevent accidents and keep everyone safe on the road.
3. It’s perfect for driving instructors and worried parents
We get it—letting your teenager take the car out can be nerve-wracking. Even worse, you might suspect that your teen is sneaking out with the car behind your back!
Having a dashcam allows you to monitor your car’s use, especially if the model you choose comes with GPS tracking. A GPS-equipped dashcam will document driving speed and street routes as well as video footage, meaning that you get a record of everything your car did while you weren’t in it.
4. You can prevent fraud
You’ve probably heard stories about people staging accidents to make money off of insurance claims—and those stories might be funny on your favorite sitcom. But when you’re the one behind the wheel facing a hefty insurance claim for something you didn’t do, fraud is no joke.
To extort the maximum possible amount from their target, fraudsters will often look for high-end cars. And the scheme usually works because the victim has no way to prove that they weren’t at fault.
But if you have video footage from your dashcam at the ready, you’ll be safe from any scammer’s false claims. Would-be fraudsters might even steer clear of your car altogether if they see it’s monitored by a camera.
5. You can record your entire road trip
Dashcams can do more than protect you from trouble—they’re also a great way to create a stunning record of your favorite road trips.
If you travel a lot and want an easy way to document your adventures, a dashcam will do the work for you. With your camera hard at work on the windshield, you can stay in the moment and enjoy the scenery!
Key Takeaway Dashcams aren’t just serious business—you can have fun with your dashcam, too!
6. Dashcams have a plethora of useful features and functions
A dashcam’s basic function is recording video footage. But as these devices become more popular, you’ll see a ton of fun new tech built in.
If you invest in a high-quality camera, you could get spoken status updates and real-time notifications from your dashcam. Many cameras also have versatile GPS functionality and responsive LCD touchscreens.
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7. You can efficiently prevent parking accidents
Maybe you’ve been there. You did a stellar job parking your car, but when you come back you find that some loser’s sloppy parking job left a huge dent in the side of your vehicle.
If you don’t have video footage, there’s not a lot you can do. But if you’ve got a dashcam with parking mode, your camera could have captured evidence of the incident. That video could help you find the guilty parker—and prove to your insurance company how the damage occurred and that you weren’t at fault in an accident.
8. You can review your teenager’s driving skills
Dashcams can come to the rescue of parents with teenage drivers in more ways than one. If you’ve got a teenager on your insurance policy, you already know the hard truth: drivers under age 25 have some of the highest car insurance rates.
A dashcam can help you review your teen’s driving and identify areas for improvement. This can keep your teen out of trouble and help them achieve a clean driving record, which makes them eligible for insurance discounts down the road.
"I was worried that adding my 16-year-old daughter would spike my insurance rates. I called and spoke to Tim, who was pleasant to work with and got me new rate savings. Jerry really helped me save thousands." —Marshall D.
9. You’ll have an eye on your unattended vehicle
A lot can happen to your car when you’re not around. In addition to parking accidents, you might be worried about vandalism or even theft.
If someone damages or breaks into your car while you’re gone, a dashcam with 24-hour parking mode can document the incident and help you pursue legal action or file an insurance claim.
10. You can capture unexpected events
When that meteor streaks across the sky or a freak tornado damages your car, you might not be prepared to pull out your phone and film. But you’ll still want a record of it, whether it’s for internet clicks or to help you file an insurance claim.
Whatever the world throws at you and your car, a dashcam keeps you prepared to document it all.
A dashcam could help you lower your insurance premium
Time for a little car insurance myth-busting. You might have heard that installing a dashcam in your car could lower your insurance premium. But is it true?
Short answer: no. At present, no car insurance companies offer a direct discount for installing a dashcam in your car.
The long answer is that having a dashcam can help you keep your premium low by reducing your chances of being found at fault for an accident.
But the best way to find a low premium is to use Jerry. As a licensed insurance broker, Jerry reviews rates from up to 50 leading insurance providers to find the cheapest quotes for the coverage you need.
Drivers save an average of $897 per year with Jerry’s help. That could buy a pretty fancy da
Key Takeaway Even though you can’t get a direct car insurance discount for installing a dashcam, the protection your camera gives could help you keep your rates low!
Is a dashcam worth it?
If you’re looking for a way to document what happens on the road and lower your chances of an at-fault accident, a dashcam might be worth the money. It’s also a good investment for drivers looking to monitor their car’s use or adventurers who want a visual record of their travels.
Should you leave your dashcam in the car?
If you’re buying a dashcam to document events in and around your car while it’s unattended, you’ll need to leave it in the car. To use parking or standby mode safely, mount it in a discreet place, like behind the rear-view mirror.
If you’re not using parking mode, it’s best to take your dashcam down and store it in the glove compartment or outside the car when you’re not driving.
Does having a dashcam lower insurance?
Having a dashcam won’t give you a direct discount on your car insurance, but it can help you avoid at-fault accidents and the insurance hikes that come with them.
By arming you with evidence to prove you weren’t at fault in a collision and improving your driving in general, a dashcam could help you keep your rates low.
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