Would you purchase a car accessory that could potentially help you out of a sticky situation with your insurance company? If you answered yes, there is good news. This device exists already. We are discussing dashboard cameras, or dashcams.
This is because a dashboard-mounted camera will record everything that occurs in front of your vehicle while you are driving, essentially serving as a witness to collisions and other incidents. A dashcam may also discourage car thieves and vandals from targeting your vehicle. In addition, it is impossible to predict what else a dashcam may capture in the world beyond your windshield.
It is unclear why dashcams are not as prevalent in the United States as they are in many other countries. They are reasonably priced and simple to install and operate.
The insurance industry’s reluctance to fully embrace dashcams may be a factor in their failure to achieve widespread adoption, and this is the only potential disadvantage of this useful device. Let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits of a dashcam for the time being.
When Dashcams Are Beneficial
Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications at the Insurance Information Institute, asserts that the advantages of dashcams outweigh any potential disadvantages. The Insurance Information Institute is a non-profit organization that assists consumers with insurance industry issues.
Dashcams are marketed primarily for their ability to provide evidence in the event of a car accident. Some drivers install a second dashcam in the rear window to record evidence of rear-end collisions, despite the fact that the camera typically records incidents through the windshield. This footage would be especially useful if the dashcam owner was not at fault for the collision. However, Friedlander notes via email that “all parties involved in a traffic accident benefit from a real-time video record.”
Dashcam footage is also useful if a driver is falsely accused of causing an accident, which the insurance industry considers fraud (more on this later).
Similarly, according to Friedlander, dashcam footage can be utilized to contest erroneously issued traffic tickets, particularly those issued by traffic cameras. In addition, dashcam footage may be useful for apprehending car thieves and vandals, as well as substantiating insurance claims associated with such incidents. Dashcams can also be used to monitor driver behavior, whether the driver is an employee in a fleet vehicle or a newly licensed teen.
Dashcams and Fraud
Dashcams not only benefit the drivers who install them, but also insurance companies. According to a study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), between 15 and 17 percent of total claims for auto insurance bodily injury in 2012 were fraudulent. Additionally, the study estimated that between $5.6 and $7.7 billion was fraudulently added to auto insurance bodily injury payments in 2012. This is due to what the insurance industry refers to as “staged accidents.” If you’re the victim of a staged accident, a dashcam recording can provide valuable evidence to support your story and expose the fraud. Check out the tweet below to see how useful a dashcam can be in a situation like this.
Supporting policies that encourage the use of dashcams could reduce these fraudulent claims, thereby lowering insurance premiums for all customers. It will also protect the victims from the typical rate increases that follow a collision for which they are at fault.
Currently, no major auto insurance companies offer a discount for installing a dashcam, but New York is considering a bill that would mandate it (see sidebar). In addition, insurance companies do not have official policies regarding whether they will review crash footage, which is puzzling given that insurance adjusters do review photographs.
Why are photographs permitted but videos are not? According to Car and Driver magazine, one theory is that insurance companies do not want to see information that could incriminate their clients. Moreover, if insurers have an official position on dashcams, they cannot evaluate each situation individually.
However, according to Friedlander, insurance companies are gradually shifting their perspective.
“Dashcams are increasingly used to provide additional information to U.S. property and casualty insurers about accidents, traffic violations, and driving habits. As a matter of fact, many insurance companies will accept dashcam footage from their policyholders in the event of an accident to aid in evaluating a claim.”
Choosing the Right Dashcam
A dashcam of acceptable quality costs between $60 and $150. The simplest dashcams are powered by a car’s cigarette lighter or a battery. Others are more difficult to install due to their connection to the vehicle’s electrical system. Experts advise using a high-definition (HD) camera; otherwise, you may miss important details such as facial features and license plate numbers.
Popular Science suggests considering the following characteristics when selecting a model from the market’s vast selection:
- Whether it is powered by a cigarette lighter, a battery, or by a direct connection to your car’s battery.
- In other words, the extent of what the camera can see. According to Popular Science, the majority of cameras on the market offer 140 to 160 degrees of field of view.
- The image’s clarity and sharpness constitute its caliber.
- Other options include additional views, night vision, GPS, Wi-Fi, and storage
Before installing your dashcam, ensure that you are in compliance with local laws regarding window-mounted objects to avoid a ticket for obstructing your view. Clean the glass and then install the camera according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you need to run wires to your cigarette lighter, you can conceal them by taping or clipping them to the nearest windshield edge and then along the dashboard. If your dashcam draws power from your vehicle’s electrical system, it is probably best to have a professional install it.