For a few years, drivers have been increasingly adopting dashboard-mounted cameras, or dash cams. Stories of how drivers’ dash cams saved their finances and insurance policies because the footage could prove they were not at fault are commonplace online.
Many drivers claimed that the fault of accidents wouldn’t devolve into a “he said, she said” argument but instead would be determined by the dash cams.
According to USA Today, dash cam sales have been on the rise by 20 percent since 2017, and there seem to be no signs of slowing down.
Despite these success stories, is a dash cam worth the time and money?
What exactly is a dash cam?
Let’s begin with the definition and function of a dash cam. A dash cam, which can be purchased for anywhere between $30 to $300, is essentially a camera that records video from the point-of-view of the driver. The camera itself is a single or double lens model, mounts to the dashboard or window via suction cup, and requires a 12-volt charger in your car. When you start the engine of the car, the camera records video to an SD card.
The camera captures evidence of the events that unfold before, during, and after accidents, whether you are involved or not. While they are often used to capture video for compilations, these cameras have proven to be beneficial, but they are not as useful as you might be led to believe.
Insurance companies have yet to offer discounts on dash cam usage
Insurance companies have yet to determine if dash cams are helpful for filed claims (or helpful for the companies in general). They are also uncertain if dash cams make drivers safer on the roads. Because of this, these companies have been slow to adopt dash cams, but insurance discounts for installed dash cams may yet happen.
Dash cam footage won’t always help with insurance claims
When concerning insurance claims, dash cam footage can certainly help your case but not always. Some insurance companies won’t even accept dash cam footage, or the footage that you’ve submitted isn’t conclusive enough to determine fault. In fact, the footage may be treated equivalently to photographs – helpful, but not essential, unless the footage obviously revealed who’s at fault.
While the dash cams record the accident, they record it from one direction, so not everything will be captured. Often, while the cams reveal what happened, they won’t explain why it happened, and “why” happens to be the most important question for insurance adjusters.
There are benefits to owning a dash cam
There are some benefits to owning a dash cam. They can detail the severity of the accident, so if you’re being taken to court or have filed a lawsuit against the other driver, you have solid evidence for a personal injury case.
Additionally, if you and/or your vehicle are the victims of a “hit and run” accident, your camera may be able to reveal the driver’s vehicle and license plate.
Dash cams can also help prevent insurance fraud, as there have been many cases where people threw themselves in the way of a vehicle, pretending to be hurt.
It still is a good idea to own a dash cam
Currently, dash cams are considered unreliable as a source for insurance companies, except in very few situations, but that does not mean you should go without one. Those rare exceptions, such as accidents that blatantly reveal the fault of the other driver (or yours) or a hit and run to your vehicle, could happen to you, or you may need evidence that could help solidify your lawsuit in a personal injury case.