Comparison site Uswitch.com recently carried out research which revealed that a quarter of innocent drivers who put in insurance claims have experienced price increases when they couldn’t prove what happened. Drivers are now being urged to install dash cams to back up their claims, prove liability and avoid insurance spikes. Rod Jones, insurance expert at USwitch.com said: “Unfortunately, it’s not a case of innocent until proven guilty when it comes to car insurance. "With so many motorists facing hefty insurance premium increases after making a claim, anything they can do to prove their innocence should get the green light. “Installing dash-cams in cars could save both drivers and insurers time and money. "However, not enough insurers will take these devices into account when they quote. "The insurance industry needs to follow AXA and Swiftcover’s lead and offer dash-cam discounts in the same way that many providers already do for telematics. "Any new technology that helps responsible drivers keep the brakes on rising premiums should be embraced.”
What are dashcams?
Costs aren’t huge and you can buy them for as cheap as £20. A dashcam is basically a small video camera that clips onto a driver’s front windscreen, near the rear view mirror. It records the road ahead and date, time, location and speed of the vehicle. Wired to the car it automatically starts recording once the engine starts up. Running on a loop they don’t miss any of the journey and can store up to four hours of footage onto a memory card. The camera does only point out the front windscreen but if you get hit from the side or behind the camera can show the way you were driving. You can get multiple lens models which record from more than one camera simultaneously to monitor the road in front and behind, using a lens attached to the front windscreen and a lens on the back. If you can try to get forward and rear facing lens for better coverage. The important factor when buying a dash cam is the image quality and high definition recording would be a good investment. Footage needs to capture number plates on other vehicles and provide clear images, especially in poor weather conditions. Poor quality images may be rejected in a claim and you could lose your no-claims bonus, pay the excess and face higher premiums. Currys sell a Dashboard Camera for £109 that has 170 degree wide angle of vision which gets more of the road into the frame. Also, it can do night recording, clearly indicate number plates and has an optional microphone. The Nextbase InCarCam is more expensive at nearly £150 but it includes a G sensor which records sudden movements. If cost is a barrier you can download free apps for Android phones such as Auto Guard. Attach the phone to the window with a sucker pad. Unlike the dashcam though you won’t get your insurance premiums discounted if you use apps but the footage will still be useful for claims. Insurers are doing their best to encourage customers to have dashcams fitted by offering savings of up to 12.5% on policies. The Association of British Insurers says: ‘This technology can enable insurers to adjust the cost of premiums or provide other incentives based on how individuals drive. When used correctly, dashboard cameras can provide a record of an accident, helping insurers to deal with claims quickly and efficiently.’ Swiftcover is offering a 10% discount to drivers who install dashcams and 12.5% if you install its recommended model. The RAC stated in March 2015 that 9% of drivers were using a dashboard camera, whereas only 3% were doing so in September 2014. Dashcams are really popular abroad, in the US where the practice of suing someone is practically de rigeur and in Russia where car crashes are very common. One of the compelling reasons for installing dashcams is the burgeoning cash for crash fraudsters. These rascals set off carrying one car with several passengers and it intentionally brakes suddenly causing a car behind to collide. The passengers in the front can then claim for whiplash injuries. The fraudsters choose whiplash as it is a common injury in RTAs and as a soft tissue injury it is difficult to directly prove and the complainant could be exaggerating their pain to inflate the claim. In 2014 insurance company Aviva reported that organised fraud was 21% higher than in the previous year. Aviva ascertained that more than half of fraudulent motor injury claims were made by organised crime. The Metropolitan Police believe that the impact on honest drivers can be as much as £50-100 on their annual premiums. Dash cams would go a long way to helping to reduce fraudulent claims. Three other things to consider about dash cams. Firstly, the cameras should always be removed when the car is parked up as they can be magnets for thieves. Secondly, bear in mind that in an accident other drivers may get alarmed at having been filmed so tread carefully. Don’t make a big deal about the incident having been recorded. Thirdly, if the police are called to a crash they can request the footage. All in all they are worth getting for peace of mind as evidence proves that dashcams help claims.