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Lights, Cameras, Action: Dash-Cam Sales Jump as Insurance Companies Accept Evidence

The cabin of your car may be about to change forever, as some of the country's biggest insurance companies have finally agreed to accept footage from dashboard-mounted cameras as evidence of liability should a driver be involved in an accident.

These 'dash cams' are small and unobtrusive little devices that can easily be fixed to the dashboard or car windscreen. They cost from as little as just £50, and they do not need a specialist to install: the driver can simply install it in just a few minutes. Forward-facing, the cams can record video footage of any accident.

Until this move by the insurance companies, the proper use of dashboard camera footage in any claims procedure has not been widely agreed. Now, however, a major supplier of dash cams says that it has received agreement from almost 30 of the UK's major car insurance companies that they would now be accepting evidence from dash cams in support of any claims.

The supplier says that the insurance companies are finally beginning to accept that dash-cam evidence can be a major help in fighting frauds such as crash-for-cash cases, where a third party deliberately collides with an insured driver in order to claim insurance money for injuries. This crime is thought to be costing the car insurance companies around £1 billion annually.

Aside from combating fraud, the dash cams can also be helpful in simply expediting the clams process and making the whole system faster and more efficient. This is because video evidence is far less subjective and more reliable than the testimony of a human witness. The cost of the whole claims process can be reduced.

According to the industry, dash cams are rapidly gaining in popularity in the UK, with sales up by an astonishing 918% last year alone. This is due to the cost coming down and the technology being more widely available in national chains such as Halfords. Their popularity with the insurance companies is not hard to understand either, because they can act as independent and unbiased witnesses for any drivers who are trying to establish that they are not at fault in the event of an accident. The cash savings for the insurance companies could be substantial, and the cams could even spell the end of many car insurance fraud scams. The insurance companies are responding by offering drivers who use the dash cams discounts of as much as 12.5%.

This was confirmed by the insurance company Swiftcover, who said that any of their new customers who used the system would save an average of £54 on their policy. With costs for the dash cams of just £50, it seems that the cams would pay for themselves in just a single year, without taking into consideration the savings from any potential accident and prevention of loss of no-claims bonus.

The AA, however, has been slightly less enthusiastic, with their head of roads policy, Paul Watters, saying that the devices could be brilliant on the one hand but very one-sided in their evidence on the other. He gave the example of their inability to record a cyclist to the side of the car or small obstacle on the road beneath the car. He argued that human witnesses still tend to be far more capable of capturing the overall picture in the event of an accident. He also argued that the presence of a dash cam on the windscreen could also result in an increase in the rate of car thefts. This is because the dash cams tend to be easily removed and by their nature are often clearly visible.

Nevertheless, similar dashboard cameras have been a great success in combating insurance fraud in the world of commercial vehicles. These lorries tend to be targeted because they always have insurance, carry valuable loads and need to be kept on the road. Operators have therefore often settled quickly in order to avoid the expense of a court case and increased insurance premiums. Crash-for-cash scams have been greatly decreased by the presence of the cams.

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Back to May 2015

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