A dash cam isn't just a cool accessory for your car, it might also be a valuable money saver. We're taking a look at all you need to know about dash cams so that you can decide if one is a good investment for you. Thinking about buying a dash cam? Then keep reading.
What is a Dash Cam?
A dash cam is a car accessory that's basically a video recorder in your vehicle. The majority of dash cams are mounted on the windscreen of a car with a plastic suction cup (in the same way as a GPS might be installed), facing outwards to record what's happening on the road in front of you. A dashboard camera might be battery operated, or it might plug into the lighter socket of your vehicle.
The footage from a dash cam is usually recorded onto a storage card that can be read on your computer, or maybe sent wirelessly to online storage. Card storage dash cams usually record over data every few hours with new data, meaning old video is erased, though not all do this.
High End Dash Cams
There are more and more options available on the dash cam market, however, with new features launching all the time. Some high end cameras will switch themselves on automatically in certain dangerous situations (such as when you brake sharply or swerve, for example). Others have both front and back facing cameras so that they can record what happens on the road as well as what happens in your car, and may also record sound. Many cameras also have a manual switch, allowing you to switch the dash cam on and leave it running, even whilst you're not in the car yourself.
How Much Should I Expect to Pay for a Dash Cam?
Prices do vary on dash cams, depending on what features you're looking for, as well as what kind of brand you buy. However, you can pick up a dash camera for as little as around R400, and luxury models can cost as much as R2500. Is that money well spent? Let's take a look at why you might want a dash cam…
Why a Dash Cam Might be a Good Idea
By far the biggest benefit of owning a dash cam is that you have a permanent record of your driving. Why is this important? Well, imagine that you're in an accident and the other party blames you and your driving. You might know that you're not to blame, but how do you prove it? The video recorded by your dash cam before, during and after your accident could be just the record that you need.
However, there are other benefits to having a dash cam too. In Russia, for example, dash cams have been invaluable in preventing police corruption, and dash cam footage has been used to prove that officers have been accepting bribes. They have also been used to combat insurance fraud by the Russian Mafia, capturing footage of car crash scams and staged accidents.
Additionally, on a more general note, you can use a dash cam on manual setting to record what's happening in your vehicle whilst it's parked somewhere. Useful if you've been forced to park in an area that you know is susceptible to car theft.
Your Dash Cam and Insurance
In the UK, most car insurance companies will now accept dash cam footage as proof for or against an insurance claim, according to this source. Unfortunately, the same is not true yet in South Africa, though some insurers may accept footage if asked to do so. However, police WILL view dash cam footage, which could make a big difference in car accidents. If an official accident report lists you as the no-fault party (meaning you are not to blame for the accident) because police have seen your dash cam footage then obviously, your insurance claim is more likely to be successful. And you may not even need to claim at all if the other party's insurance pays for your vehicle.
Does this mean that a dash cam will lower your insurance premiums? Not directly. Many insurance companies do now offer telematics insurance, which means using a box that records your driving (though it generally records speed, braking and acceleration rather than video). This kind of insurance can lower your premiums if you're a better than average driver (since insurance premiums tend to be based on statistics, meaning you're charged the same as the average person who's your age and who has your driving experience). But telematics insurance does not take a dash cam into account.
That doesn't mean that you won't be saving money with a dash cam in the long run. If you get into an accident and need to claim on your insurance then your premiums will go up. However, if your dash cam footage places the blame on the other driver, and his insurance pays for your damage, then you won't need to make an insurance claim, so your premiums will stay the same. In this way a dash cam could save you some Rands.
Are There Downsides to a Dash Cam?
Other than the initial costs, there aren't really any downsides to installing a dash cam. Installation itself is easy, and takes just a few minutes. The exception here, of course, is that the footage has to tell the truth, meaning that if you were to blame for that accident then your dash cam recording is going to prove it!
Getting a Dash Cam in Conclusion
Getting a dash cam can improve road safety, and may make the difference in the event of an accident, though insurance companies right now don't have to accept footage. For a relatively small price you can be assured that there is a record of your driving, as well as a record of things like police stops, other drivers, and even interesting things that might happen during your daily commute! Since there aren't really any downsides to installing a dash cam, there's no reason not to get one, as long as you can afford one. And with all the potential benefits, a dash cam can be a valuable investment.
Main Subject: dash cam
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