Will a dashcam lower your car insurance premium?
A fifth of drivers are estimated to use a dashcam, up from 1% just five years ago, according to an AA members’ survey. But should you get one, and will it lower your car insurance costs?
In the coming months, it’s predicted that more than two thirds of cars in the UK will be equipped with a dashcam, according to the AA.
For many, dashcams give drivers an ‘insurance shield’ as the recording will prove liability in the event of an accident. For others, getting one provides protection against cash-for-crash fraudsters. A small percentage have a dashcam as they like the gadget and some have them to record bad driving.
Evidence recorded on dashcam isn’t just used by insurers. It can also be used by the police.
North Wales Police became the first force in the UK to provide a portal for drivers to submit dashcam evidence of driving offences. Since ‘Operation Snap’ launched in 2016, 205 offences recorded by dashcam have been processed with 28 resulting in a fixed penalty, 86 drivers were required to attend a driver retraining course, and 38 have been prosecuted.
Nextbase, the leading dashcam manufacturer also launched the National Dashcam Safety Portal earlier this month, allowing drivers in England and Wales to share footage with relevant police forces.
But aside from catching the bad drivers, can having a dashcam reduce your car insurance premium?
Cost savings from dashcams
Car insurance premiums have been rising as drivers have been hit with three separate car insurance premium tax hikes, doubling the rate from 6% to 12%.
And dashcams can set you back by around £250 depending on the model and what it does, eg 4K, HD recording, GPS and Wi-Fi options. But drivers can pick up a dashcam for around £20-£50 which can be a worthwhile investment, particularly as discounts on insurance range between 10-30% depending on the insurer.
Simon McCulloch, director at Comparethemarket.com says the savings that a customer could receive on their car insurance may ultimately mean the cost of buying a dashcam will be repaid relatively quickly.
McCulloch says: “Discounts are offered because insurers have significantly more evidence with which to analyse claims and make a correct ruling on a claim, as well as taking the view that customers who are willing to have their driving filmed are likely to pose a lower risk. However, for the more expensive models, dashcams can entail a large upfront cost and any evidence from the dashcam could also be used against the owner of the dashcam, if they are at fault for the claim.”
Nextbase says even pre-incident, motorists with a dashcam installed have been proven to be 33% safer behind the wheel. It tallies 41 insurers which offer a discount to dashcam drivers, including big names such as Admiral, Hastings and Direct Line.
Car owners also need to consider whether to get one or two dashcams to film both the front and rear, though not all insurers require you to have two. But the more information that is being taken, the more likely a driver can prove they’re not at fault.
If cost is an issue, you shouldn’t be tempted to use your mobile phone to record while you’re driving, McCulloch warns: “Phones should not be operated in any circumstance while driving a car. Use of a mobile phone when driving carries a significant fine and points on your licence.”
Another point to note is that some dashcams require professional installation so they can’t be removed on a regular basis, while others are simply plugged into the car cigarette lighter. With some dashcams, you may need to remove them in order to obtain footage, but mostly, motorists can leave them in their car when the motor’s not in use.
What about black boxes, are they more appropriate?
Andrew Lee, head of market intelligence and analysis at Octo Telematics, says if people are really interested in reducing premiums and increasing safety, there are other ways.
“The underlying point is that when we talk about dashcams, it’s an investment that needs to be made by the consumer so if they want a discount off their insurance, they typically need to choose a dashcam approved by the insurer.
“You can pick up a dashcam for £20 but in reality, the ones that are approved by the insurer are likely to start around £50 all the way up to £200+.
“Telematics by contrast has no outlay cost to the consumer – you agree to subscribe to the type of policy and you’ll receive a quick 10% discount followed by discounts throughout the course of the policy which average around 30%.”
Lee adds that while dashcam equipment can be a good complement to telematics, these black box devices act as “guardian angels”.
He says that unlike dashcams which only record footage, telematics devices can contact emergency services if for instance the driver or passengers are unresponsive to phone calls; in the case of breakdown, they can notify a recovery truck and if the vehicle’s stolen, it can be located quickly.
“Dashcams don’t come with these additional value propositions,” he says. He added that dashcams can also be a major distraction, sitting in your eyeline and can attract people to steal them if they’re left in vehicles overnight.
Telematics devices are roughly half the size of a smart phone and they sit on your car battery, away from sight and away from temptation by potential thieves.
When it comes to accidents, Lee says severe crash statistics show 40% are frontal while 60% are non-frontal (rear or sides). Given that most dashcam users tend to have them fitted to capture footage from the front, that means that 60% of crashes (if it occurs by a dashcam driver) won’t be recorded properly. “The dashcam is only capturing 40% of crashes. You need to take into account how useful a frontal dashcam is to you if you as the driver are at fault,” he says.
One last point is that telematics has evolved from being purely focused on young drivers. Lee says: “Telematics in the early days was focused on more at risk drivers so by its very nature, young drivers are more at risk so the incentive to have telematics to receive a percentage saving on car insurance was fundamental. Now, a lot of the telematics programmes are less on the risk profile but more about promoting good drivers of any age.”