Some gadgets are bought because they actually save you money. A bread maker, for instance, provides you with fresh artisanal-quality bread for pennies on the dollar (once you figured out what all the buttons do, at least).
In other words, such a device is a kind of investment. As long as you use it often enough, it ends up paying for itself.
Can the same be said about dashcams, at least in terms of your auto insurance premiums?
First, the Bad News
The short answer, unfortunately, is that no major American auto insurer will reduce your premiums if you have a dashcam installed, nor will they reimburse you for the cost of buying one.
Perhaps they don’t realize the value of video evidence in accident investigations, or they’ve just concluded that routinely using it will have a negative impact on their profit margins.
The situation may be different when insuring a fleet of commercial vehicles like trucks carrying valuable cargo. In this case, it’s clearly desirable to have a premium dashcam that not only records the road ahead and behind, but can send information such as a vehicle’s GPS location, speed, and even real-time views back to the office.
Still, many modern dashcams can be had for well under two hundred dollars. Even if the insurance company paid for the whole thing outright, it probably wouldn’t much affect your decision to install a dashcam one way or the other.
With that said, let’s look at how a dashcam can indeed save you money.
How a Dashcam Can Save the Day
You will be extremely happy to have a dashcam installed if you get into an accident, especially one that’s not your fault.
The problem is that almost any accident scene can be interpreted in at least two ways. Though dashcams aren’t magical, their ability to provide incontrovertible proof of your side of the story can save weeks or months of delayed payment or litigation.
Even partial evidence can be invaluable. If, for instance, you get rear-ended and own a dashcam that only records to the front, this will show that you didn’t brake unnecessarily hard. Of course, if you truly were at fault, dashcam footage won’t do you any favors.
Dashcams, Insurance Companies, and Settlements
Whatever their TV ads say, your auto insurer is in the business of making money, not being your friend. They won’t, for example, commit to an expensive lawsuit on your behalf to prove you weren’t at fault in an accident.
The consequences of being unfairly blamed for an accident can be severe. Third-party claims, where somebody else demands payment from your auto insurer for damage or injury notionally caused by you, are generally paid out without much resistance. This is certainly a good thing, as paying someone else’s medical bills can easily wipe out your savings or send you into debt.
If you are deemed to be at fault, though, a wide variety of circumstances can cause your own claim to be reduced or rejected entirely. It makes sense that someone who (for instance) caused an accident by driving drunk shouldn’t be rewarded with a new or repaired car. Even if you didn’t behave irresponsibly, though, you may find yourself without wheels and possibly on the hook for significant medical bills.
At a minimum, your premiums are likely to shoot up – this is also the case after accidents which you can’t be blamed for, but to a much lesser extent.
Fighting an insurance company on issues of responsibility is something you really want to avoid. They have way more experience in this area and can spend a lot more on lawyers.
When your vehicle is fitted with a dashcam, however, this is often unnecessary. The lens doesn’t lie, after all.
The only thing left to add is that all dashcams aren’t the same. It’s definitely worthwhile to research your options and get all the features you might need for the lowest price possible.