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No discount (yet), but dash cam still valuable


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Question: Can I get a discount for putting a dash camera in my car?

Answer: No one offers a car insurance discount for having a dash camera placed in your vehicle as of yet.  However, I wouldn’t let that dissuade you from buying a dash camera if you can afford it.

Basic dash cams go for about $100. It's possible they could save you much more than that. (See  "Do you need a dash cam?")

Why no discount?

Car insurance companies tend to extend discounts after an item shows to save it saves them money.  For example, vehicles with air bags normally get a discount because years of data showed that air bags helped reduce injuries and that in turn saved the car insurance company money in medical claims.

Anti-theft devices are shown to deter thieves, and so you can receive a discount on your comprehensive coverage – the portion of a policy that pays for theft of your vehicle – when use such a device with your car.

While dash cameras cannot reduce accidents, in time -- if the cameras start to help make claims work easier and resolve disputes more quickly -- there is the possibility car insurance companies may take notice and start to offer a discount.

Reasons to buy a dash camera

Even without a discount, I believe placing a dash camera is still a good idea.  A dash camera can help improve driving skills and perhaps prove your side of a claim. Here are five situations where having a dash camera would be worth the cost.

  • You’re in an auto accident – If you have a dash camera you’ll have an actual recording of what happened. This can help settle any dispute you and another driver may have regarding fault.  You can hand over to the car insurance company a recording of what occurred to take away the guesswork of a claims investigator.  This should mean a quicker resolution to your claim.
  • Parking accidents – Many dash cameras on the market offer an option that allows you to place the camera on standby and let it turn on if it feels motion in or around the car.  This means if someone hits your vehicle while it’s unattended the dash camera may be able to identify the culprit.  You can then show the police the footage and see if the at-fault party can be tracked down.
  • Insurance fraud – A legit accident is one thing, but staged accidents or having a pedestrian purposely run into your car are a couple of popular forms of insurance fraud.  While hard to prove on your own, having dash camera footage can literally save your day. The dash cam recording can be shown to law enforcement who then can see what caused you to have the accident.  This can get you out of a bad situation and be enough proof to get the responsible individuals charged with a crime.  Without such proof, insurance claims could be paid out to the fraudsters, and in turn your car insurance rates would rise.
  • Review driving habits - With a dash camera you can sit down and evaluate how good of a driver you really are.  Look for ways to improve, which is always a good thing and may keep you out of accidents or from receiving tickets. Remember, motorists with clean driving records receive lower car insurance rates. Also, if you have teen drivers in your household, you can view the dash camera footage with them and see where they still need coaching.  This can help your young drivers stop bad driving behaviors before they become bad habits.
  • Capture unexpected events – Fraud is so rampant is some parts of the world, like Russia, that it’s common for many drivers to have a dash camera installed.  An unanticipated byproduct is unexpected events being captured on film that may have otherwise been missed. Whether it’s a meteor falling to earth (like happened in Russia), a car catching fire, or deer running out in front of you, you can capture a surprising act on camera.  And maybe if it’s amazing enough you can sell the footage to a news station and make back the money you spent on you dash camera to begin with.

Other ways to save

If you don't mind putting your driving behavior under a microscope, then you could try a pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) plan that multiple car insurance companies offer.

With a PAYD plan, you typically plug a telematics device into your vehicle and your driving behavior -- such as speed, acceleration, braking events, and hours of operation -- are looked at by the car insurance company to determine if you're eligible for a discount. If you are, then it can be substantial - over 40 percent with some insurers.

If you're not really into being monitored that closely by a car insurance carrier, then the best way to save is to compare car insurance rates.   The weeks leading up to your next renewal period or if you need to make any changes to your policy (add a driver, change coverage, or items of this nature) is the best time to shop around.  You may b able to save hundreds, oor even thousands, of dollars a year just by shopping around.

More articles from Penny Gusner


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