In the heat of the moment, even when you think you had a full view of the road, there are still times when we miss what really happened in an accident. A dash cam could be the answer in settling insurance disputes and claims.
What's a dash cam?
A dash cam is a small camera mounted on the dashboard or windscreen of your car, facing the road. You can also have a rear dash cam too. It turns on when you start the engine and records your entire journey.
Dash cam videos can be timestamped in a way that's tamper-proof, making them a great source of evidence for any kind of road incident.
Some dash cams even include a parking mode, which starts recording whenever an impact is detected. If someone knocks a wing mirror or hits your car when they're parking and doesn't leave a note, you'll have a better chance of finding out who's responsible for the damage.
There are 3 main types of dash cam:
- Front view dash cams capture everything in front of you, including traffic you're following. They're the cheapest, but lack the ability to see what's happened behind you.
- Front and back view (or front and rear) dash cams record the view in front and behind your car. Many accidents on the road happen at low speeds and involve rear-end collisions. Investing in dash cams that offer both views could be worth the extra spend in case you're involved in an accident.
- Cabin view cameras provide a bird's eye view of what's happened inside your car. Mostly used in taxis and car services, they might be useful if you share a car or maybe wish to check your own driving habits.
Why install a dash cam?
You've seen them on the news, crime programmes and some of the footage even goes viral on social media. And they're becoming increasingly popular with motorists in the UK. Our research shows that dash cam ownership went from 1% to 15% in just 4 years.¹
They're an effective way to see how we and others drive, and useful for finding out who was at fault in a car accident. And if you ever break down, a dash cam can act as a GPS tracker which can help the emergency services find you.
And if you suspect you've been a victim of a crash for cash fraud, submitting dash cam evidence could help you be properly compensated and prevent it happening to others.
The police already use dash cam videos in their cars, and the footage they record is often taken as evidence when prosecuting bad or dangerous drivers.
Are dash cams legal?
Yes, they're legal on UK roads. You don't need a licence or any other requirements to use a dash cam.
However, you mustn't install the dash cam where it blocks your view. If you have an accident and it's found that your dash cam distracted you or obscured your vision, you could be blamed for the accident.
Also, you have a legal duty to let passengers know if your business vehicle is fitted with a cabin view camera. For example if you're a taxi driver or share a company car, and you use your car for family errands. Plus most dash cams record sound and some can video record the inside of a vehicle. If someone else who has use of your car isn't told they're being recorded, you're in breach of privacy laws.
What's the difference between a dash cam and a car blackbox?
Both dash cams and a black box (or telematics box) provide valuable information about your journeys. While dash cams provide a visual record of your journey, a telematics box holds the data that shows your driving style.
The combined and widespread use of dash cams and black boxes in the future could help insurers in deciding your insurance premium.
Dash cam and insurance policies
Many car accidents aren't clear-cut. If there's any doubt over fault and if it's your word against theirs, footage recorded by a dash cam can help to resolve the dispute. If the footage proves the other party was at fault, you may not have to pay your excess, or if you've already paid, your excess may be reimbursed.
Interest in dash cams is growing quickly in the UK. In a poll of our Members:²
- 24% of respondents already own a dash cam, while another 18% are seriously considering buying one.
- 70% agree that any anyone prosecuted because of video footage (which shows they were at fault) recorded by another road user deserves the punishment given to them.
- 69% agree that all police forces should let drivers submit video evidence from dashcams and mobile phones.
Can I use dash cam videos in an insurance claim?
Dash cam footage is now accepted by a growing number of insurers – including us – as evidence in claims.
Our research shows that two-thirds of drivers (67%) are happy for insurers to collect driving data if it means better evidence in accident cases.³
The footage can also help police better tackle problems like road rage or texting at the wheel. It's easier to report and prove there's been an incident when there's a clear image of the registration plate in question.
Can a dash cam make driving safer?
This is difficult either to prove or disprove. However, drivers who buy dash cams are likely to be self-aware and want to protect themselves against other road users. Dash cams can provide evidence for insurance claims or to report dangerous drivers. Our research in 2018 showed:³
- Around a third of dash cam users say they're constantly aware of the possibility of being filmed.
- Only 4% strongly agree that they drive more carefully because of the risk of doing something wrong.
There's no definite evidence that dash cams have helped to reduce road deaths. Research from the Department of Transport shows that the number has stayed much the same from 2010 to 2018, after falling dramatically from 2006.
¹ Research by Populus among 18,077 AA Members, 26 April to 3 May 2017. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
² Research by Populus among 20,086 AA Members, 11–17 June 2019.
³ Research by Populus among 20,650 AA Members, 14–20 August 2018.
Published 10 March 2017. Updated 17 July 2017, 25 June 2020.