Insurance companies don’t currently offer a discount for installing a dash cam. But depending on what the dash cam records, it could be immensely helpful in helping you prove fault in a collision, or even getting you out of certain traffic tickets.
More and more Canadians are installing dash cams in their cars. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 10% of Canadian motorists now have one. These little devices can record video of everything that happens around you as you drive. It’s not hard to imagine how this could help you if you get stopped by the police or get in an accident.
How Do Dash Cams Affect Your Insurance?
Right now there’s no insurance discount for having a dash cam installed in your car, but with these devices becoming more prevalent, it’s not inconceivable that discounts could be on the way soon.
Until then, if you do install one of these cameras, it could capture lots of useful stuff:
- You can use it to prove someone else was at fault for an accident
- You can use it as evidence when challenging a ticket
- It could catch someone trying to commit insurance fraud (staged accident)
- You can use it as evidence if someone vandalizes or breaks into your car while it’s parked
- You could use it to monitor your kids’ driving if you lend them your car
A dash cam could be a great investment. But before you rush out and buy one, remember that if the camera captures footage that shows you in a bad light, it could also be used as evidence against you.
How Much Could I Save on Insurance With a Dash Cam?
If your dash cam is able to capture footage that proves you were not at fault for an accident, that could save you $1,200 to as much as $24,000 on your insurance premiums over the next 6 years.
Whenever you get an at-fault accident on your record, unless you have claims forgiveness, it can increase your premium by 20 to 200%. Given that the average annual auto insurance premium in Ontario is about $2,000, that first at-fault could cost you an extra $400-4,000 a year for the next 6 years. If it’s the second at-fault within 6 years, your premiums could triple. So yeah, a dash cam could save you some serious dough.
If your dash cam gets you off a ticket, the story could be very similar, although most tickets affect your insurance for 3 years only. In terms of monitoring your kids’ driving, this won’t directly save you money, but just the knowledge that someone is watching could positively affect the way they drive, reducing the risk of a ticket, or God forbid an accident. And then yes, you are once again into thousands of dollars in savings.
Your camera could also capture someone trying to break into your car, vandalize it, or stage an accident to collect on an insurance windfall. As mentioned above, your dash cam could potentially save you from an at-fault accident on your record in this last case. But it could also help your insurance company and the police catch the perpetrators of a theft, vandalism or fraud, and save the insurance system on the whole tens of thousands of dollars. Sadly, you won’t get a direct reward for this, but fighting insurance fraud and car theft is a great way to keep rates down for everyone.
Are Dash Cams Legal?
The short answer is yes, dash cams are legal in every part of Canada. It gets a little more complicated if you get a camera that records audio inside the car, which many do. If you have such a camera installed and you are transporting passengers, you are legally obligated to get their consent to record their voices. The easy solution is to turn off the sound recording, and capture only video.
Which Dash Cam Should I Buy?
There are hundreds of different dash cams available in Canada. The quality and features vary quite a bit.
Here’s a few things to consider:
- What are you capturing? – There are dash cams that capture video of the road ahead, the road behind, and the inside of the car. You also want to consider how wide you want the field of view to be. Cameras range from 90 degrees to 180, but note that a wider lens will create a distorted (fish-eye) image. Many dash cams also record audio inside the car.
- Price – You can get a simple dash cam for $10, but you probably want to start around $40-50 for a reliable front view camera, and $60-70 for front and rear. The more features, the more battery power, the more storage capacity, the more you’ll pay.
- Storing the video – Capturing video won’t help you if you can’t get the video when you need it. Some dash cams come with cloud storage, while more expensive units may come with an SD card. Generally, the recordings are saved for a set period of time and then overwritten by new footage. You have the option to permanently save footage that you need.
- Power – Most dash cams plug into a cigarette lighter or USB port in your car. Make sure the cables are long enough. Good dash cams have enough battery power to keep recording for several minutes if the main power supply is cut off in an accident, or to record if necessary when the car is off.
- Night vision – Most dash cams have night vision so they can record video in low light. But make sure the quality of the night video is good enough to make out faces, license plates etc.
- Motion/impact sensors – Some units are equipped with motion sensors and turn on if your car is parked and someone gets close to it. Others sense when your car has been in an accident and permanently save the footage from before and after the impact.
- GPS – Cameras with built-in GPS are better for use as evidence in court, as they can record where you are, the time, and how fast you’re going.
Is My Dash Cam Covered?
If your dash cam is damaged or destroyed in an accident, or stolen out of your vehicle, there are several instances where it would be covered under your auto or home insurance. If it’s a unit that is factory installed in the car, most auto insurance policies (collision and comprehensive) would cover it under a $1,500 limit for electronic equipment. If it’s a unit that can be easily removed, it would likely be covered under your home insurance, subject to a deductible.