In part one of this three-part series, we introduced the dash cam – and the firsthand dangers of not having one. (Read Part 1/3 if you haven’t already.) Here, we’ll quickly introduce compelling answers to your question, “Do I need a dash cam?” Before we get into it, though, a quick thought to always consider:
(Editor’s Note: All local and state governments have their own laws regulating what you can and cannot have equipped on your vehicle. In some cases, the installation of a dash cam is a violation of one or more of these vehicle codes. It is prudent to ensure that you understand the particular vehicle codes that apply to you so that you can make a sound decision to equip, or not to equip.)
A Massive Industry
According to the FBI, the insurance industry is comprised of over 7,000 separate entities; there are over $1 trillion in premiums collected each year. That’s a massive industry. Many people scarcely even understand how, or why, all that money moves around as it does. Inevitably, with surging cash flows in these unfathomable proportions, some money tends to “disappear” when we’re not watching it closely.
The automotive insurance industry is considerably smaller, but an estimated $5.6 to $7.7 billion is nonetheless erroneously paid out in the processing or handling of fraudulent claims. 21% of bodily-injury claims and 18% of personal injury protection claims had the appearance of fraudulent activity (or, at the very least, inflation). Claims with the appearance of inflation, or “buildup,” accounted for 15% of payouts. (Insurance Research Council, February 2015)
Massive Profit Leaks – At Your Expense
Personal auto lines suffer an intolerable premium leakage of nearly $30 billion per year. (Premium leakage is loosely defined as erroneous information submitted to insurers for the effect of lowered premiums.) These losses are passed directly back to the insureds (you) to the tune of a 14% premium increase.
The point of the story? Insurance companies lose A LOT of money each year on fraud. (They make a lot more, but there are massive profit leaks abound – ones that you and I are forced to bolster the burden of.) With such a shifty landscape in which we operate on the daily, it’s not hard to imagine how you’re just one moment away from an accident-turned-legal mess. Yet, we’re surprisingly complacent in a comfort bubble. We tend to get that “it won’t happen to me” mentality.
You’re (Usually) Always at Risk
Even if you’re not the victim of a professional “scammer,” you’re still in danger of being a target. Often times, like the incident with my brother, the fraud was a matter of not wanting to admit guilt. This is surprisingly common; a he-said, she-said stalemate is a draw if there isn’t any substantiating evidence to either side’s favor.
Insulate From Unnecessary Risk
Dash cams allow you to keep a rolling record of your driving history. If you drive enough, chances are, you’ll eventually find yourself in a sticky spot – maybe it’s one that you never saw coming. I was once accused of rear-ending a guy in the rain. He had gotten rear-ended in an intersection by the car in front of me, but the rear-ender had broken right and bolted down the cross street before the guy turned around. When he did, he only saw me behind him.
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He called the police, and I kept going. He followed me and had me intercepted by four police officers, who surrounded me from all directions at once (it was a bit excessive).
I was left to explain my “iffy-sounding” story; my innocence hanging on my ability to convince the officers that there was no way I could have hit him. (I would have to walk them back and forth, to analyze both our bumpers and prove that my flimsy Tacoma bumper would have suffered visible damage, had it come in contact with another vehicle.)
Had they not believed me, I would have probably been held responsible for the damages, as a police report (taken under a “me-at-fault” assumption) would be damming in my case. They let me go, but I got lucky. This was long before my dash-cam days.
The Watchful Eye
Dash cams don’t just protect you from fraud, they protect you from you! Knowing that you have a dash cam recording automatically makes you a better driver, and it’s all subconscious. You may not realize it, but knowing that your driving may potentially be scrutinized in a court of law puts a light filter on some of the stupid ideas you come up with while driving. (Burnout in that intersection: probably not wise.)
They can also watch your unattended car. Dash cams today have features that enable it to auto-record when they sense movement. They tap into a hot wire in the fuse block, and only record motion, conserving memory (and your battery) when there’s nothing of interest to capture. I can park my car in front of my entryway, and have my Garmin 55 watch every soul that passes in front of my house, even when I’m dead asleep.
Want a dash cam yet? There are plenty to choose from. Check out Part 3/3 in the Dash Cam series to get an overview of a few key features you should look for when you selecting your first dash cam.