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Dash cams and your insurance

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on September 28th, 2022

Are you considering joining the approximately 10 per cent of Canadians who own dash cams?

This is a device that monitors what goes on around your vehicle. It is mounted on the dash of a vehicle - generally in the front – and records the view through a vehicle's front windscreen and sometimes rear or other windows. When your vehicle moves, it continuously records footage.

Not all dash cams offer a 360-degree view of your vehicle. There are options for front and rear recording units that you can look for when buying one. Some dash cams come with additional safety features such as automatic motion detection, wide-angle lenses, GPS systems, lane change and collision notifications. Depending on the options, costs can range from below $100 to several hundred.

Since roads and highways are public property, it is legal to film. That being said, it’s always advisable to confirm the device is legal where you live. Another legal consideration is that dash cams should not obstruct your view.

Now you’re probably wondering if installing one will lower the cost of your insurance. The short answer is no. While most insurance companies in Canada don’t offer a discount for installing a dash cam it can, however, indirectly affect your premium in a few ways:

  1. Help you dispute a driving ticket. When you get a ticket, it may increase the amount you pay for insurance.If you can dispute the ticket using dash cam footage, you may be able to get that ticket off your record and avoid the increase.
  2. Determine who’s at fault in an accident. If you’re in a car accident, it’s your word against the other driver’s. With the footage, you can prove the other driver is at fault. It can also capture footage of reckless drivers, speeders and drunk drivers.
  3. Catch a thief – If your neighbourhood has high rates of theft and vandalism, the footage could catch the perpetrator in the act.
  4. Protect against fraud - Fraudsters are good at making it look like a collision was someone else’s fault, but dash cam footage can help prove them wrong. An increase in fraudulent claims also can lead to higher premiums for everyone.
  5. Parking lot incidents - If something happens while you’re inside a store, for example, you’ll have footage of the incident.
  6. Improve your driving habits – When there’s a camera in the car, you might be encouraged to drive more safely. That goes for teens that take your car out for a spin too!

Most insurance companies in Canada do not offer a specific discount if you install a dash cam. If you are in an accident and have one, they can help you save money during the claims process.

However, there are a few cons to having a dash cam in your vehicle. Some include:

  • They can be distracting. Changing the camera’s setting while driving is dangerous and illegal. Some experts suggest avoiding this by installing it behind the rearview mirror.
  • Technology is attractive to thieves. As with GPS or smartphones, it’s not advisable to leave them out in plain sight in your unattended vehicle. Alternatively, you could consider purchasing one that records when the vehicle is off.

If you get into an accident and your dash cam is damaged, your car insurance might cover it, depending on how your dash cam was installed and what province you live in. For example, in Ontario, a permanently installed dash cam could be covered under your policy’s limit for after-market electronic equipment (this limit is usually $1,500). Meanwhile, in Quebec, your car insurance will only cover your dash cam if it is permanently attached to your vehicle or if it can only be used with your car.

Your damaged dash cam might also be covered as a personal belonging under your home or tenant insurance policy.

Finally, there are numerous apps that allow you to use your smartphone as a dash cam. But you still need to follow the rules of the road and can’t touch the dash cam while driving.

If you’re still thinking of installing a dash cam and have more questions, talk to your broker.

RELATED READING: 11 tips to help prevent vehicle theft

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