Clever in-car cams can dash those ‘crash-for cash’ scams

Dash-cams can be used to prove who's at fault in a collision.

Dash-cams can be used to prove who's at fault in a collision. - Credit: supplied

With ‘crash-for-cash’ scams on the rise, motoring editor Andy Russell finds out how dash-cams can be an ever-present eyewitness in your vehicle.

Many years ago, not long after passing my driving test, I bumped into another car... well, actually, it bumped into me.

I maintained the car pulled into my path from a side road on the right. The other driver insisted I was straddling the central white light and on his side of the road.

It’s so long ago I can’t recall the final outcome but I know I was concerned about losing some of the no claims discount I had carefully built up – no NCD protection in those days.

If I’d had a modern in-vehicle journey recorder – better known as a ‘dash-cam’ – it would have been so easy to prove who was where on the road and at fault.

Dash-cams simply suction on to the windscreen and rear screen and record the view, capturing events before, during and after a collision.

The camera records on to a memory card and is instantly available as evidence in any insurance claim for or against the driver.

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Aviva saw a 51% surge in crash for-cash car insurance scams last year. And the Association of British Insurers says fraud reached a record £1.3bn last year with £811m of fraudulent claims attributed to car insurance. Crash for cash was the main contributor to a 34% rise in false motoring claims which it is estimated could be adding about £50 to each of our premiums.

I borrowed a couple of dash-cams from motorist discount strore chain Wilco, part of the Shortis Group which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, to find out how affordable and effective they are as an ever-present witness in the event of a collision.

Wilco is fitting the £29.99 Streetwize HD In-vehicle Journey Recorder to all its vans after a hefty insurance claim in the hope it could help cut its premium.

This budget camera, which has a 90-degree wide-angle lens and 2.5in flip-down screen, switches on an off automatically with the vehicle ignition and charges via a 12-volt socket. The downside is that the suction-mounted bracket is quite large and the pivot points need to be adjusted and tightened once you have the desired view.

I much preferred a mid-range dash-cam in the shape of the Nextbase 202 Lite but it costs a lot more at £69.99.

With its smaller bracket and built-in 2.7in screen this more compact dash-cam felt sturdier, easier to set up and fitted neatly at the top of the screen behind the driver’s rearview mirror.

The picture quality also seemed better while the 120-degree lens angle gave an even wider view.

Both include infrared night vision and continuous loop recording on to an SD card of up to 32Gb (which is not included). They can also be used in picture mode, have an audio recording mode and motion sensing activation. If an impact is detected when the vehicle is parked the camera will start, record for a set time and automatically save the file.

Just as satellite-navigation and Bluetooth phone kits have become must-haves for millions of motorists expect to see more vehicles with dash-cams – for not a lot of money they can save an awful lot of hassle.

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