Dash cam switched on in vehicle

The rising importance of dash cam footage in settling road accident claims

Cornish Mutual Member Services Team Leader Andrew Fulton and Claims Team Leader Arthur Denton say that dash cams are changing the outcome for a growing number of road accident claims.

In 2016, Cornish Mutual handled its first claim in which dash cam footage played a part in the settlement. By 2018, the number had risen to 37.

Here in the South West, we have a number of narrow country lanes with blind bends and no white lines. Perhaps it’s not surprising that many of the motor accident claims that we handle involve narrow road collisions. Traditionally these claims have been very frustrating to settle because there are generally no witnesses. That meant these claims often had to be settled on a 50/50 basis, regardless of who was at fault.

The arrival of dash cams is changing all that.

The rise of dash cams

According to research from the RAC, nearly three million UK motorists have now installed a dash cam. Attached to the windscreen, they are designed to generate continuous footage while a vehicle is being driven. More sophisticated models include a GPS system, which can record location, speed and direction of travel.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident, having dash cam footage does aid in making a claim. It also means that everyone needs to be aware that their driving could be captured by other motorists.

Dash cams in farm vehicles

As a specialist agricultural insurer, the majority of road traffic accident claims we handle involve farm vehicles. Dash cams can be especially helpful in establishing the facts in these collisions.

We’ve seen cases where one of our Members has not felt the impact of a collision because they were in a large tractor. However, if the other driver has a dash cam it could show that the damage to their vehicle was caused by the tractor driver.

On the other hand, if a motorist has collided with a hedge when squeezing through a gap they may previously have unfairly blamed the tractor driver. Having dash cam footage will establish what really happened.

Inadequate dash cam footage

We have also handled claims in which inadequate dash cam footage was provided by a Member following an accident. This has included cases in which the dash cam was not pointing the right way to capture the relevant footage.

It sounds obvious to say ‘make sure the camera is pointing the right way,’ but we have seen footage that simply shows the road ahead rather than the other vehicles. More sophisticated dash cams are more expensive, but can capture side and rear facing footage, creating an almost panoramic view. This can be crucial in some instances.

We have also handled a claim in which the driver had put his windscreen washers on just before the impact. Unfortunately, the water jets completely masked the footage. It’s therefore important to mount the dash cam higher up on the windscreen.

We also advise our Members to keeping checking that dash cams are correctly positioned. This is especially important in farm vehicles, which can bounce around when driven off road, causing the camera to dislodge.

Correctly installing a dash cam

We recommend that our Members install dash cams in their vehicles. Some people unfortunately don’t really understand how useful they are until it’s too late. The take-up of dash cams by our Members does not appear to be slowing down, so we foresee dash cam footage being used to settle growing numbers of our road accident claims in the future.

Harvest season, when more farmers drive large machinery to transport produce, is a particularly busy time on our roads. We anticipate video footage being used as evidence in growing numbers of claims involving farm vehicles.

Of course, dash cam footage does work both ways, and could mean you being shown to be liable for an accident.  Dash cam footage is making it much easier for us to confirm who was at fault in an accident.  This enables us to deal with claims efficiently, saving time and cost, even if this means admitting liability to a third party.