What you need to know before installing a dash cam

Your vehicle is a big investment, so it comes as no surprise that you want to do everything you can to protect it. One way to do this is by adding an extra pair of eyes, or rather a lens, to the road ahead. Dash cams are popping up everywhere, but there are a few things to consider prior to installing one. So, before you start looking for next day shipping, here are all your dash cam questions answered.

Are dash cams legal in Canada?

It’s becoming more and more common to see dash cam footage online or even in the news. The good news is that in general, you are legally allowed to drive with a dash cam in Canada.

Will a dash cam lower my insurance?

Most insurance providers don’t offer a specific discount for having a dash cam in your vehicle. But a dash cam can indirectly impact your insurance premiums in a few ways. Dash cams can help with the following:

  1. Determining who was at-fault in an accident and other crash details. Even in a no-fault insurance system, an at-fault accident can result in your insurance premiums going up. A dash cam acts like an extra witness, providing a glimpse into what took place before, during and after the crash. It can capture who was involved, and can be used as a tool in assigning fault for an accident.

  2. Getting that ticket off your record. You may be able to use the footage to dispute a driving ticket that could otherwise increase your car insurance premium.

  3. Catching insurance fraud. Fraud rings and staged accidents are a danger to everyone on the road. Dash cams are another way to help protect yourself against auto insurance fraud, as they can show what really happened in a given event. Fraud costs everyone, so taking preventative measures against it can help keep premiums affordable.

  4. Becoming a better driver. Similar to how pro athletes watch video playbacks to improve their skills, a dash cam can be used to help improve your driving skills, or those of your newly licensed teenager. You can watch the recording back to see what you can do better in the future – maybe you need to leave a bit more space or take a little extra time changing lanes. There are a lot of things out of your control on the road, but keeping a clean driving record is something you can do to help with your premiums.

Where do you install a dash cam?

Most likely you’ll be installing the dash cam yourself (although some car manufacturers are beginning to offer dash cams as an accessory). Depending on the dash cam you go with, it may be mounted to your dashboard or to your windshield. Either way, you’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your line of sight. It’s also a really good idea to check that the camera is capturing a clear view of the road (since that’s its job).

No matter where you place it in your car, be sure its securely installed and to leave it alone while driving. Fumbling with your dash cam while driving could result in a distracted driving ticket (and an increase to your car insurance premium) or worse.

Do dash cams only work while you’re driving?

This will depend on how your dash cam is powered. If your dash cam is plugged into your car’s auxiliary power outlet, then your dash cam will likely only record after turning your car is on. Other set ups could allow your dash cam to record while your car is off. For example, some dash cams have what is called “parking mode,” which allows the dash cam to turn on when motion is sensed outside the vehicle. If your car is ever vandalized or involved in a hit and run, this feature can help with identifying the culprit.

Just keep in mind that having an expensive device sitting out in the open in your car could act in the opposite way of what you intended and end up attracting thieves.

Did you know? Some car makes and models are more attractive to thieves and are stolen more frequently. Wondering what vehicles are targeted the most in your province? Check out the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s list of the top ten stolen vehicles across Canada.

What features can dash cams come with?

Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, dash cams can come with a bunch of cool features. On top of parking mode, other features can include a front and rear camera, night vision and Wi-Fi, to name a few. There are even some dash cams out there with built in GPS, allowing them to track both speed and location – they can even notify you when it’s a good idea to slow down (and possibly avoid a collision).

Can I use my smartphone as a dash cam?

There are actually apps for this. If you plan on using your phone as a dash cam, you’ll want to have a stand for it that allows it to capture the road ahead without blocking your view (just like any other dash cam). It may not be able to store as much footage as a dedicated dash cam, but depending on your needs, it might just fit the bill.

Are dash cams covered by auto insurance?

This will depend on how your dash cam is installed (or used) and what province you’re in. For example, in Ontario, a permanently installed dash cam may be covered under your auto policy’s $1,500 limit for electronic equipment (that wasn’t factory installed). Whereas in Quebec, coverage under your auto policy will depend on if your dash cam is permanently attached or can only be used with your car. It’s best to double check with your insurer! In other cases (such as if you’re using your phone as a dash cam), it may be covered as a personal belonging under your home policy depending on its value, the reason for the loss and your home policy’s deductible. Insurance companies usually look at coverage for your belongings under both of your policies.


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