You can buy a decent one for as little as £50, which could save the recipient a lot of money and hassle if they have a motor accident, or even give instant payback by cutting their insurance premiums.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is urging motorists to stick a camera on their dashboard, as it reckons they could help with many of the 2,000 claims the industry handles every single day.
The message is clearly being driven home, with the number of motorists supplying dash-cam footage to back up insurance claims doubling over the last year, according to Co-op Insurance.
Dash cams are small, on-board video cameras that attach to a driver’s front windscreen to record the road ahead.
The evidence they supply could make all the difference where the cause of an accident is disputed and may expose “crash-for-cash” gangs, who stage accidents with innocent drivers then file lucrative insurance claims.
ABI senior policy adviser Ben Howarth says this is one Christmas present that could pay for itself: “A dash cam is not just for Christmas, but is your in-car eye witness providing evidence that could save you thousands of pounds. Shop around and read online reviews to make sure that you buy a reliable model.”
There has even been a pilot scheme in Wales encouraging motorists who have fitted dash cams to inform on dangerous drivers, which may now be extended across the UK.
Jonathan Guy, head of claims at Co-op Insurance, says dash cams are like an extra pair of eyes for the insurance company: “The footage can really help in the event of a road accident or vandalism and often helps us shorten the time taken dealing with the claim.”
GoCompare Car Insurance motoring expert Matt Oliver says a number of insurers offer discounts of between 10 and 15 per cent for installing a dash cam: “Swiftcover, Adrian Flux, Axa and RAC offer discounts, but check carefully because these may depend on you having a specific make or model of camera.”
You may also need to ensure your camera is always on when you drive. He adds: “Your insurer may require you to send video evidence in the event of a claim, or occasionally submit a sample video so they know you have it set up and working correctly.”
Even if you are offered a dash-cam discount, you should still check out other insurers.
“You might be able to save more than 15 per cent without having to splash out on a dash cam,” Oliver says.
If you are wrongly blamed for an accident and the dash cam clears you, this could prevent your premiums from being bumped up next year.
He adds: “It could make the difference between losing your no-claims discount and keeping it, which would give you a big saving.”
EYE ON THE ROAD
Anne Kirk, marketing director at Swinton Group, says dash cams can also be fitted with GPS locators to help trace stolen vehicles.
She agrees that dash cam evidence can speed up the claims process and expose crash-for-cash collisions, but says it cannot help in every case: “Dash cams are of little help for side or rear impact crashes or in identifying uninsured drivers, who are rarely captured on footage.”
She warns that some high-end dash cams costing £200 or more can raise the risk of your car being targeted by thieves: “You can also get in trouble if you violate somebody’s privacy, for example, using a dash cam in a driveway dispute with a neighbour.”
However, insurers agree that the benefits far outweigh these drawbacks, and with Christmas almost upon us now could be the time to show a little dash.