Sales of dashboard-mounted mini video cameras have doubled over the past year at Halfords as motorists seek to protect themselves from crash claims.
Insurance companies report camera evidence is increasingly being used as “an independent witness” to establish who is at fault after an accident and protect an innocent driver’s premium from shooting up.
Halfords said the devices could easily become as common-place as sat-nav’s, which are used by two out of three drivers.
The in-car cameras, known as dash-cams, record the view through the windscreen and capture events before, as the car travels along the road.
With prices starting at £50 many motorists are seeing this purchase as a sensible investment, not only to protect their no-claims bonuses, but also to combat crash for cash fraud claims.
The Insurance Fraud Bureau estimates around 30,000 so-called 'cash for crash' incidents take place every year, costing insurers around £350 million and pushing up premiums for honest drivers.
Alec James, product manager at Halfords, said: “We've seen interest in dash-cams double over the past year, with a corresponding increase in sales but this may be the tip of the iceberg.
"With around 28 million cars on UK roads and only a small proportion yet to realise the benefits in-car cameras the market could be substantial. If the use of dash-cams became as common-place as sat-nav’s it would be a market worth in excess of £2.5billion.
“The knowledge that even a minor bump can cause a significant financial penalty if it results in the loss of a no-claims bonus and rise in your insurance premiums, as well as the rise in fraudulent ‘cash for crash’ claims, is also driving up demand.”
Dash cams do not currently make drivers eligible for automatic discounts on premiums but if camera footage proves you were not to blame for an accident yours would be treated as a 'no-fault' claim.
Consequently your no-claims bonus would be unaffected; you would not be charged an 'excess' penalty and would not face a sharp rise in your next year’s premiums.
Also insurers believe that in the future in-car cameras could result in a reduction in costs as having one would encourage drivers to stick to speed limits and in general drive more carefully, in the same way telematics has had a positive effect on young motorists by monitoring their driving and reducing accidents by at least 30%.
The recorded footage from dash-cams could also be used by defendants against accusations of lane-hogging or tailgating on motorways following new fixed penalty legislation which came into force last August.
James added: “Our range of in-car cameras incorporate technology that has been widely used by the emergency services for many years and and capture high-quality digital footage which is essential for insurers.”