If you’ve ever gone out to the shops and then returned to your car, only to see it sporting a brand new dent on the bumper or down the side on one of the doors, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about here. There’s an increasing percentage of drivers out there who are oblivious or simply don’t give a damn about the damage they cause when they bump into or open the car doors against the sides of other people’s vehicles. Incidents such as these can end up costing you a great deal of money to rectify, and it isn’t just confined to car parks.
Out on the road you’ll see a similar thing, only the risk of injury and potential damage caused both ramp up significantly. On Brisbane streets it is common to see distracted drivers texting or whilst they’re sitting at red lights – holding everyone up as they don’t see the light turn green. Then there’s the ones who execute late last minute lane changes, sometimes skipping across multiple lanes without regard for other motorists around them, just so they can make the exit they’re after. I’m just scratching the surface here and I’m sure you can think of or have seen a great deal more than this. So when something goes wrong and you’re ever involved in an accident, how would you plan on defending yourself?
Sure, you could explain to the police exactly what happened and how you’re the innocent one, and let’s say that’s true, but nine times out of ten that’s exactly what the other driver is going to be saying to the Police, too. Who will they believe, and will it even be worth their time to get to the bottom of the matter? This situation is made worse in minor accidents which Police will not attend – it’s just you and the other driver, swapping details and swapping blame, before your insurance companies deal with the matter, potentially costing you your excess, or even worse, money to fix the other driver’s car if you were deemed at fault and without and adequate level of cover. You also need to remember that no matter how good of a driver you are, you can’t control other drivers and that sometime somewhere, chances are you’ll be involved in an accident of some description. It’s no coincidence then that windscreen mounted ‘dash cams’ are becoming more popular. They’re the silent witness who travels with you 24/7, ready to back you up in court with indisputable evidence, or at the very least save you money – and that’s exactly what mine has done.
Picture this – you’re washing your new car one Saturday morning when you spot a scratch running along your front bumper. It wasn’t there a few days ago and you have no idea who did it. While it may not be the biggest scratch in the world, it stands out on what is otherwise a brand new car. It’ll be expensive to fix and seeing as you don’t know who’s to blame, the cost of the repair (or your insurance policy excess) will come out of your own pocket. Late last year I was faced by this exact situation, only my story had a very different conclusion – and it was all thanks to the dash cam I installed.
The camera in question was an Itronics ITB-100HD I purchased for a princely sum of $199 and installed over a year ago. This particular camera operates whenever you’re driving, but also activates when it detects motion whilst the vehicle is parked, so I knew there was a high chance I’d find footage of the offender on the 32GB card I had slotted into it – at least if it happened within the last few days. Anything earlier and it would have been overwritten – so time was of the essence! I threw the sponge in the bucket and promptly pulled the card out of the camera – and the investigation began.
It’s rather typical for dash cams to record video in a series of 1-minute files, so upon inserting the card into your laptop you’ll be greeted with several hundred files all arranged in the order in which they were recorded. Sorting through them can take quite time, especially since it may not be obvious from the preview thumbnail whether it contains footage of the accident if the car is parked.
After an hour of viewing footage my hopes were fading – I hadn’t spotted any cars manoeuvring even remotely close to mine. I began to feel as though my investment in the camera was a waste of money and that the world was full of arseholes, right up until the moment when I saw the footage of a silver Kia Rio reversing into my car whilst it was parked at a shopping centre.
In fact, it turned out the actual incident happened some 3 days earlier when my wife and I were out at the cinema. The video itself was rather damning, showing the driver attempt to reverse out of her car park a total of 5 times before striking the front of my vehicle. Even more damning was the footage of her winding down the window to inspect the damage before making her escape.
I was now armed with evidence and that knowing the insurance company wouldn’t be open until Monday, I submitted the details of the claim online. I reported the damage as usual and added a link the video which I uploaded to YouTube. As you can see, the video was a neat way of providing them with all the details they needed – the vehicle make and model, the number plate (I’ve blurred it out in the screenshot above) and also who was driving. This certainly made the claim process a lot easier, as they didn’t really need to ask me a thing (“it’s all in the video”) making their call on Monday morning rather pointless.
So, the claim was lodged and I was then directed to their nearest authorised repairer so they could ascertain the damage and quote on it. Thanks to a combination of pearlescent paint and the fact that you can’t just paint a segment of a bumper, that small scuff and series of scratches resulted in a damage bill of $695. That’s some $95 higher than my insurance excess and more than three times the cost of my dash cam. Luckily, my investment in the dash cam turned out to be worthwhile, with my insurance company able to pass on the claim details and the video to Rio lady’s insurance company, who immediately put her at fault and gave her a friendly phone call to let her know. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when she received the call – I’m sure it would have given her the shock of her life, as in her mind the act of driving away should have meant she’d get off scot-free. Unfortunately for her this wasn’t the case.
Two weeks after the claim was lodged, my car was repaired and I felt extremely satisfied that 100% of the repair costs were covered by her insurance. I was out of pocket for nothing and better yet my insurance rating was unaffected. To summarise, that $199 dash cam just saved me from paying an excess of $600 for something that wasn’t my fault – and it’s still protecting me to this day and into the future. You simply can’t buy any other form of protection that is better.
But do you know what I found most puzzling from this whole experience? From what I can tell, there are no car insurance companies in Australia who offer discounts for customers who have dash cams fitted to their vehicles. Why? My dash cam saved my insurer (Youi) time and money on this claim, so why won’t they pass the savings on to me and give other motorists an incentive to fit dash cams to their vehicles? It boggles the mind. If you haven’t got a dash cam fitted to your vehicle, I believe you should ask yourself why. You may not have needed one in your life up till now, but you never know what’s around the corner tomorrow, next week or next month.
Accidents, whether they’re big or small, are just that – accidents. They’re something you cannot control or avoid, so it makes sense to be prepared for if and when something happens to you when you’re out on the road. My experience was one of the most minor incidents you could have, in fact I wasn’t even in the car at the time – but at least I now know the dash cam has me covered and I wouldn’t ever want to be without it.