The latest trend in the United Kingdom is for private individuals to install dashboard cameras in their cars. Yes, those devices that police use to record the activities of officers and those persons that they come in contact with.
Interestingly enough, British motorists are turning to dash cams for one of the same reasons that law enforcement agencies do, to protect themselves from false claims, The Guardian reported. An epidemic of auto insurance fraud across the pond is driving average Brits like Samantha Dunne to install dash cams.
“I bought a dashboard camera so that I could provide video footage if I was unlucky enough to have another accident,” Dunne told The Guardian. Dunne was unable to prove that an accident was not her fault, so she had to pay several thousand pounds out of pocket. Dunne’s insurance company denied her claim even though she was a safe driver who had paid her premium regularly for years.
Dunne is not alone; dash cam sales in the UK have increased 918% in the past year, a Guardian article noted.
British drivers are being driven to buy the cameras because of an epidemic of a vicious insurance scam called crash for cash. In the scam, fraudsters deliberately cause accidents and send the bill to an innocent driver’s insurance company. British insurance giant Aviva reported that organized insurance fraud in Great Britain has increased by 21% since 2013.
Coming to America
Now for the frightening part: such scams are coming here to America. One particularly nasty fraud called “Crash and Buy” is becoming very popular in California, according to NBC San Diego. In that con, a person who drives without insurance runs out and buys a policy after getting into an accident. Then the crook reports the accident to the insurer right after the policy goes into effect.
Crash and buy is now the most popular kind of insurance fraud in California, according to the California Department of Insurance. The Department estimated that insurance companies in the Golden State lost $1 million to the scam in November 2014 alone. A typical fraudster is Tamickeua Jones of San Diego, who is now facing three counts of insurance fraud for allegedly filing a claim right after taking out a policy.
Insurance claims can cost Americans a fortune as well; InsuranceQuotes.com reported that the average driver sees his or her premium go up by 41% after just one insurance claim. Drivers in some states get hit higher; those in Massachusetts can pay up to 76% more.
The biggest claims come from cases that cause bodily injuries, especially those involving uninsured motorists that turn to personal injury attorneys to get their medical bills covered. The situation is worse in states like Louisiana and Mississippi, where the courts make it easy to sue insurance companies and win.
American drivers might be well advised to learn from their cousins across the pond and buy a dash cam. Such devices are available at the major online retailers, including Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. I found an HD Dual Lens car camera selling on eBay for just $56.75 and another at Walmart for $52.47.
My guess is that it will not be long before some insurance company starts offering a dash cam discount. Several companies, including GEICO, already offer discounts for persons who install telemetric devices. Telemetric devices record such information as the times you drive, the amount you drive and your location and relay it to your insurer via Wi-Fi. Net generation telemetrics are likely to come with some sort of camera.
I might also predict that we’ll soon see lots of private dash cam videos of accidents and bad driving being posted on YouTube for our enjoyment.