Should I get a dashboard camera?

(And how to choose the right one)

Author profile picture

Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

Author profile picture

Ross Martin

Manager, Content Quality

  • Licensed Insurance Agent (former) — Property and Casualty

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. As a licensed insurance agent, he specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers…

If there’s one thing that’s true about modern society, it’s that people love recording things. From posting your lunch on Instagram to recording your porch traffic with a doorbell camera, we have proudly entered the surveillance era. And we don’t just have video footage for home security, there’s also a jump in the average consumer using dashboard cameras to to record footage while driving.

In fact, dash cams are a growing market for private drivers. The global dashboard camera market size was valued at USD 3.38 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.5% from 2022 to 2030[1]. This growth is driven by an interest in vehicle safety, faster insurance claims and protection against vehicle theft.

In this article, we’re looking at the trends in dashboard cameras: the benefits of using them, what features to look for and how they can impact your insurance.

Quick history of dash cams

The first dashboard cameras were developed in the U.S. in the 1980s for taking video footage in police vehicles. This footage wasn’t stored digitally but dash cam videos were recorded to VHS tapes. Today, dashboard cameras are used by private drivers with the highest adoption rates in Asia and Australia and growing popularity in the United States and Europe.

These modern cameras are much lighter, less expensive and have more sophisticated tech. Dash cam footage is stored digitally or can connect to wi-fi. The cameras can provide drivers peace of mind in the case of vandalism, hit-and-runs or other car accidents.

Pros of dashboard cameras

There are a number of benefits to using a dashboard camera in your car.

  1. Help prove fault in accidents. Video footage is more reliable than witness testimony. If you are not at fault in a collision, a dash camera can help prove your case and make the claims process go more smoothly.

  2. Provide evidence in non-accidents. Cameras in parking mode can potentially provide evidence for perils like vandalism or theft even when you’re not behind the wheel.

  3. Encourage safer driving. If you know you have a camera monitoring your movements, it might actually make you a better driver and improve your overall driving habits.

  4. Help avoid insurance fraud. If someone intentionally crashes into you, the footage from your dash cam can again provide evidence of fault.

 insurance claim

Cons of dashboard cameras

Depending on where and how much you drive, having a dashboard camera might not actually be worth it.

  1. They can be expensive. Depending on the features you choose and how advanced the technology, the cost can range from $60 for the cheapest commercial dash cams to up to $500 for high-end business models[2].

  2. Can be a distraction. If you’re looking at footage while driving or fiddling with the camera to improve the angle, that’s focus that’s being diverted from the road.

  3. Won’t automatically lower your insurance. While dash cameras can help with the claims process and proving fault, they likely won’t get you a discount. Insurance companies currently don’t offer lower insurance premiums for drivers employing dash cams.

 dash cam

Features of dashboard cameras

If you do decide to look into a dash camera for your vehicle, you will be amazed by some the technology currently available. Popular brands include Garmin, Nextbase and GoPro.

Here are some features to consider when choosing the best dash cam for your needs.

Automatic start and record

Many dash cams automatically turn on and record when you start driving. Then you don’t have to remember to power them up and in case of an accident, you’re always ready.

Parking mode

Some models offer dash cam recording automatically even when the vehicle is not on. This may be a good feature for you if you park your vehicle outside and are wary of vandalism or break-ins.

Memory capacity

The amount of footage a dash cam will be able to record and store depends on the microSD card it hold. If your dash cam records in higher resolution (for example a 4K dash cam), you will also need a larger memory card or will have a lower range of hours recorded. Some models will loop record, meaning they will record over previous footage once the memory is exhausted.


Some dash cams are mounted to the windshield or dashboard via an adhesive mount and others through a suction cup. The adhesive mount is generally more secure, which is worth considering if you take a lot of road trips, off road or commute on bumpy streets.


The range of video recording the camera takes in varies from model to model. Most dash cams can view 140 degrees, but they can range from 125 degrees to 165 degrees. You want to make sure you have a wide enough field of vision to capture both in front and to the side of your vehicle.

GPS and Wi-Fi

Some dash cams offer built-in GPS which can supply location and speed data with the video evidence. Some also connect to Wi-Fi or bluetooth to allow you to easily connect the camera with your Apple or android device.

Night vision

If you frequently drive at night, you may want to focus on a model that offers better night vision. This feature is a processing effect on the video that boosts the exposure when filming in areas with little light.

Emergency alerts

Some dash cam models offer a real-time emergency SOS system in conjunction with GPS tracking that will alerts emergency services of your location in the event of an accident, if you are unresponsive.

When deciding if you should get a dash cam or choosing a new dash cam, there are no shortage of gadgets to consider. Look at your driving habits to determine which will most meet your needs.