How to choose the right dash cam

Do you need one and what to consider

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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…

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross h…

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 .4 billion in 2023 and is anticipated to grow from .46 billion in 2024 to 3.72 billion over the next decade[1]. This growth is driven by an interest in vehicle safety, faster insurance claims and protection against vehicle theft.

Are you considering investing in a dash cam? 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.

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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

If you are considering getting a dash cam, there are a number of benefits:

  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.

  4. Can be used both ways. If you get in an accident with another driver, a visible dash cam is a sign you have evidence and a copy of the recording may be demanded. If you are at fault in the accident, this evidence may be used against you. 

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.

Things to consider

Which dash cam you buy will depend on a number of factors. 

Which views do you want? Most dash cams have a view over the hood, which is good for capturing what's happening in front of you. If you're concerned about being rear-ended, you may also want a cam that supports a rear window lens as well. If you're a rideshare driver, you might also want a camera that records in the cabin as well. Double check with the rideshare service and your state and local laws about regulations around recording video and/or audio. 

Do you want to record audio? Some dash cams also include microphones, and there are pros and cons to turning on this feature. Be aware if you are recording audio, some states have two-party consent laws that you will potentially be violating if anyone else is in your car. And as mentioned above, in the event of accidents, what you say could potentially be used as evidence against you. That said, some people like this feature for recording interactions with law enforcement or other drivers. 

Do you plan to use it in multiple vehicles? Most dash cams come with a windshield mount, which you should make sure adheres to local laws and doesn't obstruct your field of vision too much. Factors like the adhesive used, the size and built-in technology in the mount will determine how easy it is to move to different vehicles. 

What features do you actually need? It can be easy to be swayed by the bells and whistles and new featuers that many dash cams are marketing. But if you mainly just need it to record video, many of these may be redundant. 

What's your budget? A quick search of dash cams shows simple technology as inexpensive as $25 and as much as several hundred dollars. Keep in mind cheaper options will probably have less quality video and less memory, but a mid-range option might have the features you need without needing to choose the most expensive camera on the market. 

Top dash cams on the market

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are three dash cams to consider.[3]

Good budget option: The ROVE R2-4K Dash Cam. This option is usually available under $100. It has built-in Wi-Fi to download WK videos directly to your phone. Night vision technology gets clear images in low light conditions. It's installed via a suction cup. 

Good mid-range option: REDTIGER Dash Cam Front/Read. This camera is usually available under $150 and offers front and rear views (4K resolution front and 1080p rear). It has a wide angle view to eliminate blind spots and works well in low light conditions. It's installed via a suction cup. 

Good premium option: Vantrue N4 is a more expensive option (usually around $300), but it records all three views: front, rear and inside the vehicle. It has both motion detection and impact detection so it record activity when the car is parked. It's installed via a suction cup and rear adhesive. 


Wrapping up

There are pros and cons to getting a dash cam. It won't necessarily save you on insurance, but it can potentially be evidence in an accident which is helpful if the other driver is at fault. Make sure to consider all the factors and local laws before making a purchase. 

  1. Dash cam market size. [Forbes Business Insights]

  2. Cost of a dash cam. [Tech co]

  3. Best dash cameras 2024. [Buyers Guide]