MoneyMagpie

Sep 02

Crash, bang, wallop – Dash Cam Video

Anyone who’s had a road accident recently – and then been stung by their insurance company because their no claims bonus has been shot to pieces by the claim – might want to take advantage of a new iPhone app that costs less than a pound.

The company marketing the app says that more than 95% of accidents are caused by driver error and that reliable, independent witnesses are about as rare as hens’ teeth. Certainly, it’s extremely frustrating to know that you are paying 20 or 30% more for your car insurance simply because the white van man who was pulling out of the petrol station
didn’t bother to look.

Putting video cameras into cars, vans and lorries is nothing new: in the US, many government-owned vehicles have a continuous recording of the road ahead. The resulting footage not only helps to settle disputed claims, it also provides entertainment for viewers of programmes like Road Wars.

The Witness app does much the same job: of course, your iPhone has to be mounted in the windscreen and the video camera set to record. Anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with iPhones will know that such activities will leave the device with ittle or no battery even after a short trip. So, in addition to that windscreen mount, a car charger is a must.

If you’re unlucky enough to have a shunt, this will be detected, the footage automatically saved on the phone and then emailed to your grateful insurers.

Witness also gives you a step-by-step guide to collecting all of the essential evidence that you will need in order to stand a chance of walking away with your no claims bonus intact. In effect, it’s a cheap and cheerful version of the systems already in use by owners of commercial vehicles. Until now – according to the designers of Witness, App Developers UK , such technology has been beyond the pocket of ordinary motorists.

My principal reservation about Witness is that it almost tempts fate: fitting your phone into the mount and pressing ‘record’ at the start of every journey seems tantamount to expecting trouble. Unless you’re the world’s worst or unluckiest driver, my guess is that you’ll start to find the process far too fiddly and you won’t be bothered to set it up each time you get into the car. And if you don’t, you may as well not have it at all.

What’s more, Witness will only record what’s going on in the direction of travel, so a sideways or rear-end prang won’t be captured – although the advice on how to gather the information required by your insurers could still be useful.

One thing your insurance company certainly won’t appreciate is a claim for a new windscreen and a replacement iPhone from Witness users who’ve left their valuable smartphone on display while nipping in to the local supermarket for a pint of milk.

In short, a good idea – but not one that I’ll be taking up anytime soon.

Witness can be downloaded from the iTunes Store.

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