When picking up your rental at the airport, one of the first things the person behind the counter asks is if you’d like the optional insurance. As a savvy traveler you think to yourself “Nah, it’s just an upsell and a waste of money”. I agree in most cases, but there’s something you should know. Iceland car rental insurance is different because driving here is unlike anything you can imagine. And believe it or not, car rental insurance in Iceland exists to protect you and will actually save you money. Let me explain.
The Five Type of Car Rental Insurance in Iceland
There are five basic types of car rental insurance in Iceland. One comes standard (by law) on all rentals and the other four are optional. You might not be familiar with all of them, as some are very specific to Iceland. We’re a small, stormy, volcanic island filled with capricious weather, harsh elements, and challenging road conditions.
This little cocktail means that there are lots of dangers lurking and waiting to do damage to your rental. And that’s why these special types of insurance were created; they tailor to Iceland’s unique elements and will save you money in the long run. Let’s look at all five, what they cover, and which ones are right for you.
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW Insurance)
This is also known as car rental excess insurance in Iceland. It protects you in the event of an accident. This type of coverage is required by law, so it’s the only Iceland car rental insurance included in the price. The rest are considered “extras”. This insurance is required because quite frankly, road conditions can be tricky. All of that snow and ice means more dangerous driving conditions than what most tourists are used to back home.
Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW Insurance)
Think of SCDW coverage as supercharged CDW insurance. It serves the same purpose (protects you in the case of accidents), but with SCDW your deductible is lowered. If you have an accident, you pay less. I know more experienced drivers might be thinking to themselves “I’m a safe driver. I don’t need insurance”. But remember; it takes to two have an accident. The other motorist could lose control of their vehicle, skid or slide into yours, and cause dents or damage to your rental. And you’ll have to pay for it.
Sand and Ash Protection (SAAP)
Something that surprises a lot of first-time visitors to Iceland is that we have sandstorms. As in, middle of the desert, can’t see anything, take cover until it’s over sandstorms. This is due to our volcanoes. All of that volcanic activity means that the sand and ash which is spewed into the air eventually settles on the ground. Iceland is a very windy place, so it’s not uncommon to have your car get scratched by these erosion-causing elements. If you’re traveling along the South Coast, SAAP is highly advisable, as that’s where our most recent volcanic eruptions have been.
Gravel Protection (GP)
With your Iceland car rental, gravel insurance is a must if you plan on traveling to the Highlands. This interior zone of Iceland is made up entirely of gravel roads. They’re known as F-roads (mountain roads) and are filled with gravel and little pebbles that will cause damage to your car. Even going slowly, you’ll still get hit. Plus there are rocks flying from oncoming traffic as well as any vehicles you are driving behind. Parts of the Ring Road are unpaved gravel as well.
Theft Protection (TP)
Theft protection is really not that necessary. It protects you in the event of your car being stolen, but to be honest that doesn’t really happen here. Many companies include it automatically because they’re not that worried about it.
What Insurance Won’t Cover
Even if you do get the full suite of auto insurance in Iceland, that doesn’t mean that you’ve got carte blanche to do whatever you want. You still have to be a smart driver and not do anything dumb.
Trying to cross a river in a 4×4 without knowing its depth falls under this category. There are parts of Iceland’s interior where at a certain part of an F-road, you’ll reach an unbridged river. If it’s shallow, then of course, you can cross. But if you try to ford a river and get in too deep, your motor will end up underwater. It will flood, your car will stall, and you’ll have to pay for a waterlogged engine.
Iceland Car Rental Insurance: Do I Need It?
In a word, yes. If I can offer any Iceland car rental insurance tips or advice, it would be to get full coverage, especially if you plan on traveling in winter or heading for the Highlands. There’s also something very important to keep in mind. Sometimes the cost of one, some or all of these types of insurance will already be included in the price of your rental. Look at what type of insurance is included when comparison shopping and looking at quotes from different car rental companies.
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