It is the main tourism season in Iceland and so ECC-Iceland has been very busy these last few days answering queries from tourists who have had some problems relating to car rental. In many cases there have been, or the rental company claims there are, some damages to the rented vehicle. Sadly such cases do occur but it is still good to keep in mind some golden rules when renting a car to minimize the risk of anything unsuspected happening:
- When looking for the best price, check what is included in the price quote. Sometimes the online quote only contains the basics. Make sure you check what is included in the final quote and what is not.
- Check the price of extras that you may need during you rental, child seat, additional driver etc.
- Pay special attention to the fuel policy of the car rental company and make sure it is clearly explained to you before you confirm the booking. ◦ In Iceland most car rentals operate by the “collect full-return full” policy. That means that the vehicle should be provided with a full tank of fuel and it is the consumer´s responsibility to refuel the car before returning it. If the vehicle is not returned with a full tank, the consumer will bear the cost of refuelling and the car rental can charge a fill up fee.
- Check the cancellation policy. If an unexpected situation arises it can be very unfortunate if you cannot cancel your car rental reservation.
- Check for any restrictions. Here in Iceland many car rentals have restrictions about certain mountain roads that you are not allowed to drive using the rented car.
Collecting the car
- Check the car with a staff member for any damage. If you are not provided with a special checklist or diagram, make sure that you note any damage and have it signed by an employee. Check the tires well to see if they are too worn.
- If you have booked online, take a printout of your booking with you.
- Check if the terms of the contract are the same as of the booking you have made.
- Make sure you understand what is covered by the insurance. Here in Iceland you can get hit by a sandstorm that could damage your car. Normally this is not covered by the car insurance, but some car rentals offer “sand/ash insurance”. If you are planning a trip where you could get hit by a sandstorm it is highly recommended that you buy that insurance.
- Check if you have a credit card- or travel insurance that could be waivered if you buy a special insurance from the car rental company.
- Ask about the company policy in case of breakdown or accident.
During the car rental
- Make sure what type of fuel the car uses. If you put gasoline on a diesel car, or the other way around, you can damage the car.
- If the car breaks down, call the rental company and follow their instructions. Do not have the vehicle repaired yourself without their authorization.
- In case of an accident, note down the names and addresses of everyone involved. If anybody is injured or there is a dispute over who is responsible, call the police. In Iceland the emergency number is 112. Contact the rental company immediately.
Returning the car
- Try returning the car during opening hours and have the car inspected by a competent employee. The condition of the vehicle should be confirmed in writing and signed by a representative of the car rental. In Iceland many companies do not issue a statement of the car being in good condition unless after it has been cleaned. It is advised that you wait until the car has been cleaned so you can get a statement of the condition of the car.
- If you are returning the car outside opening hours, you should park in the designated area. It is advised that you take dated pictures, as well as pictures of the mileage of the vehicle, as confirmation that it was returned in good condition.
- Cars returned outside working hours are inspected for damage on the following day and therefore the excess can still be charged to a consumer´s credit card.
Renting a car in Iceland
There is a complaint committee operated by the Consumers Association and the Icelandic Tourism federation (SAF). The committee however only accepts cases concerning companies that are members of SAF. Most of the largest car rentals in Iceland are members and therefore it is possible to refer disputes to the committee regarding those companies. It may therefore be a great benefit for consumers to do business with a car rental that is a member of SAF.
If you live in Europe and have a problem regarding an Icelandic car Rental Company, you can contact the ECC centre in your home country. They will then forward your complaint to the ECC centre in Iceland and both centres will then work together in resolving your issue.