Q: I have rented a car in Iceland a few times, up to now without any complaints whatsoever. Surfing through a few forums I was astonished to read that a lot of tourist seem to have been ripped off by their rental company through claiming minimal dents or scratches as major damage with a huge fine/claim. And I do not mean sandstorm damage. Is there an increase of those instances or is it an example of "once in a while and exaggerated via Internet forums"?
A: I spoke to a representative at the Icelandic Automobile Association. He said there seems to have been an increase in instances where renters of cars have been charged for dents and scratches once they return the rental car. He explains it as a result of a policy change within the larger car rentals in Europe in general, where an emphasis has been placed on scrutinizing the car upon return in search of any possible dents. He believes that policy has simply made its way to Iceland.
When asked for good advice to give to car renters, he said it was vital to walk around the car with a representative of the car rental when you pick up the car. Make sure every dent and scratch you see is clearly marked in the rental agreement. Also, be aware that there are many gravel roads in Iceland, making small dents likelier to occur than in many other countries. Most importantly, don’t drive a vehicle across rivers if it isn't well equipped for such driving.
If you run into a dispute with the car rental, the Icelandic Automobile Association advises European travelers to contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in your home country. They will then forward the complaint to the ECC in Iceland and work in coordination with them to resolve your issue.
Should a dispute arise between a consumer and a company, which is member of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association (SAF) then the dispute can be referred to the complaints board of the Consumers’ Association of Iceland and SAF. This option is not limited to Icelandic citizens alone, but available to consumers of any nationality.
Check out the website of the Consumers' Association of Iceland for good advice for car renters: https://www.ns.is/en/content/car-rental-season