Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag


Numerous travellers faced with millions of króna in water damages after failed river crossings

By Staff

  • Not always safe Crossing rivers, even in a well equipped 4x4 on a designated crossing can be tricky. If the river swells or the gravel in the riverbed shifts you can easily be faced with a flooded car and a huge bill. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

Every year a shocking number of foreign travellers face car repair bills up to several million krona (7-25,000 USD/EUR) due to water damages caused by attempts to cross rivers on F-roads. Insurance on rental cars does in most cases not cover water damages caused, for example, by driving over rivers.

Not all river crossings on a F-roads are passable on regular 4x4s
According to a mechanic by Mývatn lake in Northern Iceland, who spoke to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, travellers are shocked when they realize they will bear the full cost of repairs.

The mechanic, Karl Viðar Pálsson, told RÚV that he had recently picked up a Benz 4x4 which had gotten stuck in a river. The car-rental agency told the travellers they were faced with the full cost of the repairs, which were 3.2 million ISK (25,000 USD/22,000 EUR). “I thought I had to call a doctor or a nurse after they got the bill, because the lady just had a mental breakdown.”

Related: Photos: Travellers in a compact car get stuck on mountain route 66 only suitable for trucks

Karl tells RÚV that foreign travellers need clearer instructions when it comes to river crossing, and how to behave when crossing rivers. “They rent cars, a four-by-four and they are told they can drive the F-roads.” Foreign travellers therefore frequently assume they can cross any rivers on F-roads if they are driving a 4x4.

Use common sense!
We at Iceland Magazine want to stress that this is NOT the case: Not all F-roads, and certainly not all river crossings on F-roads are safe, even for 4x4‘s. These roads are not maintained, and the river crossings can become impassable. Rivers swell and the gravel in the riverbed shifts.

Many of these river crossings are also only passable on specially equipped 4x4‘s or mountain trucks. When you approach a river you should ALWAYS stop and assess the river. Check how deep it is, for example by wading into the river, to ensure that you won‘t flood the engine while passing the river. Check the current and ensure that the riverbed is safe where you intend to pass. If in doubt: Turn around!

You do not want to end your vacation in Iceland stuck in the middle of a river, awaiting the search and rescue teams and a huge repair bill from the car-rental company.

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