Sand and Ash protection in Iceland: Do I need it?

Do I need Sand and ash insurance in Iceland? If so, why and what time of year is it absolutely essential? Here in this blog, we go over everything you need to know.

It is a common misconception that you only need the Sand and Ash insurance in case of any sudden volcanic eruption and unfortunately many people think the Sand and Ash protection is „only a way to upsell me“. That is not the reason car rentals offer this insurance.

The reason car rentals offer SAAP insurance in Iceland is that the island is largely covered in left-over ash from previous volcanic eruptions as well as sand fields (A whopping 20%). Iceland is not known for calm weather and the cost of this kind of damage can be hefty.

Sand and ash protection is not included in the free Collision Damage Waiver that Icelandic insurance companies offer and that is why this specific insurance was made. 

What time of year are you most likely to have sand and ash damage?

You might be wondering „Do I need sand and ash insurance in Iceland?“ and frankly that depends on a few factors. If you are visiting the island in February, March, or April then we do absolutely recommend it, yes. At that time of year, the snow has just thawed causing the sand to be dry and loose, and also at that time of year there is often higher wind speed that can easily cause damage to cars. But if the conditions are right, the wind speed only needs to be 7-8 m/sec to cause a sand storm.

If you plan on driving the south coast at that time of year, then it is necessary to include sand and ash protection as well. From 2002-2010, 80% of all sand and ash storms started at only 14 places in Iceland. You can see the places most sandstorms happened in Iceland in the photo below. The yellow dots on the map show where on the ring road they are known to reach the highway.


Before heading off for the day, we recommend visiting the website where you can see the road conditions on all roads around Iceland. We not only recommend visiting the website to check for any possible sand/ash storms before your journey but you will also be able to see the overall road conditions in real-time.


Iceland Sand and Ash protection in summer

In summer the grass is higher, so there is less chance of sand/ash storms as the grass helps to keep the sand on the ground. Although, in the south part of Iceland, there is more wasteland that is just deserted with spots of green grass. If you drive through there in high winds at any time of year, there is a chance of some sand/ash damage to your vehicle.


To be completely honest, sandstorms are not a daily occurrence here in Iceland. However, we can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the SAAP insurance for your trip to Iceland is something we recommend as Icelandic weather is very unpredictable and can change in a matter of minutes. As the saying is here in Iceland „If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes.“

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