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A car rental company in Iceland charges extra for two people driving the car. I was wondering what would happen if we pay the fee for only one person, but have an alternate person drive. How will they come to know this? Not just asking to evade fee, but also need to know this for emergency.

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A second driver fee is usually very small, probably less than the cost of lunch. Why not pay it if you're going to have more than one driver? – Greg Hewgill Mar 22 at 20:09
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@GregHewgill I've had it plenty of times where the addditional driver costs about as much as the rental. Certainly it's at least the cost of lunch every day. – CMaster Mar 22 at 20:17
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There are some third party agencies that you can buy vouchers from that will often include extras such as additional drivers or insurance coverages. As an example this is when renting Hertz (USA) through ADAC (Germany). – Zulan Mar 23 at 9:25
up vote 44 down vote accepted

You could change without the rental firm knowing, but it's very risky. Suppose there is an accident while the other driver is driving. If there are any witnesses to the accident (drivers of other vehicles, for example), the company will find out. When considering this possibility, remember that endeavoring to drive very carefully doesn't help very much, because your car could be in an accident caused by another driver.

If that happens, any insurance will likely be invalid, leaving you responsible to pay for any damage. There could of course be additional penalties for renting the car fraudulently.

The second driver fee is probably relatively small even considering the relatively remote possibility of the above.

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If the fee is quite big, consider asking the rental company how to handle if the other driver needs to take over. Friends of mine did that in New Zealand, I believe just a text message or an e-mail from the phone was enough. Destinated driver hurt her ankle and was unable to drive from day 2. – Willeke Mar 22 at 20:18
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My guess would also have been that the reason for the fee was related to insurance. – Dan Henderson Mar 22 at 22:59
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@JDługosz also, even if your insurance does cover you in a rented car, does it cover someone else driving that car? Even if it does, or the other driver has her own insurance, does the insurance cover a driver who has not been authorized by the car's owner -- the rental company -- to drive the car? – phoog Mar 23 at 5:16
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@reirab I suppose it's also likely that the driver's own insurance may be invalid when the driver is not authorized to drive the car. – phoog Mar 23 at 5:17
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@JDługosz it greatly differs by country. For example in Russia the insurance is always tied to the car. You can buy an insurance which will be valid for anyone driving your car, but you can't buy an insurance which will cover any car you drive. Also, the basic insurance usually only covers your liability before other drivers, so if you damage the car you rented, e.g. crash it in a tree, you will have to pay the rental company its full value, if you didn't buy the insurance. – Vasily Alexeev Mar 23 at 7:17

@phoog's answer is very good, but I'm posting this answer to place more emphasis. Do not even consider doing this. Only the people who are named drivers of the vehicle are insured to driving it. This isn't just a matter of you being liable to pay damages if you're in an accident (which could be a huge amount of money depending on what/who you damage/injure/kill). In most jurisdictions driving without car insurance is a serious criminal offence which can see you fined, banned from driving, or even jailed.

There has been mention in the comments of relying on your own car insurance to let you drive other vehicles. This is very unlikely to work, unless you have a particularly lenient policy document. Most will place restrictions on driving in foreign countries and, more importantly, require you to have the consent of the owner of the third party vehicle. In this scenario you would not have their consent.

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My personal auto insurance definitely covers liability in rental cars, and I don't think that is unusual. My credit card also offers the equivalent of Collision Damage Waiver in most countries. In Iceland there is a question of off-road use, and that might be uncovered. Nevertheless, I agree you must list all drivers, because an unauthorized drivers is basically joyriding. Even a non-accident traffic violation like speeding could turn into a big mess. – Andrew Lazarus Mar 23 at 15:24
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Although the question specifically asks about Iceland, it may be useful to add that in the UK, a car driven without insurance can be immediately impounded. The rental company would certainly find out about that. (And -- as you point out -- a driver's own insurance only covers driving vehicles other than their own with the owner's permission, which would not have been granted by the rental company in the circumstances of the question.) – Andrew Leach Mar 23 at 19:33

I usually rent a car to travel with my family during weekends.

I would guess if someone else drove the car instead of me, the company would never know unless you have some accident. And then you are in serious trouble, because insurance would not cover it - it's in the contract.

It is a bit like those european cities where you buy a public transit ticket, but there is usually no one on the bus or train to take it. You keep it in your pocket. Or you simply walk into the train and ride. A lot of times this will work and you'll save some money, but if the ticket man comes, you are fined.

In the end it would be a matter of risk versus benefit. My personal rule is the following:

Only ask for a second (unauthorized) driver to take the wheel if the risk of accident with the this driver is significantly lower than yours.

This usually means asking my wife to drive if I am too sleepy or tired - which is not uncommon.

But, of course I should not be doing this, because the extra fee is insignificant given the peace of mind. Well, at least in Brazil.

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Hi welcome to the site, this is informative but doesn't really answer the original question, can you clarify some more ? – blackbird57 Mar 24 at 3:25
    
@blackbird57 Thanks for the feedback. I updated the answer (second and third paragraphs) – heltonbiker Mar 24 at 3:31

The legal and boring answer is: you can't. Changing drivers will violate your contract (which is a civil violation) and violate the terms of your car insurance.

The real life answer is: no one will find out in 99% of the cases. If the police stops you, they rarely verify the name on the rental contract and it's even more rare for them to care about a wrong name if the "official" driver is in the passenger seat. Some might check insurance, but you could just buy some cheap insurance in your own name to show to the police.

Theoretically speaking you might get into an accident with another vehicle with plenty of witnesses, which no insurance will agree to cover, but that's just a risk you will have to take. Estimate that risk and make a choice.

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Insurance will cover it (they are obliged by law to pay out) and then turn around and sue for the damage. This is how all EU insurance works for cars - regardless how the car is handled, the insurance has to pay to idemnify the other car driver. But it is not obliged to eat the loss. – TomTom Mar 29 at 5:20
    
@TomTom I'm not an insurance guy, but I'd wager the risk of that happening (serious accident with lots of witnesses) are lower than the expenses on the second driver fee. – JonathanReez Mar 29 at 11:10

You'll have bigger problems then the car rental company, you wont be insured and will be committing an offense. Besides the face that if you crash then you wont be insured.

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If you buy insurance or a loss/damage waiver (LDW) from the rental-car company, it won't cover any damage that occurs while a non-authorized driver is at the wheel, if they find out.

But, don't buy insurance or a loss/damage waiver from the rental-car company. It's a scam.

I was renting at Alamo and the guy was pressuring me to buy LDW to cover my $1000 deductible, for $25 a day (on a $12-a-day car). I said, "Do you think I get in an accident every 40 days?" The guy just gave me a blank look. "$1000 is $25 a day for 40 days. I get in an accident every 10 years." Alamo sucks.

First, see if your own auto-insurance will cover you. In most cases, it will in your own country and won't in other countries.

Next, see if your credit-card will cover you. In most cases, it will. It won't in Italy. Italy sucks.

I rented in France. The rental company (Avis) in Marseilles claimed I scratched the hood and billed me $600 for it. I filed a claim with my credit-card (AmEx). AmEx tried to get some sort of explanation out of Avis for six months, and finally gave up and paid me $500. France sucks. Avis sucks too.

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You state a few 'facts' that others have already mentioned (like your credit card or home auto insurance covering you when abroad) on which others have said that this will not work like such for many people. The rest reads like a rant, negative and without sources. – Willeke Mar 26 at 18:26

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