To rent cars in Costa Rica the big chain companies flash low prices and mumble through boiler-plate answers.
Then, upon returning your car your bill is often higher than you expected! You ask for an explanation and can only nod your head in polite agreement as your mind blacks-out during the explanation. The employees behind the counter speak some English, but you notice if you ask them a question using words not on the contract, they give you a puzzled look!
Even though you still don’t really understand, you feel trapped! And, sign your credit card voucher anyways with a feeling of helplessness. Saying to yourself, ‘I’d never do this back at home!’
Hint: Add between 130 to 170% to your Time and Mileage quotes and read their local websites for info on renting cars Costa Rica insurance local policies.
To avoid overpaying while renting cars in Costa Rica you’ll need information and focus. The problems are centered around car insurance.
Types of Costa Rica car rental insurance policies
The concepts are only a little different from those in the USA and Canada, but somehow they’ve gotten over complicated in the minds of our visitors.
- CDW – collision and loss damage insurance – Can it be waived?
You might be able to waive this charge with a standard form from the bank of your credit card. The form needs to acknowledge they’re taking responsibility for the primary car rental insurance. Otherwise, you’ll need to leave a security deposit( $750-$2500) and pay an extra $5 to $ 15 per day. CWD does have a 20% deductible.
ALI/TPL/SLI – personal liability
This is the mandatory coverage by the national insurance company (INS) for all Costa Rica car rentals. Any waiver is invalid. According to Costa Rica law all car rentals companies must charge this fee. Some companies bundle this into their normal fees. So be careful when comparing costs, as some car rental car companies leave it out while quoting prices. The fee is $15 per day.
Zero Deductible Coverage: The Hidden Danger
All renting car Costa Rica companies have an all-inclusive plan that combine liability and collision insurance for one price. Of course there are different plans, rates, inclusions and exclusions for different cars.
But, what you don’t know about this coverage can really hurt you!
It only covers accidents with third-party’s.
And, you need to get a written report from the traffic authorities, have at least one witness, call their office, and maybe more.
Just common sense, but it almost escaped me. Of course it can’t cover the stupid things we do – like backing into a pole or scraping a curb. Otherwise, some people would take out the insurance and play “bumper cars” with their rental car!
However, the way they advertise it really bothers me. They make it sound like all you have to do is take out the insurance and your worries are over. Not true!
Costa Rica is number two in the world for rental car damage. The roads have potholes and the curbs can be in layers, ready to scrap your bottom. Damages can still be in the thousands of dollars if you run into something on your own.
Not that I don’t recommend the coverage, just know that it’s for when a third-party is involved.
Save Money and Improve Your Health!
If you stay on the beautiful beaches of Tamarindo, Costa Rica, you can skip the rental car maze.
In Tamarindo walking or taking a cab is a common way of getting around. The town is basically flat and only 1 mile from end to end. Also, there are plenty of inexpensive taxis – less than 6 dollars per load.
To get out-of-town for a tour or something, Tamarindo has plenty of shuttle buses and in-town car rental agencies. My suggestion is take a shuttle transfer from either airport and walk or rent bicycles once you get here. Rent a car only if you really need one!