car insurance in CR

Old Jul 14th, 2007, 10:53 AM
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car insurance in CR

I am getting VERY nervous about my VERY INEXPENSIVE mid size SUV auto-w/a rental out of San Jose from Aug 4-Aug 9. The cost is $158.04 through Advantage. Everyone seems to love Tricolor, however they seem to be so much more expensive. AX is going to be my primary car insurance coverage. I made a call to them as soon as I was through reading comments on the forum. I believe I just have to add liability and that is the end of it. I was informed to decline whatever insurances are offered through Advantage Car Rental. The company told me that I had to have a letter from AX stating the above. Help! Doesn't anyone use their AX card to rent cars? Someone please tell me what I am missing! Thanks
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Old Jul 15th, 2007, 08:06 AM
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Welcome to the wonderful world of Costa Rica car rentals. My nemesis! I have been working in Costa Rica tourism for fifteen years, and I still pull my hair out over this one. There is a lot to tell.

Car insurance is a government monopoly, and their liability insurance is required by law. But all you can waive is the comprehensive coverage. Some companies will allow you to waive the comp coverage with CC coverage, and others won't. So it is best to check ahead of time.

It is important that you rent from a company that will accept this coverage. The amount you save by waiving the comp is not that much. But MOST credit card companies will pick up the deductible if you have a problem. This can be as much as $1500.00!

If you are not covered with a credit card, some companies also offer what they call "full coverage" for $10.00 more per day. This is actually not what we think of as full coverage. It is actually just something offered by the company. They will assume the huge deductible if there is an incident.

Here are some other unusual things that you will encounter. All companies will ask you to do something that North Americans are not used to. You are going to be asked to sign two credit card vouchers. One will be in the amount of the security deposit. The other will be BLANK! This is a little scary, but perfectly okay.

When you rent a car in the US, the language is buried in the contract that you will be responsible for the deductable/damage. But in Costa Rica, they are required to be more transparent. So you sign a voucher for the deposit. This is the amount that they reserve on your card. When you turn in your car, they will fill in the correct amount on the blank and give you back the voucher with the huge amount on it. Your card will eventually be charged the correct amount.

The only thing you need to really be concerned about is if you don't have space on the card. If you don't have enough, you could have problems at the pick up. Or you can find your card maxed out at the beginning of your vacation.

There are valid reasons for the vast disparity in rates. Some companies import their own vehicles, and sell them when they get too many miles on them (Usually, to other rental car companies) So a car that is deemed to old for one company, is the newest car on the lot at another! So keep in mind that just because a car is the same year and model, that doesn't mean they are equal.

Also keep in mind that some companies support multiple offices, and 24 hour help lines. This is important if you have a problem. If you have a breakdown in a remote location, you want to know that help is close by. You also want a company with a large fleet, so that they have a replacement if necessary.

The bottom line, is that you get what you pay for. You are paying a lot for your trip to Costa Rica. If your cheap car breaks down and you lose a day or two because you can't get support, what good is it? The difference is usually not that much. I always recommend that you spring for the extra few bucks a day. It is worth it.

There are two scams that the smaller companies sometimes pull, and you need to be aware of them. The first is the damage scam. They will find something on the car, and make you pay for it. You are usually on your way to your international flight, and don't have time to argue. They have you over a barrel, and they know it. So it is very important that you go over the car at pickup, and note every tiny scratch or bit of damage.

The other is more difficult. You call the toll free number, and talk to someone. The person on the other end quotes a great price, and assures you that insurance is included. So you arrive at their offsite office, with luggage in hand. Only to find that the actual price did not include the insurance. The person at the desk tells you "Of course you must pay insurance, everybody pays insurance. You must have misunderstood." You are kinda stuck here. You are sitting on your luggage, in a strange country. You are going to have to pay insurance no matter who you rent from. You are eager to start your adventure, so you just bite the bullet and accept it.

To avoid this. Get your advance quote in writing, with the insurance specified. Get the person's name that quoted it too. This might help.

One last little money saver. There is a 12% tax charged for vehicles picked up at the airport. This is levied on the rental, the insurance and any other fees. It adds up quickly. You don't actually pick up the car at the airport, all of the companies take you in their van to the offsite office. The smart way to do this is to arrange to pick up your car at the office. This is usually only a mile away, and the $3.00 cab ride will save you a bundle. Stay out of the van!

Better yet. If you are staying in San Jose for the first night, have them deliver the car the next day. You don't need or want a car in San Jose. Get it the next morning, and save the day's rental and the tax.

Whew! This was a long one! I hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel Professional)
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Old Jul 15th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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Thank you so much for the information. I will need to make some more inquiries about the rental. To your knowledge is Advantage a reputable car rental agency? If not can you suggest another? Based on your info I am going to have the car delivered to the hotel. We are not leaving until the next morning anyway. I have more researching to do! Thank you again. SOME things are a bit clearer.
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Old Jul 17th, 2007, 06:26 PM
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it has been 5+ yrs since my last trip to CR. Our car rental, after they added tax, liability, etc etc quadrupled to over $400 usd! And , to top it off, we got stopped for "speeding" = $25.00 cash. WATCH your speed! establish with the car rental company their policy on tickets before renting. Ours told us, after the fact, that we should have just taken the ticket and brought it to them. Things may have changed, but they usually don't.
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Old Jul 17th, 2007, 06:29 PM
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one other thing. This is volcanic country and the roads are steep and narrow with switch backs and many slow moving trucks carrying tons of stuff. Therefore, you need a car with PICK UP! We had a piece of crap - something Korean(?) with no accelleration. It was damn scary trying to pass anything.
Get a car with some decent horsepower.
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 04:15 AM
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Really appreciated all of the comments. We're taking our first trip to CR next month and yes, Pat, I've been pulling my hair out over this issue. Thanks.
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 01:49 PM
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Another option is to obtain travel insurance which also covers your car. I was in an accident in 2004 and the travel incurance paid the complete 1,500 deductible.
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Old Jul 18th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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Dariow -

Did your travel insurance cover liability insurance? I've got CDW covered by my Visa card for my upcoming 15 day rental, but the liability insurance (SLI) will add $225 to the rental. . . mandatory unless I show proof of liability insurance in Costa Rica. Don't know how to get that except through the rental company (Catch-22).

And where did you get your travel insurance?
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Old Jul 20th, 2007, 02:48 PM
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No, my Travel Insurance covered the damage to the car and my personal items such as camera, eyeglasses, and cell phone.

The liability part I believe is required by Costa Rican Law.
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Old Jul 20th, 2007, 08:42 PM
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HELP!!!
I went to costa Rica on 6/09/07-6/14/07. We rented a car with a company called Plus rent a car. Signed up for three days, ended up driving the car for one day and returning it. They charged us for all three days AND THEY HAVE CHARGED AN ADDITIONAL $1500.00 on my credit card. They said the charge would be dropped... but it never was! Furthermore, we never received a reciept for the transaction. We were leaving the country so it's not like we could stand around and wait for it. My credit card company is going to dispute it, but the representatives did not sound reassuring at all. Can anyone give some advise.

And stay away from Plus rent a car!!

Thanks
[email protected]
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Old Jul 21st, 2007, 02:43 PM
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What was the 1,500 for? Was the car damaged?

What did the contract say about returning the car early?

I would talk to a manager at the car rental and see if you can get clarity to their actions and see if the problem can be worked out.

Otherwise, your credit card company should intervene. I suspect that the credit card company will not allow any charges not mentioned on the car rental contract since said charges would be "unauthorized" by you.
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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I looked this company up on the internet. Apparently they have done this to many people for at least the past year. My CC company is still investigating. Be warned, stay away from plus rent a car, they are con-artists.
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Old Aug 14th, 2007, 02:44 PM
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They forge a fake damage claim and send it to your CC company.
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