When we go to Mexico, we love to explore as much as we possibly can. That means renting a car is for us, a necessity. Some people worry about all the things that can go wrong, but you can read horror stories about a trip to the Peoria, Illinois on the internet.
Two common problems that really do occur:
• They don’t want to honor the rate you found on the internet. We always take a printout of the price with us. Internet prices often don’t include insurance. So see insurance info below.
• They don’t have the car you ordered. We get this about 50% of the time. Just don’t take something you really don’t want. (one time they tried to give us a minivan instead of the compact we reserved. We held out for a Jeep Liberty). You should get the same price if the car is better. Negotiate a lower price if the car is smaller.
However, the real challenge is figuring out the darn Mexican car insurance.
WARNING: The information following is gleaned from forum postings and from our own experience. We think it is all correct, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy 100%.
A lot of this information comes from a very thorough post in the tripadvisor Cabo San Lucas forums the link is http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g152515-i84-k204282-o210-Mexico_Insurance_and_Credit_Card_Coverages_REVISED-Cabo_San_Lucas_Los_Cabos_Baja_California.html
Four kinds of insurance in Mexico
We will also explain credit card free rental car insurance, which you may be able to use in place of #3 and #4 below.
There are four types of insurance (sometimes the terminology varies)
(1) Personal Liability , which covers 3rd party damages, including medical costs or other claims/lawsuits against you
As far as I can tell, this is absolutely required and is included with all rentals. However, it is often not included in the dirt cheap prices you see on some car rental websites or consolidators like Hotwire.
Note: Personal Liability is NOT COVERED by any credit card insurance. You must purchase this. According to the post in tripadvisor: “This is also important because this proves to the police that you can pay for someone else’s damages. If you don’t have this coverage, they may detain you until you can prove you are not responsible or you can pay for the damages.”
(2) Personal Accident Insurance (PAI)
This covers medical costs for the renter and passengers, but not 3rd parties (since that is covered under Liability below) . You may want to check with your health insurance as to what they will cover in Mexico. We personally don’t buy it.
(3) “Partial” Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
Otherwise known as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), which includes damages and theft to the rental unit, less a deductible of 10% or 20% Some companies will put a hold on your card for the amount of the deductible of your insurance (This will count against your credit limit until it is removed at the end of your trip) A buddy of mine with only a debit card ended up very short of cash due to having to put a deposit of $2000 down.
(4) Complete” LDW/CDW
This simply eliminates the deductible from the partial LDW/CDW. and of course adds dramatically to the price.
Credit Card Free Car Rental Insurance
We have always opted to use our credit card rental insurance coverage instead of LDW/CDW. However, there are some important issues. This coverage is available on the Visa Standard Credit, Visa Rewards Credit, and Visa Premium Rewards cards. It was also available on our Visa Signature card. Here are the advantages and important rules.
1. There is no deductible and it is free! As compared to $70 to $100 /week and a large deductible.
2. You must completely pay for the rental with your rental card.
3. We recommend taking a printed copy of your coverage with you. We have never needed it, but we have heard occasionally rental agents want to see it http://usa.visa.com/personal/cards/benefits/bft_dmg_waiver_personal.html
4. You must clearly refuse LDW or CDW on the rental agreement Purchase of any LDW/CDW insurance eliminates all benefits from the program!!!
#4 is is tricky part!! Many car rental agencies mandatorily include LDW/CDW in their rates. You cannot use your credit card free insurance with these agencies. Avis is one that we found that separates out Liability from the Collision.
So, to summarize, you have two options:
Worry Free / Hassle Free / Expensive: Just take all the Collision insurance and pay up.
Minor hassles / Cheap: Find a rental agency that you can purchase only liability insurance and use your credit card free, no deductible insurance. I would rather spend the extra $100 or $150 or more on something fun
The information for specific agencies below are abbreviated from the tripadvisor post.
Third party liability is included optional partial LDW/CDW is offered at $14 a day which allows for use of credit card coverage (see below) Personal accident insurance (PAI) is $4 a day.
Personal Liability cannot be purchased separately – you must purchase “partial” LDW/CDW coverage at $11 a day, The deductible ranges from $1,500 to $4,000, based on vehicle cost. That means there is no way to use your credit card coverage with National, since the liability coverage also includes LDW/CDW, which voids your credit card coverage! Although it is definitely a drag that they don’t offer liability insurance alone, their total coverage of $22 is fairly reasonable.
Avis “includes” 3rd party liability insurance, which is relatively small – up to MXN 350,000 (approximately $33,000 USD). Unfortunately their rental rates are also typically quite a bit higher . In this case, most credit cards will cover 100% of all other damages “to the vehicle” (including theft). Note that 3rd party health costs are covered in the liability insurance. If you want additional liability insurance up to MXN 5,000,000 (approximately $470,000 USD), it will cost you an additional $11 a day. Partial LDW/CDW ranges from $14 to $21 a day with a deductible ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the car. Complete LDW/CDW will run between $20 and $27 a day, depending on the vehicle.
I could not determine the cost of 3rd party liability – I have to call the Mexico office and cannot get through with their (624)146-0700 office number. Partial LDW/CDW is $11 a day and covers the costs of theft and accident, less a deductible ranging from $1,500 to $4,000. Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) is $4 a day and covers medical costs to the renter and passengers only – up to $9,000 (per event?). Complete LDW/CDW does not eliminate the deductible for theft and costs an extra $7 a day ($18 total). So CDW + PAI + EPC is $22 a day, but you would still have to pay a deductible in the event of theft. Also, this does not cover the most important thing – 3rd party liability.
Could also not determine if Payless offered any coverage for 3rd party liability since I cannot dial internationally. Their office number is 011 52 624 1465290, if anyone can help here. This may also only be offered at the counter in Mexico. They do offer partial LDW/CDW at $14 a day with a deductible of 10% of vehicle’s value. For complete CDW/LDW, it will cost you $23 a day. PAI is an additional $3 a day. At Payless, if you cannot provide proof of insurance coverage, you must pay for the partial CDW.
For most Dollar insurance coverage, you need to inquire at the counter. The only stated coverage is Partial LDW/CDW, which ranges from $14 a day to $17 a day, depending on vehicle type. It has a 10% deductible on damage on 20% deductible on theft.
I didn’t look at some of the other renters, such as Hertz, because they were way more expensive at the time of my quotes. If anyone else has something to contribute based on personal experiences, please let me know! Also, if you can find out the liability coverage costs for Advantage, Payless, or Dollar, please report it.
next post: Safety of Travel to Mexico