Car Rental in Mexico--Credit Card Insurance or Not?
April 22, 2005 10:13 AM   Subscribe

We're getting conflicting advice on this one. We're planning to rent a car in Mexico, Los Cabos specifically, for about a week. Insurance through the rental car company will more than double our total bill. Can we use the coverage offered by our U.S. credit card? Any experience with either option?

It seems to be required that we buy Mexican liability insurance directly from the rental company ($7-11) a day, but additional insurance will more than double our total bill. My wife's Amex includes "premium coverage" that they say will cover collision damage etc. in Mexico, and my Mastercard may do something similar. Any credit card insurance requires that we specifically decline what's offered by the rental company.

Some travel message boards say use the credit card insurance, others say to buy the rental company's insurance, and some warm that without Mexican insurance you could easily end up in jail following an accident. Does anyone have any experience with any of this? Purchasing insurance from a rental car company would raise our weekly rental from about $175 to more than $295.
posted by _sirmissalot_ to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (6 answers total)
When we went to Baja a few weeks ago, we declined the rental company's insurance (which was even more expensive than yours- it was I think $31 per day) as we understood we were covered by our credit card. Hertz wasn't happy about it, but they went along with it.

We had an entirely uneventful trip, however, so it was never put to the test.

Brace yourself, however, for getting pitched on a timeshare before they let you drive out of the parking lot.
posted by ambrosia at 10:42 AM on April 22, 2005

If you're thinking seriously about using the coverage that comes with your credit card, get a current copy of your cardholder agreement and find the paragraph(s) that talk about rental car coverage. Call a representative to confirm the coverage. Get that rep's name, and write down the date and time of your call. Ask him/her specifically which portion of the cardholder agreement covers rental car insurance in Mexico. Write down what he or she says, even if it's "I don't know." If you're required to decline the rental agency coverage in order to use the card coverage, find out exactly where your cardholder agreement says that, and don't accept "I don't know" as an answer.

I hate to sound like a paranoid lawyer, but the combination of Mexican car insurance and U.S. credit card company sounds like a sure-fire way to be aggravated (or worse) for months, trying to sort things out. (Of course, you can avoid the aggravation by not having an accident in Mexico, but better to be prepared than to be screwed.)
posted by spacewrench at 10:54 AM on April 22, 2005

Response by poster: Ambrosia--was there any mandatory insurance? We keep hearing that liability is required.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:54 AM on April 22, 2005

I think that they did say liability was required, but we understood that the credit card covered liability as well. I think that spacewrench's advice is sound- call up your credit card and get them to confirm what is covered and what isn't.
posted by ambrosia at 11:09 AM on April 22, 2005

We took the third party liability insurance (about $4) and accepted amex's word that they cover the rest.
posted by vega5960 at 12:36 PM on April 22, 2005

I have purchase some sort of Mexican liability insurance at the border, and subsequently, in the same trip, was in a car accident.

I don't know if it was just that we didn't know how to work the phones or what, but when we made several attempts at calling the number we were given, we got a laundromat.

The damage was limited to some dents and sore necks/heads, fortunately.
posted by weston at 12:58 PM on April 22, 2005

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