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I am currently in Costa Rica and the guy at the car rental place required us to buy insurance beyond the CDW.

So what is actually required for a foreigner to drive a rental in Costa Rica?

  • Is it a under 26 years old insurance? – gstorto Jan 29 at 2:17
  • It wasn't. I haven't looked under 26 in quite some time.... – Karlson Jan 29 at 3:40
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This is not required but some rental companies will require you to buy insurance:

Some car rental agencies force you to purchase their CDW or other insurance. This is not ever required by law but some companies simply refuse to rent you a car using credit card coverage. If you want to use your credit card you will need to use a different company (Alamo has always been good for us).

If the car company pushes you to buy it, it is because that is the most profitable part of their contract.

Most rent-a-car representatives will try hard to get you to accept their insurance because it is the most profitable part of the contract. It may help to have a statement of your credit card insurance policy in writing. If they get ridiculous (e.g. requiring a signed letter from your issuing bank stating the coverage applies to you) then they probably have no intention of accepting the coverage no matter what and are just wearing you down.

Bs sure to note down any scratches in the rental agreement,

In most cases it is better to use rental car insurance using a credit card.

It:

  • Saves money rather than the insurance offered by the rental company

  • It usually covers more options

  • Claims should be sorted quicker

Quotations from:

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To hire a car in Costa Rica you require the following:

  • Passport
  • *Full clean driving licence
  • Credit or debit card (if debit cards are accepted) and funds available for the security deposit.

*Renters may drive in country using their standard driving license for up to 60 days. If rental is over 60 days, an international driving permit is then mandatory.

All the car rentals come with basic insurance with Excess. The excess depends on the size of the car, or if it's premium...etc.

As long as you had a credit card and paid for the security deposit, there is no need for extra insurance (SCDW) if you don't want.
The security deposit sometimes equals the full excess of the car and sometimes is less, depending on the supplier you choose. If your credit card cannot cover that, then you might be asked to reduce your excess, therefore your liability, by taking SCDW.

If the deposit is covered by your credit card,you have a liability in case of accident or theft, however if you are willing to take this risk, refuse the extra insurance, it is not mandatory!

All the agents at the car rental desks will try to oversell you extra insurance or parts of it :) Politely refuse and check the car well before taking it and make sure that if it has any damage the agent will mark it in the papers.

Good luck!

**Additional explanation in regards to insurance:**

3rd party liability is not SCDW or extra insurance: third party liability insurance is always mandatory as per Costa Rican laws so if it was not included in the CDW you should take it as an extras.
3rd party liability refers to an insurance which covers you if you're at fault in an accident that caused property damage, injury or death.

Normally, it's included in the CDW. I have just checked in my booking system and saw that some suppliers in Costa Rica do not include this in the CDW. I would recommend to try a different supplier for your rental. If I am allowed to make suggestions, try with Alamo, Thrifty, Solid Car Rental or EasyCar. Suppliers like Thrifty provides unlimited coverage for persons and property outside the rental.
I hope this helps

  • You answered with a 'world wide' answer but does not address the concern about the local circumstances. Stack Exchange does want precise answers that answer the question as asked, not something that might be right as it is right in most of the rest of the world. – Willeke Feb 16 at 9:53
  • Dear Willeke. Being a car rental professional, gives me the advantage of knowing what I am talking when it comes to car rental. In Costa Rica and in every other location in the world, SCDW is not mandatory. This is what I was trying to say. Same for the documentation required. You know there are international standards which needs to be respected... – Nick Feb 16 at 10:37
  • I have edited my answer now to be very specific to Costa Rica and to provide also extra info on why a car rental company would ask for extra insurance. I hope that now the answer is satisfying. – Nick Feb 16 at 11:09
  • Do you have any specific references that apply to Costa Rica? Because the clerk refused to rent us without 3rd party liability. – Karlson Feb 20 at 20:37
  • 3rd party liability is not SCDW or extra insurance: third party liability insurance is always mandatory as per Costa Rican laws so if it was not included in the CDW you should take it as an extras. 3rd party liability refers to an insurance which covers you if you're at fault in an accident that caused property damage, injury or death. – Nick Feb 22 at 0:22

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