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I've booked a car from Avis in Cabo which looked suspiciously cheap at $41 for 3 days:

enter image description here

Looking for information online it seems that it's a common bait-and-switch scheme where you're shown a low price online, but then forced to buy extra insurance later:

Just like in the U.S., car rental insurance in Mexico is mainly divided into two types of coverage: collision damage and liability. But Mexico has a mandatory insurance requirement that makes declining coverage a potential minefield. The dirt-cheap Mexican car rental rates don't include insurance, which can triple the cost of the rental.

If you don't have liability coverage, you can opt for a Third-Party Liability plan for $15 per day. This insurance covers claims for injury or damage you cause to another driver, car or other property damaged in an accident. This per-day rate for liability insurance is often the equivalent of the weekly rate for the car.

However that $15/day is quoted for Alamo and I cannot find anything about it on the Avis website. Likewise I'm worried that there might be additional hidden fees for car rentals in Mexico. How much should I really expect to pay on a $14/day rental?

  • Compulsory insurance here in Mexico (well, in the TJ border zone, so may be different elsewhere) is for liability, and you can literally buy it at the border when you drive across in your own car. I suspect the Alamo figure of $15 per day is this kind of offering, and not something offered by the rental company, so $15 might be right. For comparison, we pay $11 per day for US insurance whenever we cross into California. – Midavalo Dec 31 '19 at 1:15
  • @DavidSupportsMonica I'm quite aware what he's asking about, I'm saying that buying third-party liability insurance for driving a vehicle in Mexico for $15 a day sounds quite normal. – Midavalo Dec 31 '19 at 4:19
  • @Midavalo Yes, that's reasonable. I'll delete my comment. – DavidSupportsMonica Dec 31 '19 at 10:04
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This practice is very common in Mexico car rentals. A renter can legally rent the car with only liability insurance (i.e., coverage for damage done to other persons and their property), but almost all rental companies (even the big names) behave as the OP fears: the customer is given the hard sell to buy more insurance, which puts the total price considerably higher.

Demanding and taking only lower limits, however, puts one at both civil and criminal risk if there's a collision. Mexico can (and does) actually take the driver from the accident scene to jail if no sufficient insurance is demonstrated. If higher insurance coverage is declined, the bill will be higher on the online quote, but less than one might pay in other locations. As an off-the-cuff estimate: a rental that quotes online at $10/day might end up costing $20. This is an increase over the online quote, but not a lot.

A very few rental companies take a higher road, and do not engage in this practice. We have patronized Cactus Car Rental in Cabo for years: their prices include a higher level of insurance, with coverage for damage to the rental car.

We've rented from both kinds of merchants. For us, the greater ease of no hard sell and more complete coverage is worth the higher price. Cactus' rates are higher than the low-ball quotes given by others, but in our experience reasonable. Their no up-sell approach is refreshing, straightforward, and quicker.

Source: I'm a lawyer, and we've rented cars from many sources in Mexico (mainland and Baja Sur) for decades.

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In the end I wasn't required to pay anything extra when renting with Avis, but voluntarily chose to take the liability insurance for $15/day. Your credit card would be charged with the following deposit:

  • Rental amount, if you take both CDW and liability insurance
  • $1000, if you only take the liability insurance
  • $2500, if you refuse all insurance

Therefore I can confirm that Avis in Cabo doesn't have any hidden fees. Here's a copy of my final receipt:

enter image description here

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  • Remember to make sure your CC is charged in Pesos (and let your bank do the conversion). Letting the vendor, or their bank, do the currency conversion you'll pay extra! – Midavalo Jan 7 at 2:20

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