Posted in Car Rental, Mexico, Travel

Renting a car in Mexico

Renting a car in Mexico costs nickel and dime comparing to what car rental insurance costs which can easily double, if not, triple up the rental costs, so I understand travelers wanting to use their own credit card’s insurance to cut back unnecessary expenses. I tried to do the same.

After being scammed in Costa Rica  I took all the precautions I could think of prior to my Mexican trip to avoid scam. There is always new under the Sun 😉

Your American credit card probably comes with a car rental insurance which is (or should be) accepted worldwide, including Mexico, if there are exclusions they are mentioned in the benefit package. I have a Chase credit card via  United Airlines so in my case only Ireland, Northern Ireland, Jamaica and Israel are excluded, Mexico should be fine.

In order for you to be able use your car rental insurance you must decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad. The damage or theft must take place during the rental period as outlined in the rental agreement.

What do you do when you show up at the rental agency to pick up your reserved car and the folks tell you that your credit card’s insurance is not accepted?  You can always argue, best case scenario in English, worst case in Spanish, but they are pretty much in control. Unfortunately you don’t have the same rights like here in the USA, you depend on them.

I did some digging and read other blogs on the net so what I’m sharing with you today is the combined knowledge of a few travelers, including mine.

  1. Book a rental car on an American or European web site, choose a chain instead of a local Mickey Mouse company.  If you deal with an American or European chain, you are a little more protected and can file a complaint when you return.
  2. A month prior to your Mexican trip contact your credit card provider and ask for a letter in both English and Spanish describing the car insurance benefit your credit card has. Said letter should state the account holder’s name but if somebody else drives your rental car the letter should mention his/her name as well and you have to note that on both the car rental reservation and the rental contract.  There should be a description of your car insurance benefit stating it is valid in Mexico and what it exactly covers in what amounts. (On a side I would like to mention that credit card companies have an auto-generated letter and they may not state everything that Mexico requires).
  3. When you have this letter in Spanish you have to submit it to the Mexican government for approval via email, it is called the Comision Nacional De Seguros Y Fianzas. Please take a note of their email address: soporte_ma@cnsf.gob.mx. There is a big change you won’t get a reply from them or you get a ticket number of your request but nobody follows it up with you. I did not hear back from anybody either so I sent an email to both Expedia, where I reserved my car, and EuropCar, where I was going to rent a car from to let them know about my failed attempts. I sent a second email to the Mexican government.  EuropCar could not care less, Expedia stepped up and told me to save the receipt and file a claim upon return should my “rental rate go up” or if EuropCar overcharges me.
  4. If you are +Gold member at Expedia, like I am, you can travel with ease and have more chances of getting your money back.  The Costa Rican case took me 6 months but Expedia always backed me up.
  5. My Expedia car rental reservation came with a Third Party Liability Insurance (SLI) which is mandatory in Mexico, if yours does not come with it, you will need one.  If you buy that in the USA the Mexican agency may not accept it, they will sell you their own and you cannot control that.  Despite all my preparation EuropCar still charged me Liability Insurance because they did not accept the one that I bought on Expedia and charged me another nice amount for Damage and Loss Waiver, which came with my credit card.  They said I was supposed to communicate with the Mexican government for their approval. I showed them I tried but failed.  Total loss is $189.  You cannot win, you are at their mercy so buy the cheapest car you can get and except charges to be added to your original reservation cost. Don’t prepay anything so that you have a chance to walk away from anything you don’t like. Except the worst and hope for the best.

Safe travels, my friends, let me know how yours go! Good luck!

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Renting a car in Mexico

  1. Great advice….bottom line is hope for the best, plan for the worst. The part about not pre-paying is a double edged sword though. I arrived late a night to Ixtapa/Zihuat a few years ago and the car rental agent said they had no cars left despite the reservation I made months in advance. Upon my protest, he asked if I had “prepaid” the reservation? I told him the reservation system didn’t even give me that option, so I was out of luck. He then “helpfully” directed me to his associate from a different rental car agency a few counters down who offered to rent to me at 10x what I had reserved for. With my family waiting on me, it being late at night, and feeling scammed, you can bet I was very angry. (a useless emotion in these situations) We ended up taking a taxi to our hotel and I went back to the airport to get a car the next day. All they had available was a total POS which I later discovered after getting a flat tire had no jack and a spare tire that should have been thrown away before the steel belts shown through! Good times and lovely trip nonetheless! Vive Mexico!

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  2. Hello,
    Thank you for the information! I contacted the CNSF in regards to the letter. I received a reply and was told that such letter does not exist and that the information they are requiring is incorrect. I am following up to see if there is additional information available online in regards to this so we can provide to the rental companies. If it is just word of mouth they will continue to scam everyone.

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    1. Hello Marina. Thank you for your message. I am a EuropCar customer (and member) who only prefers to rent from reputable companies in case things go wrong so that I have some rights to dispute overcharges when I return.

      Regarding the car rental in Mexico: People obviously prefer to use their own credit card’s insurance abroad and Mexico is covered but in reality things are different when you show up in person. EuropCar certainly enforced this rule on me: requested a coverage letter in Spanish from my credit card provider along with an approval letter from CNSF. I attempted to communicate with CNSF twice but only got their electronic acknowledgement in Spanish, which was not an approval. Since I could not produce all the required documents I was forced to purchase insurance from them or else, I could not get the car. Please find EuropCar rental terms and conditions on insurance coverage.

      “THE LDW IS OPTIONAL AND IS TYPICALLY PURCHASED BY THE CUSTOMERS THAT ARE NOT COVERED FOR VEHICLE DAMAGE OR LOSS BY THEIR CREDIT CARD COMPANY -OR INSURANCE LINKED TO A CREDIT CARD-. FOR YOUR OWN PROTECTION WE PREFER THAT ALL CUSTOMERS PRESENT A VALID LETTER OF PROOF OF COVERAGE FROM HIS CREDIT CARD ISSUING INSTITUTION WITH A VERIFIABLE PHONE NUMBER AND/OR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR CONFIRMATION STATING THAT L.D.W COVERAGE IS PROVIDED BY HIS/HER CREDIT CARD ALL INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS MUST PRESENT AS WELL A LETTER OF APPROVAL FROM THE CNSF -COMISION NACIONAL DE SEGUROS Y FIANZAS- THE OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT INSTITUTION THAT REGULATE INSURANCE COMPANIES IN MEXICO. IF CUSTOMER DOES HAVE THE APPROPRIATE APPROVAL AND COVERAGE FROM ITS CREDIT CARD INSTITUTION THEY WILL HAVE TO SIGN A *STATEMENT OF PERSONAL RESPONSABILITY FOR THE TOTAL VALUE OF THE CAR* SHOULD THEY DECLINE THE LDW AND WISH TO BE COVERED BY THEIR CREDIT CARD COMPANY IN THE EVENT OF AN ACCIDENT A CUSTOMER HAVING DECLINED DECLINED LDW WILL BE FULLY RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL DAMAGE AND/OR REPAIRS UP TO THE TOTAL VALUE OF THE CAR.”

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      1. It also comes with a high deposit: A DEPOSIT STARTING AT USD 2.500 AND UP TO USD 10.000 DEPENDING ON THE RESERVATION CHANNEL/WEBSITE OR THE CATEGORY OF THE VEHICLE -PLEASE REFER TO THE CATEGORY LIST MENTIONED HERE BELOW- WILL BE HELD ON THE CUSTOMER?S CREDIT CARD AS A GUARANTEE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RENTAL AND IT WILL BE REIMBURSED WHEN VEHICLE IS RETURNED SAFE. IF THE CUSTOMER CREDIT CARD DOES NOT HAVE THE GUARANTEE PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED THE PURCHASE OF THE LDW COVERAGE WILL BE MANDATORY. FOR ALL CUSTOMERS DECLINING LDW GUARANTEE LIMIT HELD ON CUSTOMERS CREDIT CARD… – ECONOMY/COMPACT/MIDSIZE/INTERMEDIATE….USD 5 000.00 STANDARD/FULL SIZE/CONVERTIBLE/SUV……USD 7 000.00 PREMIUM/LUXURY/SPECIALTY/VAN…………USD 10 000.00

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