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What has happened to the car rental answers by Framptonian?

Charlottesville...
Level Contributor
33 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
What has happened to the car rental answers by Framptonian?

Many of you have referred me and others with questions to this TA poster and when I click on his posts re: car rentals it says this content has been removed. Same with the right side info Top questions @ car rentals in Costa RIca. Why?

Santa Cruz...
14 posts
11. Re: What has happened to the car rental answers by Framptonian?

Here is the original post... if that helps:

From Framptonian:

If all you need from this post is instructions that allow you to maximize your chances of having a good experience, then adhere to the steps below. These steps simply focus on maximizing the potential for a positive experience. There are other options you can chose and some people even do the exact opposite of what I suggest and report still having a good experience.

The steps outlined do NOT represent the least expensive approach to car rentals; they represent the most peace of mind and are geared toward those travelers who feel overwhelmed and just want to make sure things go smoothly rather than try to save 50 bucks. I find that most people fall within this category. If you don’t, I’d advise you to reconsider whether trying to go cheap while renting a car in a country with a difficult and complicated car rental market is the best approach.

So, here it goes:

1.) Do NOT use a third party site (e.g, expedia, priceline, etc.)

2.) Do NOT use corporate sites (with the exception of Alamo and Sixt. Alamo.com sometimes offers better deals than the Costa Rican Alamo website and Sixt does not have a local site).



3.) When possible, use the car rental website (the franchisee site) in Costa Rica.


4.) If you arrive at SJO, rent from (in no particular order):



WildRider ( https://wild-rider.com/en )

Alamo ( https://www.alamocostarica.com/ or alamo.com)

Vamos ( https://vamosrentacar.com/ )

Sixt ( https://www.sixt.com/#/ )

Adobe ( https://www.adobecar.com/en/ )


Budget ( https://www.budget.co.cr/ )



If you arrive at LIR, use the same companies minus WildRider which does not have an office at LIR.

5.)You MUST purchase liability insurance. It’s the law. The ONLY place to purchase it from is the rental car company. Whatever insurance you have back home is not valid.



6.) Purchase an insurance rider (this is an option that car rental companies offer) that reduces your liability to a fixed amount ($500, $1000) or to zero. Do NOT stick with the standard contract that offers 80% coverage and leaves you on the hook for the remaining 20% of total damages! Remember, if you cause $100,000 worth of damages, you’d have to pay $20,000 yourself!


7.) You also MUST carry a Collision-Damage-Waiver/Loss-Damage-Waiver (CDW/LDW). This is not the law but a requirement set forth by ALL car rental companies. For increased peace of mind, purchase the CDW/LDW from the car rental company directly! Doing so will require a deposit from you (usually around $500).


8.) If applicable/desired, purchase yet another option that reduces your CDW liability to a deductible that you are comfortable with.


9.) Do NOT use Economy Rent a car, no matter how good a deal they seem to be. They consistently (and for the past 15 years) get the worst reviews. A few people report positive experiences but the negatives far outweigh the select few positive reports.



10.) None of these coverages include glass and tire damage. Most people (me included) do not purchase extra coverage to cover glass and tires. Whether you do or not is a matter of your personal comfort level.



11.) Make sure you understand limitations put forth by the car rental company (e.g, driving through rivers, drunk driving, etc.) that would void your insurance coverage.



12.) There are no great deals to be had. If you see one, you’re going to have problems down the road. You can NOT rent a car for $1 a day.


If you follow these steps, you greatly increase your chances of having a worry-free rental experience. There are no guarantees, though - so keep that in mind.


If you want more detail, read on:


This post is the result of many years of reading car rental reviews, renting 150+ vehicles in CR myself, researching applicable laws, and talking with rental car company owners and managers.



Since, invariably, somebody will come up with strange ideas and accusations:



I am not affiliated with any tourism business.


I do not get paid to write this post.


I get no incentives to recommend any particular company.


I do not work for Tripadvisor.


I am not a moderator nor do I have any other privileges here than any other Destination Expert.


I am simply a fellow traveler who sees people struggle with renting cars in Costa Rica.



If you are an individual who knows everything better than others, or you believe that having rented one car in CR makes you an expert, please feel free to ignore my advice.



Please do not use this thread to give incorrect advice that you simply assume MUST be right because your cousin told you so - and he once took a cruise to CR. (And yes, there are plenty of posters who will happily make claims that are simply not in the realm of reality. Mostly, such claims are due to people not paying attention and/or misunderstanding something).

This is a sore point for me because forums and blogs are full of incorrect information that gets perpetuated and that end up making renting a car much more daunting than it needs to be. Once bad advice is established, it is impossible to eradicate. Invariably, somebody will pick it back up and share it as truth.

You read it and think “Oh, so I CAN use my car insurance from (country of your choice). Great!” Before you know it, you’ll pick a fight with Jose at the rental counter and come back here to loudly proclaim that Douche-Rent-A-Car defrauds customers. Nobody benefits from this.



Also - and this happens fairly frequently - don’t give advice simply because you’ve read some blog about car rentals that you take as gospel - and nothing else! Plenty of people will make assertions about renting a car in Costa Rica without actually ever having rented a vehicle here.



Since most people just want clear instructions on what to do, I gave you the skinny in the beginning. If you are interested in more detailed information, you can scroll down and read the rest.

If, at some point, you mentally go “Yeah, but isn’t it better/cheaper/smarter to…,” read the rest of the post to find out why I give the advice at the beginning of this post.



Much of the confusion surrounding car rentals has to do with misinformation that has been perpetuated for decades and continues to sow doubt in the minds of those who are new to the process. Additionally, horror stories abound and the Costa Rican car rental industry does its best to offer a multitude of confusing options, terms, and definitions that make it very difficult to compare several quotes.

To this day, you can find people happily sharing well-intentioned and, unfortunately, utterly incorrect advice. On this forum, on other forums, and on countless travel blogs. Sometimes, even the information on car rental company websites is incorrect as well!



If you are curious (or furious) about the advice I provided at the beginning, please keep reading and I’ll explain relevant concepts in more detail.


Insurance/Protecting yourself from costs due to damages:


The most confusing issue for potential renters revolves around protecting oneself from being financially liable for damages. While one could think that this is a pretty straight-forward issue, the Costa Rican legislature and the car rental industry have put their creative brains together to provide you with an incredibly complex and convoluted system.




As a renter, there are basically two coverages you need to be concerned with:



1.) Coverage for damages you cause to other people’s property. To be covered in case you cause such damages, you need to have liability insurance. If you hit somebody’s car, their fence, or their cow, this insurance will cover your costs. This insurance does NOT cover damages that you cause to your rental car. Not one bit!

YOU MUST PURCHASE LIABILITY INSURANCE! - That's the law.

2.) Coverage for damages to the rental car. There is no insurance to cover these damages, but you can use a Collision-Damage-Waiver/Loss-Damage-Waiver (CDW/LDW). Some people call this “insurance” - but it is not!


Remember how I said this was a convoluted topic? Here is why:


There is actually another kind of liability insurance that ALL vehicles in Costa Rica automatically subscribe to once they are register…

In general, this would never matter to tourists BUT, unfortunately, some car rental companies are in the habit of claiming their rates include mandatory liability insurance because, well, registering a car does come with a bit of coverage.

Confused yet? I thought so.



So, let me try to explain - and I go by the order of events that led to this mess.



When more and more vehicle started to be driven in CR, it quickly became apparent that accidents would often result in damages (or injuries) with drivers carrying no insurance.

Thus, the legislature decided that one way to avoid this issue was by requiring that anyone who registers a vehicle automatically pays a small fee to obtain insurance - let’s call it Registration Insurance (not the official name). The coverage amount was eventually settled at 6 mil Colones (roughly $10,000). This amount was, at the time, perfectly sufficient to cover just about any damages due to an accident.



Since you didn’t (and still don’t) have a way to opt out of this automatic insurance enrollment, one can obviously claim that this coverage is mandatory. Remember how I said that some car rental companies claim that the mandatory insurance is included? This is what they are referring to!



Stating that their rate includes the mandatory insurance has a number of immediate benefits.

First, their rental rate - when compared with other companies - will appear significantly lower. After all, you’re a smart consumer and you see that one includes the mandatory insurance and charges you a total of $20/day for a car, while a competitor who also includes mandatory insurance charges you $50/day for the same car. Who do you rent from? Exactly.



The problem arises once you are in the office. Here, you will quickly learn that there is another mandatory liability insurance (other than the Registration Insurance) that the seemingly inexpensive company conveniently forgot to mention. Since you MUST purchase this other liability insurance (by law), your rate will generally be at least (and sometimes more) than what the other company quoted.

However, you just had a long flight, you are tired, your kids are cranky, and all you want to do is get to your hotel. You also don’t know where the other car rental companies are, how to get there, or if they even have cars available.



And that’s how you end up renting from a less than upstanding car rental company that will charge you whatever they can…Now mind you, car rental companies that do so are not acting fraudulently! They are absolutely correct in stating that they include mandatory insurance. However, they fail to give you the complete picture. Whether they do so due to ignorance, a language barrier, or because they are being deceptive is not a question I can answer - nor do I think that there is one single answer that applies to all companies.



Now, back to the story about liability insurance:



As things are at this point of the story, every vehicle (including your rental car) has a bit of insurance coverage attached to it. You don’t need to be the sharpest tool in the shed to understand that a $10,000 insurance limit is likely not going to get you very far these days. Not back home and not in Costa Rica, either.



And wouldn’t you know it? The Costa Rican legislature figured this out as well. Consequently, they decided that vehicles needed higher insurance limits. They needed coverage that supplemented the $10,000 already on the books. And because legislators are a creative bunch, they named this additional coverage “Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI).” Yay.



They wrote a nice little law that outlined what coverages and limits needed to be provided. And you, as the renter, have the honor of making sure the vehicle you rent has that insurance coverage.

You do so by purchasing it from the car rental company. And because you must have this coverage and can’t opt out of it, this is the actual mandatory liability insurance that everyone has to have - the one that covers damages you cause to other people’s property (or their health, as it were).



So far so good, right?

 Right?

Okay, you say, but why do you have to purchase the coverage from the rental car company?



Wellllllll. Alright, since you asked:



For years, there was an insurance monopoly in Costa Rica and you could only purchase liability insurance from ONE state-owned company called INS. About 15 to 20 years ago (geez, time flies), the legislature decided to open up the market to other providers. To date, not a single one has been approved to actually provide liability insurance in CR. Thus, no matter what insurance you may have, it means nothing here because it's simply not legal.

You get to purchase a time-limited share of the cost of the insurance that company has taken out. There is no law that governs how much of the cost can be pushed onto you and consequently, costs can vary quite a bit.

You'll also not get away with looking at the annual cost of insuring a vehicle and then arguing that you should only be charged the amount equal to the days of your rental. That's not how it works – you WILL be charged an amount that is higher due to operating costs, financial obligations arising from non-rented (but still insured) vehicles, and so forth.



Okay, but why in the world do you have to buy this insurance in Costa Rica? After all, you have car insurance back home that covers you just about anywhere in the world!



There is an answer to this question as well:



When you purchase car (liability) insurance in many parts of the world (e.g., the US), the policy is attached to the person who purchased it along with any other person they add to that policy or that is, by default, added (often immediate family). Whatever car you drive, the insurance stays with you (the person) and thus, you are covered in just about any car. (Most insurance agents in the US have NO idea that this is how it works!!!!).

In Costa Rica, however, insurance is attached to the vehicle – not the person. As long as you drive a car that is insured (and it has to be), you'll be covered.

And therein lies the problem with using your insurance policy from back home. As a renter, you have no idea what vehicle you are going to end up with, therefore you cannot possibly have insurance for it.

Additionally, since car rental companies need to have all of their cars permanently insured to operate their business, they don’t have a bunch of uninsured vehicles sitting in their lots. Instead, all their vehicles are registered and insured - or their business would simply be dead. Thus, the vehicle that you are going to rent will already carry insurance.

Whatever insurance you have that you think could be applicable would still be meaningless because a.) the vehicle is already insured, b.) your coverage cannot possibly conform to the legal requirement of insuring the actual vehicle and not the person driving it, and c.) you have no idea what vehicle you’ll end up receiving. Since you don’t know, you can’t insure the vehicle back home!



Having fun? Great - because we are not yet done with liability insurance!



Let’s talk about purchasing liability insurance.

Here, you are in luck because the industry - just in the last few years - had a bit of break-through.

In the “good” old days, rental companies would offer you a plethora of insurance options.

There used to be lots and lots of policies available that were offered by the various companies. Assumptions, however, often led people to believe that one liability insurance is as good as any other – after all, they are all provided by the same insurancecompany – INS. This was NOT the case.

Here are some policies that used to be found while researching car rentals:

100% coverage, no deductible

100% coverage, US$500 or US$1000 deductible.

80% coverage, 20% deductible.

There were also differences in the coverage amounts, for example, $50,0000 or $1,000,000.

Then it all changed and suddenly, most (maybe all?) companies adhered to a new way of providing liability insurance. They decided on the 80/20 split. I do not know if they were compelled by the legislature to do so - I only know that they suddenly all changed what they offered.



Please pay close attention to what this means! Say you manage to total somebody else's beloved SUV that's currently valued at $50,000 – the insurance you purchased will pay $40k, but you'll be stuck with $10,000! Again, assess what risk you are willing to take.

And while thinking about this, please bear in mind that the cost of vehicles in Costa Rica is MUCH higher than in many other countries – sometimes 100% more, making that $20,000 Camry back home into a $40,000 Camry in Costa Rica...

As luck would have it, car rental companies invariably also sell additional insurance riders that increase the coverage – often in increments until you hit a zero deductible. Each reduction in liability will, of course, cost you extra!

But remember, if you fail to purchase additional riders that reduce your liability to a fixed amount or to zero, you might end up with a whole boatload of costs.


Unfortunately, we are still not done!



You see, companies are in the habit of staggering their deductible/coverage levels - and they charge differing amounts for whatever deductible(s) they offer. In other words, there is no standard that says that all companies will charge you an extra $10/day to reduce your liability to $500 or whatever. One company may charge $5, one $10, and a third $8.50.

You may consequently see a quote that shows that the cost for insurance with company A is $20/day while company B is only $10/day – a difference that is subsequently reflected in the quoted total. Unless you pay close attention, you might assume that all is well and go for the cheaper company. However, and this is a big however, you have to ensure that their deductibles are actually identical in order to be able to compare their quotes.


Thus, when you compare the cost of car rentals, make sure you are comparing apples to apples! Never assume that two companies have the same or even similar terms and costs when it comes to these items. Double check!

What's more, please take a minute and think about what these deductibles mean. 20% can mean financial ruin for some! If the deductible amount is $500 and you are involved in an accident, then you will likely be charged $500. Is it worth saving $100 by not getting full coverage but risk being stuck with a $500 bill? This is where you need to assess how willing you are to take risks.

And that does conclude the section on liability insurance.


Fortunately, (hahahaha), CDW/LDW is just as complicated! Yay!

So, here goes:

CDW/LDW:

Remember how liability insurance protects you from damages to other people's property? Well, CDW/LDW protect you from most damages to the rental car – like a coconut that fell onto the trunk. CDW/LDW does NOT cover glass or tires!

CDW/LDW is NOT mandated by law. However, every car rental company has a right and a vested interest in protecting their assets. They do so by requiring renters to enter into a contract that basically states that you pay money and they waive the right to sue you for damages to the car. Because they WAIVE the right to hold you financially liable, these contracts are called Collision-Damage-Waiver or Loss-Damage-Waiver. Even though many people think of this as insurance, it is not. It is simply an agreement between you and whoever provides the CDW/LDW.

Fortunately, there are two ways to meet this requirement – but each comes with it's own caveats that you need to carefully consider (I told you this would get complicated!). Don’t be confused because I also list a third “option” - I’ll explain.

One issue that seems to be of particular interest to renters is the deposit - which will vary tremendously based on the route you take for CDW/LDW. You will see below what I mean by that.

1.) You can purchase CDW/LDW from the rental company. Like I said, you pay them money, they waive their right to hold you financially responsible for damages to the car. If you go that route, you are pretty safe and as long as you stick to their stipulations (don't drive through rivers, for example), you won't have a problem. Since the contract is between you and them, they already know that they won't need a whole lot of money in excess of the rental fee from you (this is where the deposit comes in).

Now wait a second, you say – why would they want more money than the agreed-upon fee? After all, isn’t the CDW/LDW there to protect you from any additional costs due to damages to the rental car? So why would they want more money - that is, why would they want a deposit?

Easy – you might cause damage that is NOT covered by the waiver (usually glass and tires). If you do, they want to make sure that they get paid for those damages. If you are worried about those costs – well, you can purchase still more coverage. Most people don't, though.



What’s more, you might actually break the law - speed, for example. The rental car company wants to make sure that, should they receive a fine for the period in which you had the car, that fine is covered.

Naturally, there are also differences here. Some companies have no deductible, others have one (e.g., $500). If they have one, you can purchase more coverage to reduce the deductible to zero. This can get expensive rather quickly.

Alright, this brings us to the Deposit:

When you rent a car, the rental company will require a deposit. If you purchase the CDW from them, the deposit will be low (like $500). After all, how many windows are you going to damage and how many speeding tickets are you going to get? Keep this in mind while you read through the next alternative to providing CDW:

2.) You can use a third-party provider. For many North Americans, common credit cards often provide CDW. It is in your interest to bring proof that you already have a waiver. This can be a statement from your provider that has your name and coverage amount on it, for example. It also should state that the waiver extends to Costa Rica.

Now, if you go that route, there will be no additional charge – it's free with your credit card. However, and again, it's a big however, there are several caveats:

a.) You are introducing a middle man. The contract is between you and your credit card bank/provider. It has absolutely nothing to do with the rental company.

b.) If you damage the car, you are personally liable and will have to be reimbursed by your bank/provider after the fact. That is, you will pay for ALL damages to the rental car.

c.) Since this involves a higher financial risk for the rental company, the deposit will be much higher (for example, $5,000). If you don't have a high enough limit, you cannot take this route.

d.) You MUST stick to all the rules and regulation regarding eligibility for reimbursement set forth by your bank/provider. If you fail to adhere to them, you might be stuck with the cost.

e.) You will not have a deductible, no matter what.

f.) Some providers stipulate certain restrictions. Some do not allow off-roading but others do not allow driving on unpaved roads. Costa Rica is full of unpaved roads! In addition, you need to understand what they mean by off-roading (if that happens to be their limitation) and make sure they don't consider driving off pavement as a violation of their terms - since it is basically guaranteed that you will leave pavement at some point.

g.) The very minute the car rental company hears that you were involved in an accident, they will attempt to max your card. If you have a low credit limit or only have one credit card, you might be stuck without the ability to use your credit card. If you had planned to use this credit car to pay for part of your trip (hotels, restaurants, etc.), you might find yourself in a bind.

3.) For a while, some renters decided that they could use a generic third-party provider for CDW/LDW. These providers can be readily found online and promise that their coverage extends world-wide. It may well be. However, most rental companies in CR do NOT accept CDW/LDW from these providers. They only accept CDW/LDW from major credit cards.



As I said, these providers can be found online and there is simply no way that anyone can know whether they are legitimate nor how they would actually handle a claim. Thus, rental companies usually deem this route to be too risky. Just because you bought it does not mean that anyone has to accept it!

Fine, you say, but are their companies that are good? Are there companies that are bad?

Yes and Yes!

The two most highly regarded companies are:

WildRider (only SJO)

Vamos

WildRider tends to have older but very well-maintained and reliable cars. Both companies rarely get a negative review (I have NEVER seen a bad review for WildRider) and many of those complaints are due to people not having informed themselves.

Next are companies that consistently get good reviews but don't stand out as much as WR and Vamos:

Alamo

Adobe

Budget

Dollar

Sixt

Toyota

I've rented with quite a few of them but primarily with Alamo – never had a bad experience.

After that comes mid-field and I won't list them – since they are not in any other category, you'll know. Also, please keep in mind that this is just my personal impression from reading the forum for many years. I might have forgotten a company and if so, I'm sure somebody will bring it up in the comments.

Finally, there's the bottom rung:

Europcar – doesn't really get too many reports on this forum but they did have a time when they seemed to engage in fraudulently posting positive reviews to boost business. I don't appreciate such methods and thus, don't recommend them. I have never used them and cannot report any negative personal experiences with them.

Economy – year after year the solid winner of most negative reports. Allegations run the gamut from deception to bait and switch to made-up damages to outright fraud. I would not use them but some people have and were happy.

And that’s about it.



I tend to read the comments about car rentals and will take changes into account when I update this post in the future. For example, the previous version of this post did not have Sixt listed as a recommended company. Since then, Sixt has established itself as a transparent, honest, and reliable provider in Costa Rica and consequently, I have included them.

If I did not list your favorite company it’s probably because there weren’t enough reports to catch my attention.



Hope this helps!



F.

Charlottesville...
Level Contributor
33 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
12. Re: What has happened to the car rental answers by Framptonian?

Thank you!

Charlottesville...
Level Contributor
33 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
13. Re: What has happened to the car rental answers by Framptonian?

SubjectivelyObjectiv - I truly appreciated your reply! However, when I went to your links for Framptonian and clicked on the posts about cars - it says "this content has been removed." I realize my question "why" was not a good one- It never occurred to me that someone might have saved that info - Thanks so much Santacruz187! It was all superhelpful information!

Level Contributor
17 posts
14. Re: What has happened to the car rental answers by Framptonian?

@#11, thank you!!

15. Re: What has happened to the car rental answers by Framptonian?

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity.

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