Rental Insurance Explained


Unsure of which rental car insurance coverages you’ll need for your trip to Costa Rica?  In less than a minute each, we’ll explain in the following videos.  🙂

Mystified by mandatory car insurance?  Let us clarify this elusive addition that most rental companies later tack on to their quotes — but not Vamos!  We offer 100% transparent, no hidden fee quotations right from the start.

Your safety is very important to us.  Please read the three options of automobile insurance protection which are offered during your reservation process.

Other People & Their Stuff

Basic Coverage @ $11.95 per day

1.  Mandatory Third Party Liability (TPL)

The Third Party Liability [aka Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI)] is required coverage in Costa Rica, just as it is in Italy, New Zealand or Ireland.  If alternate coverage cannot be validated, acceptance of TPL will be a condition of rental.  

This waiver protects renters against liabilities resulting from injuries to bystanders and damages to third party property.

This basic coverage includes:

  • $2,000 deposit (hold) will be placed on the renter’s credit card.
  • Approx. $271,000 (₡150 million; ₡554 Colones per $1.00 USD) maximum to cover personal injuries of individuals outside the rented vehicle.
  • Approx. $271,000 maximum for damages to third party property with a twenty percent (20%) deductible.  Return To Contents

2.  Additional Insurance Explained

The renter or authorized driver is responsible for any loss or damage to the rental vehicle, regardless of who is at fault.  Vamos provides the renter and authorized drivers with two options to cap the financial responsibility for loss of or damage to the rental vehicle through the purchase of a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW).

CDW is not insurance, but rather a waiver of Vamos Rent-A-Car’s rights to collect for such occurrences.  There are two CDW options:  Basic and Full.  Both waivers are optional.

In order to decline both CDW coverages; i.e. selecting only the Mandatory TPL, the renter must show official, written proof of credit card CDW coverage prior to the start of the rental.  In the absence of this proof, the vehicle cannot be rented without in-house CDW.  This proof must also include the specific card number and customer’s name.

Customers with CDW coverage through their credit card provider should be aware of any restrictions in place; including car category limitations, rental duration coverage and other varying rental factors.

Should a claim become necessary, the renter’s credit card (if applicable) is liable for 100% of damages to and/or theft of the vehicle.  Furthermore, it is also the customer’s responsibility to submit and follow through on the claim.  The credit card company will reimburse the customer, so expect to pay upfront for any and all expenses.  This is primarily why many customers (who already have credit card coverage) still opt for in-house CDW.

Full CDW (with zero deductible) is unavailable if there are drivers on the rental agreement between 18 to 21 years and the Basic CDW deductible is doubled ($1,950).  Failure to list any driver (including those who are between 18 to 21 year old) nullifies insurance coverage, thus making the renter fully financially responsible for any and all damages.  Return To Contents

Good Coverage, Zero Claims

Extended Coverage @ $19.95 to $21.95 per day

based on car category

3.  Basic CDW — Optional

Basic Collision Damage Waiver (CDW for short) limits the liability due to vehicle damages and/or theft and includes the Mandatory TPL.  Purchasing inhouse CDW coverage clears the renters from filing (and the follow-up of) a claim to recoup the upfront damages paid.

This extended coverage includes:

  • $750 deposit (hold) will be placed on the renter’s credit card.
  • $975 deductible for vehicle damages and/or theft, except in the case of negligence (see below).
  • $1950 deductible if authorized drivers are between 18 to 21 years old, unless negligence (see below).
  • Includes the $11.95/day Third Party Liability (TPL) fee.
  • Zero percent (0%) deductible for third party property damage to a maximum of $271,000.  Return To Contents

Walk-Away Peace of Mind

Premium Coverage @ $32.95 to $37.95 per day

based on car category

4.  Full CDW — Optional

Full Collision Damage Waiver (Full CDW for short) frees the renter from financial responsibility caused by accident, theft, or total loss, except in the case of negligence (see below).

This comprehensive coverage includes both of the above options (Basic CDW & TPL) and more.

  • $100 deposit (hold) will be placed on the renter’s credit card.
  • Zero ($0) deductible for accident, theft, or total loss, except in the case of negligence (see below).
  • Glass & Tire Protection (G&T):  Full coverage for windshield, windows, tires, and rims, which incidentally are not covered under any other waiver option.
  • Includes the $11.95/day Third Party Liability (TPL) fee.
  • Zero percent (0%) deductible for third party property damage to a maximum of $271,000.
  • Not available if authorized drivers are between 18 to 21 years old.  Return To Contents

Rental Deposits

Depending on the insurance option chosen, the deposit amounts placed on the renter’s credit card will vary.

  • Third Party Liability (TPL):  $2,000
  • Basic Collision Damage Waiver:  $750
  • Full Collision Damage Waiver:  $100

In all cases, the credit card will not be charged until the renter picks up the vehicle.  The charge will be refunded upon the vehicle’s safe return.  Return To Contents

Credit Card Insurance Programs

We accept most credit card rent-a-car protection plans.  Many of these plans insure the rented vehicle against Damage and Theft (CDW), but may not protect against Third Party Liability (TPL).

Please ensure that your credit card CDW covers:

  1. your selected car class category (7 pax van, SUV, etc.)
  2. additional drivers
  3. rental period (some underwriters limit the number of rental days)
  4. restrictions on where the vehicle may be driven (off-road, etc.)

Since each underwriter features proprietary terms, we strongly suggest asking your credit card company for details about CDW in regards to their insurance protection plan for car rentals in Costa Rica.  If you decide to use your credit card as the provider of CDW coverage, the deposit for the rented vehicle is $2,000.

Using an insurance program provided by some types of gold or platinum credit cards is an advantage since these credit cards often cover small scratches/dents as well as the entire rented vehicle in case of collision or theft.

Click the links for more info on VISA, MasterCard and American Express Rental Auto Protection Plans.  However, we suggest calling the phone number on the back of your card and inquiring about the availability and respective terms and conditions that may apply.

Please note that credit cards companies only cover up to a seven (7) passenger Minivan — which is the same capacity as the Premium cars — in their protection plans.  Sidenote:  To insure a Premium SUV with AmEx, one will need to purchase their "Premium Car Rental Protection".

Check out Credit Cards & Rental Car Insurance for some great informational charts covering the rental car programs from VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.  Return To Contents

Rental Car Insurance Invalidity

The Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) will be void and the renter will be held 100% responsible for all damages (mechanical/electrical, interior, exterior and underside) caused to the vehicle if:

  1. The driver is not authorized by Vamos Rent-A-Car to operate the vehicle.
  2. The driver is under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal substances.
  3. The driver operates the vehicle contrary to the laws of Costa Rica.
  4. The driver does not provide an accident report from the local authorities.
  5. The vehicle undergoes misuse or negligence, such as, but not limited to:  driving with the parking brake on, operating the transmission in 4×4 mode over 40 kmh, hitting obstacles on the road, driving on roads in poor condition and/or driving in, through or over rivers, estuaries and/or beaches.


  1. Basic CDW does not cover damage to tires/rims, sound system, glass, roof rack, underside or interior of vehicle except in cases of collisions or theft of vehicle (as outlined above).
  2. Full CDW does not cover damage to sound system, roof rack, underside or interior of vehicle except in cases of collisions or theft of vehicle (as outlined above).
  3. Neither CDW covers tow truck service or vehicle recovery in the case of an accident or overturning of the vehicle.  Return To Contents

This information is only a summary of the coverage offered.  Please consult the rental agreement for further details.  Upon request, our staff will gladly send you a copy.

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Ricardo Vargas

Webmaster at Vamos Rent-A-Car
Ricardo helps to simplify the complicated.  Insurance should be peace of mind, not anxiety.
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