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 Rental Cars in Mexico

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cheenagringo
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PostSubject: Rental Cars in Mexico   Thu 21 Jul 2011, 15:06

I realize that most of the members are residents but as Peter has said guests are reading this forum from all over the world. I thought it might be helpful to the possible visitor to Mexico to pass on what I have recently learned about renting a vehicle in the Country.

First one must accept the fact that auto insurance in Mexico can be very different from what one may be used to in another country. Without adequate coverage, a renter could be subjected to some very different treatment by various police agencies should they get into an accident or worse yet if there are injuries involved. Even when purchasing Mexico Auto Insurance for our private vehicle when making a Mexico trip, we have always purchased the max coverage available without much regard for the price.

If one uses Kayak or any of the other travel sites, you may be surprised by the low daily prices especially for small to mid size vehicles. For example, I recently found a VW Jetta for a price quote of $11.47 USD per day. Up front, that price looked good to me but I knew insurance would be tacked on.

3rd Party Liability: First of all it is mandatory and do not have any ideas of refusing this coverage or being covered by what you think is rental car coverage with your credit cards. In all of my checking with various rental car companies and with card providers, I have not found a single card which would provide liability coverage of any type in Mexico. YMMV! In the case of the VW Jetta, this coverage was $11.99/day but the amount does vary from vehicle to vehicle and company to company.


Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): This coverage will vary in what it covers and amount of deductible that one is willing to accept. Some companies will allow you to decline this coverage but may charge your card upfront as a deposit in amounts as high as $10,000USD depending on size of the vehicle. Some credit card companies do have supplied coverage that falls into this category but don't assume that the rental agent will accept your word that you have coverage. In our case, we happen to have American Express Premium Rental Car Protection which costs a cardholder $24.95 for up to 42 days of rental. Key features to this coverage is that it covers all vehicle damage or theft with a $0 deductible and Mexico is not one of the four countries where this coverage isn't available. I checked with the international desk of a number of recognized franchises and found out that I received more accurate information when jumping through the hoops to contact corporate offices direct. Dollar and Thrifty (same corporation) do not honor this coverage. I found that National and Fox Rent A Car did honor the coverage providing that the renter is in possession of a coverage letter naming them as the insured party. I ended up with Fox since they seemed to have the best price on the particular sized vehicle we wanted. In their case, the CDW coverage would have been another $17.00 USD/day. While I looked at other companies such as Budget, Hertz, Alamo and others, I didn't bother checking with their corporate offices about insurance since their daily rates were so much higher and they still charged in a similar manner for insurance.

In conclusion, one needs to make sure they understand the impact of adding the cost of insurance to what appears to be a fairly reasonable daily rental rate.
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cheenagringo
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Sun 07 Aug 2011, 11:53

Please disregard everything I stated in the above post. Turns out that I was fed a line of BS and I have now cancelled my reservation. I apologize for jumping the gun!
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Peter
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Sun 07 Aug 2011, 12:16

Not sure what part of your post was BS as I expect some part of what you said had some validity. Insurance is a tricky matter though and one where some big tack-ons can occur.

I rented a car on my first trip here in 2005. It was my intent to visit Chapala en route to Morelia so flew into Guadalajara. Not sure now which rental agency I used but had a familiar name like Thrifty or Dollar.

We took a Dodge Verna which is a Kia/Hyundai compact, standard shift, and no frills, comparable to a Kia Rio. Seems the cost as about $20-25 a day total. No one to BS me as I didn't research it or ask many questions. I was offered collision insurance which I declined so was warned they could charge my Visa card up to $7,000us if the car was damaged. Since that was the only insurance option offered I assumed liability was included in the rental price.

We returned the car with a full tank and no damages and that was that, no extras, no hidden fees. I had the car for about 9 days, experienced no problems with it, went all over the place, and got charged a fair price as was agreed upon at the outset. Nothing more to add to that, everything worked-out as expected. No strain or pain.


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cheenagringo
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Sun 07 Aug 2011, 12:27

Since I am still fighting with this issue, I won't go into full details but it basically comes down to the option of declining the CDW coverage. Since I had heard "horror stories" about people being forced into taking all offer coverage, I decided that the prudent thing to do was CYA by getting a letter stating that I could decline the CDW with them accepting our AMEX coverage. This request was denied with them stating that if I were to decline the CDW, they would put a hold on my AMEX card in the amount of $10,000 USD to cover any damages or theft. Essentially what I now call a RANSOM. Since we have 100% coverage through AMEX with $0 deductible - there was NO WAY that I would agree and I cancelled the reservation.

This morning, I went back to their site and had it do a cost recalculation with acceptance of all the coverage they required to eliminate any type of deposit. It added almost $500 additional cost to a 17 day rental!
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JimRP
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Sun 07 Aug 2011, 19:26

Wow--good luck with all that, Neil--sounds complicated!
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cheenagringo
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Mon 08 Aug 2011, 17:32

OK - I give! Between websites, customer service contacts at the various companies and direct conversations with various companies at the Guadalajara Airport, I have received nothing but inaccurate or distorted information with respect to insurance with all of these rental car companies. This includes making two actual reservations and having to cancel after the fact when the truth comes out.

What have I learned? While it appears to be a requirement of the Mexican Government that all rental car companies include liability insurance in the rental price, all companies require that you purchase TPL (third party liability) in amounts ranging from $11.99 to $20.00 per day. This policy is mandatory and one cannot decline it. Then one gets into the areas of CDW (collision damage waiver), LDW (loss damage waiver), SCDW (super collision damage waiver), PIP (personal injury protection), etc, etc. Declining any of their offerings beyond the TPL with the thoughts that your credit card will cover you will put you into what I would term the "ripe for extortion" category. Should you choose to decline, these companies will force you to authorize them to place a hold or deposit that will range from 10% to 100% of the value of the vehicle you are renting. For example, on my last reservation, they wanted to place a hold exceeding $30,000 USD on my card OR I could agree to paying $37/day insurance charge to avoid the deposits. This on a full size vehicle that they were only charging a little over $11/day for an 18 day rental.

In a way, I can see where they are coming from and that for the average business traveler who might be in town for a couple of days, it wouldn't mean much. Just a cost of doing business! But what ticks me off is that the "joe average" vacation traveler is in for a rude awakening when they arrive to pick up their vehicle and then find all of the hidden charges. Chances are that some of them may not have an open line of credit on their card to absorb the deposits and probably haven't budgeted for the real actual cost of renting a vehicle. Talk about being grabbed by "the short hairs"!

Based upon this learning experience, I will never consider doing business with the two companies that I did make reservations with and then had to cancel after getting the true picture - Fox Rent A Car & Europcar.
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Peter
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Mon 08 Aug 2011, 17:46

It may not get better than that, changes in the laws, etc. Just over 6 years ago I rented a car in Guadalajara for 9 days. Everything was out in the open, I declined the collision coverage and was told I could be charged up to about $7kus for the small car I got, which no doubt costs more today.

I'm fairly sure I rented through Thrifty but it might have been Dollar. They played fair with me then, nothing hidden.

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cheenagringo
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Mon 08 Aug 2011, 18:44

Since I have had a reservation with a non-franchise rental car company out at Lake Chapala for over 2 months, I was motivated to tackle an option because:
1) Our reservation was for their only choice - Toyota Yaris Sedan. This is a very limited sized "shopping cart" to satisfy Kathy's requirements. While I could appreciate the lesser damages to our bank accounts, my size and smaller cars don't agree.
2) It would have meant that I could leave directly from GDL to Patzcuaro & Santa Clara del Cobre. Now I am imposing on a friend to pick me up at the airport and heading out to the Lake before I can leave for Michoacan.
3) This was one of the great unanswered questions through the years on various forums and I liked the challenge of breaking the info logjam. Hopefully someone smarter and more devious than I can come up with a way as I have burned myself out with the challenge!
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cheenagringo
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PostSubject: Re: Rental Cars in Mexico   Mon 05 Sep 2011, 20:03

As a follow-up to this topic, we ended up going with the independent operation located at Lake Chapala. Their weekly price was all inclusive without a separate cost for insurance and I figured on picking up the additional benefit of activating our AMEX Insurance. I arrived at their location after flying all night and not getting my planned amount of sleep. Handed them my drivers license and AMEX card. The girl handling the paperwork informed me that she hadn't run my card and just taken photocopies. Being rummy, I didn't stop and think and shot off with the rental car. A couple of days later driving back to Guadalajara to pick up Kathy after some serious sleep, it dawned that by not running the card, we didn't have the additional insurance. So before heading back to Patzcuaro from Lake Chapala, we stopped in to ask them to at least put a deposit on the card to activate the insurance. "OH, we cannot do that since we had our credit card machine removed a couple of days ago" I then asked how they were going to charge the rental to the card? "OH, we no longer take credit cards". How am I supposed to pay? "Cash or personal check". Not in the plan and a very good thing I didn't find out on the way to the airport! So we stashed $10,500MXN to use to pay off the rental car.
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