Tulum 3Like a lot of other travelers, we always declined the rental car insurance and expected our credit card insurance to cover it. But as we planned a recent trip to Mexico, we discovered it’s not always so.

Before we left, a friend warned us that rental car companies in Mexico would push us to buy their insurance for almost $40 a day. You could say no and rely on your credit card’s insurance coverage, but if you did they’d swipe your credit card for $3,500 to cover loss.

That’s fine if you return the car undamaged. They’ll tear up your credit card slip and that’s the end of it. But as a clerk at Hertz in Cancun explained, it’s not that cars are stolen, but this is a vacation place and people get a little carried away. So cars get a lot of dings and dents and you’re responsible up to the limits of the credit card coverage’s deductible.

Beyond Mexico

Even beyond Mexico you can’t always rely upon credit card insurance.
1. Credit card insurance is usually supplemental to other insurance. Like your personal car insurance, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance.
2. Credit card insurance doesn’t cover an open-ended rental. There are limits like two weeks or a month.
3. Some premium cars, antiques, trucks and vans are often not covered.
4. The deductible is high, usually about $500.
5. Business travel isn’t always covered by credit card insurance.
6. Credit card insurance does not cover cars at all in some countries.

So for peace of mind, it may be worth it to purchase the company’s liability insurance in some cases, especially if it is a vacation area where there are a lot of tourists driving and not necessarily paying attention.