Costa Rica Auto Insurance and Coverages

It's complicated

If you have done some driving in Costa Rica, you may have felt an “urge” to get insured (lol).  Most of our clients in the PASS service end up getting voluntary coverage, often mainly for the road side assistance which is valid nationwide.   The following information is basic information on the mandatory and voluntary insurance in Costa Rica.  What they cover and some information about costs.

Insurance – Obligatory (Marchamo)

Accidents happen …

The annual property tax and obligatory insurance is paid every December. On cars being registered for the first time in Costa Rica it is paid on a prorated basis when the car is imported. If you purchase a vehicle that already has a license plate, then the Marchamo should be valid (the sticker and marchamo document) The insurances covers a minimum amount of liability (less than $13,000 in 2020) for injuries people suffer if your vehicle is in an accident, regardless of who the driver is or whether or not the driver is at fault. They may be occupants of your auto, another vehicle, or pedestrians.

The marchamo is adjusted every year, keep in mind that the actual insurance portion is only about 17%, the rest is taxes and fees.  It is charged based on the fiscal value of the vehicle.  Lower value vehicles will pay less than $150, while most SUVs would pay $250 – $400.  Super luxury vehicles and brand new ones may pay over $1000.

Voluntary Insurance – Coverages

For budgeting, the insurance premiums generally come in at between $90 and $140 per month. Most of our clients pay every six months, you may pay quarterly or monthly — but the INS charges a small fee for each additional payment you schedule. While the value of the vehicle is a factor, newer cars get lower rates. So often the rates are similar even though there is a big difference in the value of the vehicle. There are special rates for new cars and you can pay a full year, but the deductibles are very high — so it’s a good idea to compare.

A good example of Coverage H — additional risks
  • Coverage A * is Personal Liability – Injuries or Death paid on damages established by the courts.
  • Coverage B which is Family Passengers – medical care for driver and family up to the 3rd degree
  • Coverage C * is Property Damage – damage to property owned by others.
  • Coverage D which is Collision – damage to your vehicle
  • Coverage F which is Theft – the insured value of the vehicle is paid, or damages to car if recovered; and
  • Coverage H which is Additional Risks. (natural disasters for example)
  • Coverage N — Deduction Exemption – this converts the C, D and F coverages to zero deductible.  The only condition is that the claim must be more than 300,000 colones.

*  These are the base coverages, you must have these before you can get any others.

Note Collision — In case you have an accident, AND are sure you will want to make a claim on either your insurance or the other driver’s insurance, you will want to make sure to call the traffic police at 911 and also the insurance company so that they send their inspector. 800-800-8000 is INS number. Also, you will want to look for an authorized body shop in your area. INS AUTHORIZED REPAIR SHOPS is a searchable web page

These coverage designations are for the INS, other companies have similar policies — in general theft and collision may be opted out of, this will reduce the rate significantly.

Roadside assistance: may be purchased fairly cheaply as an additional coverage. You get free roadside assistance anywhere in Costa Rica. This will cover your car not starting, running out of gas, a flat tire and a tow truck. You can use it 3 times a year, plus 3 tows per year.  You call a toll free number, state your name and license plate and then the representative will ask if you need assistance or a tow. The vehicle must be less than 20 years old and less than 5000 kilograms.

Sample Insurance Premium Quote — January 2020 — The following rate was quoted to one of our clients on an SUV valued at about $12,000.


Insurance Amount

Premium 6 Months

 Coverage A: Civil Liability for injury and/or death of persons outside the vehicle.Limit per Person: ¢ 100,000,000 ¢ 21,642
Limit per Accident: ¢ 200,000,000
Coverage P: Family Medical — per person in vehicle¢ 10,000,000 ¢ 20,675
Coverage C: Civil Liability for property damage.¢ 50,000,000 ¢ 19,711
Coverage D: Collision and/or rollover.¢ 6,000,000 ¢ 124,398
Coverage F: Theft and/or assault.¢ 6,000,000 ¢ 16,227
Coverage H: Additional Risks.¢ 6,000,000 ¢ 9,265
Coverage E: Legal Fees¢ 20,000,000 ¢ 6,235
Coverage J: Personal Items ¢ 150,000¢ 5,257
Coverage K: Alternate Transport (15 days for car rental while your car is in the body shop) No fixed limit on coverage, since it is a coverage on services.¢ 26,455
Coverage M: Roadside AssistanceNo fixed limit on coverage, since it is a coverage on services. ¢ 5,500
Coverage N: Deducible Exemption.Applicable on coverage: C ¢ 9,356
 Semester Subtotal ¢ 264,721
 Discount for no claims history Experience Factor Discount – ¢ 235,874
 The premium can be paid for up to 6 months, or monthly, or every 3 months.  If paid for shorter terms the price is slightly higherTotal Including 13% VAT (Value Added Tax)

¢ 296,860


A new policy by the INS requires that clients insuring a vehicle provide proof of the source of the funds.  This is due to anti-drug trafficking and money laundering regulations from the SUGEF (which regulates financial institutions in Costa Rica).

If the vehicle is being paid with funds from a Costa Rican bank account, this isn’t necessary.  But if the purchase is a cash transaction or international transfer then one of the following is needed:

  • Account statement showing the withdrawal.
  • Withdrawal slip from your bank.
  • A printout of a screenshot from your bank log in screen that states your name.  The account balance isn’t needed. If you can also provide a screenshot of the transaction for the specific withdrawal that is good.

If you are looking to purchase a used or new car in Costa Rica, can help you with our PASS service. Click here, used car buying assistance in Costa Rica for details. Click here, New Cars in Costa Rica for information on the peculiar process.

If you would like to see information about other vehicle types and models, click here — Vehicle Makes and Models in Costa Rica — for a list of articles on our site.

Published by Russ Martin

Helping expats locate reliable used vehicles since 2006. I have lived in Costa Rica since 1994.

16 thoughts on “Costa Rica Auto Insurance and Coverages

    1. In the example, the price is for 6 months, the premium can be paid 6 months, 3 months or monthly, with it being slightly higher for the lesser periods.

    1. This from INS, the state-owned company. Since most of our clients live in rural or coastal areas, I believe they will get better service from INS. The company has more branches in outlying provinces, as well as a larger network of authorized body shops around the country. Costa Rica is a small market, so even though it’s no longer a monopoly, the companies don’t compete much on price — they try to outdo each other on coverages or service.

  1. Can you purchase INS coverage for say a year and use it for rental cars whenever you’re in the country?

    1. No, the INS coverage would apply to a vehicle you own. There is an optional coverage “L” for insurance on a substitute vehicle, it is an additional coverage in case of an accident with your car, it allows you to rent a car and covers your liability while driving that car – both for injuries to 3rd parties and property damage. There is also a Coverage “K” that pays for a rental car for up to 2 weeks, also meant to be used while your vehicle is in the body shop.

  2. Can you obtain INS insurance on a vehicle that you temporarily bring to Costa Rica for 3-6 months from the USA?

    1. This is an interesting question, I didn’t really know so I checked with Mario Ramirez, an agent we know at Grupo LA Essentials insurance brokers. There is an INS policy for temporary vehicles. It is similar to the marchamo, covering mainly liability for injuries to 3rd parties.

      This is from their information, based on the INS website.

      What does the payment of the Mandatory Insurance for Motor Vehicles with foreign registration cover?

      The victims or their heirs, who are affected as a result of an accident covered by this insurance, will have the right to at least the following services:

      1. Medical, surgical, hospital, pharmaceutical and rehabilitation assistance.
      2. Prostheses and medical devices required to correct functional deficiencies.
      3. Cash benefits corresponding to compensation for disability, temporary or permanent, or for death.
      4. Travel expenses.
      5. Accommodation and food payments, when the injured party, due to the provision of medical or rehabilitation benefits, must move to a place other than their habitual residence, and the insurance company cannot provide that service.
      6. Compensation to beneficiaries for death in the traffic accident
      7. Costs incurred for the funeral and the transfer of the body.

      Important aspects to take into account:

      1. No traffic accident that, in turn, constitutes a work risk will be protected or covered by the Compulsory Insurance scheme for Motor vehicles with foreign registration.
      2. The deadline to file a complaint will be ten business days after the accident and three years for claims of rights derived from the traffic accident.
      3. The benefits of this insurance will be suspended, when the insured, driver or victim, when reporting the accident or processing the claim, conceal, falsely report or expose, any act or circumstance determining the classification of accident or fraud is incurred or false testimony.
      4. The coverage of the Compulsory Insurance for Foreign Registration Vehicles applies only to traffic accidents that occur in Costa Rican territory.
      1. I am planning to bring by foreign registered vehicle to Costa Rica (shipped into the Port) for three months, then ship out. Can I get a temp policy from INS that includes liability, collision/PD and comprehensive/theft? Or do I have to get liability from INS and collision / theft elsewhere. If so, do you have recommendations?

        1. I wasn’t sure about this, so I checked with a broker who deals with several coverages. But there aren’t any offering collision or theft coverage on the vehicle you bring in under a temporary permit. This would possibly be available from the home country where the vehicle as a travel type insurance, but not from any private or state-owned insurance companies here.

          There is a mandatory “marchamo” that vehicles arriving to Costa Rica and being driven under the temporary permit must pay,this is basic injury to 3rd parties just like the circulation permit nationalized vehicles here are required to pay each year.

    1. It’s interesting that insurance in Costa Rica covers the vehicle regardless of who is driving. If your friend has insurance then you can drive the car freely and be covered. The only problem could be if it is a rented to you, in that case they would need something beyond the normal coverage that is more expensive.
      And it’s important to note that you can’t insure someone else’s car. When clients purchase a car that isn’t yet in their name, they have to give a copy of the contract to show that they have an insurable interest so that the insurance company can provide the coverage.

  3. Is it possible to pay only the basic insurance coverage at a rental car company and purchase additional level of coverages directly from the insurance company for a week or a month? If yes, what would the rate be? Also do we have to pay the basic daily rate at the rental company? Would they not already have the basic covered on that car?

    1. Unfortunately for renters, that doesn’t work. The only coverage I am aware of is if you have a specific insurance policy from your home country that provides coverage of a rental car here in Costa Rica. You can provide documentation of that and avoid getting the obligatory insurance from the rental car company. Some credit cards offer this coverage and some people have a home and auto bundle that includes this type of coverage.

      Of course the rental car companies do carry their own insurance. If there is a natural disaster that wipes out their fleet, or some other occurance. But they always try to pin any repair on the people renting the cars and have always charged these high daily fees on top of the rental price. In addition, the mandatory coverage has a high deductible, so it only helps you in case of a serious accident- not much in the case of minor dings or even vandalism.

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