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Car Insurance

Unlike in the US, car insurance is actually not required. This makes Costa Rica a different place to drive. Knowing that people are on the road with hundreds of other people who are not insured can be an intimidating thought, so watchful driving is a must.

One reason people go without insurance, is because car insurance policies are rather expensive.  As with any insurance in Costa Rica, the monopoly provider is Instituto Nacional de Seguros, more commonly known as INS.  Rates of coverage vary depending on the type of vehicle and one's personal profile & driving record.

There are a variety of different plans out there to choose from. There is liability, theft, fire, flood etc.  You will need to talk with an agent to discuss the option and price point that is right. INS offers a full coverage policy that is rather extensive so much so that "even if an elephant fell on my car, its covered - no worries policy." This policy even covers hospital costs if people are in an accident in the car, even if they do not have health insurance. Some policies also allow for a set number of free tows from anywhere in the country per year a service which comes in handy. INS will also come and help if someone locks their keys in the car.  Of course this full coverage is more expensive, but everyones needs are different. Other people chose not to ensure at all and then just pay for anything that comes up. Policies can be as extensive or as minimalist as you need them to be. INS offers a convenient toll free number for you to call in case of emergency 800-800-8000.

Once  a policy is selected,  the INS agent will have professional photos taken of the car and put in the file. Once the contract is signed the quotas and payments cannot be changed, nor can the shcedule. Payments may be every six months, four months, or three months. The good thing about INS is that they will send a friendly text message to the customer's cell phone a month, two weeks, and a few days before the payment is due  as a reminder of the due date. As a matter of fact, they continue to receive residual commissions on the policy so they should be available for any reason.

INS will even send someone on motorcycle to come pick up the payment and deliver the newly renewed policy papers anywhere the customer is, Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Really they make it hard for you not to pay the policy. This is because if someone misses a payment the policy is automatically canceled and one would then have to return to an INS office so that they can take new pictures of the car,  which is time consuming and a pain.

Generally, the first accident is a freebie and INS will not increase the rates unless there is a second accident. INS will not increase rates on an accident that is not the fault of the insured car.

If someone has been in an accident they will need to get in contact with INS. If there is damage to the vehicle then they say to bring it in for an assessment. Then if they can repair it, they will send the car to a repair shop in the area that is authorized by INS to fix the damages and bill INS. As with any insurance policy one will have to pay the deductible. In some cases, if the damages are very minor it is better and cheaper to have them fixed without  tapping into the INS policy or using the first time freebie.

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