A few things to know before you set about to rent a car on Cozumel:

Renting a car really isn't essential on Cozumel.  The island is compact and easy to navigate with taxis or on foot.  So for a few days, you may not need a rental.

You can rent a car for only a day if you want to explore the island.  Consider how much you will really use a car.  The basic cost of a  VW bug is about $30 per day.  The cost of a taxi for a trip into town is $5-$15 depending on the location of your resort.  Ask yourself how much driving you will do to help calculate the value of having a rental car.

If you decide that a rental car is what you want; a few things to know when you reserve your car:

Read the TripAdvisor forum postings for reviews and personal experiences with the different rental car companies on the island.

The current cost of a VW bug (including all needed insurance) is about $30 per day.  Renters offering less expensive deals are probably not including all the insurance.  Know for sure.

  • Insurance:
  • You do need to take the offered insurance for your rental car -- Collision and Liability.
  • Many U.S. credit card insurance policies ( the kind that allows you to decline the offered insurance known as a Collision Damage Waiver) are not valid in Mexico.  Phone your credit card company prior to departure to make sure you understand their particular coverage.
  • Even if you are told the credit card insurance is good in Mexico, ask if it covers only collision damage or if it also covers liability.
  • Most insurance offered by the rental companies only covers "collision" damage.  That is damage to the rented car.  It DOES NOT cover damage to another vehicle or medical coverage for the driver of that vehicle who might be injured.  You will be held liable for that damage as well as lost wages of a local resident injured in your accident.
  • It is important to know that U.S. insurance companies do not make direct payments for accidents in Mexico. If your rental car is involved in an accident, you will be required to make full payment for all damages IN CASH before you are allowed to leave the island. It is your responsibility to recover this money from your insurer upon returning home.
  • Know the deductable and amount of coverage you are buying.  While you may pay an extra $10 per day for "insurance" if it is only collison and has a $1500 deductable with a minimal coverage amount -- you could be underinsured having thought otherwise.
  • Make sure you know what "VOIDS" your insurance coverage -- driving outside designated areas, drinking before driving, not wearing seatbelts, too many passengers in the car. 

Things to do as you pick up your rental car:

Read the contract -- yes, it will be in broken English at times, but at least go over all the points and ask what they mean. 

If you have a coupon or Internet discount for the rental, have two copies - give one to the rental agent to staple to the agreement, have the agent initial or sign your copy of the coupon/discount to guaranty there are no problems at the end of the rental.  Keep your copy of the discount until the car is returned.

Use your camera or phone to take photos of the car before you drive away.  Take photos of every little scratch and do this right in front of the renting agent.  Let them know that you are keeping a record of past damage to the car so there is no mistaken claims upon returning it.

If possible, return your rental car a day before you are scheduled to depart.  Many problems can be resolved with time, however if you are on a tight schedule to catch a plane, you have no recourse in the event of a disagreement.  Once off the island, it is nearly impossible to get a refund or settle a dispute.

Things to know about driving on Cozumel:

There are only three gas stations on the island.  They have limited hours and none of them are on the far side of the island.  Don't let your tank run too low.

Parking is regulated.  If caught parking in a No Parking zone your car can and will be "clamped" with a tire lock. 

Parking on the main street is regulated by metered parking.  You must locate one of the ticket dispensers along the sidewalk and purchase a timed parking ticket to be displayed in the window of your car to avoid a tire lock and/or fine.

There are many small parking lots all over town.  They are very cheap.  Ask the rental agency for a map with the parking lots marked. 

Streets are for the most part one-way in Cozumel.  They are not always marked well.  Before you turn, have a look at which way the cars are parked on that street for an indication of its direction.  The litle blue maps that are handed out at most resorts/hotels, have arrows indicating the street directions. 

Streets going North and South across town have the right of way.  Streets going East and West must stop at each intersection. 

Before pulling into an intersection watch carefully for CARS - MOPEDS - BICYCLES - HORSE CARRIAGES and  PEDISTRIANS.  It can be a free-for-all on some streets.

A "TOPA" is a gigantic speed bump.  Slow down ---- no.....STOP and ease over them.   If not, you may lose the undercarriage of your car.

Your Jeep will get stuck in the sand if you drive on the beach.  Its just not worth the risk.