The theory is that every vehicle circulating our streets is covered by insurance, if only the minimum, the Seguro Obligatorio de Automóviles (Compulsory Insurance) that is part of the circulation permit or Marchamo paid yearly.
According to Article 56 of the Ley de Tránsito (Traffic Act), every motor vehicle must be insured, provided the vehicle meets the requirements to circulate in the country, such as Riteve, the compulsory vehicle inspection.
The reality, however, is quite different.
It is estimated that up to 10% of the vehicles on the roads of Costa Rica do not have any insurance to cover costs in the event of an accident.
These are vehicles that may not meet the inspection requirements, or the owner not paying it for whatever reason, preferring to take the risk, theirs and yours.
In the event of a crash and there is no insurance, the costs fall on the responsible. Article 70 of the Ley de Tránsito, is clear that victims or their beneficiaries are entitled to be compensated for all costs.
“They (victims) will have the right to demand, jointly and severally, from the owner of the vehicle (blamed for the accident) compensation for immediate medical services and economic guarantees,” reads the law.
Note that the law requires the owner of the vehicle and not the driver (which may be different at the time of the accident) to pay.
For 2016, the maximum coverage by the compulsory insurance is ¢6 million colones (US$11.500 dollars) of each injured or deceased person involved in the crash.
But this is the only cost of not having the Marchamo.
According to Mario Calderon, head of the Policia de Transito (traffic police), a vehicle stopped for not having the Marchamo is subject to a fine of ¢50.000 colones and/or confiscation of the vehicle license plates or vehicle itself. The driver could also face fines for other traffic infractions such as speeding or driving under the influence.
Driving without the compulsory insurance (Marchamo) can be very costly in the event of an accident.