If you’re going to be driving your vehicle in Mexico, you need to buy Mexico car insurance.
Many years ago, during my first year of college, a good friend and I took a trip to Cabo San Lucas for a summer of sun-and-fun. We were on quest to see a spectacular total eclipse of the Sun.
We packed up a Ford Astro Van, and headed for the border. We had an amazing time. Great food, great people, and tons of sun-and-fun.
That was my first experience purchasing Mexico car insurance. However, had my friend not mentioned it, I would have been the fool who crossed the border uninsured. I just didn’t know the law.
This leads me to my point, some of us know that it’s a requirement to have the proper Mexican car insurance when driving in Mexico, some of us don’t, and other believe it’s just a technicality … and not really needed.
Well, we’re here to tell you that you need to buy Mexico car insurance if you intend to drive your car in Mexico. The requirement to be insured is not a “technicality,” there is no slap-on-the-wrist, and you likely will not be able to pay a “field” fine to the Federal Policy at the scene of the accident, or if you’re stopped.
Unfortunately, there are those who have headed south without the proper insurance, and they have paid dearly for this mistake. There are many reason why you should get the proper Mexico car insurance when traveling south-of-the-border, bet here are the two biggies:
It doesn’t matter what you think, what your friends and family say, it only matters what the law says, and having the proper Mexico insurance policy is required by law.
Just like in the US were we have financial responsibility laws that require a minimum amount of liability insurance when driving, you can expect this same experience in Mexico.
In many states in the U.S., those driving without auto insurance can face fines and even have their vehicle confiscated. Guess what, same thing in Mexico.
Even if in a state in Mexico has yet to adopt the full breadth of the financial responsibility laws enacted in 2012, it’s a de-facto requirement that vehicles have insurance that meet the federal responsibility requirements.
Here is where the differences between Mexico and the U.S. come in, when in the U.S. if you’re involved in an auto accident you exchange information and go on your merry, with the understanding that you can resolve matters through your insurance coverage as needed.
In Mexico, things work differently, and if you’re involved in a car accident, you are likely going to be facing a local judge who determines fault. The party at fault is then held until the ability to pay for the damages is demonstrated.
If you cannot demonstrate the ability to pay, in many cases this can mean jail time. Ouch!
If you’ve purchased the proper Mexico car insurance, you will have two very important things in the event of an accident:
Even if your California auto insurance policy provides a limited Mexico endorsement, and even if it would provide you insurance coverage for liability in Mexico (it won’t), it doesn’t matter. Mexican law provides that liability insurance can only be provided through and admitted Mexican insurance company.
So your US auto insurance is effectively worthless for liability claims in Mexico.
Don’t be fooled, many U.S. auto insurance and RV insurance providers may offer a limited Mexico coverage endorsement, but this is normally for physical damage coverages (Collision and Comprehensive), not for liability.
In your policy the territory where coverage is allowed will normally be defined as something like the following:
The policy territory is:
This policy also applies to loss to, or accidents involving, "your covered auto" while being transported between their ports.
This means you don’t have coverage in Mexico, period.
So, if your insurance policy is with Mercury Insurance, State Farm or Allstate, it will not qualify as admitted under Mexican insurance regulations, you will need a Mexico car insurance policy from a company like Qualitas, Mapfre, or AXA Seguros.
There are several good reasons to buy Mexico car insurance including protecting your own car, travel assistance, or providing medical payments for the occupant of your vehicle in the event of an accident. But when it comes down to it, the most important reason to stay within the concepts is that it is required and your US policy doesn't have anything to offer.
The prospect of being before the judge, negotiating the Mexican legal system is intimidating even if you fluent in Spanish.
Even fluent Spanish speakers can find sitting in front of a judge with limited to no knowledge of the legal system intimidating. The bottom-line is that no insurance can equal a fine, or worse jail time. This is why many of the seasoned Mexico visitors call Mexico insurance the "get out of jail free card.
Photo provided under creative commons license via Flicker by Eneas De Troya.
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