Auto insurance policies purchased in the United States only offer coverage in the United States of America, its territories and protectorates, and Canada. So, if you're planning to travel to Mexico by car, you should be aware of a few relevant key points about your auto insurance.
Endorsements Don't Cut It
Endorsements to your policy can provide limited coverage in Mexico, but they are insufficient for many reasons. First, under Mexican law, auto insurance is not considered valid and collectible unless underwritten by an insurer licensed and admitted in Mexico. If you lack appropriate coverage under Mexican law and are involved in a car accident, you could be incarcerated in the country until the authorities determine fault and compensation. If you are the at-fault party, you may be held in jail even longer.
An endorsement is also insufficient for the following reasons:
- Coverage only applies within 25 miles of the Mexican border for a trip of 10 days or less.
- The liability coverage only applies if the suit occurs in the United States and the plaintiff is not a Mexican citizen (unless the endorsement is issued in Texas).
- It does not provide coverage for repairs made in Mexico unless the car cannot be driven as a result of the accident.
- It does not provide coverage if the person driving the car is a Mexican citizen (for an endorsement issued in Texas, the insured must also live in the US).
- It requires you to carry valid and collectible Mexican auto insurance and only provides coverage in excess of the former (unless the endorsement is issued in Texas).
- Lastly, because it is not issued by an admitted Mexican insurer, the endorsement does not satisfy any mandatory insurance requirement in Mexico.
Mexican Auto Insurance
Because of the limitations of an endorsement, you will need Mexican auto insurance when you drive to Mexico. If your insurance agent does not offer auto insurance that is valid and collectible in Mexico or if you have purchased your US policy directly from the insurer, you can procure a policy either online or before you cross the border (need an agent? Start by consulting our 5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing an Insurance Agent). You may purchase just liability coverage or opt for collision and other types of coverage as well.
The term can range from one day to one year. However, if you plan on visiting Mexico often, consider buying six months or a full year of coverage to benefit from a substantial reduction in premiums (for more on what influences your premiums, see The Top 5 Factors That Affect Your Auto Insurance Premium).
Tips on Using Your Mexican Auto InsuranceShould you end up in the unfortunate situation of getting in a car accident in Mexico, contact your insurance company using their Mexican toll-free number. In many cases, the customer service center will have an English-speaking team that can take down the relevant claim information and dispatch an adjuster. The adjuster can inform the police that you are insured and can arrange for any surety bonds needed to provide support that any claim will be paid. This has the added benefit of keeping you from being imprisoned while it is determined who is the at-fault party.
Also, if you are driving on a toll road, keep your toll receipts. Should your car get damaged while on it, the toll road operator is responsible for the repairs if the damage is due to their negligence (for example, failure to keep the road in good conditions or failure to remove an object on the road).
Although your existing auto insurance does not cover driving in Mexico, you can get the appropriate coverage so that you are protected during your trip. Hopefully, you won't need to use it, but the protection and peace of mind are worth the effort.