Driving in Mexico can be anything from routine to exhilarating, but one thing you don’t want to be is uninsured when you drive south of the border. The country has strict auto liability insurance requirements and does not recognize American policies. Whether you’re making a quick visit into the country or a multiday journey into its heartlands, here’s what you need to know about getting car insurance for Mexico.
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Do I need separate car insurance for Mexico?
In order to drive legally anywhere in Mexico, you need to carry liability car insurance issued by a Mexican auto insurance company.
The auto liability coverage you have in the States is not recognized in Mexico.
You can be fined or detained if you can’t show proof of Mexican liability insurance during a traffic stop or after an accident.
The Mexico endorsements that some U.S. insurance companies offer typically only cover damage to your car, but not liability. Liability covers injuries and property damage you may cause in a car accident.
You can purchase car insurance for Mexico in person from a brick-and-mortar vendor near the border, but it’s often more convenient to get it online before you leave home.
Are you paying too much for car insurance?
How can I get car insurance before traveling to Mexico?
Several Mexican car insurance companies offer short-term, or temporary, insurance policies for tourists that you can buy online before you travel to Mexico. The choices include liability-only policies that meet the country’s legal requirements and comprehensive packages that also cover damage to your car and injuries to you and your passengers.
American Family, GEICO and Progressive are among the American insurance companies that offer Mexican car insurance for tourists on their websites, albeit through separate providers.
Specialty companies such as BestMex and MexPro also offer Mexican car insurance for tourists online. MexPro is particularly well known, because it operates the online shopping platforms that several American insurance companies use.
The companies that provide the online shopping platforms don’t issue policies themselves. Rather, their platforms provide quotes and allow you to purchase policies from licensed Mexican car insurance companies.
You can typically obtain quotes and activate a Mexican car insurance policy in about 15 minutes, as long as you have the following information and documents ready:
- Your trip dates
- The make, model and year of your vehicle
- Your vehicle’s market value, according to Kelley Blue Book or the National Automobile Dealers Association
- The declaration page for your existing car insurance
- A general idea of the coverages and deductibles you need
- Your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Your credit card
Mexican insurance companies typically require you to pay for a tourist auto policy in full, upfront. You usually have to pay a fee to cancel the policy before its start date, and you have very few cancellation rights after the policy takes effect.
What types of coverage does Mexican car insurance provide?
All Mexican car insurance policies for tourists include liability protection and optional coverages are available for damage to your car and injuries to you and your passengers.
These different coverages are generally offered in tiered packages rather than a la carte.
|Coverage||What it covers||Why get it|
|Liability||Other people’s injuries and property damage in a car accident you cause.||All drivers are required to have liability insurance from a Mexican company.|
|Collision||Damage to your vehicle in an accident, including overturning and glass breakage.||Though optional, the coverage can spare you from significant out-of-pocket costs.|
|Theft||Theft of the vehicle, but not possessions inside it.||Car theft is a problem everywhere.|
|Partial theft||Theft of parts or systems attached to the vehicle, not including audio systems.||Theft coverage in Mexico does not automatically extend to partial theft.|
|Medical payments||Medical treatment for injuries you or your passengers suffer in a car accident.||Health insurance often excludes treatment outside the U.S.|
|Medical evacuation and vehicle return||The costs of flying you to a hospital near your home and shipping your car home.||A severe accident could leave you unable to drive back home on your own.|
|Roadside assistance||Assistance and a tow if your vehicle breaks down.||Many companies include this at no extra charge.|
|Sources: BestMex and MexPro|
The online platforms for Mexican car insurance also offer insurance for motorcycles, RVs and ATVs. Motorcycle coverage is typically offered on a liability-only basis.
Best Mexican car insurance companies
Based on financial strength ratings and policy offerings, the following Mexican car insurance companies are generally regarded as the best for tourist policies.
- ABA Seguros
- ACE Seguros
- El Aguila
- Grupo Nacional Provincial (GNP)
All four companies are rated excellent or better by AM Best, and their products are available on most online Mexican car insurance platforms.
As you shop, make sure the insurance package you choose includes coverage for roadside assistance and medical evacuation. Mexico’s best auto insurance companies include these and basic medical coverage in all their tourist packages, including their liability-only packages.
Am I eligible for Mexican car insurance?
Americans with a valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and existing car insurance policy are generally eligible for tourist car insurance in Mexico. Most companies add a surcharge for those under 21.
Certain factors about your car and existing American car insurance policy may affect the type of coverage you can purchase.
- If your vehicle is more than 20 years old, you may only be eligible for liability coverage.
- If your insurance policy in the States does not include collision and comprehensive coverage, you are typically ineligible for physical damage and theft coverage in Mexico.
How much does Mexican car insurance cost?
The cost of Mexican car insurance for tourists can range from about $50 to $80 for liability-only coverage and $150 to $200 for full coverage.
The specific price you pay depends on factors such as the value of your car, the length of your visit and the coverages you choose.
Our review of quotes shows that the average cost of a 10-day liability-only policy for a 2014 Subaru Forester with a $15,000 blue book value is $85. The average cost of an extended-coverage package with physical damage, theft and partial theft coverage is $169.
If you only plan to be in Mexico for a few days, a short-term policy is usually your best bet. However, if you plan to visit for several weeks or make multiple repeat visits, you may be better off with a six-month or one-year policy term.
|Policy length||Liability-only cost||Extended package cost|
|Source: International Insurance Group, based on non-binding quotes obtained for a 2014 Subaru Forester valued at $15,000.|
The Mexican car insurance companies we reviewed offer liability limits ranging from $50,000 to $500,000, with a combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage. A $50,000 liability limit meets Mexico’s minimum car insurance requirements. However, it’s typically worth spending a little more for a liability limit of at least $300,000.
Insurance for rental cars in Mexico
Mexico’s auto liability insurance requirements apply to rental cars, but the process for purchasing Mexican car insurance is different for a rental car than it is for a car you own.
- If you rent a vehicle in Mexico, you can purchase liability insurance and other coverages at the rental car counter.
- Major credit cards typically provide a collision damage waiver (CDW) for rental cars. A CDW covers damage to the car, but not liability. If your credit card provides a CDW, you may not need the CDW or loss damage waiver (LDW) that the car rental company offers. It’s best to check with your credit card company ahead of time.
- If you plan to drive a vehicle rented in the U.S. across the border, you should let the rental car company know about your plans. They may require you to purchase the Mexican car insurance package they offer.
Rental car companies typically also offer medical coverage, which is good to have, particularly if your health insurer excludes or limits coverage outside the U.S. However, if you have travel medical insurance, you may not need separate medical coverage from the rental car company.
Tips for driving in Mexico
If you’re unfamiliar with driving in Mexico, it’s important to understand the country’s document requirements and driving protocols.
The following documents are required for entering Mexico by car:
- Valid passport
- State-issued driver’s license
- Proof of registration
- Letter of permission from your lender (if you have a car loan)
- Proof of Mexican liability insurance
After you enter Mexico, you need to obtain a visitor’s permit from a National Migration Institute office. The document is called a Forma Migratoria Multiple, or FMM.
It’s also important to understand how restrictions change when you leave the Hassle Free Zone, which generally includes areas within 12 to 15 miles south of the border, plus much of Sonora and all of Baja California.
If you plan to drive beyond the Hassle Free Zone, you also need to get a temporary importation permit, or TIP, for your vehicle. You can obtain a TIP online from the Mexican bank Banjercito or in person at a Banjercito office near the border. A TIP is not required within the Hassle Free Zone.
If you’re involved in an accident anywhere in the country and don’t need medical treatment, remain on the scene and notify your Mexican car insurance company. In Mexico, insurance companies typically send a claims adjuster to an accident scene for an immediate assessment.
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