If you are planning on driving your vehicle to Mexico purchasing vehicle insurance should be a top priority. As comprehensive as your home country vehicle insurance is, it won’t cover you in Mexico. Fortunately, affordable insurance is available in Mexico and can offer you peace of mind in your travels.
If your US or Canadian vehicle is improperly insured in Mexico and you become involved in an accident it will cost you a lot of money or worse, leave you imprisoned in a Mexican jail house.
Mexico Law states that only insurance companies licensed in Mexico, or brokers in the U.S./Canada working in conjunction with a Mexican insurance company, can provide the type of auto insurance coverage recognized and accepted by Mexico’s legal system.
What to look for in an Accredited Insurance Company
Those looking to purchase vehicle insurance in Mexico can be misled by thinking they can rely on the broker, rather than the Mexican Insurance Company, to properly handle claims that may arise during their stay in Mexico. The company underwriting your policy is much more important than the Broker selling you the policy. The main things you should look for in your Mexico insurance company are:
- The Insurance company underwriting your policy is financially sound.
- The broker you work with is licensed and that there is transparency of the policies they offer. Go online and check them out or inquire on their customer service structure should you require to make a claim. Also, it is important to go through the fine print of your policy thoroughly and discuss any questions you have with your broker.
- When in Mexico your policy covers your personal liability as well as your legal counsel. It is also important that they provide a “bail bond” element. If you are involved in a serious accident where the police are involved, you WILL be detained until blame is assessed. If this process is protracted, the bail-bond may get you released pending inquiries.
- The broker and affiliated insurance company should provide local support services in Mexico so that if a claim occurs you can easily call for help by English-speaking representatives who can dispatch the help and support you need.
Contact your home vehicle insurance agent to see if he can find you a plan. Although virtually no Canadian or American insurance company offers vehicle insurance in Mexico, they may have access to Mexican auto insurance companies through brokerages.
If your agent is not able to offer you options for Mexican insurance brokerages, you can purchase Mexican auto insurance coverage online. It is also possible to purchase Mexican auto insurance near the border. Once you near the Mexico border you will begin to see insurance companies that offer vehicle insurance for foreigners. We purchased auto insurance at Sanborns when we crossed the border and found it reasonably priced and easy to obtain. You can also purchase online insurance with Sanborns.
Making a Claim in Mexico
The policy documentation your insurance company provides should be clear on the steps to take in the event of an accident. Should an accident occur, do not wait until you return to your home country to make a claim. Most policies require you to make a claim while you are in Mexico and won’t process your claim if you wait until your return to Canada or the U.S.
The first thing you want to do is contact the insurance company’s help line. They will be able to dispatch your Insurance Assessor to the scene of the accident and make arrangements for lawyers and/or other services to assist in the event of a serious accident.
Part of the claim procedure may involve you producing a police report as well as other relevant documentation related to the accident, such as information on repairs made to get your vehicle on the road again.
Requirements for Mexican Auto Insurance
Along with a valid passport, there are other documents you need to obtain before you legally drive in Mexico. All of the adults in your group must obtain a Mexican tourist visa at a Mexican consulate or at a port of entry after you cross the border into Mexico. The application for the tourist visa is pretty straightforward, but you will have to go to a nearby Mexican Bank (“Banjercito”) branch to pay the necessary fee, which is about $20 each. Mexican tourist visas are good for up to six months.
The Mexican authorities also require a “Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit” for every foreign vehicle driven in Mexico. There are some exemptions if you are staying in the northwestern states of Baja California and parts of Sonora, however these permits are required everywhere else within Mexico. This permit is obtained at the same place you receive your tourist visa. At the customs port of entry or Mexican consulate, you will be required to show the authorities at the Banjercito branch your passport, a valid driver’s license and your vehicle registration or title. Banjercito offers an online application for the permit in English on the website. The fee for this permit is about $30, while the required bond deposit can be up to $400 depending on the age of your vehicle.
Deposit amounts are as follows:
Vehicle Year Model
Deposit Required (USD)
2007 and newer models
2001 to 2006 models
2000 and earlier models
It is important to remember to return this permit before you leave Mexico with your vehicle. If you leave without doing so you will lose your bond deposit and any future vehicle importation permit applications will be denied.
By following the above tips and information you can insure yourself and rest easy during your travels throughout Mexico.