Do I have to buy car insurance to visit Mexico?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Even if you’re only going for a day, all foreign citizens must purchase car insurance to drive in Mexico
  • Buying Mexican car insurance at the border is a bad idea that is likely to cost you double or even triple the price of shopping online
  • You should ask your current insurance provider if they offer temporary travel insurance for Mexcio. You may be able to simply add it onto your current policy with little hassle

If you’re an American or Canadian citizen planning to drive for any length of time in Mexico, it’s a good idea for you to purchase short-term Mexican car insurance. Unlike the relationship between the U.S. and Canada, which recognizes one another’s car insurance policies, Mexico does not. In order for you to drive your car south of the U.S. border, you’ll need a separate car insurance policy recognized by the Mexican government.

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Fortunately, these types of car insurance policies are relatively easy to come by and inexpensive. In some cases, your current insurance provider may even be able to write you a separate policy that covers you while you’re in Mexico. But be sure to check before you leave home because any car insurance company that provides you with policy must be recognized by the Mexican government. To do otherwise is a violation of Mexican law.

Penalties for Driving without Proper Coverage in Mexico

3d interior jail

Depending on your source of information, you may understand that it is illegal to drive in Mexico without proper Mexican car insurance; others may say that it’s completely unnecessary, but the truth actually lies in the middle.

Like the U.S., Mexican law simply demands that anyone driving in the country have the financial resources to pay for any damages resulting from an accident. Those financial resources could come from an insurance policy or a very large bank account.

The problem in Mexico however, is convincing the authorities you have the proper financial resources if you cannot produce proof of Mexican car insurance policy. At the very least, if you don’t purchase insurance and you’re involved in an accident, you’ll probably spend at least some time in jail.

And, by the way, simply carrying large amounts of cash probably won’t help either. Car repairs in Mexico can run into the tens of thousands of dollars just like they do here.

Purchasing Coverage at the Border

Car key on a signed sales contract, closeup

Since most people don’t realize they need a separate insurance policy before crossing into Mexico, many enterprising individuals have set up offices along the border where insurance is readily available. However, there are a few important things to be aware of:

  • First of all, you obviously will not get the best price because these car insurance carriers know that once you walk in their door, you’re stuck. For the best price on Mexican car insurance, you need to shop around in advance of your trip.
  • Secondly, the documents issued at the border are often times written in Spanish.

More than anything else, the most important reason to buy your policy well in advance is because if you are not fluent in the language, then you have no way of knowing whether you bought a legitimate car insurance policy or a worthless piece of paper.

If you’re planning just a single day across the border and are willing to take your chances, it’s still a bad idea.

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Purchasing Coverage in Advance

Purchasing your Mexican car insurance in advance is almost as easy as purchasing your regular liability policy. Mexican laws are very straightforward in regards to liability and how much coverage is required.

A simple Internet search using the appropriate terms will yield several dozen insurance providers who can write a policy for your Mexican trip. As with any type of insurance, shopping around and comparing rates is the best course of action.

When you do buy your Mexican car insurance online, just be sure you receive all the appropriate documents in English and Spanish, and in a timely manner.

An insurance provider of any quality should be able to fax or e-mail you temporary documents until the permanent ones arrive.

Always ask for this availability. Furthermore, if you plan to use an insurance carrier whose name you do not recognize, be sure to research the company before you sign up for their insurance. Just like being scammed at the border, it’s easy to be scammed online.

Don’t Travel in Mexico Without Being Insured

view of outback Australian desert, with car tyre in foreground.

Even if you’re a very safe driver who has never had an accident, there’s always a first time. Making matters worse is the fact that Mexican drivers don’t necessarily follow the same rules of the road that we do here in the States.

Whenever you’re driving in a foreign environment, you’re increasing the risk of an accident. That is true for any country you may be driving in. And with jail time a real possibility, it’s not worth the risk. Mexican car insurance policies are very inexpensive and easy to come by, so there’s no real reason to drive south of the border without one.

Start your search for Mexican car insurance quotes, or a standard American policy, by entering your ZIP code in the box below!

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