If you're driving your own car to Mexico, your existing car insurance won't cover you, you need to get a separate policy
Many major U.S. car insurance providers work with car insurance companies in Mexico to offer policies to visiting American tourists
Before you drive down to Mexico, make sure you're at least covered for liability, and consider adding additional coverage for your trip
If you’re planning a road trip down to Mexico in your own car, you’re probably wondering whether your insurance will cover you in case of an accident. The answer is most likely no — your regular car insurance, which covers you in the U.S. and Canada, won’t cover you south of the border. That’s why many major car insurance companies work with Mexican insurers to offer special coverage for tourists driving their own cars in Mexico.
Mexico law requires that drivers carry a minimum amount of car insurance through a Mexican provider. So even if your U.S. car insurance covers you up to a certain distance across the U.S.-Mexico border, if you cause a car accident you’ll need liability coverage through a Mexican insurer or risk being on the hook for the damage you caused. Here’s what you need to know about how — and why — you need to get temporary car insurance for driving to Mexico.
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If you’re planning on driving into Mexico in your own car, you should make sure you’re covered by a Mexico-specific auto policy before you cross the border. Some U.S. policies offer coverage up to a certain distance into Mexico, but according to Mexican law, you’ll need a minimum amount of liability coverage through a Mexico-specific car insurance company.
Imagine this scenario: You’re on your beautiful international road trip, trying to figure out where to turn to get to the beach, juggling your map and your guidebook and trying to watch the road all at the same time, when you roll right into the car in front of you.
The local police will likely show up and both drivers will be required to show proof of financial responsibility. If you have Mexico-specific car insurance, you’ll be covered for damage you caused and have proof to show local authorities. If not, you risk fees, arrest and temporarily losing your vehicle.
At the very least, sorting things out will be a headache that will take lots of time away from your vacation. Avoid the hassle and expense and get auto insurance for Mexico before you go. Don’t worry about your license though — a valid U.S. driver’s license is also valid in Mexico.
Mexico auto insurance, also called Mexico tourist auto insurance, is a type of car insurance policy that covers drivers who drive their own vehicles on vacation to Mexico. It’s not an add-on to your existing policy, it’s a standalone policy, so you don’t have to get your Mexico car insurance from the same provider that writes your current auto policy, although you certainly can if your car insurance company offers it.
U.S. car insurance companies that offer Mexico auto insurance are usually working with a Mexican insurer to offer you coverage. You can find a Mexico auto insurance policy to cover your car, RV, motorcycle or whatever vehicle you’re taking down to Mexico. You can also go directly through a Mexican car insurance company that offers policies to visiting American tourists.
Depending on which insurers you’re working with, you may also be able to choose the coverage level you want for your Mexico policy, just like you can with domestic car insurance. And just like with domestic auto insurance, your policy should include liability coverage and you may want to consider adding other coverage, like collision coverage, roadside assistance or gap insurance.
If you rent a car once you’ve arrived in Mexico, you don’t need to worry about buying a policy like you would if you were driving across the border. Your rental car will automatically include any required liability insurance, and just like rental cars in the U.S., you’ll have the option to pay for additional coverage.
An important note: Your credit card insurance may not cover you in Mexico like it does in many U.S. states, so you may want to consider adding additional insurance in case of damage to the rental car itself.
While we’re on the subject of international auto travel, let’s briefly discuss our neighbor to the north. Unlike with travel to Mexico, your U.S. auto insurance will still cover you in Canada. Canada and the U.S. have reciprocal agreements when it comes to car insurance, so unless you’re planning on staying in Canada for longer than six months, you don’t need to make any special arrangements regarding car insurance for traveling north of the border.
The specifics of a Mexico tourist auto policy vary depending on where you go to get it, and some providers offer different tiers of car insurance for visiting Mexico, but any of the following coverages are options for drivers heading to Mexico:
Liability coverage. Covers you if you injure someone or damage property with your car while you’re in Mexico.
Physical damage and theft. Like comprehensive and collision coverage in the U.S., this covers damage to your car while you’re in Mexico, including damage from an accident, extreme weather, vandalism or theft.
Medical payments. Covers medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured in a car accident in Mexico.
Loan or lease payoff. Also called gap insurance, this coverage helps you if your car is totaled in Mexico. Loan or lease payoff will pay you the difference between the value of the totaled car and what you still owe on your car loan or lease.
Roadside assistance. If your car breaks down by the side of the road in Mexico, this covers towing, tire changes, and battery jump-starts.
Legal assistance. Covers legal representation and other associated expenses after a car accident in Mexico.
Medical evacuation. Covers emergency transport to a hospital if you’re injured in a car accident while in Mexico.
As we mentioned above, many major U.S.-based car insurance companies offer Mexico tourist auto insurance via Mexican car insurance providers, including Allstate, GEICO, Progressive and Liberty Mutual. You can also go directly through a Mexican insurer that writes auto policies for visiting tourists, like Baja Bound or MexPro.
It’s also possible to get Mexico car insurance in person once you’ve driven across the border, but getting it online and before you leave saves you vacation time and gives you peace of mind on your road trip.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
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