Car Insurance When Driving In Mexico

By Urijah Miscall

If you’re an American citizen planning to drive your car in Mexico, be absolutely sure you’re in compliance with the law before you cross the border. In terms of car insurance, that means purchasing a temporary policy from an insurance company recognized and licensed by Mexico. Like it or not, your U.S. car insurance is no good south of the border — not even if you’re just going to Tijuana for a couple of hours of shopping before returning home.

A lot of people are confused by this given the fact they can drive their vehicles in Canada without separate insurance. But Mexico is not Canada. While the U.S. and Canada have a reciprocal insurance arrangement in which both countries recognize insurance policies from the other, Mexico and the U.S. have no such agreement. As such, your American car insurance means nothing to a Mexican police officer or accident victim. Without the proper insurance you could be in trouble.

Potential Criminal Action

Too many U.S. citizens take this matter lightly because they don’t understand Mexican law. According to Texas Christian University and a number of other sources, Mexican law treats all car accidents as potential criminal violations. No crime may have actually been committed, but the presumption that one could have been is always applied. A thorough criminal investigation will follow regardless of how minor the accident. That means if you have no valid Mexican car insurance it will be discovered very quickly. You could be fined, thrown in jail, or both.

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Knowing the seriousness of the consequences is it worth the risk of potentially having an accident without proper insurance? Probably not. And even if you’re not involved in the accident, you could still face fines and jail time if you’re pulled over at some sort of roadside stop and found without proper insurance. Cheap car insurance for driving in Mexico is readily available; there’s no reason to cross the border without it.

Purchasing a Policy

If you’re planning to drive in Mexico you have two basic options for acquiring insurance. The first option is to do an online search and purchase a policy ahead of your departure date. This is the best way to do it because it gives you the opportunity to shop around and make sure you understand what you’re getting before you purchase a policy. There are plenty of insurance companies offering cheap car insurance from Mexico all across the web.

If it’s not possible for you to get a policy in advance, there is quite a selection of car insurance agencies in border towns all across the South. You’ll even find some of them that have set up shop within a block or two of the crossing. These “drive in” insurance agencies specialize in cheap Mexican car insurance for American drivers.

The obvious downside to this type of policy is that the insurance agency knows you’re not likely to go shopping up and down the street. That gives them the opportunity to overcharge you or give you a policy that’s inadequate. If you’re going to use this method make sure you get all of your policy documents printed in English. That may end up being the only proof that you purchased what you thought was adequate insurance. If it’s found out the insurance is inadequate the Mexican government and the insurance company will have to work that out among themselves.

Whatever you do, don’t assume you can cross the border with an American insurance policy. No matter what your insurance company tells you, your policy will not be recognized in Mexico.

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