Is My U.S. Coverage Enough to Drive to Mexico?
The short answer is no. If you plan to take your own (or a rented or leased) car into Mexico, you need to purchase Mexican car insurance. Driving a vehicle into Mexico without the required insurance is not a good idea. If you are involved in an accident, or you get stopped for any reason by Mexican police, you could face fines from $250 to $1000.
Purchasing your auto insurance head of time is a good option, since it checks one more thing off your list of items you must do before crossing any border into a foreign country. You’ll find a handy list of what you need to cross the border into Mexico, as well as some tips and suggestions on how to travel safely there at the bottom of this blog.
Meanwhile, make it easier on yourself by purchasing cheap Mexican car insurance online that meets all the legal requirements ahead of your trip.
What Makes Mexican Car Insurance Different?
Mexican car insurance is not that different from the coverage you have in the U.S. It offers financial protection for:
· Medical costs: Your insurance will help cover the costs of medical bills you or your passengers rack up after a wreck, regardless of who is at fault.
· Premier Package: If an uninsured driver causes an accident, this coverage will help pay for repairs to your vehicle with no deductible, and increases your medical expenses by 50%.
· Liability: As in the U.S., your liability insurance helps pay for physical damage or medical bills other parties have as a result of an accident you caused.
· Roadside assistance: Roadside assistance is always good, even in your home country, but it can be especially helpful in a foreign country.
· Property damage: You can purchase an equivalent to collision and comprehensive to help pay for repairs to your vehicle under covered events, but you must already have those coverages on your U.S. policy to be eligible to purchase it on your Mexican policy.
Don’t forget - to drive in Mexico, you need a valid U.S. driver’s license.
Isn’t There a Free Zone Where I Don’t Need to Buy Mexican Insurance?
There is a free zone in Mexico, but it doesn’t have anything to do with car insurance. This area is also called the hassle-free zone, because it is easier to go there, but you still have to buy Mexican car insurance.
The thing that makes the hassle-free zone different from traveling in the rest of Mexico is you do not have to purchase a temporary import permit (TIP) to bring your vehicle there. There will be more on the TIP later, but suffice it to say for now, you’ll still need a specific type of auto coverage to go there.
This area is in the Baja peninsula, so it encompasses many of the popular destinations, such as Rocky Point and Valle de Guadalupe, a destination many wine aficionados have on their bucket list.
Coverage for a Rental Car
If you fly into Mexico and rent a car there or you decide to rent a car in the states and drive it to Mexico, here are a few tips that will help you on the journey.
Renting a Car in Mexico
Rental car companies may be owned by a national or well-known chain or they may be owned by an independent person. Some independently owned car rental companies may not accept car insurance you have purchased from anyone but them. So, it’s always best to ask first. If you can purchase Mexican car insurance for a rental car from an outside agency, be sure and buy it in advance so the process is streamlined when you get to the agency.
Renting a Car in the U.S.
Most major U.S. rental car companies allow you to drive a rental across the border. However, they each have different rules and guidelines and almost all of them will charge an extra fee. You will still need to purchase Mexican car insurance, but you have to confirm with the rental car company if you can buy the coverage with a third party such as Sanborn’s Mexico Insurance. It can only be purchased in specific states in the U.S., such as Arizona, Texas and California.
Coverage for a Leased Vehicle
If your vehicle is financed or leased (or borrowed), you must have a notarized permission letter from the owner – among other required documents – in order to take it across the border. Your lender will usually require a certain amount of coverage in order to write a letter of permission.
What Other Documents do I Need to Enter Mexico?
Before crossing the border into Mexico, you’ll need to present the following documents:
- Proof of citizenship for U.S. and Canadian tourists (e.g. valid passport and government-issued birth certificate)
- Automobile insurance from a Mexican car insurance company
- Proof of car registration
- Temporary Importation Permit (TIP): This is necessary to drive a car into any other area except the free zone in Mexico. You can purchase this document online prior to your trip. The cost of the TIP includes a non-refundable fee of between $40 to $60 and a refundable deposit based on the age of the vehicle.
- Government-issued tourist card (FMM): All international visitors are required to have an FMM (tourist card). Check online for information.
Purchasing as many of these as possible before your trip will save valuable time at the border. By the way, you can check this government website for current border wait times.
Off to Mexico!
So, now you are ready to pile in the car and head for a sun-filled vacation with fiestas and cervezas! Here are some tips that will help keep your trip smooth and stress free.
· Do your traveling during the daylight hours.
· If you get into an accident, never give your insurance card to the other parties involved and make your own call to your insurance agency.
· Don’t wander around at night unless you are with a group in a designated night-life area, such as a well-lit, crowded restaurant and bar area.
· Don’t get drunk. If you over-imbibe, make sure you have a friend (who you know well) there to get you back to where you are staying safely.
· Leave the valuable jewelry at home.
· Keep your cash in your pockets.
· Don’t accept a drink from someone you don’t know and don’t leave your drink unattended.
Most of the ways to stay safe while traveling in Mexico involve using common sense. As with traveling anywhere tourists hang out, pickpocketing is rampant. You can purchase special over-the-body purses to carry your cash and cell phone. If you plan to venture into areas unfrequented by tourists, have a special local guide.
Purchase Cheap Mexican Car Insurance Before You Leave
The folks at Sanborn’s Mexican Car Insurance have been helping U.S. travelers find affordable and legal car insurance for more than 75 years. You can find plenty of helpful information on their website to make your trip safe and stress free. Give them a call today at (800) 222-0158, check them out online for a free quote or stop by one of many convenient locations along the U.S./Mexico border.