Let’s say you decide to take a trip to Mexico. While driving along, you suffer a breakdown or worse an accident. You are in a foreign country where you are not familiar with local businesses. Getting your car repaired might seem like a big challenge. How do you get help in this situation? What should you have on hand to lessen the impact of the damage.
Americans traveling in Mexico shouldn’t worry unduly about protection. If you carry Mexican car insurance and take security precautions, you’ll often find breakdowns mere inconveniences. Still, preparedness is key.
How to Deal with Breakdowns
We all find flat tires, overheated engines or dead batteries irritating. On a trip, this often proves even truer. You are in a place that’s new to you. You might not know how to find a mechanic or dealership that can fix the damage. Plus, you run the risk of becoming stranded without a vehicle.
During foreign travel, these occurrences might prove a bit scary. Mexico’s a different place, after all, and you might need help receiving repairs. Here are some of the steps you might need to take to stay prepared.
- Keep a few do-it-yourself tools in the car. These might include a wrench, car jack and spare tire. You might also be wise to carry a small quantity of oil, wiper fluid, and a portable gasoline canister. Don’t forget to keep a jumper cable set or an automatic battery charger in your kit.
- If you stop on the side of the road, take precautions to keep yourself safe. Place warning cones or flashers to warn others of your presence.
- It’s generally not a good idea to accept help from passing motorists. Highway banditry can occur in Mexico, and some criminals prey on stranded motorists.
- Most Mexican mechanics are able to repair your vehicle, at reasonable prices. However, drivers should use their own judgment when selecting a provider. Some mechanics might not have the experience or equipment to repair your car.
Here’s an added perk that might prove invaluable. The Mexican Secretary of Tourism funds a group called the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes). They are essentially roadside assistance. By dialing 078, you can call a dispatcher who will send these licensed mechanics to your service.
The Green Angels travel on most major Mexican highways and toll roads. They provide mechanical services as well as accident support. They generally carry a full array of mechanical supplies and provide free services. However, drivers might have to pay for certain parts or replacements. Tipping is, of course, a nice gesture. Keep in mind, the Green Angels are not available in every location. You can still call 078, or contact the authorities for more assistance.
Keep in mind, your car insurance will likely not cover the damage from a simple breakdown. Some policies might cover roadside help, towing or rental cars. Still, qualifications will vary. Check your policy for more information.
Assistance for Wrecks
A car wreck in Mexico is much more serious than a simple breakdown. You’ll have to approach all accidents with care for yourself and others.
Immediately following an accident, contact the authorities. The police will respond to the accident and take a crash report. They’ll also need to determine fault in the accident. Because of Mexican law, some people might be temporarily detained until the authorities settle fault and damage claims. If you have Mexican insurance, contact your insurance company immediately so an adjuster can meet you at the scene to represent you.
All Mexican drivers must have auto insurance, including Americans traveling in Mexico. However, Mexican law does not recognize American car insurance policies. That means American travelers must get a Mexican policy before crossing the border.
You can usually obtain coverage fairly easily, and only for the duration of your stay. With Sanborn's Mexico Insurance, your policy will come from a reputable, trustworthy Mexican insurance company. Your coverage can generally contain several elements of protection:
- Collision coverage to pay for damage to your vehicle
- Liability insurance for damage or injuries you cause others (This is required by Mexican law.)
- Theft, fire and weather damage coverage (comprehensive protection)
- Uninsured motorist coverage
- Roadside assistance
- Gap coverage
- Legal assistance coverage, including bail bond
- Travel assistance coverage to help drivers return home
- Coverage for repairs made in the U.S.
Like with American insurance, you can choose coverage limits that benefit your needs. You can also usually choose different deductibles to ensure your financial solvency. Most Mexican insurers respond immediately to claims request and provide bilingual services for American drivers. Therefore, as soon as an accident occurs, contact your insurer. They will dispatch a claims specialist to your location.
Keep in mind, settling the damage of a wreck involving other drivers might take time. It will also likely involve a different process than you are familiar with. So, don’t hesitate to use your policy protection to its maximum. Work with a claims representative and your legal provider to settle the damage. At the end of the day, you can wrap up damage to your satisfaction.
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