This is the time of year when many Americans travel internationally. The tail of the holiday season, coupled with often-lowered travel rates, make this a prime time to hit the road. For many, this will mean traveling south to Mexico. But while driving across the southern border often proves strictly routine, it also has its danger zones. What can you do to make your road trip this winter more secure? Are there ways to create a more secure environment for your car?
International driving can usually go off without a hitch. However, it is a driver who has to take responsibility for their own safety. Plan ahead, and you might be able to avoid a lot of hassles down the road, literally.
Your Vehicle Obligations
Crossing the international border means you’ll face an entirely new set of driving risks. You’ll also enter an entirely new legal jurisdiction. Therefore, the way in which you operate your vehicle might change. In many ways, you won’t even notice. However, key differences will exist. Therefore, you have to travel legally.
Your first job is to ensure your vehicle’s U.S. titles and registration are up to date. Then, you might need to obtain a vehicle import permit. However, whether you need the permit will depend on where to travel. If you will only travel within the U.S.-Mexico Free Zone, then you will not need the permit.
This free zone exists, generally, in areas close to the border and in certain popular tourist destinations. If you ever leave this zone, you will likely need the vehicle import permit. You can buy it before your trip, and cancel it upon your return.
Furthermore, you’ll also need to enroll in a Mexican car insurance policy. While Mexico will recognize your U.S. driver’s license, it will not recognize your existing U.S. car insurance. This is due to differences between the countries’ insurance laws. Nevertheless, Mexico requires all drivers, including Americans, to get this coverage.
What Should Your Insurance Cover?
Mexican car insurance is one of the most critical pieces of personal protection you can carry on Mexican roadways. It is for your safety, the safety of your car and the safety of others that you must have protection. If you don’t carry it, you might place yourself in the way of various penalties, up to and including arrest.
So, what should your Mexican auto insurance policy cover? Most people will see a lot of similarities between their U.S. policy. However, the coverage will conform to Mexican insurance rules. Some of your coverage might include:
- Liability insurance: If you hit another vehicle, you could cause the other driver personal damage and injuries. The law will likely hold you responsible for the damage. Therefore, this coverage can help you cover the other party’s damage.
- Physical damage insurance: Damage to your own vehicle could cost thousands of dollars. However, if you have physical damage insurance, you can often pay to repair those damages.
- Medical payments insurance: If you get hurt in a wreck, this coverage might help pay for your treatment.
- Legal insurance: Detainment by police might occur following an at-fault accident. This coverage can help you attain bond, get a lawyer and provide other assistance.
- U.S. repair options: You’ll likely want to repair your vehicle in the states on your return home. This coverage option might help you do so.
- Travel assistance: If you need help getting home following a wreck or other vehicle loss, this coverage can help. It might pay for assistance like rental cars, hotels or plane tickets to help you get home.
Keep in mind, policies will vary widely. Therefore, talk to one of our experienced agents to help you get the most appropriate coverage. We work with experienced Mexican insurance companies to offer our clients top-rated coverage.
Safety Protection on Your Trip
While auto insurance coverage is important, it is not your only line of defense. You’ll need to take protective steps to keep your vehicle safe on Mexican roadways. Some of these might include:
- Take extra time as you drive. While Mexican driving laws don’t vary exceptionally from American law, driving customs do. You’ll therefore need to remain alert at all times.
- Do not drive at night, particularly in rural areas. Some of the threats on local roadways might include loose livestock, pedestrians and even highway crime.
- Do not stop for anyone except an official police vehicle. Certain criminals try to con Americans to stop under the guise of needing help with a broken car.
- Whenever you exit your vehicle, lock it up tight. Arm the security system and consider using extra protection like a kill switch or steering bar.
- Do not leave your valuables on full display in the vehicle. Lock particularly expensive items in the trunk.
- Generally, you should keep to the major Mexican roadways. The Mexican toll road system is an affordable and secure way to traverse the country. These roads are well-maintained, safe and policed. Indeed, the Mexican government supports a roadside assistance program on toll roads called the Green Angles (Angeles Verdes). They can provide immediate assistance in case of car trouble.
- In an emergency, contact the police, either by dialing 066 or 911.
The biggest key to remember on the roads is to obey the law. The more you pay attention to your surroundings, the safer you will often prove. Therefore, keep an eye on yourself and your vehicle at all times. In the end, you’ll likely find your Mexican vacation very worthwhile.
Also Read: Driving in Mexico? You Might Need a Vehicle Permit