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Car Insurance to Go to Mexico

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Things to remember...
  • If you’re driving south to Mexico, your auto policy will only protect you for a few miles after crossing the border
  • Most policy forms will provide coverage as long as you don’t pass the Border Zone while in your car
  • Most companies have defined the Border Zone as any area within 10 to 20 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border
  • If your car is financed, you need to get permission to drive in Mexico from your lender before you cross the border
  • Driving past the Border Zone creates the need to apply for a driving permit and special auto insurance in Mexico

Mexico is a wonderful place to visit. As a tourist, you can enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine while you shop and explore a new, culturally diverse land.

If you live just north of the border, Mexico could be just minutes away from your home. No matter how close it may be to you, you still have to comply with unique laws pertaining to driving and insurance when you step foot on Mexican soil.

You can drive in Mexico with your U.S. license and U.S. auto insurance up to a point. Once you pass that point, the Border Zone, you have to apply for a permit and a policy just to drive throughout the country.

Compare car insurance quotes for the coverage you need today by entering your zip code above.

Staying protected in a country like Mexico is crucial. Here’s what you need to know before you go to Mexico:

If you have personal car insurance in the U.S. are you covered?

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You could cover your vehicle the with most comprehensive car insurance policy and still be at risk of suffering an uninsured loss if you assume that you have protection when crossing borders.

You should never assume that keeping your premiums paid will automatically keep you protected.

A domestic car insurance policy is meant to protect you while you’re driving your car domestically and not internationally.

With this being said, your policy does still afford you some protection so that you have time to visit a Mexican insurance agency to get specialized coverage. There are major restrictions.

What are the restrictions under your U.S. policy?

If you buy insurance in California or another state bordering Mexico, your policy probably had a provision written into it that will offer you a limited extension of coverage that protects your car in the event of an accident.

Since Mexican liability laws are very different from American laws, your U.S. liability coverage won’t extend. Here are some restrictions:

  • Only some Personal Auto Policies have provisions that protect you when driving into Mexico or Canada
  • If there is a provision that extends coverage, you are only afforded protection while you’re in the Border Zone
  • You can only be staying within the Border Zone for a period of 10 days or less for coverage
  • Many carriers will only pay for comprehensive or collision claims within the Border Zone and not liability losses

What does the insurer mean by the Border Zone?

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The term Border Zone is a very broad one. It’s typically the zone in Mexico right by the U.S. border where Free Trade is allowed.

Insurers may cover you beyond the Border Zone, but most of the time the coverage ends as soon as the free-trade zone ends. In Mexico, the border zone is 20 to 30 kilometers from the U.S. border.

Since every insurer and policy form offers a different type of coverage restriction in Mexico, it’s in your best interest to contact your agent and ask for the details in writing.

If you have it all laid out for you in writing, you can protect yourself from claims denials or go too far into the country for too long without buying a different policy.

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Make Sure You Have Permission Before Crossing the Border

You don’t just need permission from your insurer to drive over the border if your car is financed, you also need to ask the lender for permission to drive the financed car in Mexico.

You’ll need to get your permission in writing before any insurer will write you insurance in Mexico.

Most borrowers can get permission by making a phone call and explaining the purpose of the trip. If you’re caught driving a financed car into Mexico and you don’t have that written proof, claims could be denied and the car could eventually be impounded.

What if you’re going to rent a car to drive into Mexico?

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If you’d prefer not to risk it by driving your car over the border where there are questionable practices, you could just rent a car. If you’re renting a car at the airport or at a satellite agency in the U.S., make sure you’re allowed to take the car into Mexico first.

Some rentals are only allowed in certain states and some are just for people who are going to travel out of the country. It’s better to choose an agency that specializes in rentals to Mexico to avoid running into some serious contractual and legal issues.

If you do rent a car, your personal insurance isn’t going to extend to the rental like it would if you were in the U.S.

How do you insure a rental car?

When you drive in the United States, your existing personal car insurance does extend to the rental because it’s classified as a temporary substitute auto. You’re not afforded that luxury if the rental is out of the country.

That’s why you need to get special rental car insurance through the Mexican rental agency.

There are a variety of different types of insurance that you can purchase on rentals that provide you with a high level of protection. It’s up to you to choose which types of insurance you want to pay a daily rate for and which options you want to reject.

Here are some types of coverage that are available on rentals:

  • Basic Personal Liability Insurance – this coverage is mandatory and it pays for injury and damage to others if you hit someone in the rented vehicle
  • Supplemental Liability Insurance – this offers addition coverage after the basic $50,000 is exhausted. Since that equates to $3,800 in the U.S., you should seriously consider buying supplemental liability protection
  • Loss Damage Waiver – you don’t have to purchase a damage waiver that pays to repair the rental but you should buy it so that you don’t have to pay for damages regardless of who is at fault in an accident
  • Personal Accident Insurance – will pay for your medical expenses if you or passengers in your car suffer injuries in a car accident in Mexico. Since you’re out of the country, you may have limited health insurance coverage

Do you need a special license to drive in Mexico?

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The U.S. has strict licensing requirements for tourists who want to drive in the states while they are visiting. Mexico also has it’s own driving laws for tourists.

You can drive into the country with your state-issued driver’s license, but you will need to apply for a Temporary Import Permit so that you can drive your car past the Border Zone. The TIP costs $50 and it’s only issued by the Mexican Treasury.

Can you get special coverage on your personal vehicle?

It’s very easy to buy temporary Mexican insurance on your car for protection. You can either apply for the coverage online or you can get it when you’re crossing the border.

Getting quotes can ensure you get a good rate for protection on your car that doesn’t have all of the restrictions.

You should do your research to master driving in Mexico as a tourist. It’s best to stick to the toll roads and avoid driving at night to avoid nasty conditions on foreign roadways.

If you want to enjoy freedom on the open road in Mexico, be sure to price the cost of Mexican insurance.

Get online quotes before you hit the customs check and then you’re not obligated to pay more for protection. Compare quotes right here today!

References:
  1. http://insurance.illinois.gov/autoinsurance/auto_mexico.asp
  2. https://www.sandiego.org/articles/baja-california/documentation-you-need-to-cross-the-usmexico-border.aspx
  3. http://www.discoverbaja.com/mexican-auto-insurance/auto-insurance-frequently-asked-questions/
  4. https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/cargo-security/cargo-control/foreign-trade-zones/about
  5. http://traveltips.usatoday.com/passport-requirements-cross-mexican-border-americans-21699.html
  6. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2001-08-16/news/0108150468_1_leased-vehicle-canada-or-mexico-loan-and-lease
  7. https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/248/~/taking-%2F-bringing-a-car-%2F-vehicle-into-or-out-of-the-u.s.-that-belongs-to-a
  8. http://www.sfgate.com/mexico/mexicomix/article/Renting-a-car-in-Mexico-What-you-need-to-know-3787891.php
  9. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-gibson/the-hidden-cost-of-car-re_b_4633563.html
  10. https://www.mexicomike.com/livebetter/car_permit.htm

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