Navigating Baja insurance needs can be a challenge. Do I need insurance in Baja? Will my US insurance provide coverage in Baja? How should I buy it, how much does it cost, and who do I call to make a claim?
You should be asking yourself all of these questions before driving across the border into Baja California, Mexico. Even if you’re only visiting Tijuana.
A traffic infraction or an accident could happen at any moment. It’s up to you to be prepared, not only to protect your valuables, but also to abide by the law! Not having Mexican car insurance could be a costly mistake.
This post is going to tell you all that you need to know about buying car insurance for Mexico. Why you need Mexican car insurance, what to look for while shopping for it, and where to buy your Baja insurance policy.
After reading this, you’ll be able to visit Mexico with the proper insurance coverage. More importantly, you can sleep like a baby knowing that if anything goes wrong, you have the right people and companies on your side.
Do I Need Baja Insurance?
Let me answer one question right away: YES! You need to buy a Mexican car insurance policy!
You need to purchase a proper Mexican insurance policy BEFORE crossing into Mexico. Every driver is legally required to have a Mexican-issued insurance policy with specific minimum liability coverage.
Now here’s the good part. It’s easy to get an excellent Mexican insurance policy for a reasonable price, from a trusted underwriter, through an agent who will always be around to help!
But maybe you’re not so convinced that you need it. Or why Baja Bound is the best insurance provider for Mexico. We understand. And we wrote this post to help you answer those questions.
Do I Really Need a Mexican Car Insurance Policy?
Yes! Mexican law requires sufficient liability coverage in order to drive legally on the roads in Mexico, including the Baja Peninsula. There are consequences for failing to do so. At best, getting fined when pulled over for other infractions. At worst, charged with felony-level crimes if you get into a serious accident.
What happens if you don’t notice that lower speed limit or transmission-destroying speed bump? Perhaps you make a small error while navigating Tijuana’s 4-lane-wide roundabouts, complete with stoplights in the middle and a labyrinth of crosswalks threaded through?
That simple mistake can turn into a headache, even with the proper insurance. Without proof of a Mexican-issued insurance policy, it can lead to another level of disaster.
All of this isn’t even mentioning the financial problems that can result if you get into an accident. Whether it’s your fault or not.
But My Friend Said…
If you turn to Facebook or the word-on-the-street, you might find a lot of terrible advice. Suzy Q might say she’s been “traveling in Baja for 20 years, never ONCE bought insurance and NEVER had a problem.”
You know what that’s called? Blind, stupid luck.
Stupid risk-taking by avoiding a small upfront cost to protect valuables (and medical bills) worth much more.
And lucky that they’ve (1) been able to skirt around the law and (2) not needed to make an insurance claim, especially one where another party is absent (theft), doesn’t have proper insurance, or when you are at fault and can end up in jail.
Don’t follow that advice. Just as you shouldn’t follow advice telling you to drive drunk or to evade taxes, you shouldn’t follow advice telling you that Mexican car insurance isn’t mandatory.
Proper insurance isn’t only legally-required, it’s the smart thing to do.
Who Should I Buy it From? Easy: Baja Bound
Baja Bound Mexican Insurance is our hands-down top recommendation. They are an experienced team with top-tier insurance solutions who stand behind what they sell.
Let’s talk about experience. John Morton founded Baja Bound in 1994 with a brick-and-mortar shop at the San Diego to Tijuana border crossing. John’s son Hank established their online presence BajaBound.com way back in 1999. Hank remains the President of Baja Bound and brings his decades of experience, plus a full team of support, to the table.
How about trustworthiness? Baja Bound is a US-based insurance company, regulated by the California Departmet of Insurance (license number 0D25373). They carry professional liability insurance policy, meaning that even if something falls through the cracks, there’s another layer of protection you can turn to. Everything about this company is trustworthy, even down to their website, which utilizes proper encryption methods to keep your information secure.
More than anything, we recommend Baja Bound because of the way they sell insurance and who they choose to partner with.
Baja Bound Mexican Insurance are DIRECT AGENTS for the insurance companies. This means that they don’t just sell insurance, then run away. They stand behind what they sell and can be around to assist with claims.
If you end up having one of those terrible days when you actually have to file a claim, they will be there to help out. Their bilingual staff bridges the gap between yourself and the big insurance company. Having someone in your corner on those days can be priceless.
A lot of other insurance salespeople are sub-agents. This means they simply sell the policy and move on. If you call them, they’ll refer you to the insurance company and get back to selling.
The other reason we trust Baja Bound more than anyone else is that they use two very reputable insurance underwriters (the companies which actually provide the insurance coverage). Through Baja Bound’s partnerships with Chubb and HDI, they can make sure to get you solid coverage at a reasonable rate.
Both Chubb and HDI are rated mxAAA by Standard and Poors. They’re international companies with well-known reputations. They settle claims in US dollars whenever possible and pay US/Canadian rates for labor. There’s no messing around with unknown names and additional risk.
By now, you should be able to see why you should go ahead and purchase your Baja insurance policy through Baja Bound. Click here to get an instant quote for your Baja insurance.
If you’re not quite convinced, keep reading.
Does My US Insurance Policy Provide Coverage in Mexico?
The short answer: No, it does not provide the coverage required by Mexican law.
The long answer: A lot of insurance companies in the United States simply do not provide any coverage in Mexico. A minority of US and Canadian insurance policies provide some coverage. But it always comes with limits and is never enough to meet Mexican law.
Sometimes they provide limited coverage if you stay within 25 (or maybe 100) miles of the border. The real catch is that these protections are almost-always limited to comprehensive claims. Meaning that they might reimburse you for damages or theft, not for your liability to third parties.
And even if they do have some form of liability protection, if your policy is not issued through a Mexican insurance company, it does not meet the requirements for Mexican law.
So sure, go ahead and contact your US insurer to see what coverage they have, but understand they are just providing a fringe benefit in case harm comes your way. Not providing you with all you need to comply with Mexican law.
Baja Bound is different. They know what it takes to meet the legal requirements AND get sufficient insurance coverage.
How Much is Mexican Car Insurance Per Day?
Quite affordable! While the price of Mexican car insurance per day can vary wildly, generally speaking it’s quite low.
Short periods (less than 2 weeks) will be the most costly per day, while long term policies (multiple months) will have a lower per-day cost.
And of course, like all insurance, the cost of the premiums vary based on the coverage you choose and the value of the things you want insured.
The coverage options are quite similar to what US-based carriers have: liability, full (comprehensive) coverage, and special add-ons.
You need liability protection to adhere to Mexican law; this covers the costs you might face if you get into an accident with someone else and it’s determined you are at fault. Liability is the minimum requirement.
Full-coverage, also known as comprehensive coverage, is a bit more costly, but a wise decision. It helps replace your own valuables if you get into an accident that is your fault, if the person at fault does not have sufficient funds/coverage, or if the loss is caused by something like fire or theft.
Unless you’re ready to walk away from your vehicle without getting anything in return, you should absolutely consider comprehensive coverage.
You can get other benefits depending on the specific package you choose. This can include additional medical coverage, pet coverage, and roadside assistance.
As always, you should read the fine print of the policy you agree to. Those are the terms that truly matter and the only thing you have to fall back on if the worst case comes up. “But Bob said on the phone” doesn’t hold any value in court.
Length of Mexican Car Insurance Coverage
You can buy policies based on whatever the amount of time you need, with a maximum policy period of one year.
I suggest getting a longer policy than you anticipate needing because we all know how travel can go. Unforeseen delays happen and you should expect the unexpected. Don’t allow a small change in plans lead to extra stress due to a lack of insurance coverage.
More importantly, the difference in cost between a couple weeks of coverage and up to 6 months of coverage might be surprisingly similar. Even if you’re only coming for a week or two, get a quote on a longer policy in case you decide to return.
And if you’re considering multiple trips, then absolutely look into getting a longer policy instead of multiple short policies.
Why is it that longer policies don’t cost much more than relatively short ones? Because of how they handle refunds.
Can I Get a Refund from Baja Bound?
First, let’s clarify that Baja Bound are the insurance agents while the underwriters are the insurance providers. Meaning that Baja Bound helps you navigate, purchase, and deal with the insurance providers (Chubb and HDI).
That means refunds, ultimately, are up to Chubb and HDI. But I can assure you that Baja Bound will do its best to help you get what you need.
You should never buy an insurance policy knowing that you’ll need a refund. Just wait until you have more certainty to buy it. With Baja Bound’s easy-to-navigate online portal, you can buy it shortly before you come across (make sure to print it off first). Most policies are approved in a matter of minutes, but it can take a few days if special approval is required.
We understand life happens and sometimes you don’t need what you bought. If your coverage term hasn’t started yet, there is a decent chance you can get a refund. Make sure to reach out as soon as you know you want a refund.
On the other hand, if the coverage term has already passed, your likelihood of getting a refund is basically zero.
If you are part-way through your policy, a partial refund might be possible. But it’s unlikely. Not because they won’t do it, but because you’ve probably already used up the value.
Mexican insurance underwriters usually offer refunds based on a daily rate. They do not use a pro-rated rate of your entire period. Since the daily rates are much higher than long-term rates, you can eat through a 6-month policy in a matter of weeks.
This is why we suggest reviewing longer policy terms if there is any chance you might use your policy for a longer period. There might not be a change in the price of premium to get a longer policy!
And never buy insurance with the plan to get a refund.
Border Zone and the Baja Peninsula Special Rules
You might know that the area in Mexico close to the United State’s border, the Baja Peninsula (the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur), and the state of Sonora have some special rules.
A major one is that you don’t need a temporary import permit (TIP) for your vehicle. Which makes traveling to Baja very easy.
But this has zero impact on insurance requirements.
You need proper Mexican insurance as soon as you drive an inch into Mexico, even if you’re only going to stay near the border, in Baja, or in Sonora.
But guess what! Baja Bound offers discounts for policies that are used to only visit those areas. Click here to get a quote and make sure to click the right box for the discount.
Do I Need an FMM? Could It Impact My Insurance Coverage?
An FMM is the visa-like permit that people from the US, Canada, and many other countries need to visit Mexico. And just like Mexican car insurance, it is not optional.
But Suzy says… Yes, you might see on Facebook (or hear from friends) that some US or Canadian citizens never get an FMM when driving to Mexico. They are visiting Mexico illegally. It IS a legal requirement for visitors to Mexico to have proper immigration status, which usually means getting an FMM. You can also get temporary residence visas, permanent residence visas, and work-related visas.
But then why doesn’t anyone else stop at the border? Many people that live near the border and cross daily have long-standing permits to be in both countries legally. They might be Mexican citizens with US permits, US citizens with Mexican permits (including an FMM), or dual citizens.
Mexican authorities have been getting a bit tougher on FMM compliance. I’ve seen it first-hand at a ferry terminal going to Belize (people denied the ability to board the boat) and have heard increasing accounts of people getting asked for them (and fined when failing to show them). It DOES happen, and like a lot of things at the border, as time goes on, the amount of enforcement is going up.
And you know what? It takes minutes to get an FMM. You can fill out the paperwork and purchase it online in advance, then stop at the border to have it validated. It’s free for up to 7 days or costs about $30 for up to 180 days (6 months).
Would you travel to Europe or Asia without adhering to the immigration laws of the country you visit? Do you expect people to adhere to your country’s laws? While there is a decent chance you’ll never need to show it to someone, the are times when police or other authority figures request proof of your legal presence in a foreign country.
You are traveling to a foreign country. Be a respectful traveler and get your FMM.
Does this impact your car insurance coverage?
Facebook groups will likely tell you “no way!” And I’ve seen insurance salesmen say they “called insurance providers” who told them their company would never deny a claim due to immigration status. I’ve also read knowledge articles showing the opposite and not having an FMM could result in denial of your claim.
Here’s the truth. Insurance companies live and die by one rule: Pay claims only when obligated to. And I have read accounts of people being denied insurance claims due to a lack of FMM. Is it justified? Probably not. But it could at minimum provide an insurance company with one more hurdle for you to jump over before paying out your claim.
How do I know this? I have had the unfortunate experience of studying insurance law while obtaining my JD. And I have worked for law firms engaged in auto insurance claims. Insurance is a brutal industry and settling insurance claims can be like going to battle. One where the insurance company is a well-oiled machine who has seen this situation a million times.
Insurance companies are basically a group of bankers and lawyers who team up. They go through every case with a fine-tooth comb to see if there is any way the covered party didn’t live up to the terms in the contract.
Having proper immigration status might not be a specified term, but believe it or not, there ARE individuals who say their claims were denied due to a lack of an FMM.
Get your FMM! It takes a matter of minutes and a small fee if your trip is longer than 7 days. Don’t travel illegally to another country and don’t give an insurance company anything to use against you.
Baja Insurance Claim Phone Number
So you have to file a claim. Sounds like you’re already not having a great day.
If you’re dealing with a roadside problem, hopefully you’ve followed our tips for traveling in Baja and have plenty of supplies. There are a lot of remote areas which will be no fun to break down in.
If you purchased a policy with roadside coverage, start there. But make sure to have an idea of where you want to be towed to, if you can ride in the truck or not (pets?), and other essential questions BEFORE the truck comes to get you.
If you’ve just been in an accident, take a moment to collect yourself and if possible, leave the vehicles as they are. If anyone needs medical attention, that’s the priority.
Then you’ll want to report and document the accident. Call 911 to get police and an accident investigator (perito) sent to the site. You can also document the situation with photos and videos. You must report the accident to the police and your insurance company before leaving Mexico if you want to have any chance at making a claim.
Be friendly to all parties. No one has fun at a scene of an accident. Being angry or rude will only lessen your chances of receiving help.
After that, your next priority is to report the accident to your insurance agency, Chubb or HDI if you buy your insurance through Baja Bound. Both have bilingual representatives who can help with starting the claims process, often starting with an adjuster being sent to the scene. Again, try not to move the vehicles before the adjuster says it’s alright.
If you feel you might need an attorney, tell the agent as soon as possible.
While you should be able to make your claim through Chubb or HDI directly, if you’re having trouble or feel like you need someone to interact with Chubb or HDI on your behalf, reach out to Baja Bound at +1 (888) 552-2252 or use their contact form.
Having insurance claims resolved can be ugly, even in the best of scenarios when it happens close to home with no language barrier and no international issues. If something happens, understand that you might be asked for specific information and documents. Do your best to provide those in a timely manner.
And if you think you might need additional protection, especially if you have been injured and have to take time off of work, then look into local legal representation. While often not necessary, hiring an experience attorney can make a major difference in how your case is handled.
Reviews of Baja Bound Insurance Claims
But there’s nothing better than hearing from customers who have gone through claims after purchasing Mexican car insurance through Baja Bound. Here are a couple testimonials:
“I will never drive south of the border without Baja Bound in my center console. I was in an accident a couple hours south of Ensenada and the Mexican insurance company sent an adjuster out for the claim. A couple hours later, the adjuster informed me that the claim was denied. I called Baja Bound shortly after on my drive towards the boarder and spoke to Yara. She calmed me down a little and promised to reach out to the insurance company herself and get back to me. I didn’t have any expectations of things going better, but over the course of a couple weeks, Yara had the claim approved and had an adjuster sent to my house to check out the truck for an estimate. A week after the adjuster left, I received a check in the mail that will completely cover all repairs. I can’t imagine that this story would be the same without the efforts of Yara and Baja Bound. Thank you!” Blake, Midway City, CA
“I never used to buy insurance for Mexico…then, I caved and got it with Baja Bound and very glad I did! First, the online purchase process was easy. I have a Sentri pass, so I qualified for one of the highly discounted Sentri Saver policies. For my Prius, I think it was like $180/year. Not bad 🙂 I filled in information and BOOM! In less than 5 minutes I had the insurance policy and proof of insurance in my email. Anyways, one night, while heading to Ensenada for work, I was on the toll road when one of my tires blew. I lost control of my car and went over the edge of the road, rolling over 4 or 5 times (thank God I’m alive!) down a small cliff. Although the claims process was a little challenging, Hank and his professional team at Baja Bound walked me through the process and helped me in a BIG way. If I had been on my own or with a less proactive and experienced company, I may have been screwed. They were amazing. Highly recommended.” David, Azusa, CA
Baja Insurance Pay Online
It’s official. You know all that you need to know about car insurance for visiting Baja, Mexico. Now it’s time to make it happen!
You’re going to need the vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate information, lien holder (if you have a loan for it), the length of the any trailers, and your driver’s license.
Policies can be purchased in a matter of minutes. If special approval is required, a short delay of a fed days is possible.
The last step is to print out the proof of insurance! It’s wise to print out multiple copies and store one in the vehicle and one of your person (in case of theft). You will receive an emailed copy but you can request a physically mailed copy too.
Make sure you have the phone number for Chubb or HDI to make a claim and for roadside assistance, if you purchased a policy with that coverage.
Keep Baja Bound’s toll-free hotline +1 (888) 552-2252 nearby too!
Summary of Baja Bound Mexican Insurance
Yes, you need Mexican insurance to visit Baja! Yes, you need it protect yourself and your valuables, even if you have a US policy. And yes, you know exactly who to buy it from.
Visit Baja Bound and be ready for your Baja adventure today!
Is there anything you want to add about Baja insurance? Leave a comment below with your thoughts!