Does US Car Insurance Work in Mexico? The Inside Scoop

Does US car insurance work in Mexico?

Before you drive your US car into Mexico, you must know the insurance requirements. Start is by figuring out if US car insurance works in Mexico.

The short answer is no, US car insurance does not work in Mexico as your only source of coverage. Even if your US policy offers some protection, you must have a Mexican liability policy. This is true even for short trips close to the border.

In this post, we’ll go over:

  • What Mexican car insurance you need in Mexico
  • Why your US coverage is not enough, even if it has some Mexican coverage
  • Where to buy Mexican insurance online

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Mexican Auto Insurance Requirements

The main reason why your US car insurance won’t work in Mexico is because you must have Mexican liability auto insurance. This liability insurance coverage must be provided by a Mexico-based entity.

This insurance covers the costs of any damage you cause to other people. It is a routine requirement to have liability insurance. Liability insurance is there to pay for damage our actions might cause to others.

If you drive in Mexico at all, even just one day within one mile of the border, you must get this Mexican insurance coverage. If you don’t, you are not meeting Mexican law and it can spell trouble.

Will they inspect your insurance at the border to ensure you have the proper coverage? Very unlikely. Do many people drive in Mexico without adequate insurance. Yes, and that’s not a good reason to follow suit. It’s a good reason to get covered.

Do you need car insurance in Mexico? Absolutely. If you don’t have this coverage, you are breaking the law. If you get into an accident or get pulled over without this coverage, you could be facing serious consequences.

What Does My US Insurance Policy Cover in Mexico?

Certain US car insurance policies come with limited coverage for Mexico. This built-in coverage is almost always related to property damage as part of a comprehensive insurance policy.

Even if you have US liability coverage, your US policy does not include the legally required Mexican liability insurance.

This coverage from a US insurer may pay for damage to or theft of your property. But it absolutely, positively does not meet the Mexican requirements for car insurance.

Some US providers provide options to buy Mexican liability car insurance through them. Mexican car insurance from Geico, Allstate, and other big names exist.

It’s must better to get your Mexican car insurance from brokers that specialize in Mexican insurance. They give you personalized attention to get the right Mexican auto policy at the right price. And they can be around to help if things go south.

The lond, rough road going into Calakmul ruins

Mexican Insurance for American Cars

You have a lot of options to buy insurance to drive a US car into Mexico. Let’s go over some of the basics so you can get what you need.

Policy Options

Mexican car insurance for tourists is quite similar to auto insurance in the US. But instead of buying a full-term policy through a big company, most people buy short-term tourist policies from a broker. Other than that, you’ll see many of the same options as you would in the US.

As mentioned above, you must get liability coverage. This is required and it pays for damage you might cause to others.

Then you can decide whether to get full comprehensive/collision coverage or not. This pays for damage that’s either:

  • From your own actions, such as if you run off the road, hit a giant pothole, or cause an accident
  • When someone causes damage and they don’t have adequate insurance

It’s best to get full coverage, including both liability and comprehensive/collision. The only time when you don’t want to pay for comprehensive is when you’re driving a vehicle that you don’t want to insure. If something goes wrong, you’ll just pay for the repair yourself or not get a replacement.

For most people, insurance is about protecting valuable property. In case anything goes wrong, you’ll get money to pay to repair or replace it. Whether you cause the problem or someone else does, it’s what will make things right.

Extra Add-Ons

Most Mexican insurance providers also offer add-ons such as roadside coverage, legal compensation, and rental car reimbursement. They can also include specific terms about getting your vehicle shipped back to the US or Canada for repairs back home.

Many offer (1) a base level package that doesn’t have many add-ons or (2) a premium package that includes most everything you could want. Sometimes you can choose which to add.

Roadside is essential. It typically includes help with roadside issues such as flat tires, as well as towing coverage that is often up to $1,000 USD.

Legal protection is another essential. It provides you with funds to pay for an attorney if you get into serious trouble while driving, such as being accused of causing someone else serious injury or breaking laws.

Rental car reimbursement can be important if you heavily rely on your vehicle and need a way to get around while its being repaired.

General Price of Car Insurance in Mexico

The cost depends on many factors:

  • The length and terms of the policy
  • The value of what’s insured
  • Other risks related to the insured property and drivers

In general, you don’t want to buy overly cheap Mexican auto insurance. There are some popular brands that provide a lot of insurance policies to low-income people looking to buy the cheapest policy. But when it comes to making an actual claim, they can make things very difficult. Be careful when you see advertisements about selling the MOST policies. That does not mean they’re the best. Mapfre and Qualitas are the two companies that have a lower financial rating, and based on our experience, they have a reputation for making claims process very difficult.

Others companies understand their role and have much better reputations. They accept a reasonable premium payment in exchange for understanding that they will pay out when claims come. These are the companies you want to choose. In general, Chubb, HDI Seguros, GNP Seguros, and El Aguila are the most well respected insurance companies in Mexico. They have excellent financial stability with a much better reputation for handling claims.

What’s most important when shopping is:

  1. Get the right policy and coverage 
  2. From a reputable insurance company 
  3. Through an experienced broker

Baja Bound checks all of those boxes. It doesn’t matter where in Mexico you’re going, they can help you out. And they only get policies from the best companies.

Short Term Policy Quirk

There is one strange catch with the pricing structure. Short policies often cost much more per day than longer policies. 

For example, the cost of a 3 week policy can often be about the same as a 6-month policy. Sometimes it can even be MORE expensive to get the shorter policy.

Because of this cost difference, consider getting a longer policy if there’s any chance you’ll stay longer or you’ll make another trip down soon.

Also, if you want to extend your stay, make sure to do so before your existing policy expires. It will be much cheaper to extend an active policy than to start a new short-term policy.

Fun Car in Cozumel, Mexico

Best Place to Get The Car Insurance You Need for Mexico

Now it’s time for the good news. You can buy Mexican car insurance online easily. You can easily and instantly get a free quote online with very little information.

And Baja Bound is my recommended Mexican insurance provider for tourists. And they don’t just do Baja. They’re based near San Diego, but offer insurance policies for any US drivers going to Mexico. They can get you the right Mexican insurance no matter where you’re driving in Mexico!

Some of the many palapas at Progreso Beach near Merida, Yucatan

Baja Bound Mexican Car Insurance

Why Baja Bound? First and foremost, they are true professionals in this niche insurance market. They have been selling Mexico insurance policies to US drivers since 1994, and started their online sales in 1999.

Selling Mexican car insurance in San Ysidro, which is the border crossing near San Diego and Tijuana, is a big competitive market. San Ysidro is the world’s busiest land border crossing, and Baja Bound has been there for nearly three decades helping people do it right. 

Another major reason why I stick with Baja Bound is that they only sell insurance policies from the best Mexican insurance companies. The top two insurance companies are Chubb and HDI Seguros. GNP Seguros and El Aguila are two other top Mexican insurers.

What makes these two the best? It comes down to:

  • The best financial stability ratings
  • Excellent customer service and attention to detail
  • Rapid and fair claim payouts 

Want to guess what insurance providers Baja Bound works with? Chubb and HDI. Only the best.

Baja Bound is not the only insurance broker that offers Mexico car insurance for tourists. One other that I recommend because they only offer policies from reputable insurance companies is Mexico Insurance Online

They don’t quite have the same level of customer service or support as Baja Bound, but Mexico Insurance Online is an excellent broker that can get you lined up with a low-cost Mexico insurance policy from Chubb, GNP Seguros, and El Aguila.

Other Mexican Car Insurance Brokers

You really can’t find a better option than the two brokers just reviewed. In fact, many other brokers have serious issues that you want to avoid. Their policies can satisfy police or legal needs, but they might not be worth the paper they’re written on when you try to make a claim.

These problems include:

  • Overly cheap rates backed by low-quality companies
  • Brokers that only sell one option fail to compare any rates for you
  • Lackluster customer service that relies on way too small of a team, who are nothing more than salespeople

Being a tourist in Mexico is not the time to try to save a few dollars on an insurance policy. I have read terrible stories from these subpar insurers and the brokers are often quite misleading in their presentation of them.

I keep my ear to the ground and speak with many travelers, foreign residents of Mexico, and Mexican citizens. You really want to avoid going with subpar insurers. Stick with Chubb, HDI Seguros, GNP Seguros, or El Aguila.

Some brokers say they sell policies from “Mexico’s number one insurer,” which is usually Qualitas. Do you know what that really means? That insurer is the top based on VOLUME sold of Mexican policies. This doesn’t mean they have the best coverage. They attract the most because they sell it at the cheapest price and that works for many low-income people.

Read mroe about the broker options including Best Mex, Sanborn’s, Mex Pro, Lewis and Lewis, and more on our article about the Best Mexican Car Insurance.

Wrap Up

US car insurance does not work in Mexico. You must buy liability coverage from a Mexican auto insurance provider. Get yours from Baja Bound today in minutes online. You can knock this off your list and keep preparing for the big excursion down south.

Want to know more about traveling in Mexico? Head over to 60 Tips to Traveling in Mexico.

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