By January 21, 2007 0 Comments Read More →

Traveler Auto Insurance

If you’re planning to drive to Mexico, you will need to arrange traveler auto insurance before you head out. Why? While some US and Canadian companies provide physical damage coverage in Mexico, none can provide liability coverage valid in Mexico. If you are involved in a car accident and don’t have Mexico car insurance, you will probably have to stay in the country until the damage has been paid. You may even risk being arrested and your vehicle impounded until the authorities can sort out the situation. So make sure you have the right traveler auto insurance in place before you cross the border.

Preparing for Your Trip

The minimum required insurance coverage to drive in Mexico is civil liability insurance which covers any injuries and damage that you may cause. Again, your current United States liability insurance is not valid in Mexico for bodily injury; but some United States insurance policies do protect you for physical damage. Contact your insurance carrier to find out. If you’re renting a car in Mexico, your credit card will provide insurance to cover the car, but buy traveler auto insurance to cover your liability requirements.

You can buy traveler auto insurance online before you leave home, or you can get the required policy in American border towns—there will be several stores selling Mexican car insurance on the U.S. side of the border. If you choose to get your policy at the border, take the time to research prices and insurance carrier ratings online to make sure you don’t pay too much and that you select a reliable insurance company.

Don’t think you can rely on the broker who sells you the traveler auto insurance policy to help you with or handle any claim you may have while in Mexico (like your insurance agent would here at home). The Mexican insurance company you purchase the traveler auto insurance from should be much more important to you than the broker you choose to buy that policy through. You do need to make sure that the broker is properly licensed, but it is the Mexican insurance company that ultimately pays the claim. Make sure you select a reliable and secure carrier.

You’ll want to research the reliability and financial strength of the company you select for traveler auto insurance because no matter how reputable your agent or broker is, if they write your insurance policy with a troubled insurance carrier, you could be in for some unpleasant surprises in the event of a claim. You will be choosing from over fifty insurance companies in Mexico. Some are good, some are so-so, and some are bad. Several US insurance companies have purchased ownership interest in Mexico companies; however, the Mexico companies operate independently of the US parent company.

If you’ll need some flexibility on your return date that you will drive your car out of Mexico, consider a six month policy. It will cost you around $150.
Crossing the Border

Everyone crossing the border will need a Mexico tourist card. And depending on where you are going, you may also need a vehicle permit. If your travel is within the Border Zone (usually up to 20 kilometers south of the U.S.-Mexico Border) or the Free Trade Zone (including the Baja California Peninsula and the Sonora Free Trade Zone), you aren’t required to get a permit, but if you’ll want to drive past these zones, you must get the vehicle permit.

Make sure you have every thing you need to meet these requirements before you get to the border:

  1. The car title and registration receipt. The name on the title is considered the only owner. If you’re married, make sure to check your title–a wife cannot take the car across the border if the title is only in the husband’s name. If names of both husband and wife are on the title, either one may take the car.
  2. Your birth certificate, passport, notarized proof of citizenship, or a voter registration card.
  3. A major credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, or American Express) with the same name as the car title. Double check this too—you won’t be allowed to use a credit card that is issued in a name different that the name on the title.
  4. Your current, valid driver’s license. Again, the photo and name have to exactly match the car title.
  5. If you have a car loan, you must secure a notarized letter of permission from the bank or lienholder giving you permission to take the vehicle into Mexico. This requirement is also for rental cars, leased cars, or company cars (the notarized letter must be on company stationary).
  6. No borrowed cars or borrowed credit cards are accepted—all documents have to match and they have to match you.

You will be required to sign an affidavit of promise to return the car back to the United States.

To obtain the tourist card at the border, fill out a simple form at the border immigration office declaring the pertinent information, such as the purpose of your trip to Mexico, pay a $15 fee, and then make sure to keep the card in a secure place. It will be valid for up to 180 days.
The vehicle permit costs $15 and you must pay with a credit card; if you don’t have a credit card, you’ll have to pay a bond and a processing fee of $15. Keep the permit on your windshield while you’re in Mexico. Failure to turn in your vehicle permit before the expiration date may result in fines.

If you will be traveling with two vehicles—maybe driving an RV and pulling a car, or bringing a motorcycle on a trailer—you will be required to have two drivers. One person can only bring in one vehicle—no exceptions. All of the paperwork listed above has to be separated into one vehicle per person, and it is very important that each vehicle’s paperwork match the person bringing it into the country. You are also required to present a credit card in each person’s name. It can be the same account number, but it absolutely has to have the matching name as the vehicle’s title. To reiterate this critical information: for each vehicle you have to have a title, registration, a credit card and drivers license, plus multiple copies of each, and ONLY ONE VEHICLE PER PERSON.

If you will be bringing a boat with you, you will need to arrange traveler auto insurance for your car and the proper coverage for the boat. Mexico law requires that all watercraft entering ports in Mexico be covered by third party “on the water” Mexico boat insurance. This liability coverage must be issued by an authorized, admitted Mexican insurance company. In the event of an accident, if you do not carry authorized admitted liability coverage, your boat could be confiscated.

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