Because Canadian and U.S. auto insurance policies are interchangeable, it’s very easy to take your vehicle down to the States and enjoy a worry-free road trip. But many don’t realize that an auto insurance policy purchased in Canada is not valid in Mexico. In fact, Mexico does not honor any insurance policy that has not been issued from a Mexican licensed provider. At the very minimum, if you are driving down to Mexico you will need to purchase liability insurance from a Mexican-based insurance company. We don’t, however recommend this. We advocate for purchasing comprehensive auto insurance package including collision coverage. If you are involved in a serious accident and do not have liability insurance purchased from Mexico, you will be taken into police custody until liability and your ability to pay the penalty can be determined. You may also be prevented from leaving the country, even if you require urgent medical care.
It is possible to purchase emergency auto insurance coverage at the Mexican border, but a far better bet is to plan ahead. Research coverage and make sure to have your policy on place before leaving home.
How to Get Auto Insurance in Mexico
First of all, even if you plan on keeping your vehicle in Mexico for several months it’s very important to not let your Alberta auto insurance policy lapse. It could lead to difficulties when you try to re-up your insurance in Canada. You must maintain enough Alberta auto insurance coverage to maintain your vehicle’s valid registration, which means, at a minimum, $200,000 in Third Party Liability and Accident Benefits. One of our experienced insurance brokers at Lane’s can help explain this to you.
Second, when you purchase your auto insurance for Mexico, it is more than likely you are purchasing through a broker. Make sure you know who your actual provider is so if anything happens you know who to call.
Do your homework. Research the provider to find out if they are financially sound and easily able to pay out a policy. Online reviews can help, as can simply picking up the phone, calling directly, and asking a few pointed questions, such as how many international clients they cover and what their maximum liability amount is.
Also check on your potential provider’s infrastructure and customer service promises. Are they available 24-hours a day, seven days a week if you need to file a claim? Can you make a claim online? Do they have English-speaking employees to avoid a potential language barrier?
At the very least, policies should contain a high amount of liability coverage, legal counsel, plus a “bail bond” option. After a serious accident in Mexico you will be detained until blame is assigned, which is much different than in Canada or the U.S. The bail bond option will allow for you to be released until blame is determined.
Finally, find out exactly what you need to make a claim, and do it as soon as possible. Leaving the country before making a claim is not recommended, as most Mexico auto insurance companies will not process it if you are not there, even for a minor fender-bender.
Mexico Driving Tips
Drive defensively at all times in Mexico. Some say that the only rule for driving in Mexico is that there isn’t any.
Uninsured drivers in Mexico: It’s an actuality of life that many Mexican drivers do not carry auto insurance. As such, it is common for the other party to simply drive away after a fender bender. If they do not, be prepared to wait for an assessor to get there before you will be able to leave.
Renting a car in Mexico: Given the propensity of Mexicans to leave after a minor accident we highly recommend purchasing “full coverage” insurance for your rental vehicle. If someone else hits you and drives off you will still be liable for the damage without full coverage.
Plan your route: Unexpected stops for directions can be dangerous in Mexico. Plan your route carefully before you go anywhere. Never set your GPS while driving, either. Program in your destination before setting off.
Be extra careful of pedestrians: Pedestrian behaviour in Mexico is unpredictable, so be aware at all times. Don’t expect people to only cross in the crosswalks. Jaywalking is extremely common.
Filling up your car: All gas stations in Mexico are full-service, and tipping the attendant is expected.
Watch out for potholes: Roads are not as well maintained in Mexico, so watch out for potholes and other hazards. With comprehensive and collision insurance you should be covered for man-made road hazards, but it may be hard to prove to your insurance company.
Lane’s Auto Insurance Covers Albertans
If you are considering switching auto insurance providers in Alberta, we at Lane’s will help you shop around for the best fit for you, and will also make sure we explore all of the auto insurance discounts you may be eligible for. We won’t make you fill out any complicated online forms. Just give us a call at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and our provincial offices (with no obligation) and we can get started talking.