Mexican Car Insurance: What to Know

Your U.S. auto policy won’t satisfy Mexican car insurance requirements. Here’s how to get the coverage you’ll need to drive in Mexico.
Isabel Contreras
By Isabel Contreras 
Updated
Edited by Lacie Glover

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Nerdy takeaways
  • You’ll need Mexican liability car insurance to legally drive in Mexico.

  • A U.S. auto insurance policy won’t cover you in Mexico, and you could be jailed if you are in an accident while driving uninsured there.

  • You can buy a short-term Mexican auto insurance policy to make sure you’re covered during a brief visit.

Whether you’re driving to Mexico to enjoy the beautiful vistas of Los Cabos, eat your way around Mexico City or explore the markets and nightlife of Tijuana, it’s crucial to have Mexican car insurance before you get behind the wheel there.

Here is what you need to know about Mexican car insurance.

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Mexican car insurance requirements

Mexican law requires all drivers, including U.S. tourists who plan to drive in the country, to have liability coverage. The minimum requirements are:

  • 100,000 Mexican pesos (around $5,000) for bodily injury and death liability coverage.

  • 50,000 Mexican pesos (around $2,500) for property liability damage. 

If you're caught driving in Mexico without the minimum required coverage, you could face jail time and hefty fines. Once you get a Mexican car insurance policy, make sure your insurance documentation is with you at all times to prove you’re covered.

You’ll still need to get Mexican liability insurance even if your current insurer offers some coverage while you’re driving in Mexico. Some U.S. insurers, like USAA, offer limited coverage in Mexico if you’re within a certain distance of the border. But this coverage usually only includes limited damage insurance, which won’t cover you up to Mexico’s legal requirements.

How much car insurance you should have in Mexico

Mexican liability car insurance requirements are low. NerdWallet recommends considering higher limits for greater financial protection in the event of an accident, just like you would with your liability insurance in the U.S. Medical bills and car repairs after a crash can be incredibly expensive, and if you’re at fault, you’ll be held financially responsible.

Many insurers in Mexico recommend liability insurance with at least a $300,000 combined single limit to cover you for third-party property damage, bodily injury and death. However, you can find policies offering up to $1 million in liability coverage.

🤓Nerdy Tip

As a general rule, you’ll want enough liability insurance to cover your net worth. That’s equal to the value of all your cash, investments and things you own, minus your debt. You may not need higher liability limits if you have a low net worth, since there’s less incentive for a lawsuit from the other driver after an accident.

Types of Mexican auto insurance coverage

While there are plenty of reliable insurers in Mexico, the safest bet for tourists is to purchase Mexican insurance through a U.S. insurer or agent. That way you’ll avoid potential scams or miscommunication.

Below are some of the common types of car insurance in Mexico.

  • Liability insurance is required in Mexico to drive legally. It covers property damage and injuries you may cause others in an at-fault accident. Many Mexican insurers recommend liability insurance starting at a combined single limit of $300,000.

  • Bail and legal assistance coverage will pay for your bail and legal fees if you’re detained after being found at fault in a crash. 

  • Physical damage coverage covers your vehicle up to its actual cash value for damage resulting from events such as a crash, riot or natural disaster. If your U.S. policy already includes collision and comprehensive coverage, and your insurer offers limited coverage in Mexico, you may not need physical damage coverage. Check with your insurer to be sure.

  • Medical payments coverage helps pay to treat your and your passengers’ injuries after an accident.

  • Total theft coverage covers your vehicle up to its actual cash value in case it is stolen.

  • Partial theft and vandalism coverage pays for the value of stolen or vandalized items that were permanently attached to your vehicle, like tires or a radio.

How to get temporary car insurance for a Mexico trip

Some major U.S. insurers offer temporary Mexican insurance plans through partners in Mexico. These plans can cover drivers for one day to a year, so tourists can insure their vehicle for a weekend or summer holiday without paying for coverage they don’t need. If you plan to drive in and out of Mexico several times a year, you’ll likely want a yearlong policy, as the daily cost of insuring your car will be cheaper the longer you insure it.

Here are some large insurers that offer Mexican car insurance by partnering with insurers across the border:

  • Allstate through MexPro.

  • American Family through International Insurance Group.

  • Geico through International Insurance Group.

  • Liberty Mutual through MexPro.

  • Progressive through MexPro

To purchase Mexican car insurance, call your agent or insurance company before your trip to see if they can connect you with a reliable Mexican insurance company. If they cannot help, contact other U.S. insurers to set up your Mexican car insurance policy.

Rental car insurance in Mexico

If road trips aren’t your thing, you might opt to rent a car once you arrive in Mexico.

The most straightforward way to get coverage for your rental would be to buy Mexican car insurance from the car rental company.

If you plan to decline the rental company’s car insurance and instead rely on the coverage provided by your credit card, you’ll still need to purchase Mexican liability car insurance. Credit card insurance benefits typically only cover damage to the rental car, not any damage you may cause to others or their property. Be sure to confirm with your credit card company that there aren’t any restrictions on Mexican car rentals.

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