<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> RVers Guide to Insurance in Mexico
NOTE: While this is designated as an ARCHIVE FILE, it is retained despite the date of first publication because it offers information of continuing current interest and/or for its historical perspective. Please be guided accordingly.




by David Eidell

First of all, I must state that I am not an authority on Mexican automobile insurance companies. However I consider myself to be an "Aware Consumer" so I shall limit my comments and anecdotes to (from) that particular perspective:

According to the results of a survey taken several years ago among Mexican motorists about three point seven percent had automobile insurance. This sobering statistic plus the fact that Mexican authorities demand proof of financial responsibility (should an accident occur) most certainly should encourage everyone to seek adequate liability coverage before they drive one foot into Mexico.

Liability insurance is not obligatory in Mexico. There are no roadside checks or entry requirements that force foreign visitors to obtain insurance. However in the event of an automobile accident, Mexican police are required by federal law to establish that the motorists are financially able to pay for injuries and damage. The presence of a valid insurance policy will tell the authorities that a driver can cover the liability if they are adjudicated guilty (responsible for the accident). If a motorist should have an accident say, with a wallet full of platinum credit cards, and no insurance, the authorities will be convinced of financial responsibility only when those cards produce enough Mexican pesos at the bank to satisfy the amount demanded. Needless to say, an insurance policy is easiest. Plus the fact that the insurance policy means that you will have a Mexican adjuster show up and defend you (it's their money at stake).


At every border crossing there are numerous drive-through kiosks that offer short-term policies to motorists. While they are indeed handy they are also the most costly places to buy insurance, especially for policy terms of two weeks or longer. Buying insurance over the internet is a fairly recent development but a very convenient way to shop and compare. Most insurance brokers in the USA are quite reputable and it is reasonable to use the following links as a guide to start shopping:

ADA-VIS Mexico Insurance Services

Oscar Padilla Insurance Services

Vagabundos Del Mar Travel Club

Sanborns Mexican Insurance

Of course this is only a starting point. There are many other good companies out there. Try typing in the words Mexico Automobile Insurance in an internet search engine such as:



Just like your USA policy, collision and comprehensive will cover loss to your own vehicle. However unlike a USA policy, vandalism, theft of less than the whole rig, and coverage of things not bolted to the vehicle are not covered at all. Collision coverage premiums are based solely on the declared worth of the coach, but take note, the company will pay but rock bottom (blue book minimum) for a loss. So don't get carried away with overstating the worth of your rig. If in doubt establish its value before you obtain a policy.

Collision coverage can be quite pricey on expensive rigs. Many veteran travelers elect to make arrangements with their insurance broker before they leave home in order to custom tailor a policy. While motorists who wish to have full coverage are pretty much stuck if they are on an extended traveling trip, it is quite reasonable to underwrite journeys to a from a single destination site inside Mexico (For an example, let's suppose you want to drive your rig from Nogales to Mazatlan then park it there for the winter). Three or four days is adequate enough to get there and back. The rest of the time the rig will be safely ensconced within an RV park. You can either establish the travel return date beforehand with the insurance broker or telephone them before you leave with a credit card for payment. They will FAX the return trip policy direct to the RV park (for a fee of course).


Again you have the choice of coverages between just liability and full collision. Because most "toads" are lightweight economy cars many folks take their chances with just liability coverage. Note however that when full coverage is applied to the towing vehicle you have the option of having the "toad" fully covered as well. If a husband and wife are going to both operate the auxiliary vehicle then it's best to insure the vehicle rather than the driver (see driver license insurance below).


For about fifty-seven dollars a year, you can obtain "Driver's License Liability Insurance" that bonds you rather than a specific vehicle. Most companies do not offer this coverage with collision coverage as they have no idea of the type of motor vehicle that you'll be driving. If you're like me and drive an RV that has seen better days, then this coverage may suit you.


This is an extra-cost option that is highly touted by various travel clubs and insurance brokers. For thirty to forty dollars in extra premium fees, the policy promises to hasten the arrival of an attorney to represent you in case of an accident. If a "track record" exists that shows the worth of having this coverage then I am not aware of it. For a few hundred dollars, a person can hire a Mexican attorney to represent them for a serious accident.


This is one inexpensive extra-cost option that I am always glad to pay for. It increases the pay out limit on property damage and public liability. The following statistic may be dreadful to read but it is necessary in order to gain a small perspective:

The average insurance pay out for a wrongful death claim is a bit over twenty thousand dollars US.

With that in mind, plus the fact that the price of automobiles has soared versus the amount limit of liability coverage, I feel strongly that the bare minimum liability coverages are too small for comfort.

Additional Public Liability and property damage coverage costs around fifteen dollars extra -- well worth it.


Advisory note: Accidents are traumatic anywhere. Having an accident is sure to involve the police and this is where many Americans and Canadians become weak kneed. I am a firm believer in "Looking Down The Dragon's Throat" just to see if an active imagination is leading me to needless amounts of worry. Here's the story:


The other car ran the stop sign and I plowed right into him. His small compact is obviously totalled but thankfully, although bleeding from his face and arms, he appears to be all right. We were luckier although the collision bashed in our bumper and radiator. We don't speak Spanish but it is quite obvious that the other driver is really upset about the accident. He stopped haranguing after he discovered that we don't speak Spanish.

There are now three cop cars present at the scene, two officers are directing traffic while the third, with sergeant stripes on his sleeve is taking a report down. The other driver is quite animated, talking excitedly and pointing to me and then our rig. The cop finishes with the man then walks over to us "You espeak espanish?" he asks. You reply "No". He then goes to his car and gets on the radio. You would love to get to a telephone and call the insurance broker back home, but it's Saturday afternoon and the only option is to refer to the thin booklet given with the policy. It says for you to have your driver license, Mexican temporary import bonding permit, your tourist card, and insurance policy available. You stand there clutching the paperwork like it is a life preserver in a heaving sea.

A new cop car arrives and a uniformed officer goes over and starts talking with the sargeant. It turns out that he is sort of bi-lingual. When it is revealed that he speaks some English you and your spouse immediately burst forth with a flood of denials, questions, and requests. He shakes his head sadly. You'll have to speak slowly and clearly. Corrective Action At This Point: Rather than stand around, why not get your camera out and take photos or shoot the scene with a camcorder. In this case, those incriminating skid marks barreling through the stop sign are a powerful visual tool. Do not however attempt to film the cops or act like you are intimidating them with the presence of your camera.

The "interpreter" says that the drivers of the involved vehicles will have to go to the police station. Have your spouse write down the name of the officer and then ask the interpreter to carefully write down the address and telephone number of the police station. It's time to split up, and the spouse should stay with the rig until it is safely ensconced within the fence or walls of a body shop or storage yard. If the spouse doesn't feel comfortable riding with the tow truck driver then hire a taxi. Have the interpreter cop make all of the arrangements in Spanish. The key to all of this is remaining composed and objective. Rather than needlessly fret, carefully record everything.

The drivers are going to be driven to the police station then they will be asked to sit in chairs beside a desk while the officer laboriously types an accident report. Don't be surprised if you thought that you saw the other driver slip a wad of pesos to the cop. He probably doesn't have a dime's worth of insurance and he knows for a fact that the damage to your rig is going to equal a year of his salary. This is where a more qualified interpreter usually comes on stage and then you can spend the next hour or so describing the accident to the cop taking the report.

Your spouse meanwhile has their act together, and when the owner of the body shop gets through making out their paperwork, they are given a meticulously detailed tour of the coach. Scribbling furiously your spouse has make a detailed list of radios, televisions, appliances and other valuable gear (this is an excellent thing to do before you leave home), and then have the management sign and date it. You keep the copy. Lock all windows and doors, hand the man the keys, while fingering the inventory list in an obvious fashion. As a matter of fact I would do the same thing with exterior accessories like roof solar panels, antennas, and hub caps. Make sure that all exterior compartments are locked and make sure that the management is given a full tour of that as well. You are implying with crystal clear intention that any theft or missing gear is going to be his responsibility and you have the paperwork to back it up. Unlike the US! A, verbal contract "suits" are decided within 24 hours of filing in Mexico, and much to your surprise the verdict is usually against the vendor or shop owner! In other words, that inside and outside tour is worth its weight in gold. It's time to find a good hotel room then after that head on down to the police department. The shop owner or management will gladly call a cab for you.

Reunited at the police station, you find that it is necessary to contact the insurance adjuster. He isn't home (or at the office). You find a telephone and call your USA insurance agent to be connected to voice mail. Leave a message stating your policy number and the name of the town or city that you are in.

Mexican police do not release the drivers of automobiles involved in serious accidents until all claims have been settled. The other driver does not have insurance and you cannot reach an adjuster or the (optional cost) attorney. It is explained to you that the drivers must stay overnight in private cells and will be let out first thing in the morning after the officers arrive for work. Rather than shudder at this prospect here's my recommendation: "I am willing to pay an off-duty officer full salary plus food and transportation costs to sit outside my hotel door room for the night". For perhaps thirty to fifty dollars, you can be lounging in a hotel. As long as you have a cop tailing you, you can go out to dinner or anywhere else for that matter. Be reasonable and work out the details with the interpreter.

Note: Too many gringos have bolted for the border when released under their own recognizance.

Resist the temptation to "pay a fine" in order to speed things up. It doesn't work. Your adjuster will show up perhaps twelve hours later, and he will immediately go to bat for you in order to prove the other party guilty. Aren't you glad you took those incriminating photographs? This is where that extra liability clause will work to reassure you that you will have enough insurance.

The adjuster will follow you from the police station, and then review the damage to your rig. Don't expect a final settlement figure at this point but remember that all claims must be reported and the documents signed in Mexico. If you go back home without reporting a loss then you have lost the right to collect a dime.

Mexicans are ingenious in patch repairs and within a day or so, you have full operation of your rig. Whether or not you are bummed out enough to cancel the remainder of your trip is a personal decision.


You have read a fictional account of a thousand-to-one chance. Yes it does tend to take "The Bloom Off The Rose" while you are reading it, but now you know that "going to jail" is not mandatory, and dealing with the Mexican cops is not hazardous to your health.

As I quipped several years ago to a fellow who was being taken "Downtown" after a particularly nasty rear-ender (his fault), "Relax! They don't want you in jail! They want you free and speeding down a boulevard so they can collect a fine!" Four hours later he returned and shot back "Very funny! But you know something I now think you're right"

Mexican cops have to pay for their car's gasoline and flat tires, toll charges, telephone, and uniform. It is expected that they collect enough "Bribes" on the street to make up for their daily wage which in a medium city is about twenty five dollars a day for a patrolman. If a cop goes way out of their way to help me I will gladly offer them a tip. I will not however bribe a cop to forget about a traffic ticket -- I will pay for it downtown.