Mexican Tourist Auto Insurance - Tips on How to Purchase Insurance For Mexico
Congratulations - you are embarking on an exciting road trip adventure to Mexico. You have your vehicle tuned and all of your gear packed, and now it is time to purchase your Mexican tourist auto insurance. Your Mexican auto insurance coverage decision could be the most important decision you make, but unfortunately it is often one of the most rushed and least researched decisions that many Mexico travelers make. Do not make the mistake of assuming that all Mexican insurance is the same, because the differences in insurance coverages and benefits can vary tremendously between Mexico insurance companies. Even though researching insurance coverage is not very exciting for most people, this article will show you how 5 to 10 minutes of research on the internet could save you thousands of dollars and many frustrating hours if you were to actually need to use your Mexico insurance to pay for a loss.
Use the internet to quote and purchase Mexican tourist auto insurance
The vast majority of Mexican auto insurance is now purchased directly from the internet. There are a number of websites that sell Mexico insurance, and buying your insurance from the internet makes a lot of sense for the customer. Would you rather wait till the last minute to buy your insurance at the border, or would you prefer to buy your insurance from the convenience of your own computer before you leave on your trip to Mexico? Most customers prefer to get their insurance taken care of ahead of time.
The best websites to buy your Mexico insurance from are ones that offer multiple Mexico insurance companies. This allows you to do comparison shopping through one website instead of filling out multiple quotation forms on multiple websites. One good Mexican insurance website with a comparison insurance rater will save you a lot of time and confusion.
Which websites can be trusted?
Before getting your insurance quote, make sure to look for a valid insurance license and contact information. Also, you may want to look for a 'Surplus Lines Broker' license number. A surplus lines broker is an insurance broker who has a direct contract with the Mexican insurance companies and is licensed to sell foreign insurance coverage within the United States. A surplus lines broker license is a good sign that the website is run by a company who specializes in Mexico insurance. If the insurance license is not a surplus lines broker license, this means the website is most likely run by an insurance agent who is selling through a surplus lines broker. This does not mean the products on the website are not valid, but you may not receive the same level of customer service as you would from a surplus lines broker who specializes entirely in Mexican insurance. You may also want to look for a Better Business Bureau listing and some sort of internet security approval such as Hacker Safe or McAfee Secure to ensure that your information will be secure during your internet transaction.
Mexico insurance coverage to look for
Once you have selected a website that sells Mexico tourist auto insurance, you will fill out the quick insurance quote form. Within a minute, you should be able to get a firm quote and begin researching the benefits of the insurance products offered. Remember, this will be a much quicker and streamlined process if you use a website that offers multiple competing insurance companies all under one quoting system (a comparative quote rater).
Look for a chart below or above the insurance prices that clearly explains exactly what the Mexico insurance limits are and what is actually covered. In this chart, you will want to look at the following categories:
Deductibles: The best Mexican insurance policies will offer fixed deductibles, meaning the deductibles will be locked at a set amount regardless of what the value of your vehicle is. Some of the less expensive policies will base deductibles on a percentage of the vehicle value. If the vehicle's value is less than $20,000, percentage based deductibles may be fine, but when vehicle values get up in the $30,000 range or higher, the percentage based deductibles can get very high. If the website does not specifically list the deductibles, you should not use that website!
US Hourly Labor Rates for Repairs Made in the US or Canada: In the old days, most Mexican auto insurance companies tried to make customers repair their vehicles in Mexico. Repairs made in Mexico instead of the US were often much less expensive for the Mexican insurance companies, and many customers were unwilling to leave their car in Mexico, so the company got out of paying these claims. Today, many of the better Mexico insurance programs allow you to fix your vehicle in the US or Canada if you wish. The catch is that some of the less expensive Mexican insurance programs will only pay a limited hourly labor rate for repairs made in the US (some as low a $20 per hour). This means the customer would have to pay the difference in hourly labor rates out of their pocket. The best Mexican insurance programs will pay very high US labor rates such as $70 per hour or state that they will pay whatever the current US hourly labor rate is. These policies could significantly minimize your out of pocket expenses in the event of a claim. If the Mexico insurance website does not specify if repairs in the US are allowed or what the hourly labor rate is, do not use that website to purchase your Mexican insurance!
Vandalism and Partial Theft Coverage: Vandalism and partial theft (meaning only part of the car is stolen such as the tires, door panels, etc) is typically not covered by standard Mexican auto insurance. In the past few years the higher quality Mexican insurance programs have started to offer this coverage in their enhanced coverage programs. If you want to protect yourself against as many types of losses as possible, you should look for this coverage.
Liability Limits: This is the portion of the Mexican insurance policy that pays for damages you cause to third parties. This coverage is essential when traveling in Mexico. Most people in the industry feel that $50,000 worth of liability insurance is probably the minimum you should consider. Some of the best Mexican insurance programs will go up to $300,000 combined single limit (a lump sum for property damage or bodily injury damages), but it will also increase the insurance premium. Some customers wish to carry these higher limits to work in tandem with their US umbrella liability policies. You may want to ask your US insurance provider if your umbrella insurance will recognize your Mexico auto insurance as a primary coverage.
Medical Payments: This is the portion of the Mexico insurance policy that pays for medical costs for you and your passengers (people inside your vehicle). $2,000 per person with a total of $10,000 per accident is the lowest limit you should consider, but many policies will offer much higher limits. Some of the better policies will also increase this amount if you are hit by an uninsured motorist who is at fault. You may want to check with your US or Canadian health insurance provider to make sure they will cover you for medical costs incurred while traveling in Mexico. If not, you may also want to research an international health insurance plan - but that is a different subject.
Legal Service: Make sure your Mexico insurance includes legal service or legal assistance. This coverage will pay for any court costs, attorney fees, or bail payments that are a result of a traffic accident in Mexico. The service will also dispatch a legal representative to hold your hand through any legal procedures. This coverage is absolutely essential, so do not purchase any Mexico auto insurance that does not include this coverage!
Road Assistance: Most of the better Mexico insurance companies will include some level of road assistance that will cover towing expenses, flat tires, locksmith, and other services. This is a great coverage to have, so make sure this is included with your Mexico insurance policy.
Medical Evacuation: As the market for Mexican insurance becomes more competitive, many Mexico carriers are now bundling in extra special coverages to make their products stand out. When medical evacuation is automatically included with your Mexico auto insurance, it is an incredible value and convenience. This coverage will coordinate and pay for air or land ambulance services in the event of 'grave illness or injury'. This means life threatening or very serious illnesses or injuries. Purchasing a medical evacuation program on your own will often cost hundreds of dollars per year, and can often have many limitations. The quality Mexico auto insurance programs that bundle in the medical evacuation coverage will usually cover multiple people in your travel group automatically up to four or more people. Make sure to look for how many people are covered by the medical evacuation. If the amount of people covered is not listed in the insurance quote details, you can assume that the medical evacuation may only cover the driver. Other websites do exist that specifically cover 4 or more people in your travel group, so it is highly recommended that you look for websites that offer this broader medical evacuation coverage.
Plane Tickets Home: Another great benefit that many of the better Mexico insurance websites are offering is plane tickets home in the event that your car is stolen or not drivable. This can save you thousands of dollars, and alleviate the nightmare of needing to coordinate your transportation back to your home from Mexico. If this benefit is offered, make sure to see for how many people the policy will provide plane tickets home. If plane tickets home is not listed, or the website does not specify how many people are covered, you should check a different website. A few websites do offer coverage for four people or more in your travel group.
When in doubt, call the website customer service phone line for help
The reputable Mexico insurance websites will encourage you to call their customer service departments if you have questions about the Mexico insurance. If nobody answers the phone, or does not call you back within a few minutes (during normal business hours), you may not want to purchase your insurance from that website! Most Mexico insurance websites are like ATM machines. The website is there for your convenience if you want to write the policy yourself, but you are also welcome to call the website customer service insurance agents and have the agents write the policy for you over the phone.
If you check for each of these insurance coverages and website features while shopping for Mexican auto insurance on the internet, you are guaranteed to purchase the best insurance for your situation. Five to ten minutes of research could save you thousands of dollars and hours, if not weeks, of headaches in the event that you need to file a Mexican insurance claim. Be safe, and have fun in Mexico!
Jeff Nordahl has over 10 years of experience in the Mexican auto insurance industry. He is currently President of Adventure Mexican Insurance Services, which is a California based surplus lines broker that specializes exclusivley in providing Mexico insurance products.
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