Driving a car in Mexico
Mexico has strict insurance and driving laws, and the consequences of breaking those laws can be serious. If you'll be driving in Mexico, plan ahead by getting the appropriate coverage and knowing what to do if the unexpected happens.
Is my car insurance valid in Mexico?
U.S. auto policies aren't valid in Mexico. If you'll be driving there, even for a short time, auto insurance is required by Mexican law, and you could end up in jail if you're involved in an accident and don't have it. If you're found to be at fault, Mexican authorities could detain you until liability coverage for the necessary amount can be verified. Because of this, the U.S. State Department recommends adding bail coverage to your Mexico auto policy.
How to get insurance when driving in Mexico
Progressive can provide you with appropriate auto coverage through MexPro, a specialized broker for Mexico insurance policies. Get a quote through us, and they'll help you find policies tailored to your travel plans that have all the coverages you need to be fully compliant.
What insurance documentation should I carry in Mexico?
When you purchase Mexico car insurance, you should receive a receipt, declarations page in English and Spanish, disclosures, claims instructions, roadside assistance instructions, and terms and conditions. Print a couple copies of everything except the terms and conditions and take them with you. (MexPro emails you everything you should print in one PDF document once you purchase a policy.) While traveling, carry one copy of your documentation when you're driving and keep one in a more secure place like your hotel safe. You should also be prepared to access a digital version just in case. If you get in an accident or pulled over, show your printed documentation to the police as proof of insurance.
Rental car insurance in Mexico
It's recommended to insure a car you rent in Mexico through the rental agency. Coverage for a few days is usually affordable, and driving in Mexico can be hazardous due to poor road conditions and unenforced traffic regulations, so consider purchasing the highest liability coverage you can afford.
Pro tips for driving in Mexico
Choose the toll roads: These are better maintained than free roads.
Avoid driving at night: Due to poorly lit roads, potholes, and carjackings, it's much safer to drive during the day.
Never drink and drive: This goes without saying in all countries, but counts double in Mexico because your insurance can be nullified if alcohol plays a role in an accident.
Car insurance for Canada
Your U.S. policy automatically covers you in Canada, whether you're driving a rental car or your own car. Your policy covers you for as long as you're driving there, and there's no need to notify your insurance company.
What documentation is needed to drive in Canada?
Besides your driver's license, you'll need an additional form of personal identification (such as your passport or birth certificate), as well as your vehicle registration and your proof of insurance (your insurance card). It's best to also have handy a copy of your full policy in case you're requested to provide proof that you're covered while driving in Canada.
Overseas car insurance for Europe and other countries
Whether you're driving in Ireland, Spain, or elsewhere, regulations and requirements for auto insurance in foreign countries vary. That's why it's best to get an overseas car insurance policy that's specific to the country or countries you're visiting.
How to get insurance when driving in Europe or another country
Driving your car
Look for an insurance company that specializes in car insurance for the specific country you're visiting or moving to. Requirements can vary widely for each country, and a specialized company can help you purchase the proper coverages.
International rental car insurance
If you're vacationing in another country for a short time, it's typically easiest to get coverage through the car rental agency. Research any countries you plan to visit to find out the specific rental insurance requirements of each. For example, Italy requires foreign car renters to purchase the "collision damage waiver" offered by the car rental company. Each country's U.S. embassy is a good starting point for your research.
You may also be able to get insurance through your credit card company when using your card to pay for a rental. Some companies may even offer insurance at no extra charge, but keep in mind that coverage offered through credit cards won't meet some countries' insurance requirements. Call your credit card company to:
- Find out if you can get rental car insurance through them
- Make sure the country you're visiting is covered
- Check that the policy will meet that country's requirements
You may be able to get insurance through your credit card company.
Of course, you'll need to provide evidence that you're a legal driver before being allowed to cruise off an overseas rental lot. Most European nations, and many other countries outside North America, accept an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is an official translation of your valid U.S. license. The U.S. State Department recommends getting an IDP from one of two qualified organizations: the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). Both allow you to apply via mail, while AAA also offers in-person service at local branch offices.
Recommended coverages when driving in any foreign country
Auto coverage requirements vary by country (for instance, theft protection is mandatory in Italy), but you'll want to make sure you're covered for the following:
- Physical damage to your rental car, so you aren't held liable to the rental company
- Injuries to you and other passengers in case of an accident
- Injuries and damages to other drivers and their property if you're at fault in the accident
With so many unknowns associated with driving overseas, consider getting the highest liability coverage you can afford, particularly if the rules of the road and driving behaviors are drastically different than what you're used to in the U.S.
Driving in the States? Learn more about car insurance coverages in the U.S.