Millions of drivers cross the US-Mexico border each year, and while most stay within the free zone, many also take a road trip across Mexico to enjoy the scenery, tastes, and sounds that the country offers independently and at their own pace.
Whether you are driving in the free zone or further inland, if you become involved in a road traffic accident in Mexico, it’s worth having some foresight about how the situation will be dealt with here as procedures and protocols can be different to those practiced in other countries.
To avoid potentially very serious problems in the event of a car accident, you need to be properly insured with an insurance policy that is valid in Mexico. Your American or Canadian auto insurance will not suffice because by law, foreign insurance policies cannot cover third party liability in Mexico. Being properly insured means that if you are involved in an accident, the most serious financial and legal consequences will be mitigated and a good insurance policy will also offer a support line that connects you with relevant service providers locally when you need them the most.
In the event of an accident the first thing you should do after making sure that your passengers are alright is to telephone the claims number provided to you by your insurer.
Unlike some countries where minor accidents and fender-benders are routinely reported independently by drivers after the event, in Mexico all reported incidents – however minor or major – are attended by insurance adjusters in the moment of the event. The adjusters will assess the damage on-site and file reports on your behalf.
Most accidents tend to be minor incidents whereby some physical damage to vehicles and/or roads need to be assessed, reports filed, and paperwork signed before drivers go on their way and appropriate compensation is arranged thereafter.
Important! File your claim while you’re in Mexico
It’s very important to note that you should file a claim while you are still in Mexico. Some drivers who are involved in relatively minor accidents (or have something stolen from their vehicle) wait until they are back home in the US or Canada and then discover that the claim is not valid. If you intend to claim on your auto insurance—however minor or major—you must do this while you are physically in Mexico.
Car Needs Towing
If your car is damaged to a point where it can no longer be driven, then the insurance company will arrange for a tow-truck to take you and your vehicle to the nearest repair center. Check the details of your policy to know what is and is not included in a towing service and note that policies will not usually cover your vehicle being towed back to the US or Canada for repairs.
Serious Accidents and Injuries
If you’re involved in a more serious accident where someone is injured and medical attention is needed, the insurance help-line agent can call the appropriate emergency services to attend the scene if that has not been done already. If the police become involved, you and the other drivers may be arrested until fault is determined and compensation arrangements are agreed. If this happens to you, call your home country’s consulate and let them know about your situation. You’ll need the assistance of a qualified bilingual lawyer, and you’ll likely need to post a bail-bond to be released while investigations take place: appropriate legal and bail services are provided by the insurance company if you’re properly covered. If you don’t have any insurance then you will need to deal with these matters yourself, in Spanish, and pay for bail and legal costs out of your own pocket. If you or a member of your family become seriously injured in a road accident, a medical evacuation could be triggered if you have a plan in place.
You can learn more about driving and dealing with road accidents on our guide to Driving in Mexico. Read our guide about Auto Insurance in Mexico to learn about the important coverages you need; you can also get live quotes and arrange a Mexico auto insurance policy online.