Guide about how to insure yourself for travel, medical care, driving and adventure activities in Mexico. Includes a buyer’s guide with top tips for buying insurance coverage.
Mexico Travel Medical Insurance
Mexico Auto Insurance
Medical Evacuation from Mexico
Buyer’s Guide for Mexico Insurance
Adventurous and High Risk Activities
Buy Mexico Insurance Online
When you travel in Mexico, whether it’s for pleasure or business, you will need to be properly insured for your travels, your health as well as your vehicle, if you take one across the border from the USA in Mexico.
Travel Accident Insurance
Some US and Canadian health plans provide (usually limited) health coverage in Mexico, but not all, so you need to check beforehand. Even if they do, you should ask about what arrangements they have in the event you suffer an accident—read our guide below for details.
If you live in Europe or Australia and are used to free health care at point of delivery (or through a Government-based insurance program) be aware that Mexico does NOT have reciprocal agreements with any other country for health care services.
Health services and treatment under the US-sponsored Medicare System is not available in Mexico, either.
Insuring your vehicle in Mexico is essential. You MUST have insurance if you are driving a US or Canadian car, truck, RV or other vehicle across the border. If you are renting a car in the US and driving south you will need to pay an additional premium to be covered across the border.
You can buy auto insurance on the border, but buying auto insurance at a retail outlet (ports, convenience stores, supermarkets) will almost certainly cost you more. It’s better to arrange your auto coverage online before you travel—you will get a better price, you can arrange instant coverage online and you’ll arrive at the border fully covered without having to do any further paperwork.
Insuring your property in Mexico is an essential service you need to consider as part of your budget planning. Covering your house, personal property, and any watercraft your own will mitigate your risks in the event of unforeseen circumstances. For a further information, connect to Insuring Your Property in Mexico, our complete guide on the Real Estate section of Mexperience.
Buy Insurance in Your Country of Residence
You must buy travel insurance in your country of residence. It can be purchased at airports and convenience stores, but at a higher premium than if you buy ahead of time, online.
This guide will give you an excellent overview of what you need to know to get properly insured at the best possible price in Mexico.
If your travel to Mexico is not covered by your home Private Medical Plan, you will need to buy insurance separately. Mexico does not have any reciprocal health care arrangements with any other country so any medical attention you require, for example, doctors, medical specialists, support services, medicines and emergency transportation (ambulance, air ambulance or in severe circumstances home repatriation) will need to be paid for in full if you are not otherwise insured against these events.
See Also: Healthcare Services in Mexico
Why do I need a health cover plan for travel in Mexico?
Mexico has a national health care system called the IMSS (Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social); however, only Mexican Nationals and legalized immigrants who pay into the system on a regular basis through their salaries are entitled to free treatment; and this includes emergency medical treatment offered by IMSS.
Mexico does not have any reciprocal health care agreements with any other country in the world. This means that you MUST pay for any treatment you receive from private medical professionals as well as medicines and support services from private clinics and hospitals. Although private health care is less expensive in Mexico than in the USA, the sums for treatment—especially emergency treatment—can quickly add up. All private medical care facilities require a credit card and/or proof of insurance before they will treat you. Being properly insured for medical care when you visit Mexico is essential.
I already have private health cover at home!
Some private health care plans offer cover for travel overseas. However, this cover is usually limited in terms of days allowed overseas, services covered—or both.
It’s also important to check what services they have in place to support you once you are abroad. The key questions to ask are:
- Does the policy cover you overseas—and specifically in Mexico?
- Does your medical plan provide a Mexican toll-free access number with English-speaking operators on stand-by to assist you anytime?
- What choice of clinics and hospitals do you have?
- Does your plan cover specialist care and any special requirements you or your family may have?
- What are the limitations and what are the excess fees?
- How many days may you be abroad before the cover expires?
Check with your health care company to ensure you’re properly covered (see our Buying Guide, below, for guidelines).
If their policy falls short, you may usually purchase a top-up plan or find a specialist provider who can supply you with the right cover for your specific needs.
Travel Insurance vs. Travel Assistance
When you’re buying travel insurance, it’s important to check what support services the insurance plan offers you once you are in Mexico. Travel Assistance and Travel insurance are different products. Travel Insurance is a policy that covers you for certain events or situations. Travel Assistance is the “service surround” that may or may not be included as part of a Travel Insurance product. Good Travel Assistance support services within a Travel Insurance package may offer the following services:
- A help-line to answer general questions about your insurance product and its support services
- A 24/7 toll-free emergency contact number staffed by English speaking agents
- Assistance with finding a doctor, a private clinic, or a lawyer if you need one
- Call your loved ones at home to pass on any messages if you are unable to do so personally
- Generally help you with questions, concerns, solicitation for advice in regards to situations and events covered by their insurance product
Check for the extra services on offer when you’re choosing your insurance product. Many insurance companies offer “bread and butter” (standard policy) cover for roughly the same price. However, when you’re in an emergency situation, it is the extra support they have (or perhaps don’t have!) in place—in the form of Travel Assistance—that could make all the difference to you.
See Also: Complete Guide to Mexico Auto Insurance
If you are driving your own car, truck, RV or other vehicle from the USA or Canada over the border by road into Mexico, your US/Canadian auto insurance policy will NOT cover you in Mexico!
You do not need to show insurance documentation to import your car into Mexico; however, if you have an accident in Mexico and you are not properly covered, life can suddenly get very complicated for you.
For example, if you are involved in an accident where one or more people are injured or killed, you WILL be arrested until blame is assessed. During this process you will need the support of a lawyer, and a comprehensive insurance plan.
If you are involved in a car accident where no one is hurt or killed, the authorities will still pursue you personally for costs related to the repair of the public highway if you are not insured. Third parties may also pursue personal damages against you for any property that was damaged.
Read our comprehensive advice about Auto Insurance in Mexico for further details about insuring your car to drive Mexico.
While Mexico offers patients an ample choice of quality medical care facilities in-country, there are times when a Medical Evacuation may be necessary or preferable to medical treatment locally. Medical evacuation from Mexico is typically undertaken when people have a catastrophic illness or accidents, primarily cardiac events, strokes, or serious injuries and vehicle accidents. Patients might also be medically evacuated when they need a transport to a specialty hospital or when their medical condition has been stabilized locally, but ongoing care is best undertaken at a medical facility near to family back home or where their primary healthcare plan can cover such care.
Read our comprehensive Guide to Medical Evacuation from Mexico for full details about what it is, who needs it, and how to arrange coverage for your stay in Mexico.
As a general guide, you should look for a policy that covers:
Medical Expenses to at least US$5m: This should include the costs of repatriation back home should you or members of your family require it. If you have a health care plan which covers the major costs once you get home, you may only need a top-up insurance plan to pay your repatriation costs. Commercial airlines will not fly you home if you are seriously ill or incapacitated—a private air charter will be required. They are expensive and an insurance plan should allay those fees.
Personal Accident Cover: Your insurance should provide cover for any permanent bodily injuries you may sustain. Temporary material losses, for example, loss or delay of baggage or delay and/or cancellation of your flights should also be included.
Theft of Personal Items: These should include luggage and small amounts of cash (usually up to a couple of hundred dollars). If you are carrying items of particularly high value (e.g. a very expensive watch) be sure to check this is covered explicitly in the policy.
Third Party Liability: Your plan should cover your liability to third parties in case you accidentally hurt them in some way; this is normally standard in a comprehensive insurance plan. Your insurance should also cover legal assistance costs, should you need them while traveling in Mexico.
Travel Assistance: Check carefully to see what travel assistance is offered by your plan. Travel assistance is different from insurance per se: Assistance includes things like putting you in touch with appropriate local doctors, finding a local lawyer who speaks English if you need one, and getting messages to loved ones back home if you cannot do that yourself.
Auto Insurance: The auto insurance market is very competitive and some firms try to grab your attention with headline offers.
A good, reputable firm will offer a fair premium and, in return, provide comprehensive cover options with excellent service and after-care. When things go wrong, it’s the service, instead of the price, which makes all the difference.
A good Auto Insurance policy should include comprehensive cover, third party-liability insurance, legal representation and bail-bond cover in case you are arrested following a severe car accident in Mexico.
Check that your auto insurance policy is underwritten by an insurance company that is financially-sound. It is the insurance company, not the broker, under-writing your auto coverage in Mexico.
Read our Comprehensive Guide to Auto Insurance in Mexico for full details.
Adventure/High Risk Activities: If you are taking part in adventure travel or activities otherwise considered “high risk” by an insurer (even if you personally don’t consider them to be ‘high risk’), read the information below about Insurance for Adventure Activities in Mexico
Key Tips for Buying Mexico Insurances
- Travel insurance MUST be purchased in the country where you are resident BEFORE you travel. You cannot buy travel insurance for yourself in Mexico, other than rental car insurance;
- If you leave buying insurance to the last minute, you will probably not get coverage for delayed or cancelled flights (especially if they are due to strike action) and you will probably pay more for your cover by buying it from a retail outlet, for example, at the airport;
- When you buy insurance, keep in mind that service and after-care are extremely important. When things go wrong, it’s good after-care service that will really help to make your situation better;
- Check the credentials of all insurance brokers: reputable firms work with established names in the insurance market and will be properly licensed;
- Buy Insurance Online! Because operating costs are lower, cover can be arranged instantly by sending you electronic documentation by email. Buying your Mexico travel insurance online will almost certainly work out less expensive than buying it in a retail outlet—especially airports and land border crossings.
Ensure you’re properly covered for ‘High Risk’ activities!
In addition to the comprehensive travel insurance outlined above, you need to take out additional cover for you and your family if you are planning (or may have a chance of) taking part in any adventurous activities, or activities that insurers consider to be “high risk”.
If you are taking part in (or there is a possibility that you might take part in) any adventure activities, such as (but not limited to) Mountaineering, Scuba Diving, Skiing, Power-boating, Jet Skiing, Mountain Biking, climbing, caving, bungee jumping and the like, be sure to check your existing coverage (if you have medical and travel insurance already). Many insurers will exclude coverage of injuries sustained during such “high risk” activities.
Make absolutely sure that any high risk activities are explicitly specified on your insurance policy documentation as being covered in the event of an accident. You will need to pay an additional premium to get coverage for activities defined as adventurous or high risk by insurance companies—even if you personally don’t consider them to be high risk!
If you are doing anything that may be considered “high risk” by an insurer (that is, out of the scope of ‘normal vacation activity’), be sure to check with your insurer and cover yourself and your family accordingly.
If you are uncertain, ask your insurance company and, if necessary, get agreement of the specific activity included in the wording of the policy between you and the insurer.
Buying Mexico Insurance online will save you money and give you the peace of mind of being covered by the time you arrive in Mexico—no last minute rush at the border crossing or the airport lounge (where insurance is usually more expensive).
You can learn about arranging insurance online from these guides:
See Also: Guide to Mexico Auto Insurance
See Also: Guide to Mexico Property Insurance
See Also: Guide to Medical Evacuation Planning