Mexico Rental Car Insurance Not Optional
Travel Question and Answers
Question: We travel frequently to Baja California and are thoroughly confused regarding car insurance. We deal with major car rental companies. When booking in advance, we are always assured that the rates include all fees and insurance, but when we get to Mexico, we're told it does not include Mexican insurance, typically an additional $10 to $17 a day. We've also heard certain credit card companies, such as American Express, cover insurance if the car rental is booked through that credit card. Does this cover Mexican insurance, too?
Answer: Mexico does not recognize American insurance for injury liability. For that reason, you must have Mexican auto insurance when driving in Mexico — whether driving your own vehicle or renting one there.
American Express offers its card holders premium car rental protection coverage, costing California residents a one-time $17.95 for up to 42 days. The American Express card must be used to book and pay for the rental car.
This protection covers reimbursement for damage or theft of the rental vehicle and personal property and medical expenses and death benefits resulting from an accident. The coverage is available in every country except Australia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica and New Zealand. Details: www.americanexpress.com; 800-528-4800.
There is a catch with this protection policy: It does not include liability coverage for damage to the other driver's car or person. If you are at fault and lack this liability coverage, you can be held in a Mexican jail until you pay off the obligation. In other words, this is mandatory insurance, which brings you right back to paying the rental car company $10 to $17 a day.
Most rental car companies outline the cost of this coverage on their websites. For example, the "Local Policies, Terms and Conditions" on Dollar's website says that liability insurance costs $6 a day in Mexico. (Note: This may fluctuate based on the foreign exchange rate.)
To safeguard against paying too much, always print the policy outlining rates, fees and insurance information. Never trust what you are told on the phone when booking a rental car; always insist that you be e-mailed or mailed an itemized accounting of what you are expected to pay. Then show the rental agent your printout if you are quoted a higher price.
For those driving their own car into Mexico, you can purchase Mexico tourist auto insurance online from the International Insurance Group, from A-rated companies. Quotes are available by filling out an online form at https://www.mexpro.com/quote/.