Auto accident in Mexico
First, if passengers or drivers are injured, seek medical attention.
If your vehicle has been stolen, hopefully you would have taken a picture or record your V.I.N. and License Plate on your phone. Also make certain you include your Mexican Tourist Auto policy #, if any, and the Claims Center phone # for the policy. Many times people leave all their important paperwork, passport, vehicle title or registration, in the car and it takes an inordinate amount of time reconstructing or retrieving that paperwork. Best just to put it all in your phone, and save a copy of each important document at home so the information can be easily transferred to you no matter where you are.
If you have a Mexican Tourist auto policy, contact your Mexican Insurance Companies Claim Center. Most Claims Centers use Mexican Toll Free #’s which typically cannot be dialed with a U.S. cell phone, so you might have to use a land line. Be prepared to provide them your:
Exact Location (if uncertain, ask someone)
Do NOT enter into any kind of agreement with a 3rd party. That is, anyone whom you have damaged or injured in the accident.
If you do not have a Mexican Tourist auto policy and are depending on your own U.S. auto insurance policy then one of two things could occur. Remember, Mexican law requires immediate financial restitution to a damaged or injured 3rd party.
1. Mexico does NOT recognize U.S. auto policies 3rd party liability coverages. That particular coverage must be written by a legally licensed and authorized Mexican insurance company. Consequently, there is a high probability that you will still be held accountable if you do not posses this type of policy.
2. If you don’t have a Mexican Tourist Auto policy, you might be asked to make immediate financial restitution to the damaged 3rd party. The authorities typically negotiate with them, and you will have to pay them on the spot. At times, the 3rd party, who understands the system, might seek financial restitution from you prior to the authorities arriving. If the authorities do show up and you are required to pay the 3rd party and you don’t have monies to do so, will usually impound your vehicle, and possibly bring you before a Magistrate.
Once, on a flight home from San Antonio, rode with a Bodily Injury Adjuster for a major U.S. (national) auto personal lines insurance company. We shared stories, and when I asked exactly what occurs when one of their U.S. policies has a claim in Mexico, he chuckled and said “nothing”! We are not allowed to cross into Mexico to work…period. When I asked how they adjusted the claim, he said they processed the claim once the insured got themselves, and their vehicle back to the U.S. Absolutely worthless, so know what you have. Most U.S. insurance companies possessing this endorsement, will advise you get additional 3rd party liability coverage for Mexico.
For the least amount of resistance, purchase a 3rd party liability policy issued by a Mexican insurance company, very inexpensive, especially as compared to the scenario above.
If your vehicle is valued high enough to warrant physical damage (i.e. Collision and Theft) it can be purchased for a few more dollars. Finance companies, if your still making payments on your vehicle, require this coverage. If you have a U.S. full coverage (Collision & Theft included) insurance policy that contains a “Border Endorsement”, you should have this coverage, as long as the insured event takes place along the frontera, generally within 26 kilometers of the U.S. border. Many U.S. insurance companies do not have this provision, and those that do, have guidelines that practically make them worthless. FYI, get it in writing.
Follow the instructions provided by your Claims Center or Adjuster. Always ask them to provide you a Claim #, and if an Adjuster arrives, be certain to request their Business Card and a copy of the Claims Report. If they cannot get to you in a reasonable amount of time, due to your location or other factors such as Holidays, or heavy traffic, then you might receive permission to drive the vehicle, if it is safe to do so, and if not, they will probably send a tow truck (grua) to your location.
If, and this is very rare, you are in a serious accident where injuries or possibly a total loss of yours or anothers vehicle, you might have to go before a Magistrate. This is not common, as Mexico does not want to hinder tourist travel, or generate bad publicity, due to the economic impact tourists generate. However, on occasion, and due to their laws, they might hold you in a Magistrates office until the case is settled. Most Mexican insurance companies, not all, provide legal assistance for this scenario.
What have we learned.
1. Make copies and document all of your important paperwork on cell or at home
2. Do not rely on a U.S. Insurance Companies, Border Endorsement
3. At least purchase a 3rd party liability policy from a legally licensed and authorized Mexican company.
4. If needed or warranted, purchase Full Coverage, that includes Theft and Collision and Legal Assistance, which will also include the needed 3rd party liability coverage
5. Report your claim prior to exiting Mexico
6. Lastly, follow the instructions provided by the Claims Center or Adjuster
Have a safe trip, and if we can assist you with answers to your questions, please feel free to call or E mail us!
For all of your Mexico Auto and International health insurance needs, please call us at 1-800-434-3966 OR Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at mxici.com to issue your own policy. We appreciate your business!