Mexican auto liability insurance is a requirement, not an option.
Your U.S. insurance may give you some limited coverage in Mexico,
usually just the border area, but it’s not recognized as valid by the
Mexican government. So, you need to buy Mexican auto insurance.
Insurance booths at the border provide convenient and relatively low priced required Mexican liability
coverage. When driving in from San Diego, exit from the 5 or 805 freeways at San Ysidro Blvd., before
crossing into Tijuana, or off the 5 look for “Camino de la Plaza Exit 1A.” You’ll see a bunch of places to get
your insurance. They’re all pretty much the same from what I’ve experienced.
You can also go to the Auto Club (AAA), but I’ve found it to be faster at the insurance booths near the border,
and cheaper, too.
You can get your insurance before getting into your car online at www.insurance.bajaportal.com. Another
online option, and a quality option, too, is the Discover Baja Travel Club (www.discoverbaja.com, 800-727-
2252, 619-275-4225; $39/year membership fee). “Quality” because repair claims are paid at U.S. hourly
repair rates, not Mexican rates. This means that—should you decide to return to the U.S. for your repairs,
like most people—you will be reimbursed at U.S. rates. Many of the other policies only pay at Mexican hourly
rates, so you won’t be fully reimbursed if your repairs are done back home.
You can also try the broker that supplies the Mexican insurance for Discover Baja Travel Club, Adventure
Mexican Insurance (www.mexadventure.com). Their insurance automatically includes medical evacuation
and plane tickets home coverage for up to four travelers in your group. Head to the website, fill in your info,
then they show you a bunch of quotes from different companies. Works pretty well because you get to
choose from a selection of carriers.
Surfrider Foundation members get 10% discounts at online insurance company Baja Bound (www.
If you are towing anything, it must be on the policy too. Most folks buy it by the day, but you can save money
by buying it by the year, assuming you’ll spend a lot of time surfing Baja.
Make sure you read everything they give you with your insurance policy. It’s not quite as simple as here in
the U.S. And if you do have a claim, make sure to take care of it in Mexico. If you return to the U.S., your claim
may be denied.
You might consider a travel insurance policy before you leave home. It covers theft, medical, flight delays
and cancellations, even lost plane tickets. Know that doctors and hospitals require immediate payment. By
now most everyone has heard about a guy who died in a Baja hospital because he needed to get to the U.S.
for sophisticated medical care, but the Mexican hospital refused to release him until his entire medical bill
was paid. Check with your insurance company before paying for travel medical insurance, as you may be
covered. But it’s often not the case, or the coverage may not be sufficient, like the ones that exclude
“dangerous activities” or an emergency flight home.
From The Surfer's Guide to Baja, available at core surf shops, SurfTravelGear.com and other online retailers.
The Surfer's Guide to Baja - Auto Insurance
©1996-2012 SurfPress Publishing. All rights reserved.