Travel Insurance For Mexico: Do You Even Need It?

mexico travel medical health car insurance

In this article we cover all your questions about insurance in Mexico:

  • Do you need travel insurance in Mexico?
  • Mandatory car insurance in Mexico
  • Does your existing insurance cover you in Mexico?
  • Should I get travel insurance for Mexico?
  • What type of travel insurance do I need for Mexico?
  • Finding cheap travel insurance
  • Best travel insurance for Mexico
  • Mexican insurance companies
  • Is Mexico in the USA or the Caribbean for travel insurance?

Do you need travel or car insurance for Mexico?

In almost all cases, travel insurance is recommended. Car insurance is a legal requirement. We explain more below.

Travel health insurance in Mexico

Travel insurance is not a requirement to enter Mexico but there are many factors to consider:

  • Visitors are prone to stomach issues as tap water is not portable and food storage is lax.
  • In tropical areas, there is a higher risk of mosquito-borne diseases
  • Petty theft and robberies can occur
  • Mexico has many safe areas but some areas have high rates of crime, especially drug-related crime although this is rarely targeted at foreigners.
  • Mexico has a high rate of covid, although vaccination is not required to enter the country.
  • Some internal airlines are notorious for delays (although it’s improving!), and baggage mix-ups can occur.
  • Earthquakes and hurricanes (June to November) are common.

The bonus about getting travel insurance is that you can be covered for all instances, both medical and non-medical emergencies.

Mandatory Mexican car insurance

Yes, whether you plan to drive your own car or a rental, it is mandatory to have liability insurance by a Mexican provider (ie. third-party insurance that costs damage to others).

In some cases, your existing car insurance may provide some coverage. However, this typically only applies to yourself. International liability coverage will be rejected by Mexican authorities. Some US companies may offer this by using a Mexican provider, otherwise, it is not valid.

Car rental companies will prohibit you from renting a car without this insurance. Some may allow it if you block off a substantial amount on your credit card to cover the cost of the car. But this is not recommended.

In a serious accident, your proof of insurance can be a useful piece of paper. Liability and death costs can be extremely high – your insurance can avoid you going to jail because it shows that the costs can be legally covered. Otherwise, you may legally be detained until the issue is resolved.

Rental companies may also require damage waiver insurance but it is not mandatory by law. However, there is no legal driving test in Mexico and driving can be a challenge. Theft also happens but less so in tourist areas, and your accommodation may have private parking anyhow.

Does your existing medical insurance cover you in Mexico?

Some private insurance companies do cover short trips abroad (for example, up to three months out of your country of residence). So check your policy if and what is covered.

Certain credit card companies also offer limited insurance, for example, trip cancellations and damage waiver car insurance may be covered.

However, many policies do not cover international travel, or the coverage may be limited to only emergencies and accidental death, but not travel and crime-related instances.

Additionally, many places in Mexico require upfront payment. Your domestic insurance may not have an agreement with Mexico, meaning you have to pay a large sum upfront and get reimbursed. It is also likely that your choice of hospitals will be limited, or that you may not have 24/7 international service.

In these cases, travel insurance is recommended.

Should I get health or trip insurance for Mexico?

It is true that medical expenses in Mexico are cheaper than other countries, especially compared to the US. Small emergencies are not typically a huge out-of-pocket expense. For this reason, some people do not get insurance to travel to Mexico.

There is, of course, great variety in hospital quality. Like anywhere, the nicer, private hospitals are double the price, while public hospitals are cheap but probably lower than the standard you’re used to. Still, Mexico is known for its medical tourism because even the top-tier care is still well priced compared to some other countries, around one-third of costs in the US.

But any major accident, even more so if you need transport to your home country for treatment, will far exceed the low cost of travel health insurance. Sadly, there are enough stories where foreigners rack up high medical bills and get ‘stuck’ in Mexico as they can’t pay and are therefore not allowed to leave. For this reason, we recommend getting a low-cost health insurance, such as Arch Roamright, which starts at $10 a week, or choose one with specialized services, such as Insured Nomads, still affordable starting at $15 per week.

To give an example of prices:

  • a GP visit costs some $20–50 and prescription medication can be $20–$30.
  • An overnight stay in a hospital: $100 (although greatly depends on the hospital)
  • Small accidents (ie. might require stitches, x-rays, basic treatment): Less than $1000
  • Basic surgery $2000–10,000
  • Complex surgery $10,000–40,000

What type of travel medical insurance do I need for Mexico?

Short-term visitors can find affordable temporary insurance plans that will cover most instances; typically travel insurance covers medical and healthcare expenses and some travel-related issues, such as delayed flights and missing luggage. Comprehensive travel insurance will likely also cover crime-related issues, such as theft and kidnapping.

If you plan on residing in Mexico, it can be more affordable to take out an insurance plan, whether from a Mexican insurer or with an international provider.

Cheapest travel insurance for Mexico

The best way to find the cheapest travel insurance for Mexico is to use a comparison tool.

Best travel insurance for Mexico

There are also some well-known temporary travel providers including:

Arch Roamright

This company can offer very cheap travel insurance (down to $10 a week!) based on its high level of customization and insurance options. You can get an instant quote here.

They offer comprehensive travel and car insurance plans, plus medical-only insurance (ie. if trip cancellation is covered by your credit card company). They also have annual, multi-trip travel insurance to cover you anywhere in the world for 30 days at a time.

A winning feature is their online application form and app for on-the-go claims. If needed, you can request a fast-track claim to receive an electronic transfer of funds in one day.

While general covid issues are not explicitly covered (such as quarantine costs), emergency situations will be covered, including treatment, evacuation and trip cancellations specifically related to covid.

Insured nomads

This company was created by nomads, who wanted to meet the nuanced demands they experienced as travelers. Their travel insurance covers certain covid-19 related costs, plus some interesting coverage such as acute onset of existing conditions. You can customize your plan, with prices starting at $15 week. Get a free quote here.

Particularly interesting is their annual Global Health Insurance plan, which covers the usual emergencies but also routine, preventative, and chronic care, such as chemotherapy, maternity, and mental health to name a few. This plan includes membership benefits with things like access to airport lounges, culture counseling and vetted accommodation options. A small portion of each insurance is donated to social causes.

Mexican travel insurance companies

Local insurance providers offer affordable insurance, although most will require Mexican residency to apply.

IMSS is the public healthcare insurance, with low monthly rates and adequate coverage. Although, your choice of facilities is limited and speaking Spanish will often be required.

Most foreigners who can afford private insurance opt for that path. Although rates vary widely, it is affordable starting at around $1000 per year for a healthy, middle-aged person.

Some insurance companies in Mexico include:

  • GNP Mexico
  • Monterrey
  • Sura
  • Metlife

Is Mexico in the USA or the Caribbean for travel insurance?

Mexico is in North America, however, many insurance companies separate Mexico from the US because the cost of healthcare (and thus, insurance) is far more expensive in the latter. Some companies may lump Mexico into a Caribbean category. In all cases, you need to confirm this with your insurer as it changes.

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