Traveling means going somewhere you don’t normally visit—that fact is pretty obvious. As a result, you are not going to have the same familiarity with that space as you do with the area back home. Therefore, driving comes with increased risks. Different roads, different people and places all might challenge your knowledge.
Foreign travel even enhances this risk. Not only will you drive in an unfamiliar place, it will have different laws and customs. Even if you travel frequently, you still likely won’t every day, and this creates a safety risk.
One of the foreign destinations that Americans visit most is Mexico. We are close, friendly neighbors who have a lot in common. However, there are a lot of differences between the two countries as well. Traffic and insurance laws vary in Mexico. Vehicle safety and security varies as well. At times, your ability to safeguard your car in this environment might become limited. You might face different theft or vandalism risks that you might not at home. Americans traveling in Mexico should do their best to keep vehicle security in mind.
Vehicle Safety Threats in Mexico
In most cases, vehicle theft and vandalism risks are not that much different in Mexico than they are in the U.S. However, it often helps Americans to know what these risks are anyway.
- Certain areas of Mexico have a propensity for highway bandits to roam local roadways. They might prey on drivers, particularly ones who do not know how to spot them. Often, they trap travelers by forcing them to pull off the road under the guise of helping with car trouble.
- In large cities, vehicle thieves might work in areas that have a large tourist presence. Theft might occur just like pick-pocketing or muggings that might happen if you go to the wrong areas.
- Areas of violence exist in Mexico. This might result from gang violence, drug trafficking and other criminal activity. It’s wrong to assume that these risks exist everywhere. However, do your research to find out where the risks are present. Most American drivers should take care to avoid the problem areas.
The good news is that car insurance will likely cover vehicle theft in Mexico. However, there’s a catch. To get vehicle coverage for theft in Mexico, you must carry a Mexican car insurance policy.
What’s Mexican Car Insurance?
Mexican law does not recognize American car insurance policies. This is because of differences in the marketplace and local insurance laws. If you drive into Mexico using a car insurance policy from the states, that policy will likely void. You won’t be able to use it to get coverage. Therefore, before going to Mexico, enroll in a Mexican policy. This insurance comes backed by reputable Mexican insurers.
In most cases you need liability insurance, legal assistance, collision coverage, as well as coverage for theft and vandalism. Some of these limits come automatically on policies. At other times you have to ask for an endorsement. The way these elements of coverage apply might differ in Mexico than you recognize from your U.S. policy. Ask your Mexican insurance agent what coverage you need in Mexico. If you have particular fears about theft, make sure your agent knows this.
Keeping Your Vehicle Secure During Your Travels
Even if you get Mexican insurance, that doesn’t mean you can go without safety precautions. If you do your absolute best to avoid hazards, you might not have to make a claim in the first place.
- Before travel, do your research on where you plan to go. If your route or destination takes you to a place known for vehicle risks, it might be a good idea to avoid that area. Mexican travel guides, the U.S. state department and other entities provide comprehensive guides on what areas of Mexico are safe or unsafe.
- Because of risks of high way bandits, don't stop on certain stretches of highway. Try to make it to a safe place, unless you have a legitimate vehicle problem that merits a hard stop.
- When leaving your vehicle, keep it locked and arm the security system. Park it in as safe an area as possible. Don’t leave items like purses, money or valuables on display in the car. Hide these items in the trunk, or take them with you.
- Many drivers install safety mechanisms like steering wheel locks or GPS trackers. These devices might help deter potential thieves in the right circumstances.
If you experience theft, contact the police. They can file a report, and start and investigation. They will likely provide you with information on how to file an insurance claim. Make sure you double check all of the investigation paperwork for accuracy.
Afterwards, contact your insurer. They can help you file a claim for compensation on the stolen car. If you become stranded in Mexico, your insurance might pay for a rental vehicle or plane tickets home. Use it as a mechanism to help keep you safe when the worst happens. However, do your best to keep it from happening.