Many people would be surprised at how the insurance industry works outside of the United States. There are a couple of countries that you can insure your personal vehicle and have the same kinds of coverage as you would have in the USA. However, those vehicles have to be 10 years old or newer or you can’t insure them. What happens is, you purchase an insurance policy from the country you are going to drive in and they give you the choice of vehicle plan. You can usually pay by the day, week, month, bi annual or yearly rate. Usually the shorter the time, the more expensive the policy. These policies, as long as your vehicle is 10 years old or newer, will cover you like you have coverage in the USA. However, if like us, your vehicle is older than 10 years, most countries will NOT insure your vehicle. You actually take out a policy that covers the other vehicle and driver if you were to get into an accident. Most other countries don’t “require” drivers to carry insurance. Most people can’t afford to register their vehicles, let alone get a driver’s license, so many people are driving uninsured. I always recommend having some sort of insurance, especially since you really don’t know what kinds of driving conditions you’ll encounter on some of these roads.
Our Insurance Policy:
I did a lot of research about insurance and registration requirements in numerous other countries before we left the USA. The first time we bought a policy it was through a company in Mexico called Chubb. They actually offered excellent coverage and we were able to get the same coverage for our first vehicle as we had in the USA and it was only $548.00 for the entire year. The catch was, our first vehicle was registered as an RV, which dropped the price significantly. When we downsized to our Toyota Landcruiser, it was ineligible for the same type of insurance because its registered as an SUV, not a motorhome, not only did it change our eligibility, it didn’t qualify to be insured at all through any Mexican insurance policy. Not only that, the only coverage we could get through Mexico would be very specific to only cover “the other vehicle” should we be at fault in an accident. This didn’t sit well with me, since I know how Mexico drivers drive and their carelessness. We’d witnessed it for 6 months while driving through Mexico the first time and this entire past year in Guatemala. I won’t be posting any pictures of those because they are particularly gruesome and it’s shown all over the news out here without censorship.
You can actually compare multiple insurance agencies for all types of vehicles in Mexico by using motormexico.com website and no, we are not paid to endorse anyone and we don’t get any compensation to post links, these are just helpful places to start looking.
After a few weeks of internet searching, asking around through other local insurance agencies and calling other countries insurance companies I finally found a company online that not only covers our personal vehicle like it’s covered in the USA, but it covers us WORLDWIDE!!!! We use Clements Worldwide (clements.com). This company offers not only vehicle insurance, but also health insurance worldwide as well. Their rates are actually comparable or better than the USA and they offer better/different coverages. Things like “political violence; theft and damage; collision; act of terrorism; sabotage, riots, strikes and/or civil commotion; malicious damage; insurrection; revolution or rebellion; mutiny and/or coup d’état; war and civil war” are also covered with a $500.00 deductible just to name a few, and in this particular time in this world, we never know what we’ll encounter.
The only thing I’m not really a fan of, is that the medical coverage is only up to $2k per person per accident. In the USA that’s not much, but when you head south, it’s a decent amount of money. They also cover Accidental Death and Dismemberment but only at $15K per person, or $45K per accident. Our policy has limits of excess liability of $500K which is probably overkill, but with the way we’ve seen people drive, you really never know. Buses pass on blind curves and all too often they go head on with another vehicle or vice versa and a bunch of people get injured or killed, so I’d rather pay up front and hope that never happens. The entire policy costs $1058.00 for the year and includes all types of damage and they pay to repair your vehicle to US standards at any repair shop that falls into that category. They will even ship your vehicle back to the USA for cost if you want to have it repaired in the US, depending on where you are. Labor rates are really cheap outside of the USA, but parts are pretty expensive. You’ll pay almost double the price for parts that you’d pay in the USA, but the labor is about 1/10th of the cost of the USA. You can also opt to pay a little extra to have optional coverage for duty expenses, in case you need parts shipped to you from overseas somewhere, you won’t pay the duty tax and fees on it. We don’t have this, and let me tell you, it would have been nice to have in our most recent differential repair.
We actually checked with the DMV in California (where we’re originally from) and Washington State (our current residence) to see what our best option would be to register our vehicle since we wouldn’t be driving it in the USA again after we get to Mexico. Both of the states said that our best option would be to register it as Non-Operational and keep doing that until we sell the car. This way it still shows active registration, and there are some places that require you to show proof of registration usually if you don’t have the title. We have both, just to be sure. The cost is $34/ year. We keep multiple copies of our original title, registration, passports and licenses because some borders require multiple copies of each as they send them off to multiple destinations when you arrive. This is to ensure that you leave with your car or pay a fine if the vehicle is sold without authorization in another country. I never give them the original unless they SPECIFICALLY ask for it.
There are countries that *REQUIRE proof of registration and just about all *REQUIRE you to purchase some sort of vehicle insurance at the border (like Belize) unless you can furnish proof that you already have coverage. These in-country policies at the border can be very costly. I actually didn’t get our insurance policy until we were already in Belize, and the insurance they required was actually pretty cheap, but only because it only covered the “other vehicle” and not ours. We made sure to be very careful, but with the minor population of the entire country of Belize (less than 400,000 people) there wasn’t much to really worry about.
*when I say require, Gringos are required to show proof of insurance/registration. Not locals, and each country has different rules. For example, if you’re in an accident in Guatemala and the police are called, if they can’t figure out on scene, who is at fault, both driving parties go to jail until they can figure it out and the court system isn’t like the USA from what I understand. Often times, it’s said you can bribe the police officers to let you go, but I wouldn’t go that route, you might just find the one or three cops that aren’t corrupt, that being said, corruption is being cracked down on with this new administration. We luckily haven’t encountered any of it.
If you have any questions that aren’t addressed in this article, drop us an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t be afraid to ask!