By Marinas Insurance from the November 2011 Edition
One of the biggest worries foreigners have regarding insurance in Mexico is not being able to understand all the details when making a claim –largely because of the language barrier. That’s the view of Roberto Castellanos of Mariner’s Insurance Mexico, who recently gave a presentation on the differences between Mexican and U.S. insurance at the Lake Chapala Society.
While the insurance process is more complicated in the United States, because of greater legal technicalities, Castellanos says the paperwork involved in making a claim in Mexico is often not so simple because “one needs to prove many things and show more documents.”
“Nonetheless, if you’re working with major companies in Mexico, you can be guaranteed the same reliability as in the U.S. and Canada,” he adds in fluent English.
One advantage of buying insurance in Mexico, Castellanos says, is that many policies are often less expensive: “Health insurance can be 50 to 60 percent cheaper and auto insurance 20 percent.” If you’re in an auto accident in Mexico, the insurance follow-up not quite the same as north-of-the-border, Castellanos told a good-sized audience in Chapala last month.
In the United States and Canada, the common law is based on the British code: innocent until proven guilty. And your policy insures the driver and the vehicle. States and provinces handle the insurance regulations.
In Mexico, the Napoleonic Code is in play: guilty until proven innocent. In Mexico adjusters and traffic cops go the the scene of the accident. If no resolution is forthcoming between the parties, both may be detained
in the case of injury or damage to public property. It is the vehicle, not the driver which is insured here –so make sure if you drive someone else’s car it’s insured.
But fear not. In the event of your being arrested, the adjuster will post your bail bond and, if legal action is needed, a lawyer is included in the policy and hired by the insurance company.
Under Mexican law, your insurance company must be registered in Mexico for your policy to be valid.
Under state laws you are required to have liability insurance on your auto if you live in Jalisco, Nuevo Leon or Mexico City but you are legally responsible for any damage to person or property anywhere in the nation.
This means that if a Nayarit-plated car is driven in Jalisco, it must have insurance, Castellanos stresses.
If any of the above applies to you, but the thought of trying to figure out an insurance policy in Spanish leaves you cold, then read on.
Autos: There are three types of auto insurance: Resident Auto (Mexican license plates); Fronterizo (Border Zone: 25 miles inside the border, all of Baja California and Sonora as far as San Carlos); and Tourist Auto (drivers must carry a license from the plated country and an FM-2 or FM-3 visa).
When looking at a Mexican auto insurance policy there are generally two pages. The first page includes the details of the person or company paying for the insurance and the covered vehicle, as well as the coverage dates and the policy number. The second page specifies the type of coverage included (cobertura amparada) and the sum it is insured for (suma asegurada) for each type, the deductible and the prima, or cost of the insurance coverage.
Some of the options available include: market value for new brand models, an agreed value offered by some companies, a GPS tracking device installed –non-deductible for theft, insured liability extension: driving other autos –no rentals and zero deductible.