When you are planning on traveling to Mexico, you are probably caught up with the big, important questions like: is Mexico safe? What are the best beaches in Mexico? Where are the coolest places to visit in Mexico? Or, perhaps most importantly, how many street tacos can one person eat in a single sitting? What you probably haven’t put much thought into is whether or not you need travel insurance for Mexico.
In this article, we are going to address the most common questions about Mexico travel insurance so that you can decide for yourself whether or not you need it… If you are already confused, then maybe stop to read more about what is backpacker travel insurance and whether you need (short answer, yes).
Is travel insurance mandatory for Mexico?
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: There is NO mandatory obligation for you to have insurance when traveling in Mexico. Nobody is going to be checking your insurance papers when you cross the border or land at the airport. Many, many travelers enter the country without any emergency insurance coverage and then pay out of pocket for small medical emergencies.
Here we will be explicitly talking about travel insurance for Mexico that relates to medical emergencies. A little later I will address trip insurance and auto insurance, because if you are driving your vehicle into Mexico as we did, then there is mandatory auto insurance coverage (although nobody ever checks for it).
Paying out of pocket for general health care or even small medical emergencies is probably more cost effective than having insurance, to be honest. If you are used to healthcare in the United States, it can be a shock to go to another country like Mexico and receive comprehensive medical care including a visit with a specialist and a prescription for a total that is LESS than just their copay in the United States… And that’s comparing WITHOUT insurance in Mexico to those WITH insurance in the US.
Not only that, but many people are also surprised to find that the quality of care is as good, or sometimes even better than they are accustomed to receiving back home. Seriously! There’s a reason there is a growing medical and dental tourism industry in Mexico (among other countries around the world).
Is travel insurance needed for Mexico?
That being said, just because travel insurance isn’t mandated for entry into Mexico and you can often get by paying less than you ever would in the United States for care while uninsured, that doesn’t mean that getting travel insurance for Mexico ISN’T a good idea.
Indeed, under more serious medical emergencies even the relative affordability of care in Mexico will begin to add up. God forbid, but if you rent a car in Mexico and get into a nasty crash, you fall drunkenly onto a rock at the beach or break some bones falling down the stairs of an old Mexican pyramid, then you may find that the costs quickly become prohibitive.
There are sadly plenty of stories of foreigners who became essentially stuck in Mexico, having racked up huge medical bills in an accident and who don’t have the means to pay for them, thus being restricted from leaving the country.
It is precisely these sorts of situations that we avoid by having Mexico travel insurance and why I recommend World Nomads (also the top pick by Lonely Planet, Frommers, and thousands of budget travelers), as they offer the best combination of cost and coverage. More on World Nomads in a minute…
What type of travel insurance do I need for Mexico?
The terms trip insurance vs. travel insurance can often be used interchangeably which sometimes confuses things, so first of all, let’s distinguish the two at least for this article and then we can help you determine what you need for your situation.
Trip Insurance – Trip insurance entails things related to the logistics of your actual trip. Think things like flights, hotels, luggage, and other significant fixed expenses. This trip insurance will cover you for interruptions or interference with your trip due to outside factors.
This primary trip cancellation insurance will cover things like if you miss your flight, will reimburse for the costs to replace items in lost luggage or offer you a refund if you can’t travel at all due to sickness or injury.
As a long-term budget traveler, this type of trip insurance doesn’t really do much for me and is more suited to those whose travel plans are NOT flexible and whose vacations are limited in time. Think about an expensive week-long cruise, for instance, which would cost you a LOT of money if you miss it. That’s the type of trip where you really, really want trip insurance.
If you are going to be meandering around for months on end, then this type of coverage isn’t at the top of the list. I don’t care if my flight gets delayed for the most part. I will get there.
Travel Insurance – More comprehensive travel insurance will typically cover the basic trip insurance above in terms of getting to and from your destination, but it will also offer some important differences in coverage when you are actually on the ground and enjoying your travels in Mexico.
Travel insurance, in this case, focuses primarily on expenses related to emergency medical and dental coverage, theft of personal property, as well as things like disaster coverage or even accidental death. Yikes!
Comprehensive travel insurance for Mexico is what you need as your travel health insurance and help you avoid huge expenses due to a true medical emergency while out of the country. You will also want to ensure that you have coverage against petty theft which can be a problem in Mexico.
Having these two aspects – travel medical insurance and travel theft insurance – covered is the biggest concern for most travelers, and is why I recommend World Nomads for travel insurance in Mexico since they are the premiere worldwide travel insurance provider.
Auto Insurance – There are two types of auto insurance coverage we will discuss here, those who are driving their own private vehicle into Mexico, as we did, and those who get a rental car in Mexico and may need additional coverage.
- Your Car: Liability coverage is required to drive in Mexico, although no one ever checked for it. You can get basic liability coverage or more comprehensive insurance from Baja Bound and Discover Baja. I went with Baja Bound for the price. They sell two types of coverage, a cheaper one restricted to Baja California and another that also includes Mainland Mexico. Read more about my experience buying car insurance in Mexico here.
- Rental Car Insurance in Mexico: If you rent a car as many do when visiting the Yucatan Peninsula (a place that is easy to drive in, unlike driving in Mexico City) then you may need to get supplemental insurance coverage to protect yourself. The two main ones are the Collision Damage Waiver (covering a rental car against damage or theft also known as CDW) and liability coverage which protects against personal injuries to you and others.
Do you have existing coverage?
Before you consider buying any trip insurance, Mexico travel insurance, or auto insurance, your first step is to double check that you don’t have any existing coverage that would apply in Mexico.
One of the big ones that many people have and may not realize is trip cancellation insurance with their credit card company, especially for those who have travel credit cards. One of my main travel hacking cards is the Chase Sapphire Visa which offers up to $10,000 per person if a trip is canceled or cut short because of things like injury, sickness, or weather.
Likewise, credit cards often offer rental vehicle coverage so you can skip the CDW, although most do not provide any form of liability coverage.
You can check your home health insurance policy if you are covered overseas and your auto insurance policy for the same, although most do NOT offer coverage, which is why many turn to supplemental travel insurance for Mexico.
What is the best Mexico travel insurance?
Based on my own experience and loads of previous research to compare travel insurance plans, the best travel insurance for Mexico is without a doubt World Nomads. They are the insurance provider that I use myself for all my travels away from home, whether that is a short trip of just a couple weeks or a much longer journey as I’m more likely to undertake.
The main factors that should be covered in your Mexico travel insurance should be against medical emergencies and theft, both of which are covered in World Nomads.
You can expect up to $100,000 in emergency medical coverage, $750 in emergency dental coverage, reimbursement for emergency medical evacuation, and even theft or less coverage up to $1,000 on the standard plan.
A few important notes:
- You choose between the standard plan or the explorer plan. In many ways, they are the same with only small variations in the coverage caps, but the big difference is in what activities are covered. If you are doing many adventure sports, then you will want the explorer coverage which includes protection for things like rappelling, caving, cliff jumping, hot air ballooning, diving and more. See their list of covered activities here.
- Another important distinction: the explorer plan has higher coverage for theft in terms of total loss and on a per item basis which could be an important factor if you have cameras or other electronics. If you are traveling with a lot of expensive personal items, then you will need to seek out additional coverage beyond World Nomads if you exceed the $1,000 per item limit or $3,000 total limit in theft coverage under the explorer plan.
- As is the case for most insurance, you will not be covered for any previously existing medical conditions, so that is something to keep in mind when looking through the details of your travel insurance policy.
For most people, the standard plan is more than enough, but if you are a bit more extreme, then you will want to get the explorer plan. The explorer plan also offers CDW rental coverage if you don’t have that through another means.
How much is travel insurance for Mexico?
I can’t give you an exact price since specific travel insurance plans and pricing for Mexico is dependent on a variety of factors, including where you are from, how long you will be traveling, and your age. Thankfully they’ve got a quick quote system which will give you the pricing of their two plans directly by punching in that basic information.
Check it out:
Moreover, unlike other insurance providers, you don’t have to hand over your phone number or email address to get a quote (only to get harassed on a weekly basis afterward — I’m looking at you, Geico).
I can say without a doubt though that the pricing is easily accessible whether you are a dirtbag budget traveler like me while still offering coverage applicable to even mid or luxury travelers.
Buy Mexico Travel Insurance
World Nomads is definitely the best bang for the buck when it comes to coverage and is what I personally use in my nomadic travels to offer a bit of protection against medical emergencies and theft.
You can buy your travel insurance through them well in advance of your trip, but what is also cool is that you can buy it AFTER you’ve already gotten into the country if you forgot to do it or you just decided to change your plans and stay a little longer.
Thankfully they make the process easy and painless online to buy new plans no matter where you are (or where you are from), extend existing plans, or to even submit your insurance claims online.
It is an online friendly travel insurance option that is good for travelers on any budget. Pick up your Mexico travel insurance today with World Nomads.
Read Next: Mexico Travel Guide
- Book a cheap flight to Mexico with Momondo, or better yet, start travel hacking so you can fly for free.
- Plan a rough itinerary and how long you will spend in each destination. Pick up Lonely Planet Mexico to help with this.
- Work every day to teach yourself Spanish, you want to know as much as possible before you arrive.
- Book your cheap accommodation in advance, at least for the first destinations -- For hostels use: Booking, for cheap hotels use: Hotels.com, for apartments use: Airbnb.
- Reserve your on the ground tours and activities through Get Your Guide.
- Purchase travel insurance for Mexico with World Nomads to protect yourself from illness, injury, and theft while in Mexico.
- Check out my comprehensive guide about traveling to Mexico with information on cities, things to do, places to see, and more.
- Learn more money saving tricks with my top budget travel tips if you want to get more bang for your buck.
- Put together your Mexico packing list.
- Enjoy this incredible country!
I hope this helped you plan your travels in Mexico! I know it can be a struggle to find accurate and on the ground information when traveling to a new place like Mexico, which is why I started writing so extensively about it!
If you have any questions about Mexico, budget travel, or anything else shoot me an email at email@example.com.
(I love getting questions! That is how I get ideas for my blog posts and what to write about!)
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