By itself auto insurance is confusing enough for many people. Throwing in a wrinkle like temporary car insurance may be a bit much. But relax, temporary car insurance is quite specialized and really isn’t that scary.
As the name implies, temporary auto insurance is a policy designed to be in force for a short period of time and for a certain occasion. Terms for policies are usually measured in days or weeks. Temporary car insurance shouldn’t be confused with things like non-owned auto insurance, which is a full-term auto insurance policy that covers a driver instead of a vehicle.
Temporary Car Insurance for Rentals
Although there are other uses for it, the most common application of temporary car insurance is in a rental situation. Rental temporary auto insurance is not true car insurance as much as it is an agreement between you and the rental company for that company to reimburse you for damages. It’s an added charge to your rental and always presented as an upsell.
Many insurance companies will automatically cover you at least partially in a rental car as long as you stay in the United States or Canada. Temporary car insurance offered by the rental company may pick up the slack, or may be completely unnecessary.
If you plan to rent a car in the near future and are unsure of your coverage, consult with your insurance agent before renting. It could save you quite a bit in unnecessary rental car charges. If you do rent, plan on an extra $6 to $12 a day in rental charges – not cheap if you annualize that premium.
If you’re driving in any other country, however, you want to seriously consider taking the rental company’s temporary car insurance. Apart from Canada, most American auto insurance policies exclude international coverage in general and coverage in Mexico in particular. The chances are very good indeed your car insurance back home won’t be there when you get off that international flight. That rental auto insurance may be the only thing between you and an unfortunate international incident should you get in an accident.
Temporary Car Insurance in Mexico
Another common application of temporary car insurance involves driving south of the border, even if it’s your own car. Unlike in Canada, where your local auto insurance policy is valid and generally recognized by local authorities, legally driving in Mexico carries an entirely different set of requirements.
American insurance companies don’t do business in Mexico or sell Mexican auto insurance. You will have to strike out on your own to get the coverage you need.
Temporary Mexican car insurance may be available through your agent by way of an insurance brokerage, online, or through an agency based close to the border. When purchasing temporary auto insurance for use in Mexico – and especially when dealing with agents or firms you don’t know – be sure you’re actually getting Mexican auto insurance. Also be sure you’re not paying too much.
There are several reputable Mexican insurance companies to choose from including ACE Seguros, HDI Seguros, Grupo Nacional Provincial and others. Don’t be afraid to do some research on these companies as many have A. M. Best ratings for financial security just like their American counterparts. “Seguros,” incidentally, is Spanish for “insurance.”
Now that you have your Mexican insurance, you’re just about halfway done. You also need to get a Mexican tourist visa and a “Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit” for your automobile. Although this permit isn’t required in Baja California and parts of Sonora in the northwestern part of the country, don’t even think about driving without it elsewhere in Mexico. If you’re caught without one, your car will likely be confiscated and you might find yourself spending time behind Mexican jail bars.
The visa and permit are available at the customs port of entry at the border or at a Mexican consulate. An English-language online application for the permit is also available, which will help you save time at the border. All told the total investment for driving in Mexico will run you several hundred dollars, however much of that is a deposit on the permit. You’ll get the deposit back when you surrender the permit upon returning to the United States.