Am I covered if I drive into Mexico or Canada?

Crawford Frazer

If you cross the border from Colorado into Utah, you can feel secure that your auto insurance will still cover you. What happens, though, if you drive across the Texas border into Mexico, or from Washington into Canada? How does car insurance work when you cross into our neighbors to the north and south?

Driving in Mexico

Your auto insurance provider may give you limited coverage when you cross the border. An Allstate policy, for example, will cover you across state lines or in the U.S. territories like Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But in Mexico, there are stipulations. To be covered by Allstate, you would need to remain within 75 miles of the border, and each trip can be up to 10 days. After that, Mexican law would determine your coverage.

And make no mistake, you would definitely need separate coverage to continue driving in Mexico. Mexican auto insurance is required for all cars, including rentals, according to the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs. Neither U.S. liability insurance nor comprehensive coverage is valid in Mexico. Fortunately, you can buy Mexican auto insurance in most cities and towns on both sides of the border. But keep in mind -- if you get in an accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, your insurance will be considered invalid.

Mexican law enforcement officials take auto insurance very seriously. If you're involved in an accident and cannot prove that you have Mexican liability insurance, you'll be taken into custody until liability (and your ability to pay) can be proven. This holds true even if you require immediate medical attention, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Driving in Canada

Canada, on the other hand, does not require you to purchase a separate policy. Major insurers like Allstate and GEICO will cover you throughout all Canadian provinces and territories. According to GEICO, there are some documents you need to bring if you drive into Canada:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship: a passport or other travel document issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Proof of insurance: This is the standard insurance ID card you carry in the United States.
  • Canadian insurance card: You'll need to contact your auto insurance company in advance of your travels to obtain this card.

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