Tuesday, December 5th 2023

What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

When you’re living in Mexico, you’ll likely have to drive. Driving in Mexico can be a nerve-wracking experience. Sometimes it seems as though the rules of the road are merely suggestions; painted lines and street signs mean little in some parts of Mexico.

For expats used to stricter traffic laws, living in Mexico can be frustrating and scary. If you’re not used to driving in Mexico, then you’re at a higher risk for an accident. Even seasoned Mexican drivers get into accidents—and the likelihood increases for expats who aren’t accustomed to traffic in Mexico.

In this article, you’ll get an overview of what to do if you’re in a car accident in Mexico. We’ll cover what to expect, what to do in the first few minutes after the accident, and what steps you should take to make sure that you’re protected legally.

However, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from a tragic car accident in Mexico is to get health and auto insurance. Trust me when I say that people are hospitalized every day due to traffic collisions in Mexico, and you’ll need health insurance in the event of any injuries. A licensed insurance agent is on your side to help you navigate the Mexican medical bureaucracy—which can be quite complicated and confusing.

For the health and safety of yourself and your loved ones, click here for a 1-minute quote with Expat Insurance’s Smart Quote Tool. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Do I Need Car Insurance in Mexico

What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

Since 2014, you’re required to have car insurance when driving in Mexico. This applies to expats and tourists as well.


The Mexican government’s website states:

  • When Driving in Mexico City

If you travel in the DF (the commonly-used abbreviation for Mexican Federal District) and on federal roads, as well as in other states, you are required to have automobile insurance. In September 2014, article 63B of the Federal Roads, Bridges and Motor Transportation Law came into force, establishing that all vehicles that travel on federal roads, highways and bridges must have Mandatory Vehicle Civil Liability Insurance that guarantees third parties for damages that may be caused to their property and persons. Article 46 of the New Traffic Regulations of the Federal District establishes that motorists traveling in Mexico City must have a current civil liability insurance policy, in force under the new transportation law, which covers at least civil liability for damages to third parties.

  • When Driving in the Mexican Republic

Regarding the Mandatory Vehicle Civil Liability Insurance for Federal Roads, the Law contemplates that starting in 2019, it will cover civil liability for material damage, while in the New Traffic Regulations of the Federal District it is mandatory from now on. That is, if you only have insurance for Federal Highways, you do not comply with the coverage required by the new traffic regulations of the Federal District.

In order for you to make a better decision when insuring your car, CONDUSEF, a national consumer-protection organization, has some suggestions:

  1. Evaluate the conditions required by the regulations. Consider the place where you live, the coverage and validity, as well as the insured sums established by each of the regulations. Some are different in each Federal Entity.

  2. Get good advice from an insurance agent, so you can choose the one that best suits you within your ability to pay. Remember that by paying a little more, the benefit can be much greater, which will not only comply with the law but will also be better covered in the event of an accident.

  3. If you already have automobile insurance, it is not necessary to purchase a new one, just make sure the amounts of the sum insured in the civil liability coverage are equal to or greater than those that apply in the place where you reside.


Checklist for What to Do If You Have an Accident in Mexico

What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

  1. Try to remain calm. Don’t panic, everything will be okay.

  2. DO NOT LEAVE THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT. This could open you up to serious criminal charges.

  3. Don’t move the vehicles until instructed to do so by the Mexican authorities.

  4. Dial 911. This is the Mexican emergency number as well. (For our article on how to dial in Mexico, click here.) You’ll need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company. Make sure that a perito—or Mexican investigator—is sent to the scene to file an accident report. (This is necessary to leave the country legally, and before you can pay for your insurance claim in a timely manner.)

  5. If anyone is injured, call for medical attention. If someone is hurt and you leave the scene, you could face additional criminal charges for leaving someone in need of help. If someone is severely injured, don’t move them unless directed by a medical professional. (If even minor injuries have occurred then the case could be sent to the Mexican district attorney’s office for that state.)

  6. NOTE: If you have domestic medical insurance, it’s VERY unlikely that it will cover you abroad in case of a medical emergency! The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get expat insurance before you leave your home country. Click here for a 1-minute free quote with our Smart Quote Tool. If you’re in an accident, Expat Insurance’s claims department will be on your side in case of an emergency!

  7. Collect the necessary information at the scene just after the accident happens. This includes:

  • Contact information for all the drivers involved
  • Insurance information for all the drivers involved
  • Contact information for any witnesses to the car accident
  1. Call the claims number on your insurance policy, whether it’s through your credit card company, rental car company, or comprehensive expat insurance policy through Expat Insurance. (Click here for a free 1-minute quote.) Have your insurance policy handy when you call—so keep the necessary documents in your car.

  2. Your insurance company can direct you on how to file an insurance claim in Mexico. Request bilingual assistance if you don’t speak Spanish. They’ll send a claims adjuster out to evaluate your situation. (Be sure to have your documents handy.) Be sure to request a copy of the adjuster’s report.

The documents you’ll need:

  1. If you need a tow truck to help tow your car to a particular location, the insurance company will help you get your vehicle to a body shop or another safe location.

  2. Sometimes your insurance adjuster will determine who is at fault at the scene of the accident. If you feel that you’re not being represented, or that you’re not at fault even though your claims adjuster believes that you are at fault, then you may want legal assistance if you believe that you might become vulnerable to a legal dispute. (Hopefully there will be no dispute as to who is at fault, otherwise the parties may be sent to the local police station.)

  3. DO NOT sign anything without speaking to your insurance adjuster first. Do not agree to a “handshake” deal. Definitely do not pay anything—or accept a payment—until you file your claim and speak with your claims adjustment specialist—and/or legal representation.


  1. You may have to go to the local police station to settle the dispute as to who is at fault for the car accident if the police can’t find fault at the scene of the accident. If this happens, don’t panic!

  2. If you are suspected of driving intoxicated, then you’ll likely be taken to jail to evaluate your condition. (Be warned that if you’re driving under the influence, then your insurance company will certainly deny your claim, and you will most likely have to stay in jail.)

  3. If you are sent to a Mexican jail, then you should ask for legal representation on your behalf. If you don’t think the accident was your fault, and you’re directed to the local police station, once you’re there, ask for a lawyer.

  4. Also, if you’re taken to the police station, call your country’s embassy! Your country’s State Department can help you access legal services and a bilingual lawyer if needed. Your Mexican insurance might cover your legal assistance, bail bond or other costs.

  5. Included in your Mexican auto insurance is bail bond insurance. BE SURE TO HAVE AUTO INSURANCE IN MEXICO, and they’ll cover whatever bail is required for you to get out of jail.

    *For our article on how to get help from your embassy during an emergency, click here.


18.Don’t leave Mexico without filing a claim first! You could open yourself up to seriously legal consequences if you leave the country with a pending warrant.


What to Do If You Have a Minor Accident in Mexico

What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

Unlike some other countries, all car accidents—be they minor or major—are required to be attended by an insurance adjuster at the moment of the event. Many Mexicans will try to settle the situation through a “handshake agreement” or settle with money out-of-pocket on the spot. This is illegal and could lead to serious repercussions—especially if someone is injured at the scene. You must file an insurance claim (the claims adjuster will do this), call the police to get a police report, and settle the question of who’s at fault before you’re allowed to leave the country.

It’s not only damage to the vehicles in the car accident that need to be assessed by your insurance’s claims adjuster. Any damages to the roads themselves will also need to be resolved—which will not be covered in a “handshake agreement! You could be opening yourself up to serious legal repercussions if you try to settle “out of pocket”.


What to Do If You Have a Major Accident in Mexico

What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

  • Totaling Your Foreign Car in Mexico

If you have a major car accident in Mexico that leaves your car inoperable, then it’s unlikely that your Mexican car insurance will cover towing the car back to your home country—even if you live right on the border. You’d have to pay exorbitant fees to bring your car back across the border, which is far more expensive than just getting it fixed at a body shop in Mexico.

  • If Someone Is Hurt in a Major Accident in Mexico

The first thing you should do if someone is hurt in a car accident in Mexico is dial 911. However, if you haven’t done so, your Mexican car insurance help-line agent can help you call medical professionals. Just be sure to tell them someone has been injured in the car accident.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in Mexico, then with the medevac] insurance, you could be medically evacuated in an emergency.

  • If Someone Dies in an Accident in Mexico

If a serious tragedy results from a car accident in Mexico to the point where there’s a fatality, then you’ll likely be taken to jail—unless there’s absolutely no doubt that you had zero fault in the accident. If you are taken to jail, you’ll likely need a criminal lawyer that can help you defend yourself in court. If you have good insurance coverage, then they’ll provide bail bonds for your release, provide legal counseling, and even cover third party liability expenses in the event of a serious car accident in Mexico. If you don’t have comprehensive insurance—or no insurance whatsoever—then you can expect to pay these costly fees out-of-pocket.

Can I Sue in the United States

What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

In Mexico, car accidents are typically settled at the scene or, in the worst scenarios, right after while detained in Mexican jail. Often, in Mexico, the drivers will settle a “handshake agreement” which settles a cash payment for any damages caused during the car accident. However, more serious cases will be settled by the insurance claims adjusters determining who is at fault after the accident.

In some rare incidents, some Americans file a lawsuit in Mexico. Mexican law does allow for the victim of a car accident in Mexico to sue for special damages, like those for expensive medical bills, emotional damages, or missed work due to complications from a car accident. If the insurance companies allow foreign lawsuits, then you may be able to file a lawsuit in the United States over damages incurred in Mexico resulting from a car accident. If you’re driving a rental car in Mexico, then you’d also need to check with the terms of the rental car policy. Most rental car companies don’t allow for foreign lawsuits, however some do. It can be hard to sustain a lawsuit filed in the United States against another party—especially if the other party is Mexican. The bureaucratic red tape can result in many lawsuits being thrown out during the legal process. Also, trying to get a judgment against a plaintiff in a foreign country is known to be almost impossible. Therefore, most claims are often settled while both parties are in Mexico.


What to Do in a Car Accident in Mexico

Being involved in a car accident anywhere can be a nerve-wracking experience—especially if you’re living or traveling through a foreign country. Mexico is no different. The best thing you can do to protect yourself from costly medical bills and expensive legal fees is to get some form of comprehensive expat insurance.

Thankfully, we can help. With our 1-minute Smart Quote Tool, you can get the information and price quotes you need to be secured throughout your trip in Mexico. To access our Smart Quote Tool, click here.

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