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12. Why is Mexican insurance law so different from that of insurance laws in the U.S. or Canada?

It goes without saying that different countries have different laws on the books. Laws in the United States and Canada, though, are based on English Common Law. For that reason, people are considered innocent until proven guilty. An assumption of innocence colors the flavor of the laws of both countries. Since that's what you are used to, the law in Mexico can be quite surprising.

Unlike in the U.S. and Canada, Mexican law is based on Napoleonic Code. Under this principle, a person is considered guilty until they prove their innocence. U.S.- and Canada-based auto insurance policies are not valid south of the border, but proof of Mexican insurance is essential in order to lift the burden of guilt. This is precisely why it is so important to buy Mexican insurance before you travel to Mexico.

Since the authorities in Mexico automatically assign guilt, they have to make sure that any damages or injuries will be charged to the appropriate parties. If you drive around without valid Mexican auto insurance - and are involved in an accident - you could be detained by the authorities until you can come up with the money to handle your financial obligations. Those obligations can extend beyond physical and personal losses and damages, too - you could end up being held responsible for a person's livelihood, too.

Additional Notes: In general, the law in Mexico is based on Napoleonic Code where guilt is assumed over innocence. The law in the U.S. is based on English Common Law where innocence prevails over the assumption of guilt. Therefore, if you are involved in an accident in Mexico, you must have cash or an auto policy to respond to the damages or injuries that authorities deem were caused by you. If you don't have either, your vehicle could be permanently confiscated or you may spend many hours or days detained until your financial obligations are met.

While your current US or Canadian auto insurance may offer limited physical damage coverage along the border regions of Mexico, it only covers damage to your car and NOT liability for damages to others. Mexico requires proof that you can pay for all costs associated with injuries or death of persons not in your vehicle, property damage caused by your vehicle, and medical expenses for other persons in your vehicle. Unlike in the United States or Canada, there is an additional consideration in that authorities will not RECOGNIZE the policy as legitimate unless it is written by an admitted and recognized Insurer authorized to do business in Mexico.

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