From Mayan ruins to Cancun margaritas, make sure you have the right travel insurance for your Mexico getaway
Mexico is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, with travellers drawn to the Meso-American ruins, colonial history, festivals and cultural activities, beach resorts and nature reserves.
The lively European and Meso-American cultural fusion that you can find all around Mexico, combined with the welcoming weather, makes Mexico an attractive option for a lot of visitors. However, it does have its risks and this guide will help you find the right travel insurance policy to protect yourself from them.
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What's in this guide?
- Top 5 travel concerns for Mexico
- How much does travel insurance for Mexico cost?
- Activities to get cover for in Mexico
- What happens if I have a medical emergency in Mexico?
- Who do I contact in an emergency?
- What are the entry requirements for Mexico?
- When is the best time to visit Mexico?
- Travel insurance exclusions to watch out for in Mexico
Overall, travellers in Mexico are advised to exercise a high degree of caution. The Australian government advises you to reconsider your need to travel to certain areas, including Michoacan, Lazaro Cardenas, Guerrero (except the tourist areas near Taxco), Tamaulipas and parts of the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. Make sure you keep across any travel warnings for Mexico before your trip away.
In all regions you should watch out for:
- Crime. Petty theft is relatively prevalent in tourist areas, bus stations, airports, hotels and public transport and visitors are advised to remain alert in these places. More serious crime, including assault, armed robbery, kidnapping and murder can also occur in tourist spots, with the risk greatly increasing after dark. There have been allegations of police involvement in kidnapping and extortion schemes and individuals posing as police have also been known to commit crimes.
- Disease. Malaria, Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses are an issue throughout the year, particularly in more isolated areas. Food and drink-borne diseases are also a frequent issue and travellers are advised to wear long sleeves, use insect repellent, try to use mosquito-proof accommodation, avoid undercooked or raw food and ice cubes and drink boiled or bottled water. Seek medical attention if you experience fever or diarrhoea in Mexico.
- Travel insurance with medical cover is recommended for all travellers to Mexico.
- Drug-related violence. Mexico is an epicentre for drug-related violence and organised crime, including kidnapping, murder and carjacking. Certain areas in particular are known for being particularly dangerous for visitors. Consider making private security arrangements if you think you might become a target.
- Travel cover for emergencies is highly recommended given the unpredictability of travel in Mexico.
- Weather. Mexico’s hurricane season is from June to November. This is when landslides, mudslides, flooding and service disruptions are more likely to occur and travel can become particularly difficult in isolated areas. Monitor local weather reports for information on hurricanes and familiarise yourself with the evacuation procedures of your accommodation when travelling in hurricane season.
- Ensure you take out a travel insurance policy before your departure date so that it can cover any cancellations if a hurricane disrupts your travel plans before you even leave.
- Civil unrest. Protests, demonstrations and strikes are common in Mexico. These protests have resulted in deaths before and can also block roads or entry to government buildings. Travellers should under no circumstances get involved in protests or demonstrations.
- Your travel insurer can reimburse you and help you make alternative arrangements if your plans are disrupted by protests, strikes or civil disorder.
- Visiting Mayan ruins: Mexico hosts a number of archaeologically and architecturally significant sites, including famous monuments like the towering pyramid of Chichen Itza. These sites are located all around the country so it can pay to plan your trip well. Bear in mind that the pyramids are steep and tourists do injure themselves in falls every year. Some of these sites are in isolated locations, so travel insurance that covers medical evacuation and repatriation may be advisable.
- Watersports: Scuba diving and snorkeling are big attractions in Mexico and the length of the nation’s coastline means you can experience a diverse range of undersea flora and fauna in beautiful warm waters. Remember to check the conditions for getting covered for scuba diving.
- Adventure activities: Ziplining, skydiving, bungee jumping and other adrenaline-fuelled thrills can be found all around Mexico. Consider the precautions employed by each operator and remember that equipment and safety standards may not be on par with what you’re used to. Adventure activities are not always covered by default travel insurance policies so make sure you check how you will be covered.
- Nightlife: Mexico City, as well as other big population centres, countless resorts and tourist towns, boasts a thriving entertainment scene with enough variety to satisfy anyone. Remember to keep a close eye on valuables, including your passport, identification and other travel documents. For more peace of mind, consider travel insurance credit card fraud protection and travel insurance to cover your vital documents.
Mexico has a varied healthcare system with many high quality hospitals, doctors and specialists. The most advanced facilities can be found in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey and you might have to travel or be medevaced to one of these cities in the event of a serious injury or illness.
You should make plans to access one of the more dependable and high quality private hospitals or clinics rather than the public system in the event of an emergency, with a travel insurance policy that can pay for it if needed.
- You will generally not be allowed access to private hospitals if you cannot provide proof of medical insurance cover, or if you do not present a credit card showing that you can afford thousands of dollars of treatment. The preferable option is usually to find a travel insurance policy that can pay up front or to be certain that you can afford the cost of treatments and can claim them back later.
In the event of an emergency, your ideal point of contact may be your tour operator, hotel or other relevant service provider. Other than that, you might need to contact:
- The Australian Embassy in Mexico City. If you have passport or documentation issues, legal trouble or need help but don’t know who else to call, the embassy can point you in the right direction, although the actual assistance they can provide may be limited. Find the embassy at Ruben Dario #55, Corner of Campos Eliseos and Polanco, Colonia Bosque de Chapultepec, 11580 Mexico DF Mexico or call (52 55) 1101 2200.
- Your insurer. They should have a 24/7 claims helpline and the contact information should be clearly displayed in your policy or on the insurer’s website. If you intend to make a claim of any kind you should contact them as soon as you are reasonably able.
Australian citizens travelling to Mexico do not require a tourist visa. Instead, you can fill out an entry card on the flight in or at any of the land border crossings and pay a fee of approximately $22. Most airlines will include this fee in the ticket price under “taxes and surcharges”.
- Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry
- Business travellers do not require a visa either
- The entry card typically remains valid for up to 180 days
The best time to visit Mexico is from December to May. Climate and weather conditions vary by region and terrain, but are generally warm and pleasant. Ideally you should avoid hurricane season from June to November.
- Avoid holiday periods, particularly the spring break of March and April, if you don’t like big crowds.
- The best way to decide when to visit Mexico might be by planning your trip around festivals, holidays and special events.
Exclusions are situations in which your insurer may not accept a claim. Some of these conditions that you may encounter include:
- Reckless behaviour or being under the influence. Some insurers may reserve the right to not pay a benefit for losses incurred while you are under the influence of alcohol or any other substances, while others are not so strict. Expect all insurers to impose a blanket exclusion for unreasonably dangerous or reckless behaviour regardless of sobriety.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. Medical cover for pre-existing health conditions is typically excluded by default. If you do have a pre-existing condition, then the ideal way to get cover is to let your insurer know about it.
- Failure to take precautions. If you fail to obey warning signs then your insurer might not pay for resulting injuries. If you don’t get immunised and then fall sick to a preventable disease, your insurer might not pay for treatment. If you do not properly secure or attend to your belongings and they are stolen then your insurer may not pay to replace them. You are required to take sensible steps to avoid needing to make a claim.