Auto Insurance for Central and South America

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#1 Mon, 01/24/2011 - 20:48

Auto Insurance for Central and South America


We're bouncing down Baja on our way down the PanAm and are trying to figure out the best way to be insured south of Mexico or if we even want to at all.  I've learned that insurance for Guatemala (and every country but Costa Rica for that matter) is quite difficult to obtain.  Is there any way to get a policy that will cover us completely for the remainder of our journey, or do we need to get a different insurance policy before each border crossing?

I've read on the site here about Sanborns Insurance but cannot find much info on it and it's coverage outside of Mexico.  Has anybody actually used it?  I get the impression that most "self-insure."  Am I insane to go this route?

For reference the total value of the Tundra and truck camper is only $15k and I'm mostly worried about my liability and being thrown into a Latin American jail for a year.




Mon, 02/14/2011 - 15:35

try out Sanborns

We used Sanborns insurance for most of our drive from California to Argentina - check out the Your Vehicle page for more information about insurance specific to each country.    Sanborns insurance excludes the countries of Belize, Costa_Rica, Nicaragua, and Colombia.  Basic car insurance for all of these countries can be purchased when you arrive at their borders.  Additional insurance can be purchase for Nicaragua as well, but you're out of luck in Colombia.  But I think these exclusions are not specific to Sanborns - I think those countries have weird insurance laws.  

Tue, 05/01/2012 - 23:49

Having your own car is great

Having your own car is great and it's even greater if you have car insurance too. Peace of mind is the biggest benefit of having it and all other insurance that secures you in your whole life. Yes, personal insurance is now common, but did you know that specialized lines are around to cover those lofty areas that only the rich and well-known generally must consider? Funny and weird to hear but those strange insurance policies for celebrities and other rich folk are all available at Lloyd's of London.

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 07:26

Sanborn insurance

Just to let you know that I telephoned Sanborn Insurance about insuring my car in South America and they informed me they no longer insure in South America.  They used to but no longer do but are looking for another company to partner with to do so.  SOOOOO, who out there knows where I can get car insurance for South America???  

Sat, 09/05/2015 - 19:20

Lots of travellers self

Lots of travellers self insure for obvious reasons. Just far to expensive.

Of course we still have to get the compulsory liability insurance for each country, but usually that isn't a big problem as all the main border crossings have agencies at or near the border.

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 05:37

Car Insurance for USA

On the subject of car insurance, I am shipping my UK reg camper to the USA in Dec and looking for any info on USA car insurance. I have found only one company that will insure (Thum) and they are very expensive. Also they have a stipulation that the vehicle has to remain licensed and registered in the country of origin, which is fine for a year, but for any longer than this it is problem because in order for a vehcile to be licensed in the UK it has to have a yearly road worthy certificate (MOT) which is obviously not possible if the vehicle stays out of the country for more than a year. ( I know that you can only temporarily import a vehicle into the USA for one year, but it can then go the Mexico or Canada and possibly come back in again, but then the insurance will be a problem). I am hoping to spend the winter in the Southern States and then make my way North in the Spring to Canada and Alaska and would prefer not to be restricted by a time limit. Any info anyone? Thanks.

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 16:48

"Also they have a stipulation

"Also they have a stipulation that the vehicle has to remain licensed and registered in the country of origin,"


Actually ALL insurance for motor vehicles will have a similar stipulation, just that nobody makes a big deal out of it because it is way down in the fine print. Have an accident though and I'd say they will soon remember it.  I suspect the conditions attached to issuing a Temporary Import Permit will say something similar as well.

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 16:50

"I know that you can only

"I know that you can only temporarily import a vehicle into the USA for one year, but it can then go the Mexico or Canada and possibly come back in again"


Been recent reports that the US counts all time in the US AND Canada AND Mexico in that 12 month limit and that while you may not get caught out, if you do, action will be taken.

Sat, 09/26/2015 - 02:20


Thanks Tony,

I guess that means that people who are travelling outside their country of origin for more than a year are basically paying insurance for nothing as it is unlikely that the insurance company will honour any claims.......unless one can get around keeping one's vehicle licensed in the country of origin! Best to buy a US reg vehicle for the Americas I guess.  

Wed, 11/25/2015 - 03:12

Re insurance in USA, the key

Re insurance in USA, the key is to have an address and zip code in the USA.  If you have that, you are off and running.  If you try to give them a UK address, you will get no where.  I use my sister's address in Washington State, but even just a friend who agrees to let you use their address for insurance purposes is fine.

Once you have that, call an agent in the same State as that address.  You may be landing in New York, but if your address is in California, you will need to get insurance from an agent in California. 

I use Progressive, and have had excellent quotes from them.  US$200 for a RHD Lotus Elise in 2012, and about the same price for my Troopie for our 2014 trip.  For 9 months. 

And with a Zip code, you will find you can get on line quotes more easily.  They never even cared about my Aussie registration or being RHD - In fact they never asked, and they said nothing when I took the car round to pick up the certificate once I had arrived - They just wanted a drive in it !

And once you have USA Insurance, you must ask for Canadian Coverage.  It costs no more, but you must ask for it and will then receive a small card which proves you have Canadian coverage, which you are sometimes asked for at the border, and definitely if you have an "incident" !

And Tony is right - the 12 months in America INCLUDES Canada and Mexico.  That is why people ship their cars into Canada direct, in order to avoid this restriction.  I am shipping my car into Halifax Nova Scotia from Europe in April 2016 in order to get round all the paperwork and EPA import approval letters you need if you ship the car directly into a US port.   BTW, same applies to your "90 day US visa".  Because Canada is considered to be America, if you are more than 90 days in the two of them, you need to get a 12 month visa from an Embassy before you go.  Your 90 day USA visa does NOT reset just because you cross into Canada !!

In Central America and Northern S America you get your insurance (compulsory) at every border. (Mexico you have to get just before you cross).   For southern S America, one option is to get it on line from a guy who lives near Bariloche.  This covers Chile, Argentina, and all the southern countries.  Try emailing Klaus at and asking if he can help you.

John Hopkins - I am currently in Surrey over Christmas and heading to Morocco in January, before heading back to the US and Canada in April.  If you want to chat about anything regarding your trip, feel free to contact me. I am meeting another imminent traveller for lunch and a chat after Christmas in London for the same reason !  If you google Giles Cooper Alaska you will find all my details in my blogs and can email me through them. Just send me a contact number for yourself so we can chat and I will be happy to help you in any way I can.



Wed, 11/25/2015 - 07:09

Insuring with Progressive

Insuring with Progressive also gives you full cover in Mexico if you ask for it. (NOT the Mexican liability insutrance though)


John made the valid point re insurance requiring valid registration and I have been saying that for a long time.  We register our American vehicles via a Limited Liability Company in Montana and because they are more than ten years old, have permanent tags so they are always registered.  Not all US states are suitable for registering overlanders either, because if smog checks or mechanical safety inspections are needed, the registration may lapse after a year.

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