Travel Insurance for Mexico Vacation 2021: FAQ, What to Buy, New Rules - Rolling Stone
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Why You May Need Travel Insurance for a Mexico Vacation

Here’s how a robust travel insurance policy can offer a financial safety net for your Mexican getaway

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Planning a trip to Mexico is relatively easy to do. There are ample flights from the U.S. to several cities in Mexico and there are all types of lodging choices to match budgets and vacation goals.

Americans vacationers cross the border to experience the culture, heritage, beaches, historical sites and rich culinary scene.

“Mexico is a vibrant country that’s diverse from coast to coast,” observes Lisa Cheng, spokesperson with World Nomads, a travel insurance company. “Whether you choose to book a tour or explore on your own, you should consider trip cancellation coverage,” she says. “When you’re paying a lot of money upfront, you want to be sure that you won’t lose your deposits if something unexpected prevents you from going on your trip as planned.”

Related: Compare & Buy Travel Insurance For 2021

Here’s how a robust travel insurance policy can offer a financial safety net for your Mexican getaway.

What Should a Travel Insurance Plan Include for Mexico?

A travel insurance policy can provide peace of mind that your trip investment is protected. Particularly for international travel, pick a comprehensive plan with coverage for:

  • Trip cancellation, delay and interruption
  • Medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation
  • Baggage loss

Planning adventures like ziplining, parasailing or scuba diving? Be aware that many travel insurance plans exclude adventure and extreme sports. Work with a travel insurance agent to identify the policies that will cover the activities you’re planning.

What If You Can’t Go on Your Mexico Trip?

It’s exciting to look forward to a trip to Mexico and the country’s joyful vibe and laidback tropical backdrop. Maybe you have added swimsuits to your wardrobe and arranged for a pet sitter. But the unexpected can happen, and travel insurance can help make sure you don’t lose your shirt if you have to cancel the trip.

Trip cancellation coverage within a travel insurance policy can reimburse you 100% for the non-refundable deposits you lose if you have to cancel for a reason listed in the policy. Typical acceptable reasons include illness or injury of you or someone in your traveling party, illness or injury of an immediate family member, civil unrest, a job loss, severe weather like a hurricane, military deployment or a serious family emergency.

Not all reasons for canceling a trip will be eligible for a trip cancellation insurance claim. For example, if you booked an all-inclusive resort in Tulum and the reviews online say the pools are slimy and the food is sub-par, this is not a reason covered by a standard policy.

If you want the greatest level of flexibility to cancel a trip and make an insurance claim, upgrade your policy to “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage. This adds an average of 50% to the policy cost but gives you the ability to cancel the trip for a reason not listed in the base policy, such as bad resort reviews or simply changing your mind.

You generally must cancel no less than 48 hours before your scheduled departure and you typically get back 75% of the trip cost (not 100%) under a CFAR claim.

Delays During a Mexico Trip

It’s ideal to fly directly to Cancun, Mexico City or Cabo San Lucas. But maybe you can snag a bargain fare with a stopover and use the savings for lime margaritas at the beach bar. If you’re on a connecting flight through Miami en route to Cancun and you get stuck at the airport because of weather, travel delay coverage can reimburse you for the extra costs related to the delay, such as buying airport food and essential toiletries.

Or if your connecting flight is canceled due to thunderstorms, and you miss out on the private beach cabana you booked, you can make a trip delay claim for the lost deposit.

Mexico Trips Cut Short

When you are lounging on the beach in Riviera Maya, or paddle boarding in the crystal blue ocean, the last thing on your mind is going home early. But if a problem crops up and you have to cut your vacation short, trip interruption insurance can reimburse you for the money you lose.

For example, if you’re in the military and find out you’re being deployed right away, your last-minute flight home could be covered, as well as any unused, pre-paid excursions, hotel rooms and tours. Check the policy for the reasons covered under trip interruption insurance.

Handling Medical Problems in Mexico

Check your health plan coverage rules well before you jet off to Mexico. It may have little global coverage, or a very high out-of-network deductible. Knowing whether your health insurance will work in Mexico will help you decide how much travel medical insurance you need. And Medicare doesn’t work in Mexico.

“Whether you’re marveling at Mexico’s colonial treasures, taking a dip in the cenotes, or going to a Mezcal tasting, medical emergencies can happen no matter what your activity—and at any point of your travels,” points out Cheng.

“You could be at risk for mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever or malaria,”  she observes. Having a travel insurance plan with good medical coverage can help save you from getting stuck with out-of-pocket expenses and from having to scramble around to find the right hospitals or health care providers, she says.

Plus, your travel insurance company’s 24/7 emergency assistance hotline can help you find doctors, hospitals and pharmacies.

You can find policies with $500,000 in coverage for medical expenses—or lower amounts, depending on your budget. Choose a plan with “primary” medical insurance if you don’t want to have to make a claim on your own health plan first (if you have coverage in Mexico).

If needed, your travel insurance company can dispatch an air ambulance to get you to a medical facility that’s properly equipped to handle your condition or injury. Without this coverage, you could be on the hook for thousands of dollars for medevac costs. You can find policies with $1 million in medical evacuation coverage.

Related: Compare over 22+ Travel Insurance Companies

Baggage Issues

A comprehensive travel insurance plan should include coverage for baggage delay and baggage loss. For example, if your baggage gets misdirected by the airline, you can use baggage delay insurance to buy a sundress, swimsuit and sunhat while you wait for your luggage. This benefit is not designed to replace the full contents of your luggage, but can tide you over until your baggage gets delivered to your hotel. It’s vital to keep any receipts in order to file a claim for reimbursement.

If your bags are lost for good, you can make a claim under baggage loss. Note that these claims pay out for the depreciated value of your items, not the cost to replace your belongings with new items.

Cheng at World Nomads notes that robberies and pickpocketing can be a problem in Mexico if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Baggage and personal effects coverage can help you recoup the costs of your stolen belongings, up to the amount specified in your policy,” says Cheng. Note your policy’s exclusions. For example, theft of cash and credit cards may not be covered.

Do your best not to invite attention: Don’t wear flashy jewelry or carry a designer handbag. “Of course the best way to safeguard your valuables is to leave them at home,” advises Cheng.

Weather Considerations for a Mexico Trip

Hurricanes and severe storms can definitely affect your Mexico vacation, particularly during the peak hurricane months of June through November. Read your policy carefully to see if trip cancellations for forecasted storms are covered. If a “named storm” is forecasted, you want to be able to make a trip cancellation claim. Or if a storm has passed through and your resort is uninhabitable, you want to be able to cancel and make a claim.

But if you’re just worried about a hurricane, this isn’t covered under standard cancellation insurance. For those cases, make sure you buy a “cancel for any reason” upgrade shortly after you put down a deposit on your trip.

Related: Compare & Buy Travel Insurance For 2021

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