This article is from the July 1999 The Mexico File newsletter.
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A Reader Reports

I noticed in the classified section you mention Vagabundos del Mar auto insurance. I would like to caution you about this car insurance and perhaps you may want to pull your listing for them.

The former carrier they had went bankrupt and left many people in the lurch (ourselves included) in Mexico. Yes, the price was good – in fact, perhaps too good. They were 1/3 the cost of the reputable Sanborn’s (McAllen, Texas). They sent us a form letter in March stating that the company was bankrupt and they would “try” to give people a two-week window to get back to the border.

Supposedly now Vagabundos is offering another Mexican carrier, but this little lesson was good enough for us. Don’t always go with the cheapest price. Also, who knows if this next carrier they have will pay should someone have an accident. I would be very wary.

Unfortunately, at our bookstore, we really talked up Vagabundos and I feel responsible for any one I told about their “great pricing.” I am sure that their books and maps are still wonderful – but as far as Mexico auto insurance, not so sure. After living in Mexico for a couple of years now, I strongly urge your readers to go with the tried and true Sanborn’s. Why take chances – in Mexico, no less?


Jeanine Kitchel

(Editor’s Note: We thank Jeanine for this information. We tried to contact Vagabundos to see how they would respond to this – but they failed to respond. We have deleted their advertisement from our Classified Ads. If you have had any problems with insurance plans in Mexico, please let us know.  D.S.)

Vagabundos Del Mar Responds

(Editor’s Note: Jeanine Kitchel reported in the July 1999 issue of The Mexico File that the car insurance carrier used by Vagabundos Del Mar Boat and Travel Club had gone bankrupt. We contacted Fred Jones at Vagabundos and asked for an explanation. This is his response. We have heard many good reports over the years about the travel services offered by Vagabundos Del Mar, and we appreciate the explanation offered by Fred Jones. Vagabundos can be reached at 190 Main Street, Rio Vista, CA 94571; 707-374-5511 or 800-474-2252; fax: 707-374-6843.)

Thanks for the opportunity to respond to Jeanine Kitchel’s letter about our insurance problem. It’s certainly logical on the surface to hold the Vagabundos responsible for the company’s collapse and I am not trying to make excuses when I explain the situation.

Mexican insurance companies cannot do business in California, where we are headquartered, unless they go through a Surplus Lines Broker. In insurance jargon, Mexican companies are “non-admitted carriers.” The Vagabundos are not Surplus Lines Brokers and cannot deal directly with Mexican insurance companies. So, we have to deal with someone who has such a license.  

Since 1972 we have been dealing with Oscar Padilla Mexican Insurance. He makes the arrangements with the Mexican companies. He has provided us with programs with about five separate companies over the years and we have relied on his judgment in selecting those companies. The last one failed due to circumstances in Mexico which neither Padilla nor Vagabundos were aware of until it happened. As soon as we found out we immediately stopped selling it and sent an Advisory Notice to every member and posted it on our website advising them what to do.

Padilla did the best he could for the people with policies by paying claims as long as he could. In regard to our present insurance through Ada Vis Global Mexican Insurance Services, my wife Gloria and I inadvertently put it to the test by having a substantial claim in June. The company responded quickly and effectively and to our complete satisfaction.


Fred Jones
Vice President/General Manager