Mexico Travel Warning for Parents of Student Spring Breakers

Recent Canadian and US government warnings cautioning travellers about potential terrorist activity in Mexico’s Western Caribbean resort area of Quintana Roo state (including Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa Carmen) have once again emphasized the need for travel insurance for all ages, especially teenage students who are “breaking loose” for spring and Easter vacations.

The warnings, issued by both governments on March 7 and 8, came in the wake of an explosion on one tourist ferry travelling from Playa Carmen to Cozumel, and the discovery of an unexploded bomb on another. These events have firmed up evidence of new drug cartel activity reaching into these areas, which thus far had been relatively free of the violence wracking much of the northern and western (Pacific) states in recent years.

The government warnings, based on unidentified “ongoing security threats,” have subsequently been narrowed down, but the US State Department continues to restrict its own government employees from travelling to certain highly populated areas within Quintana Roo.

Both governments have strongly emphasized the need for all travellers to high-risk areas in Mexico (now identified in some 11 states) to purchase travel insurance that includes coverage of medical emergencies and air evacuation.

These advisories are particularly important for parents of Canadian students to Mexico, because many students sign on to group tours arranged by American travel packagers who offer travel insurance plans designed specifically for American students—many of whom will be covered by their parents’ private domestic health insurance. These plans are severely limited, with many restricting medical benefits at $10,000–$25,000 without any repatriation benefits. These limits are totally inadequate for Canadians who are virtually uncovered by their provincial health plans when out of the country.

Consequently, the Canadian government strongly urges spring and Easter season student travellers to buy Canadian insurance before they leave their home province.

And we must note that, because it’s so easy for students to sign on to any variety of spring break packages, parents need to remain aware that when their children travel under-insured, the parents continue to carry the full financial risk. There are no “student” rates in Mexican emergency rooms.


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