Insuring a Vehicle in Panama
General information about insurance policies in Panama, with details on insuring a vehicle (options from third party to comprehensive cover) and making a claim...
By law, third party basic liability (cobertura obligatoria/cobertura básica) insurance is required for all drivers in Panama. This policy generally includes medical payments, roadside assistance and possibly legal service as well.
There are two other types of car insurance package available in addition to the basic liability package:
- Collision (colisión)
- Comprehensive (cobertura completa)
Comprehensive insurance plans give more coverage than the basic insurance package and customers can choose their coverage options.
Not all insurance companies insure foreign cars, but those that do require a passport, driver's license and foreign registration/title. For complete insurance coverage, an inspection of the car (with photographs and documentation of mileage) is also required.
Premiums are determined based on the driver's Panamanian driving record, (a clean record is generally assumed for holders of a foreign license). In the event of an accident in which the policy holder admits guilt, premiums should be expected to increase when renewing the policy. If a clean record is maintained during the course of the renewal, the premium can be renegotiated at the next renewal date.
Road accidents in Panama are frequent, although usually benign. The law in Panama states that drivers involved in an accident must remove their vehicle from the place where the accident took place. However, those involved in an accident generally remain in the same place until the insurance company or traffic police (Transito) arrive.
Insurance companies usually respond faster than the police, and it is they who fill out forms and take photographs following an accident.
Accident Report Form
A copy of the official Accident Report Form (Formato de Accidente) should be kept in the vehicle at all times and given to the insurance company agent at the site of the accident. They will then fill it out with a description of the accident and any damage incurred.
- To download an Accident Report Form: Click here (PDF)
The Accident Report Form is used for minor accidents when one of the parties admits guilt. Otherwise, a police report is issued. The information detailed on both reports is similar: driver's details, vehicle information and insurance details for all parties involved. The insurance representative will ensure that sufficient information has been collected to file a claim.
Making a Claim
If an insurance agent is not present following an accident and a policy holder wishes to make a claim on the accident, they have 72 hours in which to do so. Claims must be made at the insurance office with the following documentation:
- driving license
- auto repair quotes (if applicable)
- either a police report or an Accident Report Form (depending on the severity of the collision)