The tasks and the financing of the Swiss National Guarantee Fund (NGF) are ruled by Articles 76, 76a and 76b of the Swiss Road Traffic Law (SVG).
The NGF is an association formed by the Swiss Motor Third Party Liability Insurers. Its expenses are covered by contributions paid by the vehicle holders. For the settlement of claims, the NGF is usually represented by its managing member company, i.e. Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. If there is a conflict of interests, the NGF will appoint another member for the settlement of the claim.
The NGF covers the third party liability for damages caused in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein by unidentified or uninsured motor vehicles and trailers (art. 76 par. 2 lit. a number 1 SVG). It also covers the third party liability for damages caused in Switzerland and in Liechtenstein by users of bicycles and devices which can be assimilated to a vehicle, as long as the offender cannot be identified or the damage is neither covered by the latter nor a third party liability insurance or a third liable party nor another insurance (art. 76 par. 2 lit. a number 2 SVG).
Furthermore, the NGF covers the third party liability for damages caused by motor vehicles or trailers which are registered in Switzerland or Liechtenstein, provided that the liable MTPL insurer has been declared bankrupt (art. 76 par. 2 lit. b SVG).
Taking into consideration that many different representation relations may apply, it has to be pointed out that in case a claim for a road traffic accident was brought into court, the NGF would have to be the defendant (art. 76b par. 1 SVG). In other words, legal action has to be taken against the NGF, and not its representative (that means neither Zurich nor another representative such as a member company).
According to Art. 38 of the Civil Procedure Code (ZPO), the court at the place where the accident occurred and the court at the defendant's domicile (the NGF's head office is situated in Zurich, at the siege of the managing company Zurich Insurance Company Ltd) as well as the courts at the place of an NGF branch office (Lugano and Lausanne) have jurisdiction.
Pursuant the Treaty concluded between Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein on 3 November 2003, not only the court at the place where the accident occurred but also the courts at the plaintiff's domicile in Liechtenstein and the courts at the NGF's domicile or at the place of an NGF branch office (Zurich, Lugano, Lausanne) have jurisdiction if the plaintiff is a resident of the Principality of Liechtenstein.
In case of damages caused by unidentified or uninsured motor vehicles, trailers and bicycles, the liability of the NGF is merely of subsidiary nature. In the second degree, the liability of the NGF is reduced in a proportion corresponding to the indemnities which can be claimed from damage insurances and social insurers (art. 76 par. 4 SVG). In other words, the claimant has to address his claim primarily to these undertakings. These undertakings do not have any right of recourse against the NGF.
Material damage deductible of CHF 1000 per victim, which normally applies in cases of liability for damages caused by unidentified motor vehicles, trailers and bicycles (see Art. 76 Swiss Road Traffic Act), is not applicable if the injuring party is liable for considerable personal injuries due to the same accident (Art. 52 par. 3 of the Swiss Motor Insurance Ordinance VVV). This means that the deductible continues to apply in cases where there is only material damage, while in cases of considerable personal injuries, there will be no deductible for either the personal injuries or the material damage caused. Personal injury is deemed to be serious when a medical consultation is objectively required (consultation of a physician or in a hospital).
A different regulation applies when the accident occurs in Liechtenstein. According to Art. 53 par. 3 of the Ordinance on vehicle insurance (VVV), the excess amounts to EUR 500 or the equivalent in Swiss Francs.
Claims are handled by member companies in the name of the NGF. Handlers are entitled to be compensated with a handling fee. At the same time, handling fees do not have any effect on payments to victims. A regulation for the handling of claims in the name of the NGF was introduced in 2009 and has been amended in 2012. It applies to all pending cases as per 1 May 2012.
The NGF has set up a Compensation Body (Art. 79d SVG). Injured parties can file their claims to this Body if the insurer liable for the settlement of their claims has failed to act within the agreed time period (3 months), either by settling the claims or by giving a reasoned reply explaining why a claim cannot or not yet be settled.