Within the field of international motor vehicle insurance claims settlement, the term “protection of visitors” refers to the protection of individuals who suffer road traffic accidents abroad. The protection of visitors’ system covers accidental damage abroad and should not be confused with the Green Card system, which covers accidental damage at home.
The need for protection arises from the fact that the injured party must rely on a foreign liable driver or his insurer to assert a claim. On the one hand, foreign law is applicable in most cases, on the other hand, language problems may make direct communication difficult or even impossible.
In order to overcome these difficulties, the protection of visitors’ system provides that each country should operate its own information centre to provide information about handling claims abroad. It helps to determine the responsible insurer and provides further information necessary for the processing of a claim. If provided for in the relevant agreements, it locates the competent regulatory body in the State of residence and ensures that injured parties receive their claims within a reasonable time.
The protection of visitors’ system must be clearly distinguished from the Green Card system. The Green Card system ensures that motorists have sufficient liability insurance cover when travelling abroad. It ensures that injured parties who suffer an accident caused by a foreign vehicle in a country belonging to the Green Card system can file their claims with the national bureau of insurance of that country or with the foreign insurer's correspondent. In simple terms, the Green Card system protects the injured party in Switzerland against foreign vehicles. In contrast, the protection of visitors’ system protects Swiss injured parties in accidents abroad.