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Opioids, cyber top list of health care industry concerns


The opioid epidemic and cyber exposures are at the top of the risk horizon for medical professional liability insurers, experts say.

Physicians can face liability for negligently prescribing opioids, including by prescribing to patients with a history of addiction or when safer alternatives are available or the drugs are no longer needed, according to a report published in May by Oldwick, New Jersey-based ratings firm A.M. Best Co. Inc.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the high point of the impact from opioids yet,” said David Blades, senior industry analyst for Best based in Oldwick.

Opioids represent the highest percentage of medication-related claims at 14%, according to an analysis of more than 10,000 closed claims at Boston-based medical professional liability insurer Coverys across the 2012-2016 period.

“We are concerned largely because we know that at any moment in time those claims can really accelerate,” said Robert Hanscom, vice president, business analytics, Coverys.

Underwriters have more questions about the due diligence of health care clients and captives with regard to their policies and procedures around prescription drugs, said Lisa Hamer, Chicago-based senior vice president with Marsh USA Inc. “A couple of insurers have unsuccessfully so far tried to add opioid exclusions to their reinsurance or umbrella forms,” she said.

Medical professional liability insurers are also paying close attention to cyber risk due to rising attacks against health care organizations, with insurers adding language to clarify which exposures are covered and which are excluded under their policies, experts say.

“I think (cyber risk is) probably going to be a bigger issue than the opioid epidemic,” said Charlie Huber, a Best director based in Oldwick.

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