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Integrated policies may close gaps in tech coverage

medical malpractice

Hybrid policies that include medical malpractice liability, product liability, technology errors and omissions, general liability and cyber liability coverages are gaining momentum as health care risks evolve with technology.

The growth in digital health technologies such as telehealth and wearables accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been a factor in this trend, experts say.

“You’re starting to see these coverages marry,” said Ben Woodward, Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based vice president of underwriting at Admiral Insurance Group, a W.R. Berkley Corp. unit.

Mr. Woodward noted the example of the liabilities that might arise from wearable devices, such as electrocardiogram monitors. 

“That wearable is a physical product. It has embedded technology,” he said.

“If it burns you that’s product liability, general liability coverage. If it transmits incorrect information, that is a programming issue and tech errors and omissions coverage. If it gets hacked and your information is stolen and sold or shared, that’s a privacy cyber liability issue.” 

There are a lot of “blurred lines” in terms of potential liability and it can take awhile to figure out what went wrong, which is why “oftentimes, it’s better to house coverage in one place,” Mr. Woodward said.

Hybrid policies that include a combination of med mal, cyber and technology E&O coverages provide greater clarity for policyholders, said Josh Cantrell, Atlanta-based senior vice president and team leader at RT Specialty, the wholesale broking unit of Ryan Specialty LLC.

Sometimes it’s unclear whether a technology component or a physician caused an issue for a patient, Mr. Cantrell said. 

“If you had two separate carriers on that (risk) you could have a lot of finger-pointing,” he said.

A major advantage of hybrid policies is efficiency because multiple applications and policies are not necessary, said Chad Follmer, San Francisco-based senior vice president, healthcare and life sciences, at Alliant Insurance Services Inc., who is based in San Francisco. 

Another advantage is that when there’s a loss, there’s “no incentive to push it” onto another insurer, he said.

“If it’s all underwritten with the same carrier, even if it’s different departments, they know it’s theirs,” Mr. Follmer said.