Trends in Liability Coverage for Telemedicine Services

Two Physicians Looking at X-rays A recent report commissioned by a top online medically-related website reports that up to 2 million Americans used some type of telemedicine service for their medical needs last year. As more and more physicians and medical providers go online, the need for quality liability coverage for telemedicine services is growing. In essence, telemedicine can allow physicians to reach clients and customers on a whole new level. The first specialty to lead the telemedicine revolution was radiology. We are also seeing growth in telepsychiatry, and family practice.

There are several important things to know about telemedicine as it relates to liability coverage and the practice of medicine. First, physicians have to be licensed in the state they are seeing patients from (not the state that the physician is in). Second, physicians also have to have liability coverage in the state the patients are from. And, third, most physicians are surprised to learn that their current liability insurance carrier will not cover their telemedicine services. Most of the major admitted carriers shy away from covering telemedicine services and specifically exclude covering telemedicine services. These admitted carriers prefer to cover the more traditional, office-based practice. So, doctors looking for telemedicine coverage are usually forced to go to a surplus lines (or a non-admitted) carrier.

The cost of telemedicine liability coverage is based on several factors. During the underwriting process, the liability companies will attempt to get an overview of the telepractice and will base their first year cost estimates on the state(s) the patients are in, the number of patients being seen, the physician’s specialty, and the practice’s protocols. Most liability companies will want to know the practice’s protocols, in case a physician is unable to provide services. Who is the back up physician? Does the practice have a covering physician? When and how does the protocol go into effect?

If you would like more information about telemedicine liability coverage, contact our medical liability insurance agents today.

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