Life science technologies impacting claims | Risk info | Large | Business | Zurich Insurance

What are the new cutting edge technologies in life science which will impact on future insurance claims?

Lab technician

There is broad consensus that product liability risks are shifting from pharmaceutical products to medical devices, including evolving technology such as apps, bionics and implantable monitoring devices.

Recent growth in the cosmetic surgery and non-surgical intervention industries, together expected to be worth £3.6bn by the end of 2015, has seen increasingly innovative treatments and grey areas of regulation not least following concerns over the quality of PIP breast implants.

Healthcare technology start-ups are developing implantable devices and the use of apps to monitor and diagnose medical conditions. Products such as DNA sequencers which are intended to be integrated into mobile devices (towards an “internet of living things”?) illustrate the potential of an evolving sector.


A recent study by McKinsey predicts that 75% of all patients are expected to use digital services in the future, including medical apps, while 48% of healthcare professionals say they expect to introduce mobile apps to their practices in the next five years. The use of mobile devices, smart watches and medical monitoring devices inevitably raises issues of cyber security and data privacy.

Regulation issues

Regulation struggles to keep pace with borderline products – an EU review of mHealth is currently in consultation focussing on the regulation of mobile communication devices as diagnostic and monitoring tools. The work and potential liability of notified bodies is under scrutiny after TUV referred its legal responsibility to PIP implant patients to the Court of Justice of the EU. Bionics, functional foods/health supplements and research in the use of protective DNA and nanotubes to deliver drugs are also areas of significant development, all providing huge potential benefits but also seeing overlap of emerging risks in relation to cyber and nano-technology.

Three examples of potential claims are:

  • Data breach – patient records are accessed by a third party breaching an app’s security features, leading to personal information being used for fraudulent purposes.
  • Data interpretation error – information transmitted from a health monitoring application is interpreted incorrectly and fails to alert a health professional of vital signs, resulting in failure to take appropriate action to avoid injury.
  • Product failure – a monitoring calculator app is calibrated incorrectly and fails to generate accurate values for markers of disease activity.