On 28 February 2017, following the proposal and approval of the Chamber of Deputies, the Italian Senate approved a new law regarding civil and criminal liability in the healthcare sector. This law will come into force after its publication in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic. Aspects of specific interest to insurers:
- Obligation to participate in the preventive technical expertise ante causam or, as an alternative, to take part in mediation proceedings and to formulate an offer to compensate damages or to communicate the reasons why such an offer will not be made. The preventive technical expertise or mediation proceeding are conditions of admissibility of the judicial claim against the healthcare professional. The lack of this conditions can be raised ex officio;
- In case of victory of the damaged party, the judge shall communicate the decision to IVASS, the Italian Insurance Supervisory Authority, if the insurer did not formulate a compensation offering order for the Regulator take appropriate action against the insurance company;
- Limitations are introduced on the quantum regarding the recovery action of the insurer against the insured who has been found liable;
- The insurance guarantee should also provide a validity period for the events that occurred in the ten years prior to the conclusion of the insurance contract, as long as reported to the insurer, and for the next ten years from the termination the activity of the healthcare professional;
- Direct claims by the damaged party against the insurer of the healthcare professional or the healthcare facility are allowed;
- Within a period of ten days, insurance companies shall communicate to the healthcare professional that a proceeding was started against them by the damaged party and/or that extra-judicial negotiation activities have been initiated with the damaged party. In the case this does not occur, the insurer loses the right to recourse.
The new law introduces very particular provisions regarding civil liability insurance for healthcare professionals. Moreover, within 120 days from the entry into force of the new provisions, the Ministry of Economic Development shall establish the minimum requirements of insurance policies for healthcare facilities and professionals, with different policy limits on the basis of different categories of risk.