New Colorado law provides owner-operators occupational accident insurance
May 31, 2022
A new law in Colorado is touted to address coverage requirements for occupational accident insurance.
Gov. Jared Polis signed into law the bill to give owner-operators the option to purchase an occupational accident policy as an alternative to workers’ compensation.
House lawmakers previously approved the bill on a 54-8 vote. The Senate approved SB35 by unanimous consent.
Sponsored by Sen. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver, and Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, the bill allows a commercial operator who meets certain requirements to purchase an occupational accident insurance policy rather than a workers’ compensation policy.
Bill sponsors wrote in the legislation that “the option is readily available in other states, but due to restrictions in current Colorado law, similar affordable policies cannot be offered in Colorado unless a change is made to the law.”
They said that providing the occupational accident option would allow small trucking companies in the state to compete in neighboring states that already provide the option.
“We shouldn’t have laws that force these small business owners to purchase costly products and services that they don’t need,” Bird previously told one House committee. “Our laws should support their entrepreneurial spirit and provide them with protections that are appropriate for the work they do.”
OOIDA backs change
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association represents more than 2,000 independent truck drivers and small motor carriers who live in Colorado.
The Association says its members in the state have been directly affected by the existing occupational accident requirements, which effectively prohibits affected drivers from purchasing the coverage.
OOIDA communicated to bill sponsors that the Association surveyed Colorado members and found that they resoundingly want occupational accident coverage as an alternative to workers’ compensation.
“Occ/Acc tends to be a preferred alternative because it is more affordable, provides unique benefits, and includes coverage for non-work related accidents,” reads the OOIDA letter to bill sponsors. “It is portable, which means if truck drivers move to another state, they can keep their coverage.”
Owner-operators who live in Colorado have been in a dilemma where they are unable to purchase an occupational accident policy, or pay for a workers’ compensation policy that might not cover them if something were to happen.
OOIDA says that the new law resolves the problem. It takes effect in mid-August. LL
More Land Line coverage of news from Colorado.