Colorado Land Line State Bill Worker’s Compensation Subject
A lawsuit approaching the Colorado state house move addresses coverage requirements for workers’ compensation insurance. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports this effort.
The House Business and Labor Affairs Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday, April 27 to advance a Senate-approved bill to give owner-operators the ability to purchase an insurance policy against workers’ compensation as an alternative to workers’ compensation.
Sponsored by Sen. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver, and Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, SB35 would allow a commercial operator who meets certain conditions to purchase a workers’ compensation insurance policy rather than a workers’ compensation policy.
The bill’s sponsors wrote in the legislation that “the option is readily available in other states, but due to current Colorado law restrictions, similar affordable policies cannot be offered in Colorado at unless a change is made in the law”.
They say providing the workers’ compensation option would allow smaller trucking companies in the state to compete with neighboring states that already offer the option.
“We shouldn’t have laws that force these small business owners to buy expensive products and services that they don’t need,” Bird told committee members. “Our laws should support their entrepreneurial spirit and provide them with protections tailored to the work they do.”
OOIDA members want change
Mike Matousek, director of state legislative affairs for OOIDA, said the association represents more than 2,000 independent truck drivers and small truck carriers who live in Colorado.
“Our members are generally those directly affected by Colorado’s existing Occ/Acc requirements, which effectively prohibit them from purchasing Occ/Acc coverage,” he said.
Matousek told the bill’s sponsors that OOIDA surveyed members in Colorado and they loudly stated that they want workers’ compensation coverage as an alternative to workers’ compensation.
“Occ/Acc tends to be a preferred alternative because it’s more affordable, offers unique benefits, and includes coverage for non-work related accidents,” Matousek said in a letter to the bill’s sponsors. “It’s portable, which means if truckers move to another state, they can keep their coverage.”
He adds that workers’ compensation is more expensive, non-transferable and often does not reflect the needs of the person covered.
Additionally, he pointed out to lawmakers that most owner-operators begin their trucking careers as salaried drivers and at some point choose to become owner-operators.
“This means that not only are owner-operators some of the most experienced drivers on the road, but they also have plenty of opportunities to be salaried drivers, but some people just prefer to be in business for themselves. .
Matousek said owner-operators who live in Colorado are in a dilemma where they can’t buy a workers’ compensation insurance policy or pay for a workers’ compensation policy that might not cover them if something had to happen.
SB35 would solve the problem.
The bill then proceeds to the House floor. If he was approved there, he would head to the governor’s office. Senate lawmakers approved the bill on April 20 by unanimous consent. LL