An effort continuing to progress through the Colorado General Assembly would ensure occupational accident insurance coverage is available to independent truckers in the state.
Colorado law now requires independent commercial operators to have workers’ compensation or a private insurance policy that provides similar coverage.
The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee has advanced a bill that would change “private insurance policy” to “occupational accident coverage insurance policy.” The bill, SB178, would also specify the requirements for when such a policy may be considered as providing similar coverage.
The bill’s next stop is the House floor. If approved there, it could move to the governor’s desk. Senate lawmakers have already approved it.
The rule change would apply to commercial vehicles with a gross-vehicle weight rating of at least 16,001 pounds and for hauling commerce on public highways.
Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, told members of the House panel the bill is intended to clear up any confusion in state law over workers’ comp coverage for owner-operators.
“Senate Bill 178 does not remove a requirement for some form of coverage, but provides a comparable and more affordable option that meets the original intent of the law while protecting the individuals,” Kraft-Tharp said.
The Colorado Motor Carriers Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association support the effort. Of OOIDA’s more than 160,000 members nationwide, about 2,470 reside in Colorado.
“According to our members, Occ-Acc is a preferred alternative to workers’ compensation because it’s generally more affordable, provides unique benefits, and includes coverage for non-working-related accidents,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Mike Matousek wrote in a recent letter to bill sponsors. “Conversely, workers’ compensation is often times too expensive and doesn’t reflect the needs of the person being covered.”
Matousek adds that trucking is an extremely diverse industry.
“One-size-fits-all seldom ever fits in trucking. Truckers need options, including options that determine what they’ll be covered for in the event of an accident,” he wrote. “In short, our members like Occ-Acc insurance coverage and it should be preserved as a legal alternative to workers’ compensation.”
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