Last week, Mississippi Senator Frazier (D) introduced Bill 2629 and House Representative Hines (D) introduced Bill 495 titled Workers Compensation Law.
The Bill, as introduced, mainly addresses certain coverage’s that need to exist within a workers compensation or occupational accident policy. However, there is one area of Senate Bill 2665 that Motor Carriers should pay particular attention to as it moves through the legislature:
Section 2. Section 71-3-5
“An owner/operator, and his drivers, must provide a certificate of insurance of workers' compensation coverage to the motor carrier or proof of coverage under a self-insured plan or an occupational accident policy. The proof of coverage must be originated by the owner/operator and not by the motor carrier. Any such occupational accident policy shall provide a minimum of One Million Dollars ($1,000,000.00) of overall coverage, with a minimum of five (5) years of indemnity benefits equal to or exceeding sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the owner/operator's gross average weekly revenue and medical benefits for the duration of the work injury related medical needs. Should the owner/operator fail to provide written proof of coverage to the motor carrier, or should the coverage in the occupational accident policy not be sufficient to meet the terms in this section, then the owner/operator, and his drivers, shall be covered under the motor carrier's workers' compensation insurance program and the motor carrier is authorized to collect payment of the premium from the owner/operator. “
If the Bills pass with the above language, it could substantially affect Motor Carriers who typically become the policyholder on group occupational accident plans and then offer coverage to Owner-Operators for a fee.
“The proof of coverage must be originated by owner/operator and not by the motor carrier.”
If passed, these Bills appear to mean Motor Carriers could no longer be the policyholder on such occupational accident plans. Owner-Operators would have to find and secure their own coverage and separately provide proof of said coverage.
Last Legislative Session Senator Frazier attempted to pass Bill 2665 with the same language but it died in committee. Though the Bills are not attacking the use of Independent Contractors it could, depending on the legislative intent, fundamentally change the way occupational accident coverage is handled between Motor Carrier and Owner-Operator. If your company uses the services of Independent Contractors in the State of Mississippi, specifically in the trucking industry, get in touch with your elected officials to better understand these Bill’s direction.