Ore. DCBS Holds Fact-Finding Hearing on Contractor Liability Insurance

April 19, 2004

The Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services (DCBS) held a fact-finding hearing Friday, April 16 in Salem to gather information on whether to create a market assistance plan (MAP) for construction contractors who are having trouble getting liability insurance.

Under state law, a MAP can be formed when liability insurance becomes unavailable or is very hard to find. Creating a MAP would reportedly not guarantee that every contractor will be able to get liability insurance and would not reduce the price of the insurance. The MAP would serve only as a clearinghouse for participating insurers to provide quotes for coverage to contractors.

This could reportedly help contractors by reducing the time, effort and paperwork needed to shop for coverage, because a contractor having trouble getting liability insurance could make a single application to the MAP, which would work with insurers to obtain quotes.

“Contractors are having a tough time finding or paying for liability insurance,” said DCBS Director Cory Streisinger. “We don’t have many options to help, but we need to know whether a MAP is needed and could offer some limited assistance.”

The state cannot require insurers to offer coverage and cannot simply force the market cost of coverage down.

Friday’s hearing was to help the state establish, for the record, whether there are carriers available to serve contractors who cannot find insurance now. That determination must be made before DCBS can proceed with creation of a MAP.

Those scheduled to testify at the hearing included insurance companies, insurance agents, surplus lines agents, contractors, and representatives from the DCBS Insurance Division and the state’s Construction Contractors Board (CCB).

Contractor liability insurance covers property damage or personal injuries caused by a contractor during construction. The CCB, which requires contractors to carry liability insurance to get and maintain a license, says it has heard from hundreds of contractors who are experiencing significant price increases for liability coverage or who are finding it very difficult to find a carrier to insure them.

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