As the 2017 Colorado legislative session reaches the halfway point, I thought it an opportune time to provide a quick overview of the construction defect bills introduced so far this session.
Senate Bill 17-045, “Concerning a Requirement for Equitable Allocation of the Costs of Defending a Construction Defect Claim,” sponsored by Senators Grantham and Angela Williams and Representatives Duran and Wist, was introduced on January 11th and assigned to the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee. This bill affects construction defect actions in which more than one insurer has a duty to defend a party by providing that if the carriers cannot agree regarding how to allocate defense costs within 45 days of the filing of a contribution action, a court must conduct a hearing regarding the apportionment of the costs of defense, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, among all carriers sharing in the duty to defend within 60 days after an insurer files its claim for contribution, unless the carriers agree to resolve the issue through a mutually agreeable, alternative process. The bill further provides that the court must make a final apportionment of costs after entry of a final judgment resolving all of the underlying claims against the insured. The bill also makes clear that an insurer seeking contribution may also make a claim against an insured or additional insured who chose not to procure liability insurance during any period of time relevant to the underlying action. Finally, the bill states that a claim for contribution may be assigned and that bringing such a claim does not affect any insurer’s duty to defend. The Senate Business, Labor, and Technology Committee heard SB 17-045 on February 8th and referred the bill, as amended, to the Senate Appropriations Committee.