For Consumers

Understanding the rulemaking process

In order to clarify, apply or enforce Washington state laws passed by the legislature, the insurance commissioner may adopt a rule through a process known as rulemaking. Once adopted, rules (or regulations) become the Title 284 Washington Administrative Code (WAC) (leg.wa.gov).

Rules are specific requirements that must be followed by anyone in the business of insurance - such as insurance companies and insurance agents & brokers - and clearly explain how the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) will enforce the law

We regulate and enforce the rules we write by reviewing and approving insurance policies, and responding to consumer complaints about possible violations of the law. Penalties can be applied when the regulations are not followed, including fines and even revoking the license that allows a company to operate in Washington.

The rulemaking process is designed to:

  • Encourage public participation,
  • State our enforceable interpretation of the law, and
  • Write understandable rules that are technically accurate.

 

Rulemaking process

For a new rule to become law, all Washington state agencies must follow the steps described in the Administrative Procedure Act (leg.wa.gov), including:

  1. File preproposal statement of inquiry (CR-101). The CR-101 announces that the OIC is planning to write rules on a particular subject and invites the public to take part in the rulemaking process
  2. Publish and email notices. The CR-101 and all other CR notices are published on the OIC's website and sent to anyone who signs up to receive rules updates.
  3. Draft the rule. An agency-wide team drafts the rule, which is then shared publicly. We often hold stakeholder meetings to go over the proposed changes and seek comments from the public. This process can take several months if it’s necessary to release several drafts.
  4. File proposed rulemaking notice (CR-102). The OIC shares the proposed rule with the public.
  5. Accept public comments. A public hearing is held to receive feedback on the rule from the public. Throughout the process, we consider all public comments and frequently make changes based on those comments. We respond to all comments at the end of the rulemaking process using a Concise Explanatory Statement (CES). During this time, we also consider whether the rule has a significant impact on small businesses.
  6. File a rulemaking order to adopt the rule (CR-103). Once the rule is finalized we file a final form, a CR-103, with the code reviser. Most rules are effective 31 days after being filed.

Other possible rulemaking actions

Emergency rules. Critical rule changes requiring immediate action do not require public notice or hearings. Emergency rules are generally effective for 120 days and may be extended in certain circumstances, but they can't become permanent unless the regular rulemaking steps (outlined above) are followed.

Expedited rulemaking. This shortened process allows the OIC - in very limited circumstances - to adopt or repeal a rule without a public hearing or comment process. If anyone objects to the expedited process during the first 45 days, the OIC must use the regular rulemaking process to adopt the rule, including holding a public hearing. If no one objects during this period, however, the OIC may adopt the rule by issuing a CR-103 rulemaking order. This process is primarily used to correct typographical errors, update or correct cross-references to other rules or the law, or to incorporate changes in federal law/regulations or state statutes.

Rulemaking petition. Anyone may petition the OIC to adopt, amend or repeal a rule, by sending a letter or using the petition form (PDF, 553KB) (www.ofm.wa.gov). Petitions should be emailed to the OIC rules coordinator. The OIC has 60 days to accept or reject the petition, and if the request is accepted, the regular rulemaking process is started.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions contact:

Policy and Legislative Affairs
PO Box 40260
Olympia, WA 98504-0258

Email the OIC rules coordinator
Call policy and legislative affairs 360-725-7171
Fax to 360-586-3109