Creating Policies and Procedures from Statutes and Regulations
If you haven’t read my blog on “Statutes and Regulations/I’m not an attorney so what do they mean”, I encourage you to do so before reading this blog entry. It gives a brief explanation of what statutes and regulations are and the differences between them. Once you understand what they are, then it’s time to create a policy and procedures to comply.
Policies and Procedures, also known as P&Ps, are written instructions. A policy should be short, sweet, and to the point. It is not a procedure or a step-by-step process. It is a statement of fact. It should be assigned a policy number for tracking purposes and future revisions (determining how often the policy should be reviewed and by whom). “The title should not include the word “policy” in it (that is implied). It should have a brief description indicating its purpose, a listing of the statute(s) and regulation(s) it includes, to whom or what the policy applies, the party or parties responsible for administering and enforcing the policy, definitions of terms that may be unfamiliar to anyone who reads it to ensure everyone is on the same page. A key factor in writing a policy is not to list specific names of people, because staff changes. Instead, policies use titles.” Read the statute. Read it again. It may take several times to get the gist of what it is saying. If it includes other statutes, they will be indicated. Once you understand the statute(s) involved, find the procedures the Department of Insurance wrote to implement the policy. The state website is a good place to start. It won’t specifically state the “regulation” but it will give you rules or procedures to follow. Also, just because a statute is enacted (voted into law), doesn’t mean that a regulation will be written immediately. It could take the state months, sometimes even years to write procedures and put them into place. Remember, they have to consider everything from the process to how to monitor compliance.
Think of procedures as something you might do on a routine basis, then you decide to go on vacation and you need to delegate the responsibility to someone else. It is a listing of steps to complete, but it is not a training manual. Everyone has their own ways of completing tasks, so write procedures as guidelines to follow. When you think you have everything, share it with a few colleagues or staff members for feedback and ask if they can reproduce it. When completed, notify all concerned. You can’t comply if you don’t know something exists.
It’s not easy to create policies and procedures; it takes an involved thought process and re-assessment to get it right. It gets easier with time and practice. By doing so, you can keep your company or agency from receiving fines and sanctions from states for noncompliance. Finally, pat yourself on the back; job well done!