History of Alabama Department of Insurance


Montgomery skyline


On February 18, 2017, the Alabama Department of Insurance celebrates 120 years of insurance regulation. The timeline below recounts several milestones along the way.



1840
  • January 15, 1844

    First Alabama statute dealing with insurance - a general revenue act imposing a 0.5% tax on premiums written in the state by any insurer.
  • February 24, 1860

    Insurers from other states required to obtain a certificate of authority from the State Comptroller. “Auditor” and “Comptroller” are considered synonymous and used to designate one and the same officer.
  • October 1, 1871

    At the second meeting of what is now called the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, R. M. Reynolds, state auditor, represents Alabama.
  • February 19, 1872

    Life Insurers from other states required to annually file a sworn statement of their financial condition with the State Auditor.
  • December 12, 1884

    Insurers from other states required to receive a certificate of authority from the Auditor and to pay a 1% premium tax on business in this state.
  • February 28, 1887

    All insurers doing business in this state required to have a minimum of $100,000 capital in cash.

    Insurers from other states required to pay a “uniform license tax” of $100 per year.
  • February 18, 1897

    First comprehensive act to regulate the business of insurance in this state, with the Secretary of State serving as Insurance Commissioner ex officio; requires biennial examination of domestic insurers. Frank Newsum Julian served a total of eighteen years and 5 months as the head of the state’s insurance regulatory agency, as follows: four year term as Secretary of State, ex officio Insurance Commissioner from 1907 to 1911; appointed Commissioner of Insurance/Superintendent of Insurance by Gov. William W. Brandon from 1923 to 1927; and Superintendent of Insurance under Governors Bibb Graves, Frank M. Dixon, and Chauncey Sparks from 1935 until his death on November 30, 1944.

    Frank Julian
1900


  • October 1, 1909

    First fire marshal act, with administration placed in the Department of Insurance. The act also imposes a premium tax of 1/5 of 1% on fire insurers. The first Alabama state fire marshal was Lorrie Rice, who served from 1909 until 1913. His annual salary was set by statute at $2,000.

    Lorrie Rice
  • April 22, 1911

    Fire Marshal Law revised.
  • October 9, 1912

    First “Fire Prevention Day in Alabama” proclaimed by governor.
  • September 25, 1915

    Completely “separate and distinct” department created as the Department of Insurance, with the Commissioner of Insurance appointed by the Governor; offices to be in state Capitol building.
  • September 30, 1919

    Office of State Fire Marshal is created and established separate from the Department of Insurance. The fire insurance premium tax is increased to 2/5 of 1% to fund the office.
  • October 1, 1923

    In lieu of the Department of Insurance, the Bureau of Insurance is created with the "Superintendent of Insurance” appointed by the Governor.
  • February 10, 1927

    Insurance agents required to be licensed.
  • January 24, 1935

    Superintendent of Insurance becomes State Fire Marshal Ex-Officio, Office of State Fire Marshal is consolidated with the Bureau of Insurance.
  • February 9, 1939

    Bureau of Insurance becomes a division of the new Department of Commerce, along with the Bureau of Banking and the Bureau of Building and Loan.
  • September 21, 1939

    Triennial examination of domestic insurers required.
  • July 7, 1943

    Rehabilitation, reorganization and liquidation of insurers doing business in more than one state.
  • November 30, 1944

    Addie Lee Farish, Alabama’s Director of Commerce, becomes the first female to serve as the chief insurance regulator in the nation.

    Addie Lee Farish
  • June 16, 1945

    Bureau of Rates created.
1950

  • October 1, 1951

    The Department of Insurance again becomes a separate state agency; Attorney General to render legal services.
  • September 19, 1953

    Special examination revolving fund created.
  • September 13, 1957

    Property and casualty insurance agent prelicensing examination required.
  • September 18, 1957

    Trade Practices Act adopted.

    Life and health insurance agent prelicensing examination required.

    May 1957 Bham News clipping
  • September 16, 1963

    Unauthorized Insurers Act approved; surplus line brokers to be licensed.
  • August 25, 1971

    First “Alabama Insurance Code.” The title of the chief officer is changed to Commissioner of Insurance; adjusters to be licensed; Attorney general to assign assistant attorney general to render legal services; provides for rehabilitation, reorganization, conservation and liquidation of all insurers; provides standard nonforfeiture law and standard valuation law for life insurance.
  • September 7, 1973

    Alabama Insurance Holding Company System Regulatory Act.
1975
  • October 10, 1975

    Creation of Receivership Division, Chief of Receivership Division to serve as Receiver of impaired or insolvent insurers.

    State Fire Marshal and deputies are granted full powers of peace officers.
  • May 3, 1977

    Investments Act, initially applicable only to domestic life, disability and burial insurance companies.
  • August 8, 1979

    Property and casualty insurance agents required to attend a forty-hour “pre-qualification course” before sitting for the written examination.
  • May 28, 1980

    Alabama Insurance Guaranty Association created; protects against property and casualty insurance insolvencies only.
  • May 27, 1981

    Life and disability insurance agents required to attend a forty-hour “pre-qualification course” before sitting for the written examination. This law also permitted partnerships and corporations to be licensed as life and disability insurance agents.
  • May 4, 1982

    Alabama Life and Disability Insurance Guaranty Association created; protects against life and disability insurance policies and annuity contracts by insolvent insurers.
  • October 1, 1983

    Department of Insurance moves to RSA Building, 135 South Union Street, Montgomery. Previously, the department was at 64 North Union Street, which was then known as the State Administrative Building, and is now known as the Folsom Building, which was built in 1958.
  • April 29, 1986

    Regulation of health maintenance organizations.
  • March 29, 1988

    Partnerships and corporations permitted to be licensed as property and casualty insurance agents. The act also required all agents to annually apply for license.
  • May 17, 1993

    Examinations of domestic insurers to be at least once every five years; investments act amended to apply to all domestic insurers and health maintenance organizations.

    May 1993 Accreditation bill signing
    Pictured behind Gov. Jim Folsom as he signs the accreditation bill are, from the left: Deputy Commissioner Mickey DeBellis, Commissioner Jimmy Dill, Rep. Steve Flowers, Sen. Walter Owens, Deputy Commissioner David Parsons, General Counsel Mike Bownes, and Associate Counsel Reyn Norman.
  • August 24, 1993

    Insurance Premium Tax Reform Act of 1993; gradually equalizes taxes paid by domestic and foreign life and health insurers from 1995 to 1999 at 2.3% and 1.6% respectively, and for most other insurers beginning in 1995 at 3.6%, with certain possible credits for office facilities and real property investments.
  • December 2, 1995

    Alabama Department of Insurance first obtains accreditation by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • April 23, 1996

    Insurance agents required to complete 12 hours of continuing education for annual renewal of license.
  • May 28, 1996

    Alabama Insurance Fund created, making Department of Insurance self-funded.
  • June 1, 1997

    Department of Insurance moves to 17th floor of RSA Tower, 201 Monroe Street, Montgomery.

    RSA Tower
2000
  • December 2, 2000

    Alabama Department of Insurance receives a second round of accreditation by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • May 30, 2001

    Insurance agent and broker license consolidated to insurance producer license.
  • February 14, 2002

    Alabama Preneed Funeral and Cemetery Act adopted.
  • January 21, 2003

    Walter A. Bell becomes the first African-American to serve as Alabama’s Commissioner of Insurance.

    Walter Bell
  • December 5, 2004

    David Parsons, then Deputy Commissioner for Life & Health Insurance, was awarded the Robert Dineen Award by the NAIC. The award is designed to honor a staff member of an insurance department who has made an outstanding contribution to state regulation of insurance. Former Commissioner Parsons, the first Alabamian to receive the award in its 16-year history, was honored for his work on the development of the Interstate Compact.

    David Parsons
  • December 6, 2005

    Alabama Commissioner of Insurance Walter Bell chosen as President-Elect of the National Association of Insurance Commissioner, to serve a one-year term as President beginning January 1, 2007. He becomes the first Alabama Commissioner to serve in this position.
  • April 4, 2006

    Insurance producer license becomes biennial.

    2006 Biennial License Law
    Pictured behind Gov. Bob Riley as he signs the producer licensing bill are, from the left: General Counsel Reyn Norman, Rep. Warren Beck, Rep. Craig Ford, and Chief of Staff Ragan Ingram.
  • April 17, 2006

    Adoption of Alabama Captive Insurers Act.

    April 2006 Captive Insurer Law Signing
    Pictured behind Gov. Bob Riley as he signs the captive insurers bill are, from the left: Boyd Kelly, Sen. Bradley Byrne, Rep. Greg Albritton, General Counsel Reyn Norman, Conwell Hooper, Rep. Steve McMillan, and Chief of Staff Ragan Ingram.
  • December 8, 2006

    Alabama Department of Insurance is reaccredited by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • May 21, 2009

    Revisions to Alabama Insurance Guaranty Association law.
  • November 30, 2010

    Steve Ostlund, Alabama’s Actuary for Life & Health Insurance, was awarded the Robert Dineen Award by the NAIC. The award is designed to honor a staff member of an insurance department who has made an outstanding contribution to state regulation of insurance. Ostlund, the second Alabamian to receive the award in its 22-year history, was honored for his work on development of the medical loss ratio requirements to be used in connection with implementation of national health care reform.
  • June 9, 2011

    Strengthen Alabama Homes Act adopted.

    Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact approved.

    Independent adjuster law adopted.
  • October 3, 2011

    Alabama Department of Insurance is reaccredited by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • May 10, 2012

    Producer licensing uniformity bill approved, requires fingerprinting of insurance producers, independent adjusters, and title insurance agents.

    Insurance Fraud Unit established within the Department of Insurance, crime of insurance fraud created.

    Revisions to Alabama Life and Disability Insurance Guaranty Association law.

    2012 ALDIGA Revision Bill Signing
    Pictured behind Gov. Robert Bentley as he signs the ALDIGA bill are, from the left: Rep. Ken Johnson, Ragan Ingram, Tommy Treadwell, Barrie Stokes, Commissioner Jim Ridling, Reyn Norman, Dotty Still, Greg Erath, Mike Weeks, and Steve Still.
  • April 2, 2014

    Major revisions to the Alabama Preneed Funeral and Cemetery Act adopted.

    April 2014 Preneed Bill Signing
    Picture behind Gov. Robert Bentley as he signs the preneed bill are, from the left: Graham Champion, Mark Fowler, Charles Angell, Taylor Benefield, Mac Stagner, Rep. Rod Scott, Mike Morrison, Sen. Pricilla Dunn, Commissioner Jim Ridling, Geoff Halbrooks, John Cook Rudder, Don Daniels, Rep. Juandalynn Gavin, Sen. Paul Bussman, Randy Matthews, Rep. K.L. Brown, and Mike McClanahan.
2016
  • April 26, 2016

    Revisions to Alabama Captive Insurers Act.
  • May 13, 2016

    Adoption of Principle-Based Reserving for life insurance; new Standard Nonforfeiture Law for Life Insurance and new Standard Valuation Law.
  • August 25, 2016

    Alabama Department of Insurance is reaccredited by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • September 15, 2017

    Jim L. Ridling marks his ninth anniversary as Alabama’s Commissioner of Insurance. He is Alabama’s longest serving commissioner since the current configuration of the department was established in 1951. Commissioner Ridling is the second longest serving appointed insurance commissioner in the nation, behind only Roger Sevigny of New Hampshire.

    Commissioner Jim L. Ridling