Today marks Commissioner Jim L. Ridling’s eighth anniversary as Alabama’s chief insurance regulator. Originally appointed September 15, 2008, by then Governor Bob Riley, Commissioner Ridling was been twice reappointed by two-term Governor Robert Bentley.
Commissioner Ridling’s eight years makes him the longest serving Alabama insurance commissioner or superintendent since 1951, when the Alabama Department of Insurance again became a separateand distinct state agency. Commissioner Ridling is also the second longest serving appointed insurance commissioner in the nation, second only to New Hampshire’s Roger Sevigny who was first appointed in 2003. Additionally, thereare seven elected commissioners across the nation who have served for overeight years.
Former Alabama Insurance Commissioner Walter Bell served five years and seven months from 2003 to 2008 under Governor Riley; Walter Housel served five years and three months under Governors George and Lurleen Wallace; and Mike Weaver served four years and eight months under Governor Hunt.
Alabama’s longest serving chief insurance regulator of all time was Frank Newsum Julian, who served over 18 years in three, non-consecutive terms in office. From 1907 until 1911 he was Secretary of State and Ex-Officio Insurance Commissioner; he then served as the appointed Commissioner of Insurance and Superintendent of Insurance from 1923 until 1927 under Governors Brandon and Graves; and again as the appointed Superintendentof Insurance from 1935 until his death in 1944 under Governors Graves, Dixon and Sparks.
A total of 38 men and one woman have held the position of chief insurance regulator for the State of Alabama. The sole woman was Miss Addie Lee Farish, who served as Commissioner of Commerce from 1943 until 1947 and filed the role of Superintendent of Insurance after Frank Julian’s death in 1944. According to records on file at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Miss Farish was also the first female insurance commissioner in the nation.
An Arkansas native, Commissioner Ridling has lived and worked in Montgomery since 1987. He is a former executive with The Fireman’s Fund Insurance culminating in his service as executive vice president U. S. operations, based in California. In 1987, Ridling left California to come back to his native South. He traded his interest in American Express (which owned Fireman’s Fund at the time) for ownership in Southern Guaranty, a Fireman’s Fund subsidiary headquartered in Montgomery, serving as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Following his retirement from Southern Guaranty, Commissioner Ridling remained in Montgomery where he and other local business leaders formed River Bank and Trust, where he currently serves as Vice Chairman. Commissioner Ridling is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors for Jackson Hospital and has served on the Boards of Directors of the Montgomery Airport Authority, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce and the Central Alabama Community Foundation. He is a former Chairman of the River Region United Way and continues to be involved in local business, charitable and community activities.
The mission of the Alabama Department of insurance is to serve the people of Alabama by regulating the insurance industry, providing consumer protection, promotingmarket stability, and enforcing fire safety standards and laws. For more information about the Alabama Department of Insurance, please visit www.aldoi.gov or call (334) 269-3550.