Bentley Appoints Panel on Alabama Insurance Market

July 11, 2011

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has appointed 24 people to a panel that will examine the state’s insurance market and suggest improvements.

The commission will be led by Baldwin County Probate Judge Tim Russell. Bentley has said he’ll hold a special session of the Legislature on the issue of insurance, the Press-Register newspaper reports.

Information obtained Friday by the newspaper says the panel also includes state Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling, state Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee, lawmakers, insurance agents, policyholders and representatives of three insurers.

The commission originally was meant to address the coastal Alabama insurance market, but the governor expanded its scope following the devastating April tornadoes. Rising insurance rates and fewer choices have been problems along the coast since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the newspaper reports.

“The lack of affordable insurance is an important issue that many in Alabama face. After the devastating tornadoes in April, insurance reform needs to be examined now more than ever,” Bentley said in a statement. “I want this new commission to work together to stop the rising cost of insurance for the benefit of all Alabamians.”

Russell said the first step would be to meet with Bentley and his staff to hear the governor’s plan for the commission. He said he envisions a series of meetings on insurance issues, ranging from education and listening to consumers to finding solutions.

“We’re not going to have a shortage of solutions,” Russell said.

He hopes to again propose the idea of a captive insurance company to accumulate reserves tax-free and provide less expensive reinsurance to companies covering Alabama customers.

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