Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich Jr. announced that a search is under way to replace Insurance Commissioner Alfred W. Redmer, who resigned Tuesday and will leave his $136,000 post Friday. [@@]

Redmer, a former distributor and third-party administrator of employee benefit plans, served 2 years as commissioner. Under state law, the commissioner vacancy will be filled temporarily by Deputy Commissioner James McMahan III.

Redmer is leaving his commissioner’s post to take over as the chief executive officer of Coventry Health Care of Delaware Inc., Wilmington, Del., a unit of Coventry Health Care Inc., Bethesda, Md. Coventry’s Delaware plan provides or administers health coverage for about 105,000 resident residents of Delaware, Maryland, Southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Information about Tim Nolan, who is now listed as the Coventry unit’s chief executive, was not immediately available.

Redmer says the chance to take over as head of the Delaware plan is a terrific opportunity.

“Coventry is a top-performing company in the health insurance sector,” Redmer says.

The former Republican assemblyman endured a fair amount of criticism by Democrats during his term, some of it occurring after HMOs increased rates following the legislature’s passage of a 2% premium tax.

Redmer says there was nothing in the law that would have allowed him to prevent the increases, which were less than the amount of the premium tax.

An amendment to the tax bill that would have prevented the pass-along by insurers was defeated, he says.

Ehrlich says Redmer “brought to the Maryland Insurance Administration 20 years’ experience as a private-sector health insurance executive and 13 years experience as an elected public official. His perspective as the state’s top insurance regulator reflected an expert understanding of the insurance industry and the need to safeguard and serve the public.”

Under Redmer’s leadership, the Maryland Insurance Administration brought about a significant expansion in the number of private insurance carriers selling insurance in Maryland, Ehrlich says.

Redmer, he says, also has created a first-of-its-kind “Consumer Education and Advocacy Unit” to expedite claims, respond to citizen complaints, and aggressively promote consumer education.

The commissioner says he was most proud of creating the education and advocacy unit and his efforts to improve the competitive environment.

More work needs to be done in the health and medical liability markets, but Maryland now has more carriers writing more products in all lines, Redmer says.