Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, R, has appointed Jim Ridling to succeed Walter Bell as insurance commissioner.

Bell recently left to become chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corp., New York.

Ridling is a past president of Southern Guaranty Insurance Companies, Montgomery, Ala., and a founder of River Bank and Trust, Montgomery.

Ridling will start as insurance commissioner Sept. 15.

David Parsons, Alabama’s deputy insurance commissioner, has been serving as acting commissioner.

“The Department of Insurance is not only a regulatory agency, it is also a consumer protection agency,” Ridling says in a statement. “In fact, our number one priority is to protect insurance consumers and promote a healthy marketplace. I am grateful for this opportunity to put my experience to work in public service.”