Alfred Gross plans to retire from his post as Virginia insurance commissioner Dec. 31.

Gross, 64, the head of the Bureau of Insurance at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, has been with the bureau since 1981, and he has been commissioner since 1996. The Virginia bureau regulates about 2,500 insurance companies, groups and plans and about 184,000 insurance agencies and agents.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission is conducting a search for Gross’s replacement.

The bureau has not said what Gross will do next. Two other mid-Atlantic insurance commissioners, Steve Larsen of Maryland and Joel Ario of Pennsylvania, have taken jobs with the new federal Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in recent months, and the U.S. Treasury Department has been looking for a head for a new Federal Insurance Office.

Gross has been chair of the Financial Condition Committee at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Kansas City, Mo. At the NAIC, Gross has been a leader in efforts to shift to a principles-based reserving system. PBR advocates would like to see insurers rely more on general principles, modern statistical forecasting methods and actuarial judgment in assessing insurer reserves, and less on static formulas.

Gross also has overseen efforts to rehabilitate Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, Roanoke, Va., an insurer that entered receivership in February 2009.

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