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State commissioner to lead national insurance group

MONTGOMERY (AP) — State Insurance Commissioner Walter Bell is about to become the first Alabamian to lead the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Bell takes over as president on Sunday during the NAIC's meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

No Alabama insurance commissioner has ever led the 135-year-old association, which coordinates regulations between states, collects complaints, and advises the public about scams.

"It is quite a time-consuming task," Bell said. "But I am pleased to say I have the full support of Gov. Bob Riley. We both view this as very good for Alabama."

Bell will be the NAIC's second black president. The first was in 2000.

Riley appointed Bell to the state insurance commissioner's job in January 2003. Bell was born in Monroe County and grew up in Mobile, where he graduated from Spring Hill College. Bell is a director of Mobile-based Energy South and a limited partner in the Mobile BayBears, the city's minor league baseball team.

As Bell's new national post indicates, he is one of Riley's Cabinet members who will be staying for the second term, Jeff Emerson, the governor's communication's director, said Monday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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