Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, indicted this week on federal charges of fraud and money laundering, is an elected state department head who regulates insurance companies, oversees the small loan industry and also acts as the state’s top fire marshal.
The commissioner's office oversees insurance companies operating in Georgia, licenses insurance agents and regulates industrial loan offices.
The commissioner also appoints the state fire marshal and oversees Georgia’s arson unit.
Since he became insurance commissioner in January, Beck has worked to improve consumer transparency, adding features to the agency’s website, including information on complaints filed against insurance companies.
Insurance costs are an important pocketbook issue for consumers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that Georgia has ranked first or second in rate increases nationally for auto insurance in recent years. In 2016, Georgia led the nation with the highest increase in personal auto insurance rates.
Coverage from the AJC
Georgia’s last three insurance commissioners:
John Oxendine: From 1995 to 2011. Has been battling ethics complaints since he unsuccessfully sought the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2010. The complaints stemmed from campaign donations he received from two insurance companies. More recently, in 2017, another ethics complaint was filed alleging that he illegally benefited personally from $237,000 in leftover campaign money his campaign loaned his law firm. Cases are still pending before the state ethics commission.
Ralph Hudgens: 2011 to 2019. A frequent and vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, he announced he would not seek a third term after the AJC reported he had overspent his agency’s budget and had to lay off staffers. The AJC reported in 2015 and again in 2017 that, under Hudgens, car insurance premiums were rising faster in Georgia than almost anywhere else in the U.S.
Jim Beck: 2019 - present. Longtime head of the Georgia Christian Coalition and an insurance executive who worked for former Commissioners Oxendine and Hudgens. Charged in a 38-count-indictment alleging he committed fraud through a series of insurance-related schemes.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.