Jim Long, NC Commissioner of Insurance, NC State Fire Marshal
Jim Long served as North Carolina commissioner of insurance and state fire marshal for 24 years. He was the longest serving insurance commissioner in North Carolina history. He was first elected to the statewide post in 1984 and re-elected in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004. At the time of his retirement in 2009, he was the senior member of the Council of State, which is made up of the 10 statewide-elected officials. Commissioner Long formerly represented Alamance County in the North Carolina House of Representatives (1970-75), as did his father and grandfather before him.
The Legend of the Red Tie
Long was known throughout the state by the red tie that he wore every day. The red tie became his political symbol and was closely associated with his long career in public service. The red tie symbol was fashioned into lapel pins, bumper stickers, jewelry and a variety of other memorabilia worn by friends, family and supporters. As Long's career progressed, the red tie even became the "i" in Jim Long. Some say the tie was red in honor of NC State, others think it was red to honor the fire service that he loved so much. But the truth is that Long wore a red tie to honor his father George Long, who also wore a red tie every day.
Commitment to Fairness in Insurance
As commissioner of insurance, Long was committed to ensuring that all North Carolina citizens were treated fairly and emphasized consumer advocacy through fair rate making, injury prevention efforts and close regulation of insurance company solvency and industry practices. Soon after being elected to his first term as commissioner, Long created the Seniors' Health Insurance Information Program.
The program, known as SHIIP, trains senior volunteers to assist their peers with Medicare, Medicare supplement insurance and long-term care insurance problems and questions. The program has been recognized nationally by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. SHIIP has assisted tens of thousands of North Carolina seniors in navigating the complex health insurance system.
Representing North Carolina
Long was also one of the founders of Safe Kids North Carolina and Special Olympics North Carolina and served on the board of directors of NC Prevention Partners, in addition to a variety of other state boards and commissions. Long represented North Carolina at the national level as president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The NAIC is a national organization of the chief insurance regulatory officials of the 50 states.
Long was married to Peg O'Connell. He had two children, James E. Long Jr. and Rebecca A. Long, and five grandchildren, Kristin McNeal, Matthew McNeal, Steven Long, Morgan Long and Hannah Englehart. Long attended Burlington public schools and graduated from Williams High School. He attended North Carolina State University and graduated with a BA in political science from UNC Chapel Hill. He was also a graduate of the UNC College of Law.