The Journal of Commerce and its parent, Knight-Ridder Inc., have purchased the monthly Insurance Review magazine from the Insurance Information Institute. The announcement was made Friday by both New York-based organizations.

Officials of the Journal of Commerce would not disclose the purchase price.The Institute had published the Review since 1940, but massive budget cuts last October forced the insurance industry communications organization to cease publication of its monthly trade magazine in December.

The Review will resume publication with the March, 1992 issue, according to Don C. Becker, president and publisher of the Journal of Commerce.

''What we want to do with the magazine is to make it a high-quality, independent publication for insurance agents and those who deal with insurance agents," said Mr. Becker. "We're going to work very hard to make it a good publication."

The magazine will remain the largest circulation magazine in the insurance agents-company field, Mr. Becker said.

The glossy monthly had a controlled, advertiser-supported circulation of about 72,000, Mr. Becker said. Its readership included insurance agents, company executives and risk managers.

''We're going to take a harder look at the insurance industry than the old Review did," according to Robert R. Frump, Journal of Commerce assistant general manager and new publisher of the Insurance Review. "The magazine is good as it stands. There will be no immediate changes in format."

But there will be some immediate changes in the magazine's content, he said.

The Institute will contribute two to three pages of articles, clearly identified as its own editorial product, every month, he explained. In addition, ACORD, the industry-sponsored institute, which focuses on improving the industry's computer processing needs, will have its own three-to-four-page section on automation.

Stanford Erickson, the Journal of Commerce's general manager, was named the Review's chairman.

Olga Sciortino will continue as editor of the magazine and Sara Burris will remain as art director. At present, they will be the magazine's sole full-time employees, according to Mr. Becker.

"We are trying to be as lean as we can because revenues in these kinds of times are hard to come by," he explained.

However, several Journal of Commerce executives besides Mr. Erickson and Mr. Frump will be taking on additional responsibilities. David Drimer, assistant vice president of promotion and research at the Journal, becomes vice president/marketing at the Review. Tom O'Neil, JOC circulation, is now circulation director of the magazine.

"We're happy to have found a good home for Insurance Review at the Journal of Commerce," said Gordon G. Stewart, president of The Institute, an educational and communications organization supported by the property and casualty insurance industry.