Homeowners in high fire risk areas sold bogus insurance policies
News: 2014 Press Release
VENTURA, Calif. - The recent arrest of Dean Joseph Basler, 57, of Ventura on Wednesday by the Ventura County Sheriff following a Department of Insurance investigation, serves as an important consumer warning to confirm the validity of insurance coverage. Basler is accused of embezzling more than $250,000 in premiums for homeowners insurance that placed responsible families at unnecessary financial risk in an area prone to wildfires.
"Basler violated his fiduciary responsibility by allegedly ripping off consumers for his personal financial gain, " said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Basler put homeowners at great risk for financial loss by taking their hard earned money and not purchasing policies. His greed left them vulnerable."
The investigation revealed Basler, a licensed insurance agent since September 1993, was allegedly collecting premiums for homeowners insurance coverage but failed to place the policies with an insurance company. Basler issued fraudulent certificates of insurance to his clients to hide his scheme. The lack of insurance coverage left Basler's clients vulnerable for personal financial loss, especially since many clients lived in high fire danger areas.
According to investigators, Basler would send renewal quotes to his clients and they would issue a check to Basler's agency to renew their policies. One client paid Basler for five years until the department's investigation revealed the homeowner had been without insurance since 2009. A review of Basler's business bank records further revealed several other clients who had been paying Basler their premiums yet lacked valid policies.
When these same clients requested proof of insurance, Basler provided them with a falsified certificate of insurance with the name of the insurance company, the coverage period and the amount of coverage. Upon verification, the insurance companies confirmed that the policy numbers on the certificate were not legitimate policies.
It is essential that homeowners ensure they receive an actual policy from an insurance company and read the policy carefully to verify the coverage they purchased. A certificate of insurance is not sufficient proof that a policy is in force.
- Consumer tips to avoid premium fraud:Always check the license status of the agent/broker before you purchase insurance by visiting our Website at www.insurance.ca.gov.
- Confirm the validity of your policy with the insurance company, not the broker or agent.
- Be aware that claims are paid from the insurance company and not the agent.
- Pay your insurance premium by check. Make checks payable to the insurance company not the agent or the agency. Obtain a receipt.
- Never pay your insurance premium in cash. Think twice if the agent/broker insists on cash payment.
- Obtain copies of the documents relating to your insurance transaction.
- If you believe you are the victim of a dishonest insurance agent, call the Department of Insurance at 800-927-4357.
Bail for Basler is set at $250,000.
- License details for number #0B22257.
- Charges include a felony count of PC 12022.6 and six felony counts of PC 503.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.