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CA Department of Insurance

Sentencing update on Ventura agent that sold bogus insurance policies

News: 2014 Press Release

For Release: October 20, 2014
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Sentencing update on Ventura agent that sold bogus insurance policies

VENTURA, Calif. -Dean Joseph Basler, 58, of Ventura pleaded guilty to two felony counts of embezzlement associated with more than $250,000 in premiums that Basler received for homeowners insurance policies. Basler actions placed responsible families at unnecessary financial risk in an area prone to wildfires.

"Insurance is the first line of defense for consumers in protecting our single largest asset, our home," said Commissioner Jones. "As a licensed agent Basler's crime put these people at great financial risk."

The investigation revealed Basler, a licensed insurance agent since September 1993,was collecting premiums for homeowner 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 more than four years until the department's investigation revealed the homeowner had been without insurance since 2009. A review of Basler's bank records further revealed several other clients who had been paying Basler their premiums lacked valid 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. 

Basler was prosecuted by the Santa Barbara City Attorney and sentenced to 240 days in the Santa Barbara county jail, four years probation and ordered to pay restitution. Basler is scheduled to return to court on December 5, 2014 for sentencing.

Media Notes:

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 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.

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