A Superior Court judge on Tuesday gave control of a Brea insurance agency to the state Department of Insurance after regulators accused the agency of pocketing customers’ premiums.
Insurance investigators and Brea police on Friday raided Bestland Insurance Agency’s offices in Brea, Indio and San Diego and seized a $400,000 bank account.
Lawyers for the department were granted permission to look over Bestland’s books to see if the agency has any money to pay claims.
The Insurance Department says Bestland and owner Lawrence D. Kenemore sold group health insurance plans to companies but kept the premiums, making the policies worthless. Bestland has been in business three years, and the amount of money it took in “may be substantial,” regulators said.
The department, however, only learned of fraud allegations a few months ago when a group called the Assn. of the Developmentally Disabled in Covina complained to the department after paying as much as $90,000 in premiums. When the association filed a claim with Bestland, it told regulators, it learned it didn’t have a valid insurance policy. Insurance Department investigators have since found other companies they say were defrauded by Bestland.
The extent of the fraud--if any--won’t be known until investigators examine the books from the three offices and a Fountain Valley company called Entertainment Insurance Brokers that regulators contend is tied to Kenemore.
Elena Stern, an Insurance Department spokeswoman, said Kenemore may still be operating from his home using a toll-free telephone number. Kenemore didn’t return a message left at that number Tuesday.