The state has revoked the Idaho insurance producer license of Erik Astheimer, a Meridian resident.
Astheimer’s license was revoked effective Oct. 25, and the Idaho Department of Insurance imposed an administrative penalty of $38,000 against him, for “dishonesty and misrepresentation.”
The department says Astheimer submitted 19 false insurance claims to AFLAC between December 2014 and June 2015, while he was an agent for AFLAC (American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus).
Astheimer told the Statesman he did not intend to file false claims. He said he was following training on how to file claims for a yearly “wellness” benefit.
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The claims were for blood tests performed by one doctor on various people, including several with Astheimer’s last name but different first initials. The doctor did not provide the services, the department said.
AFLAC paid Astheimer $100 for each of the 19 claims, the department said.
Astheimer told the Statesman the claims were all for his family members. He said they did receive the services, but not from the doctor whose name was listed.
Idaho law “prohibits agents from misrepresenting any fact relative to an insurance transaction, and also prohibits using fraudulent or dishonest practices,” the department said in a news release.
“The insurance-buying public has a right to believe that the agent they are doing business with is honest and trustworthy,” said Dean Cameron, director of the Idaho Department of Insurance. “Our role is to protect consumers from agents who willfully disregard the law.”
AFLAC notified the department of suspected fraud. Investigators reviewed the case, as well as medical and other records, and found the claims were fraudulent.
According to the order posted on the department’s website, Astheimer did not respond to the department’s complaint or request a hearing, thus waiving his rights to a hearing.
Astheimer told the Statesman he did not have enough money to hire a lawyer to respond on his behalf.
“It makes it sound like I defrauded the public. I didn’t,” Astheimer told the Statesman. “I guess I defrauded AFLAC, if you really want to get to the bones of the matter. That wasn’t my intention, though.”
Editor’s note, Nov. 21, 2016: This story was updated to include Astheimer’s comments to the Statesman.