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AARP Lacking in Advocacy, Value Says Disgruntled Senior

. By
Williams, AZIt is hardly surprising that the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) would defend itself vigorously against allegations that cast the massive organization in a less-then-complimentary light. Specifically, a recent Bloomberg News exposé focusing on AARP insurance and AARP health insurance drew a pointed response from AARP, which suggested Bloomberg reporters misconstrued the facts.

Insurance VictimOne of the major issues that have cast a dark cloud over AARP in recent months is the allegation that UnitedHealth Group Insurance marketed under the AARP umbrella was misleading. It is alleged that consumers believed they were buying comprehensive health coverage—insurance that would pay for virtually any eventuality—when in fact, there were limits that became the source of hardship for many, and financial ruin for others.

Late last year AARP suspended their marketing of the policy, pending a review of marketing materials and strategy.

A blockbuster report that appeared in Bloomberg News in the Fall of 2008 painted a picture of greed and high rates, in deference to the belief amongst AARP members that they were getting the best bang for their bucks by embracing companies, and policies endorsed by AARP. Allegations of AARP-endorsed policies that were more expensive than competing products, and the earning of lucrative endorsement fees by AARP that are allegedly passed on to the consumer by individual insurance companies, have been challenged by AARP, which maintains their business practices and associations are sound and AARP members are well, and fairly represented.

Meantime there are many Americans still miffed.

Gayle, an AARP member who hails from Williams, Arizona writes that she had obtained auto insurance through AARP with The Hartford in 1999. Ten years later, in January of this year the AARP member describes her ordeal acquiring a new car and attempting to insure it through her AARP-endorsed insurer, The Hartford.

However, it was not a pleasant experience. Gayle was quoted what she calls an outrageous amount for the new car, and found the customer service representative to be rude and argumentative.

Finally, after 3 or 4 days she managed to get through to a supervisor who indicated Gayle would be provided with a policy featuring premiums geared to her income. A date was finalized, but passed with no response. When Gayle's attempts to contact them went nowhere, she reported the situation to AARP, "which I have been with since '94," she writes.

She goes on to say that AARP had promised to contact The Hartford and intercede on her behalf, but nothing was ever done. So she decided to take matters into her own hands and shop around, found a comparable policy at a better quote with a competing insurer, then proceeded to call The Hartford to inform them.

However, Gayle was informed that she would have to pay a 10 percent penalty for cancelling early, even though she was never informed that the policy had, indeed gone through in the first place. Told that the consumer's affairs department at The Hartford could not help her, she was referred to a manager. He took her phone number, promised to call back and never did.

Gayle remains unimpressed with both The Hartford and AARP. The latter, with whom she has been a member for 15 years did not help her in her hour of need with her insurer. As for The Hartford, it is alleged by Gayle that they claimed to be unable to write a new policy every time a customer buys another car—which in this case was over 10 years—and wonders about an AARP-sanctioned policy that was more expensive than similar policies.

While AARP has taken exception to media reports that paint the seniors advocacy group in a negative light, and claims that facts and allegations thrown around in the media have been misleading, misguided or inaccurate, Gayle's story is but one example of AARP members who have found their association with AARP to be lacking in terms of advocacy, and value.

It has been reported that AARP actually recommends on its web site that consumers shop around for the best deal—which suggests that AARP-endorsed policies, whether they be automotive or healthcare-related, may not always be the cheapest.

If you have felt misled by AARP, in the purchasing of insurance that contained limits about which you were not made aware, or any other insurance that you believed was the best deal when in fact it was not, you may want to speak with a qualified attorney about your situation.

After all, the very reason why AARP exists is to advocate for the growing seniors population. Seniors usually exist on fixed incomes, and have been hit particularly hard by the American economic contraction. To realize they may have been paying too much for automotive insurance, or worse—to have suffered financial hardship or even ruin by a medical bill assumed to be covered by AARP insurance—is unfair and unjust. And you may have a claim…

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READER COMMENTS

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I had two accidents and my rate tripled going to $2400 a year for one car. State farm gave me the same coverage in half that amount.

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