What you should know about the AARP
Posted in the Redwood City Forum
#1 Nov 19, 2012
The American Association of Retired Persons is the largest single senior citizens association, by far, with over 40 million members nationwide. But it only receives a fraction of its revenue from membership dues. Rather, the AARP has become one of the biggest affiliate marketing organizations in the country, with thousands of companies vying to buy into their mailing lists and get an AARP endorsement to sell to their members.
These companies many of them financial services and insurance companies pay AARP handsomely for the privilege of soliciting the organizations members, frequently via direct mail. These affiliate marketing arrangements are a huge revenue generator for the AARP.
Increased Junk Mail
AARP and their partners are among the biggest generators of junk mail in the country. AARP routinely sells member contact information to their marketing affiliates, so expect to see your mailbox explode with solicitations for life insurance, disability and long term care, Medicare supplement and Medicare Advantage coverage, travel offers, credit cards and other goods and services that may or may not be relevant to you.
You can, however, opt out of having your contact information sold to third parties. You do, however, have to be proactive about doing so. To keep your information private, go to the AARPs opt-out page or call 1-888-687-2277.
Insurance is all about tailoring a policy and coverage to a specific individual and family situation. But insurance products sold via AARP channels are frequently solicited and explained not in person by an agent who knows you and your family well, but by a distant operator on a 1-800 line. These agents are more than likely reading from a script. While there are certainly knowledgeable licensed agents who work in these call centers, they cannot replace the personal touch and the observational skills of a seasoned insurance agent who knows what questions to ask, who can meet with you in person and who may represent a variety of carriers, rather than limit his recommendations to those with whom the AARP has a marketing agreement.
When you deal with a locally-owned agency instead of a 1-800 discount line, you know who will be picking up the phone. You know who will be servicing your policy and you know who will be working with you and your family in delivering any benefits.
Conflicts of Interests
The AARP is one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country. The AARP spent some $15 million on lobbying activities in 2011 - some of which was spent advocating causes you may not necessarily agree with. The AARP has been the subject of substantial criticism in recent years for taking positions on key legislative proposals that appear to benefit their partner vendors rather than their paying membership.
Discounts are Limited
While the AARP touts the advantage of the discounts they can arrange thanks to the leverage of their 40 million-strong membership, in practice many seniors find many of these or similar discounts on their own by checking in with their agent. Also some of the discount you get from AARP maybe the same that is available to any senior citizen, or you can get the similar discounts through the American Automobile Association, membership in a union, veterans group or other organizations.
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