The Easiest Way To An AARP Endorsement? Royalty Fees

image Bloomberg journalist Gary Cohn writes an eye opening story about AARP’s influence in Washington and how the company collects hundreds of millions of dollars from insurers who pay for AARP’s endorsement of their policies.  Over the years, AARP has built a brand behind the belief that it offers its members discounts and services to a wide range of services, but it’s not always the case.

AARP’s Stealth Fees Often Sting Seniors With Costlier Insurance details one AARP members experience purchasing his car insurance through AARP and found he was paying twice the average quote he received from other providers.  Part of the reason the premium was so high was because AARP was taking a cut out of his premium before sending the money to Hartford Financial Service Group, the provider of the coverage.

The insurance companies build the cost of these so-called royalties and fees, which amounted to $497.6 million in 2007, into the premiums they charge AARP members.  AARP uses the royalties and fees to fund about half the expenses that pay for activities such as publishing brochures about health care and consumer fraud — as well as for paying down the $200 million bond debt that funded the association’s marble and brass-studded Washington headquarters.  To read more about the story click the link below.

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AARP’s Stealth Fees Often Sting Seniors With Costlier Insurance (Bloomberg)

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  • It is nice to see that someone look into this company. I have seen for years, they put their interest ahead of the senior community (like congress).

    I know if they could get a cut of the HECM fees, they would promote they like all their other products!!!

  • AARP has long been a disingenuous, hypocritical business. As a supposed “disinterested third party”, they have seniors advised for years to wait before getting a reverse mortgage, for many self-serving reasons. How many seniors in today’s market of declining home values have been shocked and angry when finding that, after taking this “advice” from AARP, they no longer qualify for a reverse mortgage, and will lose their home? It wouldn’t take many of these victims telling their story to their local “Action News” TV reporter to begin to dial back the abused power AARP now wields.

  • AARP is an very effective and profitable insurance company. You must remember this ! all the warm and fuzzy pictures of grandparents and grandchildren and cute little puppies is part of one of the most successsful publicity campaigns since coke and Lucky Strike ” went to war”. People old enough will remember that president Eisenhower sent Camel and Lucky Strike cigarettes and Coke to every soldier during WWII. Coke [only] vending machines remained a basic part of every base for many years.

    AARP pretends to be an advocate for senior citizens, but they are the only insurance company [except for the Medicare Advantage companes recently given subsidies] that recieves direct taxpayer dollars to help them sell their insurance to seniors. They are trying to blackmail reverse mortgage industry into giving them governing power or cash for giving the “heads-up” on reverse mortgages.

    Lets all expose them and tell them to be honest with public as we in the reverse mortgage business are with our customers.

    Richard G Green
    Senior Security

  • I have long been skeptical of AARP’s disingenuous advocacy of seniors. When its tax-exempt status was challenged by the IRS, AARP was forced, as part of the settlement (in which it paid millions of dollars in back taxes) to spin off its profit-making entity into a separate, taxable corporation.

    While AARP provides some useful information about reverse mortgages to seniors, it main agenda is to increase membership (and the resulting advertising revenues from its publications) and sell products through its various arrangements, mostly with insurance companies. Unfortunately, many seniors are so convinced that AARP-branded products and services represent the best value that they fail to shop for better deals among other providers.

    AARP exists, first and foremost, for the purpose of generating revenue for its officers and staff; legislative advocacy is a by-product that must be adjusted so as not to offend partners in its lucrative business arrangements. For example, AARP doesn’t advocate national health insurance because its insurance partners would be adversely impacted by such legislation.

    When AARP decided to put its two cents’ worth into FHA Modernization by advocating a reduction in the maximum HECM origination fee, Congress (and NRMLA) capitulated because of its perception that AARP controls the opinions and votes of millions of seniors. I seriously doubt that. The reverse mortgage industry, trying to eke out a modest profit under the “old” fee structure, made up for the “new” fee structure by increasing the margin (i.e., the interest rate) in order to replace lost revenue. Is the senior really better-served?

    Other senior organizations exist that actually don’t endorse any commercial products and do an excellent job of serving the interests of seniors. One such organization is the Alliance for Retired Americans, which has ties to organized labor. Other such organizations are tied to the members’ religious membership, former profession or military retirement status.

    Since my 50th birthday ten years ago, I have been deluged regularly by membership offers from AARP. All have been deposited into the shredder. After all, I don’t want anyone to know my age!

  • Like I said a few issues ago, at one time AARP would not allow any Company to advertise in their magazine unless there was a “special” (ie, monied) relationship between the Company and AARP: It took a law suit by the scooter company Electric Moblility to end that closed policy. More than a few Seniors view AARP with a question as to whose interest AARP really represents–their Members or the insurance companies AARP recommends through their advertising. Impossible to determine how much AARP collects and where the money really goes from their published financial pie charts. In my opinion, ARRP should be ashamed of many
    of its activities and positions.

  • RMD readers may be interested to know that AARP is in the process of choosing ONE RM lender to endorse! After all these years when they’ve refused to endorse any lender they are now vetting several of the largest lenders…..too bad that wont’ translate into the senior getting the best service or the best product!

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