Since this is the annual State of the Union period in America, it is high time to discuss a most misbegotten State of the Union for senior citizens: the Union of AARP and The Hartford Insurance Companies. Speaking from firsthand experience -- not only as a decades-long AARP (formerly American Association of Retired Persons) member and as a recent multi-year policyholder of The Hartford AARP insurance program, but also as a retired professor of insurance among other subjects -- this most miserable union is abusive of the public trust, violates sound insurance principles, and is indeed a very bad deal for America's seniors. For those reasons, I have been filing complaints against this particular Union with State insurance agencies and the Better Business Bureau, as well as on-line postings. (God bless freedom of speech! Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free!)
When we transferred our auto and home insurance to The Hartford AARP program four years ago, our decision was based in part on the fact that we were assured a significant annual premium reduction for longevity, i.e. for staying with The Hartford for three or more years. The Hartford posts that reduction on its own official descriptions, but when we applied for it, we were told that it did not apply to our policies -- while refusing to give any reason for our exclusion. The Hartford, indeed, has admitted that we were misled in that regard -- but an apology is all we got, not a correction or an adjustment of our premiums. The apology rings hollow, but that is only a small part of the story.
The Hartford AARP insurance program appears to lure seniors with "lowball" rates to start a new policy, followed in our case (and probably others as well) with massive, unjustified, and unexplained premium increases year after year after year. Our auto insurance went up by over 30% in 2015 event though we have never had an accident, ticket, or any other adverse occurrence. When pressed for an explanation, The Hartford refused to tell us anything because they consider such personal policy information to be "proprietary" whereas any policyholder is fully entitled to know just how his or her premium was determined. Instead of transparency of premium increases, they are totally opaque, and appear to be very unjustified as well. The Hartford seems to gouge seniors unmercifully!
Then there is the generally-incompetent handling of routine policy changes. For example, whereas modern insurers have a secure system for on-line signatures of forms, The Hartford requires them to be mailed or faxed back to them. Whereas many insurers have agents with whom the insured can work, The Hartford has a frustrating phone system of long holds, disconnects, and different staff each time you call -- and reaching a supervisor is hard, too! Finally, when I tasked The Hartford to refer all of these issues to their own Errors and Omissions insurance carrier, they absolutely refused to give me the slightest information on their E&O insurance, which I consider to be unlawful.
As for the AARP itself, they no longer seem to champion the cause of senior citizens -- when social security is frozen, for example, the AARP goes right along with the freeze. When a host of senior issues arise, such as poor medical care and very inadequate housing, all that one hears from the AARP is "the sounds of silence." Still, a recent article in the AARP magazine tells seniors how to have the best sex of our lives -- perhaps that will make up for poor medical care, inadequate housing, low incomes, and other problems causing some seniors to work well into their 70s and beyond!
And the AARP absolutely refuses to take any responsibility for The Hartford's improper and anti-senior insurance practices. The AARP has become essentially worthless as an activist agency or forum for real senior issues, and much more interested in protecting the high salaries of its own top staff. Shame on them -- keep all this in mind; as to membership, CAVEAT EMPTOR -- let the buyer beware! Seniors should look elsewhere for their insurance, while establishing an activist agency to really meet our needs, which have been little mentioned in the 2016 election campaigns! Seniors care -- and we vote!
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)