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by Neal Goulet on Mar 23, 2015

What’s the magic of 15 minutes?

There’s a famous quote, often (perhaps incorrectly) attributed to Pittsburgh-born pop artist Andy Warhol: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

And, of course, a certain national insurance company promises, “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance." (Another insurance company touts that it can save customers money in half that amount of time.)

We don’t know about the fame thing, but we know car insurance. And spending only 15 minutes on car insurance is a bad decision that could live in infamy.

In fact, you should spend more than 15 minutes on your car insurance.

Even if your decision comes down mostly or entirely to price, you have too much at stake not to give it more than a quarter-hour of your time. Yes, you could save 15 percent on car insurance, but if you’re not careful you could just as easily put yourself and your family at financial risk.

Doug Erwin, personal lines team leader for Advanced Insurance Solutions, said the problem with focusing only on time and price is what it overlooks. Namely, a human element.

“Nobody’s giving you advice, telling you what things mean,” he said. “Nobody’s telling you the ramifications of what you’re doing.”

Let’s say you go to a car insurance website. You type in your name, address, date of birth, the type of car you wish to insure. And then you’re asked to choose among “good,” “better” or “best” coverage.

What kind of coverage are you getting with each of those options? Do you have any idea?

Erwin said a policy is only as good as the coverage it provides, yet he routinely talks with consumers who think – incorrectly – that simply having coverage is the only thing that matters. The reality check comes when they have to file a claim.

“I hear the comment all the time, ‘I can’t believe this wasn’t covered. I pay my bill every month,’ ” Erwin said. “Well you do, but you didn’t choose to pay for that coverage."

Advanced Insurance Solutions is in Hershey, which is home to many doctors working at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Erwin said his agency often encounters doctors who are making good livings but only have minimum-coverage car insurance. They started with it when they were in medical school and didn’t have any money, and they have kept it through the years even as their assets have grown.

“Some people buy on price and only ever revisit their coverage after they have an accident or in the context of purchasing a home,” Erwin said.

Even if price is the overriding concern, there’s no guarantee that 15 minutes will get you the best deal. While that national company promises a lower price in that amount of time, Erwin noted that as an independent insurance agency, Advanced Insurance Solutions can solicit pricing from 30 different insurers.

“You have to put time into it, you have to be educated,” Erwin said. “Or find someone who is educated, who can point you in the right direction, and who is willing to invest more than 15 minutes on your behalf to ensure that you get all of the coverage you need.”

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