Safeco Insurance Summary
Safeco Insurance is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and currently employs over 7,000 people throughout the United States. Their primary sales force is a network of independent agents spread across the country. These independent agents do not actually work for Safeco directly, but instead are licensed to sell their products. Despite the fact that a potential customer must purchase a policy through an independent agent, those interested may start the quote process on their website and at least see the price before working with an agent.
Safeco auto insurance policies can provide a host of coverage types that most car drivers have come to expect. Typical coverage such as bodily injury liability and property liability are standard on nearly every policy, no matter which state it is purchased in. Additional coverage options are available as well, depending on local laws. Those may include personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments (Med Pay), and uninsured / underinsured motorist. In addition to these mandatory and optional coverage types, Safeco offers a few unique features as part of their auto insurance policies. These are often used as marketing tools, so it is important to get the actual details of the programs to ensure you are eligible for their benefits:
- Accident Forgiveness – Auto insurance policies through Safeco include accident forgiveness, which basically means if you are involved in an at-fault accident your rate will not be recalculated and cause you to pay more. On the surface it sounds great, but as with anything there is fine print. According to their website, “if you have no at-fault collisions or traffic violations in a set number of years, you may qualify for accident forgiveness.” Unfortunately we were unable to find what a “set number of years” meant. Additionally, “you may qualify” is rather vague. If considering Safeco, be sure and ask an agent what this means, and also ask for the terms in writing.
- Diminishing Deductible – In recent years, a lot of insurance companies have started promoting the diminishing (or vanishing) deductible as a selling point to their customers. Some companies charge extra for this feature, while others do not. But in reality if a company includes it for free they are making those dollars up elsewhere, perhaps through higher premiums. Safeco includes it. The premise of the diminishing deductible is simple: for every consecutive year you do not file a claim, your deductible goes down by $100 for a maximum of five years.
- Safeco Rewind – For our full analysis, visit our review of the Safeco Rewind program.
Safeco sells a handful of home insurance policies that protect against a number of different perils. Their product offerings include homeowners insurance, condo insurance and renters insurance. Each of these insurance types carry a basic set of coverages, including personal property (items inside our outside your home), temporary housing and expenses (if you are required to leave your home after a covered accident), and liability protection. The liability aspect of most home insurance policies is important because accidents that happen on your premises (even if you rent) can often be traced back to you. Having liability protection as part of a home insurance policy helps insulate you from those potentially harmful financial situations.
Safeco also has optional coverage that can be added to most home, condo and renters insurance policies. They include identity theft protection, jewelry, art and antiques coverage, and appliance protection. It is important to fully understand what a standard home insurance policy covers when it comes to personal property because most policies limit the coverage amount of expensive items like jewelry and art. Any expensive items that fall under these categories generally have to be added as a special item and paid for individually.
In addition to auto and home insurance, Safeco offers a few other products. They include:
- Boat & Watercraft Insurance – Safeco’s boat insurance covers watercraft based on agreed value. This means whatever amount the original policy was written for, that is the amount which will be reimbursed to you if the boat is determined to be a total loss, even if the boat is worth less at the time of the accident.
- Classic Car Insurance – Like watercraft insurance, classic cars are insured based on agreed value. They also have a “limited use” option which will reduce premiums on classic cars driven under 5,000 miles per year.
- Motorcycle Insurance – Liability, guest passenger liability and property damage liability coverage is available for motorcycles.
Safeco Insurance Price (Rates)
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According to our car insurance rate quote test, Safeco is well above the average when it comes to price. The test showed Safeco 20.1% higher than the average price for all our results. When we performed this test on Safeco last year, they also came in as one of the highest priced companies so it shows their pricing is consistent. This is to be expected from a company that bundles “free” services into their packages (such as diminishing deductibles and accident forgiveness). Regardless of whether you want these options or not, you are paying for them. As always, it is important for anyone seriously considering Safeco for auto insurance to get their own personalized quote so they can compare it directly with other companies. Every insurance company has their own underwriting guidelines, and your quote could be quite a bit different from ours.
The claims process for both auto and home insurance accidents are handled through the same department and have the same number to call. (800-332-3226) It appears that you are unable to file a claim with your agent or online. Once the claim is started you can track the progress through an online account. The information about what is available through the account or how you are supposed to send accident details or pictures to the claims representative is very limited. It is also not clear if you are assigned a single agent who will handle the entire claim, or if you get a new person every time you call. Despite having updated the Safeco website from the time we reviewed them a year ago, there is still limited information about claims and they do not do a good job outlining the entire process.
In the comment section of this review (below) many current and former Safeco customers have voiced their frustration with the claims process. Non-Safeco customers have also left their experiences of dealing with the claims department after being in an accident with a Safeco driver. The complaints cover both home and auto claims, and a search for other online reviews show many people have similar issues.
Consumer Research and Complaints
The major consumer rating firms that perform customer satisfaction surveys consistently rate Safeco below average to average. In particular, three separate studies performed by JD Power and Associates came to the same conclusion. In 2011 they performed a US Insurance Shopping Study and ranked Safeco below the industry average for customer satisfaction. A 2012 study rated Safeco as average when it came to customers views about their auto claims process. A 2013 study by JD Power that focused on the overall insurance purchase experience also rated Safeco as average.
This review has compiled a lengthy list of complaints by both current and former Safeco insurance customers as well as people who have been in an accident with a Safeco customer. Be sure and read their feedback at the bottom of this page.
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Safeco offers a standard list of insurance products and can provide protection for the majority of people’s needs. That being said, their auto insurance rates are some of the highest we have seen during our tests and their customer complaints are numerous for a company of their size. With so many other reputable insurance companies that offer cheaper prices and presumably better service, we have a hard time recommending Safeco to our readers. Anyone seriously considering Safeco (especially for auto insurance) needs to read the fine print of their potential policy before signing up. Make sure and find out the details regarding the “accident forgiveness” feature, especially as it pertains to the number of years required before it kicks in, and what they mean by “you may qualify.”
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About the Author
I am a former insurance agent turned consumer advocate. My priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best place to get it.