UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018
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SafeAuto was founded in 1993 in Columbus, Ohio to provide insurance to the nonstandard market. The company has expanded to serve 16 states, offering basic state minimum liability as well as extended coverage options. They are licensed in two additional states but do not currently operate there.
SafeAuto has two storefront offices in Columbus, and sells its policies in other states over the phone and online. They are a direct-buy insurer, which means there are no agents, brokers or commissions. All part of their mission to provide low-cost insurance.
The company’s main focus is on providing liability coverage for drivers who are considered nonstandard, meaning they don’t qualify for insurance with standard companies. These drivers include those with tickets or accidents on their record, major violations, drivers needing SR-22 filings, or those with credit problems.
Auto insurance is SafeAuto’s only direct product, and they work specifically with drivers who need to obtain legal minimum insurance but have difficulty getting coverage from standard insurers.
The nonstandard market can include immigrants who are still driving on an international license, people without insurance history, plus those whose driving record makes them difficult to insure. However, the market tends to be targeted to the latter.
SafeAuto advertises its products as “Legal for Less”, leaning heavily on liability-only legal minimum policies, since in many cases nonstandard drivers are seeking the lowest possible price due to the higher cost of insurance they face.
The website provides little information on the company’s specific policies.
SafeAuto does offer higher limits and optional coverage such as comprehensive and collision, but they are heavily weighted towards the liability-only market. While most insurance companies recommend carrying more than the legal minimum, SafeAuto’s marketing is geared towards the bare bones policy. This is in spite of the fact that it is unlikely to provide enough coverage in a serious accident.
There is no information on any discounts or any other programs from the company.
SafeAuto does not sell anything beyond auto insurance, but they do have a partnership with Augeo Benefits to help their customers obtain health insurance products. This partnership offers assistance with purchase of:
- Major medical insurance
- Short-term medical
- Limited Medical
- Critical Illness
- Life insurance
These products are sold and underwritten by a variety of different companies.
SafeAuto does not write car insurance in the test markets where we run our sample quotes – as a result we are unable to provide a comparison of their rates to other insurance companies.
As a legal minimum, bare-bones insurer, we would expect that their rates would come in on the low side, as our samples are run on drivers with clean records. This type of insurer, however, is not aimed at standard drivers, and higher-risk drivers face higher rates no matter which company they choose.
SafeAuto does offer online quoting for the states where they provide coverage, therefore it is easy to get a quote for comparison purposes.
SafeAuto has a 24/7 claims phone line: 1-800-723-3288 for customers to report claims. There is no online claims reporting option, and although SafeAuto offers a mobile app for customers to manage policies, there is no indication that it includes any claims services.
SafeAuto provides more information about their claims process than they do their actual products, with a fairly clear and simple FAQ section. They follow the standard procedure of assigning an adjuster who will then investigate, check benefits, and determine fault.
The company has a preferred vendor network for repairs, the SafeAuto Select program, which isn’t described in detail on the website.
SafeAuto has been a BBB accredited company since 1997. They currently have an A+ rating. The BBB lists 168 complaints against the company in the past three years, with 62 of those complaints filed in the past 12 months. The majority of issues seem to be surrounding their products and service. The BBB does not consider this number to be high for a company of this size, but for a regional insurer selling insurance in only 16 states, this seems a bit high compared to similar sized companies we have reviewed.
There are 81 ratings of SafeAuto on ConsumerAffairs.com, 65 of which are one-star and only three are five-star. A large number of these complaints are from drivers who were involved in an accident with a SafeAuto insured driver. They frequently cite poor response time and claims adjusters who try to avoid paying out claims. There are also multiple complaints from SafeAuto customers regarding slow response time from claims adjusters.
Other sites have a number of complaints that include bait-and-switch pricing and odd billing practices.
The few positive reviews found do focus on low rates and good customer service.
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Without a rate quote, it is difficult to make a final determination on SafeAuto. There are enough negative reviews citing the same problems to raise some red flags, however, it seems to be mainly drivers who were involved in an accident with a SafeAuto insured making the complaints. SafeAuto is also a company that pushes bare bones, legal minimum policies, something that we do not recommend to any driver.
SafeAuto might be worth a look if you are in need of high-risk or nonstandard insurance and have been turned down or quoted very high rates elsewhere. For drivers with a clean record and no other issues, rates and coverage are likely to be much better from a standard insurance company.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.