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SafeAuto Insurance Review

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Eric Stauffer is a former insurance agent and banker turned consumer advocate. His priority is to help educate individuals and families about the different types of insurance they need, and assist them in finding the best...

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UPDATED: Nov 30, 2018

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SafeAuto is a nonstandard insurance company aimed at drivers who want affordable car insurance that meet the legal minimums. This relatively young company provides basic auto insurance for a market that tends to have a harder time acquiring coverage.

SafeAuto Summary

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.

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Insurance Products

Auto Insurance

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.

Additional Products

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
  • Accident
  • Life insurance

These products are sold and underwritten by a variety of different companies.

SafeAuto Rates

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.

Claims

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.

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Consumer Research and Complaints

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.

Financial Strength

Rating Company Grade Financial Outlook
AM Best N/A N/A
Fitch N/A N/A
S&P N/A N/A

Bottom Line

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.

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Review Information

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About Eric Stauffer

Author: Eric StaufferI am a former insurance agent and banker 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.

9 Comments

  1. Just obtained insurance on 10/26.

    Someone wanna tell me why I have a bill already and it’s only 10/31?

    Oh and my rate increased 40 something dollars too.

    How? I’m canceling and going somewhere else.

    Reply
  2. I have been with Safe Auto. Over 2 yrs. Paperless billing.

    I get a text, call, and email 2 weeks before my due date that is 19th of every month.

    I received non this month. I go to the app to pay.

    And was informed my policy canceled the 14th for non-payment.

    I call and try to rectify the situation. They admit they messed up.

    Then inform me I must pay double the payment to reinstate insurance. Over $1000.00.

    How can they mess up admitting they did and charge me? Ridiculous!

    Reply
  3. I was a Safe Auto customer for many years. Never had a claim until 12/27/2017 my 2013 Toyota Tundra was stolen from my driveway. Was told by adjuster on a stolen vehicle they hold the claim for 30 days to see if the vehicle is found. Mine was not. I filled out all my paperwork as instructed and told when they received it my claim would proceed. Then get a call from adjuster a week later telling me I need to mail them my 2 sets of keys I had for my truck. He called me 2 days later to tell me he received them and my claim would proceed. Didn’t hear anything for almost 2 weeks so called adjuster and was told that because of the value of my truck is over $20,000 that they had to have a “special investigator” come out and meet with me and get a recorded statement of what happened. So a week later he called me and set a time to come to my house and meet with me. This was Monday and he told me after meeting with me this is pretty cut and dry he should be able to have this wrapped up for me by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. I did not hear from Safe Auto for another week so I called adjuster again. He told me they have the report from the investigator and I asked my claim can be handled now and get this wrapped up? The adjuster now tells me no now after receiving the report from the investigator that now my claim is being sent to a Safe Auto attorney and the attorney will have to come meet with me and get a sworn recorded statement of what happened. How many sworn statements do they need of the same thing? They have a police report they have a sworn notarized statement from me at my cost nevertheless. They have a recorded statement from me with the investigator. Now they are pushing this off to another section of their company. This isn’t rocket science my truck was locked parked in my driveway I had 2 sets of keys both sets with me in my house when it happened. Safe Auto now has keys and everything they have asked of me and we are still dragging this out.
    If you or someone you know is involved with Safe Auto, run as far and as fast as you can away from them.

    Reply
  4. Safe Auto has been our insurance for three years. On Dec. 23rd we had an accident. Even though we are fully insured, they only paid a partial amount for a rental car, and they would only approve partial payments for 30 days. The problem is, it took 28 days to approve the claim! So now we are without a car and I am 8 months pregnant, waiting for the parts to come in for the car!! Safe Auto did not do us justice, that is for sure.

    Reply
  5. I was another victim of being hit by a Safe Auto insurance driver and Safe Auto says their not liable. Okay so a person who has insurance with them can come around a corner without even looking and make a left directly into a car driving straight down a street, slam into that car & is not liable? Shows the injustice of insurance companies. I’ll be filing complaints on every website in existence.

    Reply
  6. I’ve been with Safe Auto for 4 years. No tickets no accidents, nothing.. my rates went from $185 a month to $385… when I asked why it kept going up every 6 months I was given the excuse “Industry wide costs”.. I’m done. I’m switching.. between the exorbitant cost and the reviews I’ve read of Safe Auto customers getting sued by others because they didn’t pay claims, I’m done. There’s gotta be a better way.

    Reply
  7. Save yourself the trouble, Safe Auto rates are terrible. They lure you in on an initial low cycle and then turn around and substantially increase the rate even as nothing has changed on your driving record. Mine went from 150$ a month to 220$ a month after the initial six-month cycle. Again, no new hits to my driving record occurred during that period (or the entire three year period I was with Safe Auto). I only ended up with Safe Auto because I received four tickets. My policy with Grange Insurance increased, so I left for Safe Auto. Grange had said it would take three years for the tickets to no longer impact my rate. With Safe Auto, I received a drop in rate after two years from 220$ a month to 140$. All four tickets were still a full year inside of three years at this point. I did not receive any drop after three of the tickets moved past three years. Called Safe Auto to confirm only one ticket remained and that it too would be past three years on my next six-month cycle renew. Safe Auto maintained their rate was correct at 140$ for 25/50/25 with the one ticket that remained. Customer service rep stumbled to be able even to tell me my driving record and what factored into that rate. I called over to Progressive and got a policy at 85$ a month for 250/500/100 with the one ticket factored in.

    Reply
  8. Safe Auto took most of my 458. down payment from my down payment and left me with 193. after they cancelled me. They justified this by saying I had had previous towing in 2014. I should have gotten the refund back after they cancelled me. They tried to explain things to me in obviously over technical terms to justify illegal behavior. I want my refund. This is unheard of.

    Reply
    • I can say with some certainty that you aren’t representing the situation honestly. Your 193 refund would be for the unused portion of your initial first month’s payment. You have to pay for the time period you were insured and had you been in an accident during the time you were covered before the cancellation date, you would of been covered. You pay ahead for the service and are refunded the unused portion per your state’s laws. In some states, you are refunded on a pro rata basis, which sucks but that’s YOUR states laws.

      Also, no one is ever cancelled for having had their car towed in the past. You are right, that wouldn’t be legal and while they murder you with fees and technicalities, they don’t violate the law. Just because you didn’t understand your state’s laws or the fact you likely misrepresented yourself upon applying doesn’t mean anything illegal happened.

      Safe Auto is an ethically questionable company with how they handle billing and fees, they have awful customer service experience when getting a claim handled. Their new policies are definitely going to hamper the customer service experience further…complain on these issues.

      Don’t lie about your accidents or violations, they are going to catch it and raise your rate. Don’t expect cheap rates if you are a high risk driver, high risk equals high cost…be a better driver. Don’t be upset if you lie about your address for cheaper rates and they cancel on you, it’s technically illegal to lie on an insurance application…be thankful they aren’t going after you for committing fraud.

      DO pay attention when the salesperson explains how the billing works. DO read all the paperwork you are sent. DO ask questions before making your down payment, that’s what the salesperson is there for an is legally bound to give you accurate information and sound advice on what would be best for your situation. They can lose their license if they misrepresent or cause you material harm with their guidance.

      Reply

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