Safeco Auto Insurance Review – Insurance Through 'the General'
Almost anything can be bought online. Food, books, gardening supplies, a car, and even a house can all be bought from your computer. But not insurance policies from Safeco Insurance.
Policies are sold exclusively through independent agents who “offer ease, choice, and advice” with personal advice, according to Safeco’s website.
Shopping for a price estimate from Safeco can be done online, but you won’t be able to buy insurance directly from Safeco. Purchases must be made through a local, independent insurance agent, which is a type of middleman. The process is easy, but not as easy as buying a policy entirely online directly from the company.
- What is Safeco Insurance?
- How does Safeco Insurance work?
- The bottom line
What is Safeco Insurance?
Safeco sells insurance for autos and other types of vehicles, such as snowmobiles and golf carts. It also insures property, and pet health, identity recovery coverage, and umbrella insurance. Our focus is on auto insurance.
Safeco is owned by Liberty Mutual Insurance, the sixth-largest seller of auto insurance. Liberty Mutual has received financial strength rates of A (Excellent) from A.M. Best Company, A2 (Good) from Moody’s Investors Service, and A- (Strong) from Standard & Poor’s.
Safeco was created in 1953 as a subsidiary of the General Insurance Company of America in Seattle. Called “The General” for short, the insurer was founded in 1923. The new subsidiary was named Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America, or SAFECO. Eventually “The General” renamed itself Safeco Corp.
In 2004 it sold its life and investments division to focus on property and casualty insurance, and surety bonds. In 2008 Safeco became part of Liberty Mutual Insurance.
How does Safeco Insurance work?
Consumers can find local agents who sell Safeco policies through the company’s website, and then can choose one near them to contact for more information.
That seems to be a major point of how Safeco works. Potential customers can get price quotes and other information online, but ultimately they’ll have to contact an independent agent to learn more. That can be a good thing, especially in what can be a complicated purchase that you may have a lot of questions about.
An agent can also help a lot long after you’ve bought insurance from them. They’re an excellent advocate for you when you file a claim. They’ll help you understand the claims process, such as when and how to file, and will work on your behalf.
Finding an agent to get a free insurance rate quote starts by entering your Zip code on the Safeco website.
From there you’re taken to a list of local insurance agents in your neighborhood. You can click on one to learn more about it and get contact information, and can call, email or visit the agent’s website.
Each independent insurance agency can also provide you a quote online through the Safeo website. Click on the yellow “Get a Quote” button in the upper right corner of an agency’s page. You’ll be asked what type of policy you’re shopping for, such as auto or home, and your Zip code.
For an auto quote, you’ll fill in some contact information, who the drivers are, vehicles to be insured, and your current insurance before you’re given a price estimate.
How much does Safeco Insurance cost?
Many factors determine insurance rates. For an auto insurance policy, your age, where you live, the kind of car you drive and driving history help to determine your auto insurance rate, also called the premium. Some factors may be out of your control. These include an increase in distracted driving incidents, higher medical and auto repair costs, and more drivers on the road.
Deductibles, which are what you pay before a claim is paid by the insurer, can also affect an insurance policy’s price. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium will be.
With so many variables, it can be hard to estimate how much an insurance policy from Safeco will cost for you. Entering your information on the Safeco website should take about five minutes so you can get personalized insurance quotes.
One online reviewer put the average cost of a full-coverage Safeco car insurance policy at $318 per moth.
Age and driving record are big factors in price, and the reviewer put the monthly cost of an auto insurance policy at $334 for a 21-year-old with a clean driving record, and at $420 for a 21-year-old with a poor driving record. Prices usually drop as you get older.
Bundle policies to save
A Safeco program called the Safeco Package gives policyholders a discount of up to 15% for combining your auto policy with Safeco homeowners insurance.
Only one deductible is paid in a single loss. For example, if a tree falls and damages both your garage and car, the auto deductible will be waived after the home deductible is paid.
Lowering the auto premium
Safeco has some ways to lower the auto insurance premium and ensure any car repairs are done correctly:
- Claims Free Cash Back: Don’t file a claim over its six-month review period and Safeco will mail you a check for 2.5% of your policy premium, up to 5% each year.
- Diminishing Deductible: Maintain a clean driving record and your deductible drops by $50 for a six-month auto policy and $100 for an annual policy, for up to five years or $500.
- Guaranteed Repair Network: Select a repair shop in Safeco’s Guaranteed Repair Network for your car and the repair is guaranteed.
- Accident forgiveness: The first accident on your policy is waived after a set number of years without an at-fault collision or violation.
Safeco Insurance features
While its features aren’t as lengthy or unique as other insurers, Safeco sells many types of insurance coverage and offers plenty of discounts. Here are some of them for auto insurance policies.
Safeco has two types of auto insurance coverage that are standard: Medical payments and property damage. Anything else is optional.
Medical payments covers you if you’re hurt in a car accident and are taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Property damage coverage, for example, covers you if you back out of your driveway and hit your neighbor’s fence so the fence can be repaired.
Safeco offers many types of auto insurance coverage options. You may not want some types of optional coverage, such as collision, if you own an old car that isn’t worth much. Some of the optional coverage that Safeco sells include:
- Collision: Your vehicle hits another vehicle or an object on the road.
- Comprehensive: Your car has been stolen.
- New vehicle replacement: If you’re the original owner of a car less than one year older and fewer than 15,000 miles that has been totaled or stolen, it will pay you the value of a comparable new car.
- Rental car reimbursement: Get help paying the cost of renting a car while yours is being repaired after a covered loss.
- 24-hour roadside assistance: Get towed to the nearest qualified repair shop and other basic services, such as changing a flat tire, delivering gas or oil, and sending out a locksmith if you’re locked out of your car.
The first accident on your policy is waived after a set number of years without an at-fault collision or violation.
Safe driving habits app
Safeco has a smartphone app called RightTrack that observes your driving habits and rewards you for making safe choices on the road. Braking, acceleration, nighttime driving and how many miles you drive are monitored by RightTrack.
Safe drivers can save up to 30%. Just completing the program guarantees a discount of some amount. The monitoring happens over 90 days with an app or plug-in device.
The program could save you up to $513 per year, according to Safeco. The discount can be kept for the life of the policy. The mobile app program isn’t allowed in every state.
Other types of autos covered
Safeco insures more than just your everyday car or truck. It sells insurance coverage for:
- Boats and other watercraft
- Classic cars
- Recreational vehicles
- ATV and off-road vehicles
- Golf carts and low-speed vehicles
Who is Safeco best for?
You want personalized service
Because Safeco only sells policies through independent agents, you have no choice but to deal with one.
That’s a good thing, in our view, because you can get specialized service that should be easier to get from an agent than in an online form you fill out to set your policy limits. An agent can help you decide which insurance options are best for you. Deciding if you need collision insurance for your old car, for instance, can be easier with an agent’s help.
If you don’t want such personalized service, or just don’t want to deal with an insurance agent, you may want to shop elsewhere.
Many insurers offer discounts to good drivers, as they should. Good drivers are less likely to get in accidents and file claims than those with a poor driving record.
Safeco, along with its parent company Liberty Mutual Group, goes a step further with a program called RightTrack. Through an app or plug-in device, it tracks your driving habits over 90 days. Good habits can lead to a 30% rate discount.
Who shouldn’t use Safeco?
You expect high customer satisfaction
A 2020 study of auto insurance companies by J.D. Power put Safeco below average or somewhere near the middle of the pack in customer satisfaction, depending on what area of the country was surveyed. The J.D. Power 2020 study on insurance shopping gave Safeco a score of 838 out of 1,000.
The study found that auto insurance websites surpassed agents in importance to customer interaction. That could put Safeco at a disadvantage because while it has a website that we found easy to navigate, it relies on agents to sell its insurance.
You want lots of discounts
Safeco’s insurance premiums are considered affordable, and it offers standard discounts such as accident forgiveness, new car replacement, and bundling policies.
Many of its competitors offer more discounts for auto insurance. Even Safeco’s parent company, Liberty Mutual Group, offers discounts that Safeco doesn’t have, such as for electric cars. Shopping for insurance rates, discounts and coverage is worthwhile in many ways, but is especially true if you don’t qualify for discounts at Safeco.
Pros & cons
Safe drivers rewarded
Safeco automatically gives drivers who are claims-free over a six-month review period a check for 2.5% of their policy premium, up to 5% annually. It also lowers the collision deductible at every renewal if there are no claims filed against a policy. It can drop for up to five years or until the $500 maximum is reached.
Safe drivers can use RightTrack to monitor their driving habits for 3 months, when they can qualify for premium discounts of up to 30%.
Safeco’s insurance policies are set at rates that are affordable for most people, according to various reviews. Some insurers offer lower rates, but check on the services they offer and discounts to make sure you’re making equal comparisons.
Safeco has received below-average customer service reviews, though it varies by region.
Not online only
This may not be a downside for some people, but if you want to take care of all of your insurance needs online only, then a Safeco policy may not be for you. Its website seems easy to navigate and claims can be filed online, but new customers must first deal with an independent agent to sell them a policy.
That shouldn’t be a downside, since having an agent work on your behalf gives you personalized service that can help you find discounts and better coverage than you might on your own while online. But if you don’t want to deal with people, then you may want to shop elsewhere.
Safeco vs. competitors
|Insurer||J.D. Power ratings||A.M. Best ratings||Multiple discounts|
Safeco vs. GEICO
Although Safeco has an A rating, it is rated slightly lower in customer service and financial strength than GEICO, a company known for having low rates.
Safeco’s rates are low too, though maybe not as low as GEICO. Still, Safeco is an insurer worth getting price quotes from when you’re shopping for insurance.
Safeco vs. Allstate
Safeco also has slightly lower ratings than Allstate, but it shouldn’t be enough to dissuade you from shopping for rates at Safeco.
Safeco offers a fair number of discounts for good drivers, but not as many as Allstate does. Allstate also has discounts for certain demographics, such as student drivers.
How do I get an insurance quote from Safeco?
The Safeco website is easy to use to get a price quote. You answer a few simple questions, starting with where you live. You can also call an agent for a personalized quote.
How do I file an insurance claim with Safeco?
A call to your insurance agent can start the claim filing process, or you can go to the Safeco website to file a claim any hour and day of the week. You can easily track the progress of your claim through a mobile app or on Safeco’s website.
How do I find an independent agent?
The first step in getting pricing online at Safeco is entering your Zip code. The site then gives you a list of independent agents in your area who can help you find auto and home insurance, among other types of policies.
The bottom line
Finding the best insurance products for your needs and budget can take a fair amount of work and a little expertise. There are plenty of insurance terms you may not understand, though Safeco’s website does a good job of making its policies easy to understand.
The requirement by Safeco Insurance that shoppers can only buy policies through independent agents gives consumers a chance to have their questions answered immediately by experts and gives them personalized service that they may not get when filling out online price quote forms.
We like that about Safeco, and think it’s a good way to start shopping for your auto insurance needs. You should be able to get your concerns met by an agent who is well versed in what Safeco offers and how you can get the most out of it. And that can be the main benefit of insurance: Making sure you get the coverage you need.