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ByLidia Davis Home Security Writer

Lidia writes about home security, home automation, and online privacy for Reviews.com. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Safeco Homeowners Insurance Review

When Liberty Mutual acquired Safeco back in 2008 for $6.2 million, the Seattle Times dubbed it a loss for one of the city’s “quiet corporate giants.” While it’s true that Safeco may no longer be considered a Fortune 500 company, it’s now backed by one that also happens to be the nation’s third-largest property and casualty provider, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

Safeco didn’t make it into our lineup of the best homeowners insurance companies, because its scores from third-party rating companies like J.D. Power, Consumer Reports, and A.M. Best either fall behind industry averages or are nonexistent. So, if you prioritize strong customer service and financial strength ratings, Safeco might not be the right choice for you.

This isn’t to say we’ve completely written off Safeco in general — it does offer its own set of unique pros. For starters, unlike its parent company, Safeco homeowners insurance is sold exclusively through (over 10,000) independent agencies across the U.S. This means that when you consult an agent for Safeco home insurance, you’re in the driver’s seat and have the option to compare a variety of quotes from other providers gathered by the same independent rep. Safeco even proudly touts giving you the option of many agencies in its agent directory. Meanwhile, Liberty Mutual providers are pigeonholed into selling you on Liberty Mutual homeowners insurance, regardless of whether it actually poses the best coverage and rate combination for your life.

To provide a well-rounded view of Safeco’s offerings, financial stability, and customer support features, we spent several hours researching the company and held it up against a few of our favorite providers.

The Claim

Safeco claims to provide financial protection for one of life’s biggest and most prized assets: the home. But it doesn’t stop at the bones. Safeco says it aims to tailor coverage to your needs — all the things inside and outside the home that are most important to you, like family, personal belongings, and guests.

Is it true?

Like all things insurance, it depends. Many companies use variations of the same lofty, vague claims of protecting your home, so Safeco is clearly no exception. But if you lift the veil ever so slightly, you’ll see that Safeco doesn’t shine in comparison to the rest of the homeowners insurance industry.

Safeco offers a good deal of baseline coverages and add-ons, although you might not find the same acute level of customization that you would with competitors like Allstate, Progressive, and even Liberty Mutual. In fact, according to J.D. Power, customers are not pleased with Safeco’s policy offerings, as it received a score of two out of five in this area. This means the majority felt that Safeco didn’t quite meet their personal needs. However, it’s important to note that not all discounts and coverages are offered in every state — so what Safeco shares on its homeowners page might not even apply to you, anyway. We will say that taking the Safeco route might lead you to personalized coverage from a different provider, considering it’s sold through independent agents, whose main goal is to sell you insurance, not a specific kind from a specific company.

Third-party financial scores and customer satisfaction ratings aside, Safeco still might be a good option for you, as insurance rates are highly personal. The right homeowners policy will get you the most amount of coverage at a price you can comfortably afford (and will reliably pay out your claims). We can’t tell you what your policy will look like, but we can arm you with informed questions and key points to think about when it comes to Safeco while you’re shopping.


Safeco

Product Overview

Best for

Those looking for the assistance of an independent agency to help them find the most amount of coverage for their budget

Not for

Those looking for a provider with high marks in customer satisfaction and financial stability ratings

Features

Price Varies
In business since 1923
Number of states served 50
A.M. Best financial strength rating A
S&P Global financial strength rating A
Moody's financial strength rating A2
J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Home Insurance Study score 2/5
Standout features Personal Property Replacement Cost Protection
Protection for People coverage to protect people who live in your home
Additional living expenses, Identity Recovery, Valuable Articles, Equipment Breakdown, and more
24/7 claims center
Same-day policy activation

Basic coverages

We actually can’t tell you exactly what will and won’t be covered by your Safeco homeowners policy, because this will depend on your location and personal circumstances. But Safeco does claim to cover all the basics, including coverage to help you pay for repairs to your home, other structures on your property, and your belongings — regardless of whether they’re physically located on your property.

According to Lynne McChristian, non-resident scholar and media spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, making sure your homeowners insurance covers additional living expenses is important: “You want to make sure that you have coverage for additional living expenses, so that if your home is severely damaged and you can’t live in it, the coverage is there for you to live elsewhere.” Like Liberty Mutual, Safeco offers coverage for living expenses in the event that your home sees severe damage or a total loss (which could be due to certain disasters).

Note: Like all policies, additional living expenses coverage is likely to vary, so be sure to discuss with a local representative about what your options are.

Solid add-ons

While Safeco may not tout as robust a coverage add-on suite as a provider like Allstate, it does offer some strong basics and room for customization.

Safeco homeowners coverage add-ons include:

  • Personal Property Replacement Cost Protection: Covers the actual cost of replacing belongings (like living room furniture) if they’re stolen, lost, or damaged
  • Identity recovery: Covers costs related to recouping identity after identity theft
  • Valuable articles: Covers precious keepsakes and memorabilia
  • Equipment breakdown: Covers unforeseen equipment breakdowns (not due to normal wear and tear) and will replace any Energy Star®-rated appliance. For other items and appliances in the home not covered by your homeowners policy, you’ll want to check out a home warranty.
  • One deductible for multiple losses: By bundling home and auto with Safeco, if your home and car, boat, and RV are all damaged in the same event, you could have the option to pay one deductible

Decent amount of discounts

If you have a burglar alarm or sprinkler system, if your home is less than 10 years old, or if you live near a fire station, you’re well on your way to saving money with Safeco. You can also bundle home and auto or save by adding policies and paying your bill in full. Another pretty standard way to save on Safeco home insurance is to opt for a higher deductible, but this means you’ll have to pay more out of pocket in the event that you need to file a claim.

User-friendly resources

The Safeco website is relatively straightforward and clear, and the online quote process is quick and painless, but there is a good chance you’ll be directed to speak with an agent for further details and purchasing at the end. Quotes are just estimates, and you’re likely to receive more accurate information from an agent.

Where Safeco really shines in the user-friendliness arena, though, is in its mobile app, which allows you to file a claim, make payments, store ID cards, and manage payments all in one place. With 4.7 stars and over 5,000 reviews on the App Store and a 4.1 rating and 300 reviews on Google Play, it’s safe to say that most people are pleased with their experience using the app (even if Safeco isn’t known for pristine customer satisfaction).

Independent agent-supported

McChristian says that there’s really no downside to consulting an independent agent. “With an independent agent, they are able to do the homework for you and kind of outline some of your options,” she says. “They’re experts in what they do, they’re licensed, they know the market, and they know the coverages — it’s one option for shopping for coverage.” So, speaking with a Safeco rep might actually lead you down a path to discovering optimal coverage for your life — even if that doesn’t include Safeco.

Possible drawbacks

Overall customer satisfaction scores

Unlike our top picks for homeowners insurance, Safeco doesn’t have a Consumer Reports reader score. This means we can’t vouch for specific details like agent courtesy and timeliness of payment, but we do have backing for general customer satisfaction sentiment, thanks to J.D. Power. Safeco’s score — two out of five — is the lowest ranking that J.D. Power publishes, meaning that people didn’t view its services as highly as others like USAA, Amica Mutual, or Cincinnati Insurance.

Average claims handling

Safeco fares a little better when it comes to claims handling when compared to policy offerings and overall satisfaction. With a score of three out of five from a separate J.D. Power study focused on claims satisfaction, it’s tough to say whether you’ll be pleased with the company’s claims handling, as four-and five- star ratings are few and far between — USAA and Amica are the only companies in our lineup with a solid five out of five. Safeco, on the other hand, holds the lowest overall ranking of the companies with a score of three.

Again, ratings can speak generally to a service but can’t always color the specifics. For instance, Safeco did go above and beyond after Hurricane Florence, sending representatives to North and South Carolina to help customers weave through complicated claims issues that typically ensue after a natural disaster.

Financial stability ratings

Like its parent company, Safeco boasts an A from A.M. Best — a financial stability reporting agency — indicating a decent ability to pay out your claims. However, while an A isn’t a poor rating by any means, it may not instill the same confidence in backing your finances that an A++ from State Farm or USAA would.

The Competition

Enter your ZIP code for quotes in your area

  Safeco Liberty Mutual Allstate State Farm
Our review Our review Our review
A.M. Best financial strength rating A A A+ A++
J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Home Insurance Study score 2/5 3/5 3/5 3/5
24/7 claims support
Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote Get a quote

Safeco vs. Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual acquired Safeco in 2008 in a merger that was thought to expand Liberty Mutual’s reach throughout the Western U.S. Now, Liberty Mutual is the third-largest property and casualty writer in the U.S., and this probably has something to do with Safeco behind the scenes. Safeco is actually tailored more toward personal insurance lines and has a history of absorbing personal lines from other businesses leaving that particular space. Liberty Mutual, on the other hand, caters to both personal and business lines.

While Liberty Mutual and Safeco boast the same financial stability ratings, there are a few differences when it comes to coverage. For one, Liberty Mutual offers inflation protection, which adjusts coverage limits to keep up with inflation upon your policy’s renewal. Safeco doesn’t offer inflation protection, but it does offer a home warranty-esque equipment breakdown coverage. Liberty Mutual homeowners is also sold through Liberty Mutual-specific reps, whereas Safeco is sold through independent reps, who can pull a variety of quotes from other insurers for you. To really get a feel for what the two offer in your state and for your personal scenario, it’s best to suss the details with representatives or agents.

Safeco vs. Allstate

Allstate has higher financial stability and customer satisfaction ratings across the board when compared to Safeco, but again, the devil is in the details. Allstate, like Liberty Mutual, sells its own policies and provides plenty of educational resources, tools, and discounts to ease the purchasing process. But if you’re interested in having the assistance of an independent representative, you might want to start with Safeco.

While Safeco offers basic coverages, a few nice add-ons, and a reliable mobile app, we found Allstate to have some of the most robust endorsements, discount offerings, and online resources across the board. You can save money on “green improvements” to the home and add coverage for your business, while the Common and Costly Claims Tool lets you see what types of claims people have filed in your area and the GoodHome report tool helps you analyze and forecast future “risks” in your area using Google Maps.

Safeco vs. State Farm

State Farm is an undoubtedly strong contender when it comes to financial strength and customer satisfaction ratings. And while its reputability, helpful online resources, and accurate online quote process all bode extremely well, Safeco might actually be a stronger contender when it comes to coverage personalization, as it does offer coverage for certain valuables, appliances, and identity theft reimbursement. State Farm offers all of the standard coverages, but it doesn’t boast coverage for certain types of vehicles, green improvements to your home, or appliances.

Safeco Homeowners Insurance FAQ

How often should I update my homeowners insurance?

Every year — at least. “You want to make sure that you update your coverage at least annually, because our homes change — we make improvements, we make changes, and we want to make sure that’s reflected in what we pay for in insurance,” McChristian says. “If something were to go wrong, you want to replace it with like, kind, and value, and if you make improvements that are not reflected in the premium you’re paying, then you might not be able to do that without spending some of your own money.”

Why choose a higher deductible?

Safeco says on its website that you can opt for a higher deductible to save money on your monthly premium. Doing so raises the cost of what you’ll have to pay out of pocket when it comes time to file a claim — which McChristian says that the III advises against if it’s more than you can afford. You should also check to see whether separate deductibles for areas vulnerable to disasters and other weather perils like wind and hail are available.

Does Safeco offer business insurance?

No, but Liberty Mutual does.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for standard coverages and are interested in sourcing a local agent to help you research, Safeco may seem like a seamless option to include on your docket for personal lines. Of course, what Safeco — and every other insurance company — advertises on its website will not be indicative of your experience. Your actual available coverages and discounts will be reflected on your policy. It’s best to compare quotes from multiple providers before making your decision, and if doing so seems too daunting to tackle on your own, you can consult a local agent to see what’s really offered in your area and available for your personal scenario.


Safeco

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