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Safeco Auto Insurance Review
Safeco Insurance is a great option for those looking to customize their auto insurance coverage and receive personal, one-on-one service. It was purchased by Liberty Mutual in 2008, but the company’s been around since 1923. A key difference between Safeco and its parent company is in the way they sell policies: Liberty Mutual is sold through agents exclusive to the company, while Safeco is sold only through local, independent agents. The upside here is that independent agents tend to have local expertise and can work with you to develop a policy that meets all of your needs, but the downside is that you’ll need to call the agent directly to see whether or not Safeco is the right choice for you.
In terms of coverage, Safeco has a solid number of built-in benefits and supplemental coverage options. For example, Safeco policies come with reimbursement for first aid, accident forgiveness, and diminishing deductible. If you care about roadside assistance or protecting your pet in the event of an accident, you can purchase supplemental coverage for those scenarios.
If you drive for Uber, Lyft, or another service, your personal auto insurance policy likely won’t cover you in the event of an accident that occurs while you’re working, but Safeco offers coverage for ride-share drivers for less than $13 per month. The downside is that this coverage is only available in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin — but it’s still nice to see.
However, while Safeco has strong financial ratings and coverage options, it falls short of the strong customer satisfaction scores of its competitors. In J.D. Power’s 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, Safeco falls near the bottom of the pack, and it receives a higher-than-average number of consumer complaints, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This may or may not be a deal breaker for you, but it’s worth shopping around and doing your research before settling on a provider.
Safeco promises “personal coverage that’s right for you,” ensuring the “best combination of coverage, value, and price.” It prides itself on customization and the number of options available.
Is it true?
Yes. Based on the coverage options listed on Safeco’s website, there are lots of ways to personalize your policy. Each Safeco policy comes with reimbursement for first aid, accident forgiveness, and diminishing deductible, but you can also purchase benefits like roadside assistance, pet coverage, and gap coverage — which pays for the balance on your loan or lease, compared to the street value of your car.
You can also take advantage of discounts for being a teenager, being a homeowner, being a safety-conscious driver, and adding multiple cars to a policy. While the price of your policy will ultimately depend on personal factors like age, driving history, and ZIP code, we like that Safeco provides many options to balance “coverage, value, and price.”
Additionally, Safeco works with independent agents in your area to customize your policy, which lends you local expertise and a more individualized level of customer care. The drawback is that you aren’t able to get an instant quote online, so you’ll have to make a phone call to decide whether or not Safeco is a good option for you.
- In business since: 1923
- A.M. Best financial strength rating: A
- Moody’s financial strength rating: A2
- S&P Global financial strength rating: A-
- J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study score: 3/5
- J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study score: 4/5
- States served: 50
- Policy types: Auto, motorcycle, boat and watercraft, classic car, RV/trailer/motorhome, ATV and off-road vehicle, snowmobile, golf cart and low-speed vehicle, ride-share
- Pros: Variety of benefits, coverage options, and discounts
- Cons: No instant quote, average-to-low customer satisfaction scores
In addition to standard coverage options like comprehensive, collision, and bodily injury liability, Safeco offers an array of free benefits and supplemental coverage options. Included in each Safeco policy is reimbursement for first aid (up to $10,000), accident forgiveness in return for violation-free driving, and diminishing deductible, which lowers your collision premium by $100 for every year you go claim-free (up to $500).
We also appreciate the supplemental coverage options that let you personalize your policy for your needs. You can purchase roadside assistance (accessible through the mobile app), rental car reimbursement, pet coverage, personal property coverage, protection for CDs, DVDs, and A/V equipment, gap coverage, and replacement for an electronic key and lock.
Variety of discounts
Safeco gives you many opportunities to save on your premiums. There are discounts for taking an accident prevention course, installing a four-wheel anti-lock braking system, and equipping your car with an alarm or disabling device to prevent theft. You also can get a break for bundling home and auto insurance, insuring multiple cars on the same policy, maintaining low mileage, and being a homeowner. Teenagers can also receive discounts for getting good grades, taking an approved driver education program, or going to school 100 miles away from home without a car.
While many of these are fairly common discounts, it’s nice to see Safeco advertise so many. Some are dependent on what state you live in, so you’ll still need to contact your local agent to see which you qualify for — but having so many options is a good indication that there will be some ways to lower your premium.
Safeco policies can only be purchased through local, independent agents, rather than through Safeco itself. While this means that you’ll have to interact with an agent face-to-face in order to purchase a policy, working with an agent who understands local laws and risks can help you personalize your policy, ensuring that it reflects your lifestyle and needs. And since an independent agent isn’t a direct employee of the insurance company, they are able to do the heavy lifting for you by pulling quotes from multiple companies — ensuring that you get the cheapest price, even it’s not from Safeco.
Safeco offers a mobile app that lets you handle insurance issues on the go. Having an app seems commonplace nowadays, but many insurance companies have yet to make the leap, which is why we appreciate Safeco’s thoughtful approach. Through the app, you can submit and check the status of your claim, pull up your insurance ID card, pay bills, update policy information and documents, and contact your independent agent or roadside assistance. On the App Store, Safeco received a high 4.7 out of five from more 5,400 ratings. However, it holds a rating of only 2.5 out of five on the Google Play Store due to login issues, so if you’re an Android user, you may be out of luck until the bug is fixed.
The majority of insurers will deny a claim if an accident happens during a ride-share. However, Safeco extends most of the same coverage from its regular auto insurance policies to those who drive for services like Uber and Lyft. The options are currently only available in 13 states (which notably doesn’t include New York or California), but for those who are residents in the insured areas, Safeco estimates that you’d likely pay less than $10 per month for coverage.
Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin
No instant quote
The downside of Safeco being operated by independent agents is that you aren’t able to get an instant auto insurance quote online. An online quote tool, which is standard from many providers, allows you to easily compare quotes without the pressure of phone trees and potential upsells. With Safeco, you’ll have to either look up your local independent agent by ZIP code and call them or fill out the online form, which asks you for your driving history and vehicle information, only to kick back to a results page that offers the phone number of your local agent. Regardless, all routes end in a phone call, so factor that in when you’re soliciting quotes from multiple insurers.
Average-to-low complaint scores
While Safeco has decent financial strength ratings, it doesn’t score well in terms of customer satisfaction. Safeco received an average score of three out of five in claims satisfaction from J.D. Power, but just barely — it sits far below industry average and falls behind almost every other major auto insurance provider. Safeco also has an above-average complaint ratio from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, meaning that it receives more complaints than the median. Insurance companies tend to receive lots of complaints, in general, but if customer service is a priority for you, you may want to start with a different provider.
*Customer complaints are registered by the NAIC and measured relative to the company’s market share.
Safeco vs. Allstate
In terms of online resources, Allstate has Safeco (and its anemic website) beat. Allstate offers lots of educational materials, auto insurance guides, and even a car payment calculator — entirely for free. Allstate is also better when it comes to A.M. Best and J.D. Power ratings, though the two companies share similar complaint ratios from the NAIC, meaning that complaints are higher than the median for both providers. It’s worth noting, however, that Safeco operates through local, independent agents, instead of through provider-exclusive agents, so you may receive better one-on-one service through an agency in the area. If you’re on the fence, we recommend getting quotes from both companies.
Safeco vs. Amica
Amica is an industry leader in customer satisfaction, winning J.D. Power’s second spot for claims satisfaction with a five out of five in 2018 (a tough feat, considering that the insurance industry is rife with complaints). Safeco is on the lower end of the spectrum here, with a J.D. Power rating that’s barely considered average and an NAIC complaint ratio that is above the national median. Both have excellent coverage options and offer discounts, though Amica doesn’t offer ride-share coverage. If you are a ride-share driver (within the 13 states that Safeco offers the policy), we recommend going with Safeco, but if you want reliable customer service, Amica is one of the best choices out there.
Safeco vs. Liberty Mutual
Safeco is owned and underwritten by Liberty Mutual, which purchased Safeco in 2008. The key difference between the providers is how they operate. You can purchase a Liberty Mutual policy online or through a Liberty Mutual agent, but to access Safeco, you have to go through a local, independent agent. This means you can’t receive an online quote instantly (making the research process a little more arduous), but it also gives you service from an agent in your area who understands local laws and can tailor your policy to your needs. Both have solid coverage options and discounts, so the decision comes down to your priorities and the quote you receive from each company.
Safeco Auto Insurance FAQ
How do I get a quote from Safeco?
Safeco is operated solely through independent agents, so because you’re purchasing a policy from the agents and not Safeco itself, you do not receive an instant quote online. To get a quote, you can fill out the online form and wait to be contacted by a local independent agent, or you can find the closest agent to you by ZIP code and give them a call.
Does Safeco insurance have roadside assistance?
Yes. Safeco offers supplemental roadside assistance, which covers towing to the closest repair shop and other services, like jump-starting your battery, changing a flat tire, and sending a locksmith if you’re locked out of your car. You can also purchase the emergency assistance package, which provides additional benefits like personal property coverage, up to $100 covered in expenses, and up to $500 covered for meals, lodging, and transportation if you get into an accident more than 25 miles away from your home.
The Bottom Line
Safeco is a solid choice for those looking for personalized auto insurance coverage (through add-ons and discounts) and attentive service from local, independent agents. We like that Safeco has a mobile app, through which you can film claims, access policy info, and request roadside assistance. However, because Safeco is sold through independent agents, you won’t receive an instant quote online — the process will require making a phone call. Safeco also has lower-than-average customer satisfaction, so your interactions with the company may not go as smoothly as with its competitors. Regardless, we always recommend comparing quotes from multiple providers before making a decision; you can reference our roundup of the best auto insurance companies for a look at other providers we recommend.