Safeco Auto Insurance Review: Average Rates but Poor Service

Safeco Auto Insurance Review: Average Rates but Poor Service

Editor's Rating

Average to high rates for certain drivers, but beware of the lackluster customer service

Good for

  • Young drivers looking for a low cost insurer
  • Anyone who drives less than 8,000 miles per year or uses mass transit more than their vehicle
  • People who want discounts based on their driving habits

Bad for

  • Anyone who wants the ability to make online claims
  • Someone who values great customer service
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Editor's Rating

Average to high rates for certain drivers, but beware of the lackluster customer service

Good for

  • Young drivers looking for a low cost insurer
  • Anyone who drives less than 8,000 miles per year or uses mass transit more than their vehicle
  • People who want discounts based on their driving habits

Bad for

  • Anyone who wants the ability to make online claims
  • Someone who values great customer service
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Safeco isn’t the most affordable auto insurer, but it offers some unique discounts and services. Drivers over 40, in particular, could find a good insurance policy through Safeco. That said, when it comes to filing claims online or customer service, Safeco may not be the best.

Safeco: Provides Good Value For Some

Safeco’s insurance rates are high compared to other national insurers, and its customer claim execution is below average. We believe other insurance companies provide better value than Safeco. For younger drivers, Safeco’s quotes were substantially more expensive. That said, Safeco does offer low rates for older drivers. Here’s a look at how Safeco stacks up against other insurers:

ProfileSafecoProgressiveFarmersAllstate
18 Year Old Male$9,806$7,576$8,042$6,670
42 Year Old Married Couple$3,550$2,450$4,008$3,786
81 Year Old Female$2,040$2,540$2,032$3,786
Family w/ 17 Year Old Son$8,686$5,068$6,520$5,516

When shopping for car insurance, it’s important to consider both affordability and reliable coverage. Safeco lagged significantly behind competitors on claims satisfaction. The following table displays our ratings for Safeco versus other major insurers:

CompanyAffordabilityClaims SatisfactionCoverageShoppingDiscountsTotal
Safeco3.52.04.03.03.03.0
Progressive5.03.04.05.05.04.0
Farmers3.53.55.04.54.03.0
Allstate2.04.05.04.05.03.0

Safeco Coverage Options and Discounts

Safeco offers all standard car insurance coverage options, along with unique services such as auto glass repair and replacement, a claims valet service, and the Safeco RightTrack program.

CoverageIs It Offered By Safeco?
Liability
Personal Injury Protection
Uninsured Motorist
Rental Car Reimbursement

Glass Repair and Replacement: If your car’s glass is damaged, you can get it repaired for free or replaced (for your policy’s deductible) at a repair shop of your choice, or one of the dozens of Safelite Solutions’ locations. Safelite Solutions can even repair or replace it at your home or office. Other insurers provide similar services, but Safeco’s partnership with Safelite Solutions, the largest car glass replacement company in the United States, benefits you by offering repairs on the go.

Safeco Claims Valet Service: If your vehicle is in an accident but is still operational, a Safeco valet driver will deliver a rental vehicle, drive your car to an authorized repair shop, and return your repaired car, all at no cost. The valet service is extremely convenient as it can deliver a rental vehicle to different locations not limited to your home or office.

Safeco RightTrack: RightTrack is a telematics program that tracks your driving, and everyone that takes part qualifies for a discount between 5% to 30%. When you enroll, Safeco ships a device that you attach to your vehicle to track your driving habits. The program is free and includes a 90-day review of your driving profile. After 90 days, Safeco will evaluate the savings it can offer you based on your driving habits.

The RightTrack program is available to most Safeco customers with a valid e-mail address and a car that was manufactured after 1996. Participants can enroll more than one vehicle. Residents of most states are eligible, with the exception of the following:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • New Jersey

Roadside Assistance: If you want roadside assistance, opt-in when you buy your coverage. Basic services include towing, tire changes, battery service, fuel and fluids replenishment and car unlocking.

Other Unique Features: Safeco policyholders receive reimbursement for first aid up to $10,000, accident forgiveness and a diminishing deductible that is reduced by $100 each time the policy is renewed for a maximum of $500 or five years.

Discounts Offered by Safeco

Safeco offers the standard discounts that you would expect from a large auto insurance company. Below are your options for reducing your costs:

  • Bunde insurance policies with Safeco
  • Have a clean driving record (makes you eligible for Safeco Safety Rewards - a discount program)
  • Take an accident prevention course (if you meet the required age that varies by state)
  • Insure multiple cars with Safeco
  • Equip your vehicle with an anti-theft device
  • Make Safeco aware if your car has anti-lock brakes

One of the most valuable discounts is the low mileage discount. Policyholders that drive less than 8,000 miles per year or those that frequently use mass transit can save up to 20% on their auto insurance policy.

Safeco Insurance Quotes Comparison

Based on our research, Safeco offers affordable coverage for experienced drivers when compared to other major insurance companies. In fact, Safeco’s quotes for experienced drivers were 22% lower than the average of the four insurers in our study. While most auto insurers assign high premiums to young drivers, Safeco’s rates are even higher than those offered by its competitors. In other words, Safeco is exceptionally expensive for young drivers but mid-range for middle-aged married couples.

How Does Safeco Compare Against Other Insurers?

Beyond just experienced drivers, Safeco could suitable for a driver who’s been in an accident in the past, since its RightTrack program guarantees at least 5% off when you sign up. Not many insurers offer automatic savings programs like this one.

Customer Reviews and Complaints

Reviews of Safeco Auto Insurance by policyholders rate the company below average. In fact, Safeco came in last out of 24 auto insurance companies in J.D. Power’s 2017 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. The survey examined factors including the experience of reporting a claim, claim servicing, the appraisal process, repairs process, etc. Here’s a look at the results of the survey, with ratings from one (worst) to five (best):

CompanyOverall RatingInitial Claim ReportingServiceAppraisalRepairRental CarSettlement
Safeco2222222
Progressive3333343
Farmers3333233
Allstate3334433

Note that your experience with Safeco may vary depending on where you live. For instance, California residents reported overall above-average satisfaction with Safeco. However, Southeast residents reported a below-average experience. Below, we outline Safeco’s customer satisfaction ratings in different regions:

GeographyClaims Rating (Out of Five)
California4
New England3
Florida3
Northwest3
Southwest3
North Central2
Central2
Southeast2

Filing an Auto Insurance Claim with Safeco

To file a claim with Safeco, you can call 1-800-332-3226. Unfortunately, Safeco doesn’t offer online claims, but you can call the claims center 24/7. You can track claims online through your Safeco account. For roadside assistance, call 1-877-762-3101. Here is the information you’ll need when calling to report a claim:

  • Time and place of the accident
  • A recollection of the accident
  • Details about other vehicles involved
  • A description of the damage incurred to your vehicle
  • Contact information for everyone involved and any witnesses
  • Any injuries incurred to either party
  • Police report number and the name of the responding police department (if any)

Safeco has a large network of independent agents across the country, thanks in part to the company becoming a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual in 2008. Thus, Safeco’s customers get the benefit of the company’s extensive reach.

Safeco Complaints and Financial Strength Ratings

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) gave Safeco a complaint rating of 1.11, compared to a national median rating of 1.00. Add in J.D. Power’s finding that Safeco doesn’t have the best customer service, specifically for customers filing a claim, and it’s clear that Safeco has customer service issues.

Though Safeco isn’t the most prominent name in auto insurance, its parent company, Liberty Mutual Insurance, has strong financial strength ratings. Policyholders should have few worries about Safeco’s ability to pay out claims. Liberty Mutual Insurance is rated ‘A’ by A.M. Best, which is a signal of excellent health.

Methodology

Our rating for Safeco is based on our assessment of the insurance company’s affordability, claims handling, coverage, shopping experience and discounts. Affordability and claims handling represent 30% of the rating, coverage represents 20%, and shopping and discounts represent 10%, for a total of 100%.

Sources:

National Association of Insurance Commissioners
J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction
Safeco Website

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.