Direct Auto Insurance is a nonstandard auto insurance company covering the Southeastern region. This is our review of them.
Take a deep dive into Safeco’s offerings and who benefits most from their coverage options. We’ll explore the history, successes and customer service track record of this Liberty Mutual subsidiary.
Safeco works with a sales force on independent agents and agencies. Unlike Progressive and Geico, they are not a direct-to-consumer company. So, customers need to purchase a policy through a licensed agent.
For those requiring simple coverage options, interaction with an agent isn’t always necessary. However, if you have complex policies, this is a benefit.
On their website, you do have an option to get a free quote. However, once quoted and you decide to proceed, your information will be sent to an agent to finalize the policy.
Safeco offers plenty of coverage options that are comparable with their competitors.. Their extensive offerings allow customers to choose what’s right for them in order to create a custom policy. For those who want the full bundle, full coverage is available.
Safeco was founded in 1923 in Seattle, Washington. At the time, the company was called the General Insurance Company of America. In 1953, the company created a subsidiary known as Safeco that focused on auto and fire insurance.
As of 2008, Safeco was acquired by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. This acquisition has helped Safeco gain notoriety and overall financial health, which you will learn more about below.
As a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual, Safeco has a solid financial standing. Liberty has earned A, A, and A2 ratings from AM Best, Standard & Poor, and Moody’s. For all intensive purposes, that financial trust carries directly over to Safeco’s. In short, there is very low risk that Safeco will go bankrupt or that they wouldn’t be able to make an insurance payment they’ve concluded is their responsibility.
|AM Best Financial Rating||A|
|Standard & Poor’s Financial Rating||A|
|Moody’s Financial Rating||A2|
Again, Safeco uses agents and doesn’t go direct like some other companies like GEICO. Therefore, customers must work with an agent to get a policy.
The downside of this is that companies with an agent-only model tend to be costlier. Why? Because the agents get their cut too. Renewal fees and commissions come at a price to the consumer. This can be anywhere from five to 20 percent of the total premium.
Costs are also driven up by product bundles and “add-ons.” As we’ll discuss more below in the “Coverage Options” section, you’ll see how this works.
For your convenience, there is a quoting tool available. So, you can prepare yourself for the prices you can expect. According to our test, Safeco quotes were nearly 20 percent more than average auto insurance.
One upside to pricing: Safeco is organized like a mutual insurance company. Therefore, policyholders have a bigger stake in the company since Safeco issues dividends or premiums depending on their financial success. Important to note: this isn’t a guarantee. You may or may not see benefits from this feature.
According to the National Association of Insurance commissioners, Safeco receives a 1.08 compliant ratio, which is a moderate ranking. Their Better Business Bureau rating is A-, but given our research, negative reviews (220) absolutely outrank the positive (14).
Although they are a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Safeco has different discounts than their parent company. Today, Safeco offers about 30 discounts that can be applied to car insurance policies. This is pretty average for the industry.
Here are some of the many discounts offered by Safeco:
Safeco Discounts for Vehicles
- Anti-theft: For alarms installed on vehicles.
- Anti-lock Brakes: Once the VIN is submitted, this discount is applied.
- Daytime Running Lights: Once the VIN is submitted, this discount is applied.
- New Vehicle: For vehicles less than five years old.
- Low Mileage: For vehicles with under 4000 miles, discounts are applied and are available through 25,000 miles.
- Vehicle Recovery: With systems that track the car if a theft occurs.
- Passive Restraints: Airbags and passive seat belt systems.
Safeco Discounts for Drivers
- Distant Student: For students away at college and not driving a car.
- Driver’s Education: New drivers can take a course, must be under 21 and be accident free to qualify for this discount.
- Military: Military personnel gets a discount from Safeco.
- Good Student: Students under 25 with a B average or higher gets a one percent discount every year of safe driving and good grades.
- Occupation-based: Educators, police officers and business owners are often eligible.
- Homeowner: Some homeowners qualify for this discount.
- Safeco Safety Rewards: For drivers that have no at-fault accidents in three years or DUIs in 10 years.
Policy-Level Discounts from Safeco
- Continuous Coverage: Being with Safeco for over one year.
- Early Quote: Paying premiums 8 days or more before expiration of policy.
- Full Payments: Paying all of the premium before it’s due.
- Loyalty Rewards: Staying with Safeco for over two years.
- Financial Stability: Good credit insurance gives Safeco customer better discounts.
- Multiple Cars: Insuring more than one car with Safeco can save policyholders money.
- Auto Billing: Signing up for automatic payments earns policyholders a discount.
Safeco has many insurance products. Their most popular policies are for home and auto insurance. Let’s explore their coverage types:
Full Coverage Options
- Comprehensive: Pays for repairs and replaces your car if stolen, damaged or vandalized (other than in a collision). This also includes losses in a fire, falling objects, wind, hail, animal collision or flood.
- Collision: This pays for repairs if your car is damaged in an accident.
Other Options from Safeco
- Build Your Own: Depending on where you live, there are rules regarding required coverages. With Safeco, you can build your own insurance policy.
- Rental Car Reimbursement: If you have a car repair that requires you to rent a car, we offer coverage to help with that. Safeco customers that participate in this coverage gets access to the Safeco Claims Valet Service™ will arrive at your home with a rental car for you to use while your car is being repaired.
- Roadside Assistance: For very little money, you can get Roadside Assistance. If you have a flat tire, need a gas fill up, oil or other fluids, Roadside Assistance can help.
Safeco Extended Coverage Add-Ons
- Loan/Lease Coverage: If your car is completely lost due to an accident or theft, Safeco’s loan and lease coverage will protect you. This usually pays for the distance between what is left on your loan and the value of the car.
- Emergency Assistance Package: This includes Roadside Assistance and coverage for $100 worth of expenses and up to $500 for food, lodging, and transportation if you are in an accident more than 25 miles from your home.
- CD/DVD Replacement: If you have items in your car like DVD, CDs, videotapes or a record collection, they will be covered in case of theft.
- Key and Lock Replacement: If you lose your keys, Safeco replaces them with this coverage. Remote pads and locks are also covered.
- Pet Coverage: In the event that your cat or dog is injured or killed in a collision, this will cover veterinary fees.
- AV Equipment Coverage: Your equipment, stereo or DVD player is covered in case of theft or destruction caused by a collision.
- Personal Property Coverage: If items are damaged or stolen from your belongings, you may be covered.
As you can see, there are many insurance products available from Safeco. But is all of this really necessary? From what we’re seeing, their deductible shrinks with every year you go without an accident. Although it might seem like a great benefit, you can see that they charge more for their policies to offset the cost.
So, is Safeco really the best option?
Safeco: The Bottom Line
First, customer service is lacking with Safeco. Recent customer feedback doesn’t instill confidence in this Liberty Mutual-backed company. Customers often complained about coverage gaps for home and car insurance.
Although Safeco offers significant coverage options, there is a definite feeling of getting less than you need. Sure, customers feel like they are customizing a plan for themselves, but they are really getting their money’s worth?
For those on a budget, there are far better direct-to-consumer or convenient online insurance options.
Our advice? Shop around. There are better options available out there, but you’ll need to do your research. Have a budget in mind and look for a company that puts customers first.