Safeco Home Insurance Review

Safeco delivers on coverage, but its customer service is lacking, and that could cause problems when you need to file a claim.

Safeco is backed by Liberty Mutual and offers comprehensive homeowners insurance coverage through its nationwide network of independent agents. It offers plenty of optional coverages, like equipment breakdown coverage and endorsements for your valuable jewelry and art, so you can customize your policy as you see fit. Safeco will also pay the full replacement cost for your personal property without factoring in depreciation. If you have your auto insurance through Safeco as well, you will only have to pay a single deductible in the event that your car and home are damaged in the same accident.

In terms of customer service, Safeco falls behind, scoring poorly in customer satisfaction surveys, and finding itself at the heart of several recent lawsuits. Customers have accused Safeco of refusing to pay out claims, leaving the homeowners to pay for most of the damages themselves. Safeco alleges the damages were caused by pre-existing conditions for which it was not responsible. It’s unlikely that this will happen to you, but if it concerns you, you may want to explore some other options, like GEICO or State Farm.

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The Specs

PriceVaries by location, home, and other factors
Best ForPeople who want flexible policies they can customize to their needs
Not ForPeople who place a high value on customer service
States Served46
A.M. Best RatingA
Moody’s RatingA2
S&P RatingA
Standout FeaturesSingle deductible for home and auto insurance
Equipment breakdown coverage
Full replacement cost for damaged personal property
Up to $25,000 of identity theft coverage

The Claim

Safeco is all about making insurance easy. From getting a quote to filing a claim, the company offers the coverage and the individualized customer service you need to give you peace of mind. Plans are affordable and flexible, so you can purchase all the coverage you need and nothing you don’t.

Is it True?

Sort of. Safeco covers all the basics and offers extras, like equipment breakdown and identity theft coverage, which you won’t find with all homeowners insurance providers. It also gives you the unique option to combine your home and auto coverage into a Safeco Package with a single deductible, so if a tree falls on your garage, for example, you’ll only have to pay your home insurance deductible to get both your car and your garage fixed.

Safeco sells its insurance through a network of independent agents around the country, so it’s a good choice if you prefer dealing with someone face-to-face. However, customers don’t seem that impressed with the service they’ve received. In the latest J.D. Power survey, Safeco scored second-worst out of 26 companies. Customers expressed particular dissatisfaction with the accuracy and clarity of its billing statements and its claims handling.

A few customers have endured long legal battles in getting Safeco to pay out the claims they were due. The company reportedly waited 57 days to inspect a home with house-eating mold and then only offered to pay 5 percent of the damages. In another case, Safeco argued that a house fire was the result of a pre-existing condition and only paid about a quarter of the repair cost. This is not to say that you will face similar issues if you need to file a claim, but this is something to be aware of before you purchase a Safeco policy.

Our Deep Dive

  • Backed by Liberty Mutual: Safeco’s policies are underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Liberty Mutual has received strong financial strength ratings from A.M. Best, Moody’s and S&P, which is a good indication that the company will be able to pay out when you need them to. 
  • Can’t purchase a policy online: You can fill out an application online and receive an estimate of how much your homeowners insurance will cost, but in order to purchase a policy, you’ll have to speak to a local agent.
  • Large network of independent agents: Safeco sells homeowners insurance through its network of independent agents located in 46 states. This makes it a good choice if you prefer to deal with a local agent who knows your name rather than a customer sales rep in a faraway call center.
  • Combine home and auto policies: Safeco takes bundling one step further, offering a Safeco package that combines home and auto coverage on a single policy. You only have to pay one deductible, which can save you quite a bit if your home and car are damaged in the same accident.
  • Few discounts: Safeco gives discounts to customers who bundle their home and auto policies and for homes less than 10 years old. If you have a fire or burglar alarm installed, or if you live in close proximity to a fire station, you’re also eligible for savings, but that’s about it. Generally, homeowners discounts are not as plentiful as auto insurance discounts, but most insurers give their customers more opportunities to save, such as claim-free discounts.
  • Covers temporary housing: If your home is damaged and you have to rent a place until the repairs are finished, Safeco will cover your living expenses for up to two years.
  • Personal property replacement: Most insurance companies only pay the actual value of your personal property, factoring in depreciation. That price is likely not going to be the same as the cost of buying a new one today. Safeco’s personal property replacement coverage will pay you the full cost of replacing your items up to your policy limit, even if that cost is more than what your personal property was worth.
  • Equipment breakdown coverage: This coverage functions like a warranty on your appliances, paying for unexpected breakdowns not resulting from corrosion or normal wear and tear. If your appliance breaks, Safeco will replace it with a comparable Energy Star model.
  • Extra coverage for your valuables: If you own expensive jewelry, art or antiques, you can purchase extra protection for these items. You and Safeco settle on a price for each of the articles and in the event that that item is stolen or damaged, you’ll be refunded the agreed-upon amount, and you won’t have to pay a deductible.
  • Identity theft coverage: Safeco’s identity recovery coverage assists you with the process and expenses of restoring your identity. This includes lost wages and child and elderly care up to $5,000. You also get access to a dedicated case manager who can assist you in undoing the damage caused by an identity thief.
  • Easily create your home inventory: Safeco’s Home Inventory app for iOS devices enables you to take pictures of the items in your home and store receipts and other information you may need in the event of a claim. This will save time and make it easier to get your money when you need it.

Cost Rundown

Like all insurance, homeowners rates are impossible to predict because they’re so personalized.  Companies consider many factors, including your home’s size, location, and your creditworthiness, but they all weigh these factors differently, which is why you never get quoted the same price from two insurers.

Rates also vary depending on the level of coverage you’re getting. Most homeowners insurance protect against the following perils:

  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Explosion
  • Fire or lightning
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Smoke damage
  • Theft<
  • Vandalism
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Windstorm or hail

But certain natural disasters, like fires and earthquakes, aren’t covered by your traditional policy. If you live in an area prone to these events, you’ll have to purchase extra coverage, which is going to raise your rates. If you have a lot of valuable items in your home, like art or jewelry, you may want to consider policy endorsements designed to protect these items as well.

Cheaper (or Free!) Alternatives

All lenders require proof of homeowners insurance, so there’s no way to avoid it unless you buy your home outright. However, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure you’re getting a good deal:

  • Shop around. Compare quotes from several insurers before committing to anyone. Don’t just look for the company that offers you the lowest premiums. Choose the one that offers you the best deal on the most coverage.
  • Bundle your home and auto. Nearly all home insurers give sizeable discounts to companies that insure their vehicles through them as well.
  • Choose a high deductible. You’ll have to pay more out of pocket in the event of a claim, but your premiums will be significantly lower as a result.
  • Work on your credit. Your credit score is considered a measure of your responsibility, so a higher credit score almost always translates to lower insurance rates.
  • Disaster-proof your home. If you live in an area known for bad storms, for example, installing storm shutters could help minimize damage, reducing your chances of filing a claim. Having fire alarms is also a good idea.
  • Install a security system. A monitored security system decreases your chance of becoming a victim of theft, which lessens your risk to insurers.

The Competition

  • Allstate: Allstate offers solid coverage and a decent selection of riders, so you can customize your policy to suit your needs. It also offers a unique RateGuard option, which works like accident forgiveness on your home. You won’t have to worry about your rates going up following your first claim. Allstate has a good selection of homeowners discounts, but despite this, its rates are typically not as affordable as those offered by the other companies on this list.
  • GEICO: GEICO doesn’t sell its own insurance policies. Instead, it’ll pair you up with one of its partner lenders in your area. Customers appear to be happy with this arrangement, though, since GEICO scored above average in the J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey. However, it’s a good idea to investigate the company who will actually be underwriting your policy before you commit to a purchase.
  • Progressive: Like GEICO, Progressive doesn’t sell its own homeowners policies. When you get a homeowners quote through Progressive, you’re paired with one of its partner insurers. Progressive customers appear less satisfied than GEICO customers with the service they receive, though. It received an average rating in the J.D. Power survey.
  • State Farm: State Farm is known for offering some of the best customer service in the industry. It doesn’t offer much in the way of homeowners discounts and its rates may not be quite as low as what you can get through Progressive or GEICO, but its selection of policy endorsements makes it a good choice for those who want a flexible insurance policy they can customize to their needs.

What Others are Saying

  • Insurance Journal discussed Liberty Mutual’s acquisition of Safeco back in 2008.  The leaders of both companies expressed satisfaction with the deal, with Safeco’s CEO saying that “This is the opportunity to take West Coast inventiveness and launch it with a global brand at a substantial premium to Safeco shareholders.”
  • CBS Los Angeles told the story of a couple whose house was destroyed by house-eating fungus. Safeco didn’t send an inspector for 57 days and then only offered to pay 5 percent of the total damages. The couple expressed displeasure with Safeco’s response: “This house is our biggest investment…It’s our life savings. And half of it is now worthless. The other half is dubious. But that’s why you buy insurance.”
  • WBAL in Maryland reported a similar incident where a couple’s home was destroyed by fire and Safeco only wanted to pay a fraction of the total damage, alleging that the fire was caused by a pre-existing condition for which they were not responsible. After many months and several inspectors looking at the home, Safeco agreed to pay more. The company assures that they were not trying to avoid paying out the claim, but the homeowner said that “when their adjuster showed up, he said, ‘Oh, you won’t get your total policy amount. We don’t do that.’”

The Bottom Line

Safeco offers flexible coverage you can customize to suit your needs, but they don’t live up to their claims in terms of customer service. If this concerns you, you may be better off going with another company known for their customer service, like State Farm.

Find the Best Home Insurance Rates

Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.

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