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SAFECO Review

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Our Reviews Last Updated: 08/18/2012

A SAFECO Review – After 88 years SAFECO insurance is still top of its class in Customer Service, but is it enough to get new insurance customers?

Safeco Insurance LogoSAFECO insurance is one of those insurance companies that is large, but very few people have heard of them. This makes our SAFECO review all the more important.

Their decision to purchase the name for the Seattle Mariners ballpark was a brilliant decision on the part of management as it took a virtually unknown company and made them known by their company’s name being repeated over and over across the nation during the baseball season.

But, even with a great marketing move like that, you still have to be able to attract and keep you insurance customers so how is SAFECO doing in that part?

About the Company

Seattle based SAFECO Insurance was founded in 1923 by Hawthorne K. Dent originally under the name The General Insurance Company of America Corporation. It wasn’t until 1953 that the name SAFECO (Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America) came about as a new line of business for the company. Eventually the company as a whole was renamed SAFECO.

Over the years SAFECO grew and eventually acquired American States Financial Corporation to increase its book of business and insurance lines that it wrote. In 1998, the name SAFECO became known around the nation when it purchased the naming rights to the Seattle Mariners new ballpark, now known as SAFECO Field.

After a number of up and down years fiscally, SAFECO was purchased by another company in 2008 and is now part of the Liberty Mutual Group.

Quote Process

Getting a quote from SAFECO was an interesting process. The preferred method by SAFECO to obtain a quote is to go through an independent insurance agent that writes SAFECO insurance. I decided to bypass this as getting a quote from an agency would be more of me reviewing the agency and how they handle the quote process and not how SAFECO handles it.

Being of the internet generation I went straight to www.safeco.com to get a quote online. The system walked me through step by step and got my information and then came up with a figure at the end. The amount was higher than what I pay for insurance with my current company even after I manually figured in a homeowners discount and the longevity discount we get. I was also concerned about how far off this quote was because I never put in my Social Security Number, the VIN number to my vehicles or my driver’s license number.

Two days later I called SAFECO at their call center (1-800-4SAFECO) to get a new quote, curious if this one would be the exact same. The person I talked to pulled up the quote that I got online just by using my name. Not only did he give me a better rate, he also gave me quotes with and without the homeowner’s discount, with and without an advanced quote discount and talked to me about a number of different discounts. He was very thorough with the rates and the discounts, but not with the coverages.

SAFECO Positives: Customer Service

Customer service in an insurance company encompasses all departments and not just the department that I ended up in to get my insurance quote. But, as far as the customer service that I had contact with during my quote process, I was very pleased. The Customer Service Agent that I spoke with was friendly and engaged in small talk while working on my quote. He explained to me what he was doing and explained how he was able to get driving and claim records by my name and address when he did not ask for Social Security Numbers, VIN numbers or my husband’s driver’s license. He also answered my many questions without making me feel like I was being a bother to him.

SAFECO Negatives: Online Pre-quotes

The premium that I was quoted online ended up being about 150.00 higher than the options that the Customer Service Agent offered me when I called in for a quote. This is not a good thing for SAFECO or the person seeking the quote. After I received the online quote I logged off the online quoting system and would never have given SAFECO a second thought.

This means that I would have missed out on an insurance policy that was actually cheaper than what I am paying now with my current carrier and SAFECO could have lost a potential client.

Claims

Other than working in the claims department for SAFECO prior to it being acquired by Liberty Mutual, I have had no claims experience with this company. J.D. Power and Associates has SAFECO ranked as only “about average” when compared to other insurance companies.

Verdict

When I got my online quote switching to SAFECO was the last thing on my mind. The rates I was quoted online were higher than what I am paying now for my auto insurance with my current carrier and from my previous working experience with SAFECO this sounded right from what I remembered about their rates. I never would have called the contact center for an additional quote if I was not creating a review for SAFECO.

At this time, I am still up in the air about SAFECO and if we will make the switch or not.

Quote Process: 5

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Price: 8

(Scale 1-10: 10=the cheapest)

Customer Service: 10

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Claims: *no rating

Overall Rating: 7

(Scale 1-10: 10=the best)

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 05/27/2011

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible program offers you a chance to pay less money out of your pocket at the time of a claim as a reward for previous good driving.

Pile of Money Getting Smaller with Vanishing Deductible

Nationwide's Vanishing Deductible decreases your deductible in exchange for good driving.

Every insurance company tries to offer a special program to draw new customers into their insurance family. It could be a discount for your expensive student if they keep up their grades or it could be a premium refund for every year you don’t file an insurance claim. In the case of Nationwide Insurance – it’s their Vanishing Deductible program.

The information that Nationwide offers on their website gives the basics of the program, but leaves one asking a lot of questions.

To get more information, I called the Nationwide’s Insurance Call Center at 877-669-6877 and the representative there was able to offer more of the details of the Nationwide Vanishing Deductible program.

What is Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible?

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible program is a basically a safe driver reward program that will save you money on your deductible if you should ever have a claim. If you sign up for this particular Nationwide program and chose a $500 deductible with your coverage, they automatically knock $100 off of your deductible just for signing up; making your $500 deductible $400 from the start.

Then for each year that you are a safe driver and do not file a claim with Nationwide they will knock off an additional $100 (up to $500).

If you do have a claim you will only have to pay out of pocket what your current deductible is at the time of the accident.  For example, you choose a $500 deductible and you are a safe driver for 2 years and get 2 of the $100 deductible drops. If you have an accident your deductible will only be $200 for that accident ($500 starting deductible – $100 sign up bonus – $200 for two years of safe driving = $200 left of your vanishing deductible).

What Deductibles Does it Cover?

Nationwide’s Vanishing Deductible decreases all of your deductibles that you have on your policy, not just your collision coverage deductible. This means your comprehensive deductible, your uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage and your collision deductible.

What if the Accident is not my Fault?

If you have an accident that is not your fault, then you shouldn’t be penalized for it under this program, right? The answer to that question is….sort of.

Per the call center employee, if Nationwide has to pay for the damages from the accident you can use the lowered deductible for this claim, but you start back to your full deductible again after the accident.

So if your deductible has been lowered to $300 from $500 through the Vanishing Deductible program, your deductible for this accident will be $300. But, then you go back to the $500 deductible after that and have to start working toward claim free years again to start getting it lowered back down.

The only exceptions to this is if the other party’s insurance pays for the damages to your vehicle, if you have a rock chip in your windshield that can be repaired without the windshield being replaced and if you total your vehicle. The last one is a bit tricky though.

If you total out your vehicle Nationwide will waive your full deductible for you with this claim, but your claim free period is erased and you start back over at your full deductible again.

Girl Drivers, Insurance and Risky Behavior

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Research Last Updated: 05/27/2011

Female drivers aged 16-19 lack the driving experience and sometimes maturity that is needed to be a good driver, leading these girl drivers to be a high insurance risk.

Girl Driving Toy Car

Girl drivers are not quite women yet and are a high insurance risk due to lack of experience driving.

Not quite women yet, but with a new driver’s license they are no longer children either. These girl drivers are still learning how to handle both life and driving at the same time.

Because still they are still learning, they make bad decisions and mistakes in driving situations that they are not familiar with and both lead to car accidents. Because of the higher chance of having an accident, these girl drivers face higher insurance premiums.

Ages 16-19

From the time that they get their license at age 16 until they turn 20 these girls are still learning how to handle dangerous driving situations that may happen quickly and that they are not experienced enough to react correctly to in order to avoid an accident. They are also still learning how to be responsible and can make bad decisions in judgment behind the wheel, which is why this age group pays the highest insurance rates of all females and is second only to the boy drivers of the same age group.

Insurance Rates for Girl Drivers

Insurance rates have always been cheaper for girls than they have been for boys of the same age group. The general rule of thinking has continued to be that girls are less of an insurance risk than boys are because they are seen as less aggressive and less likely to take chances while driving a vehicle.

These chances could be anything from passing another vehicle when it is clearly not safe to do so because they want to drive faster or doing things behind the wheel to impress others that they would not normally do when driving alone.

However, while boys continue to have the higher insurance rates, the girls are closing in. In recent years, insurance companies have seen more accidents and aggressive driving behavior in girls and have started to raise their rates accordingly. While they are still cheaper to insure than a boy, they may not be for much longer.

What Is Going On With Our Girl Drivers?

Is the increase in auto insurance claims and risky behavior behind the wheel something that we need to be worried about with these girls? Yes and No.

Yes, we need to be concerned because bad teen driving, no matter what the gender, has an effect on us all. It may be just minor damage to our property from a teen showing off that they can drive with no hands or it could be a loss of life because a teen driver didn’t want to follow behind a slower moving vehicle and passed them while in a no passing zone.

No, we shouldn’t be concerned because the increase of claims has a lot to do with more girls getting their drivers licenses than they have in the past and also the increased amount of time and miles that girls spend behind the wheel as compared to earlier generations. The more time behind the wheel means more chances for an accident and increases the statistics. It does not mean that our girl drivers are necessarily becoming worse drivers.

C.L.U.E. Reports: Keeping Track of Your Claim Record

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 11/17/2015

C.L.U.E. reports keep your insurance company in the know about your past claims history so that they can charge you the appropriate premium for your coverage.

C.L.U.E. Reports are a Claims Summary

C.L.U.E. Reports provide the insurance company with a record of your past insurance claims.

When you call to get a quote for new car insurance you may be taken aback when the person giving you your quote goes over your loss history with you.

Wait a minute! You didn’t include that information when you answered their questions. But, there it is right in front of them; every claim that you have had in the last 7 years. Just exactly how did they get that information if you didn’t give it to them?

You can thank your C.L.U.E. report (or CLUE report) for enlightening this insurance company of your past claims history.

What Is a C.L.U.E. Report?

A C.L.U.E. report is a database the insurance companies use to communicate your loss history with each other. C.L.U.E. stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange and is administered by a company called ChoicePoint. A C.L.U.E. report will show every past car accident where a claim was filed with your insurance company and every claim that you have had on your homeowner’s policies as well.

An insurance company has to subscribe to be able to obtain or submit information to this database.

So, if your current insurance company is not a subscriber they cannot submit your claim information to C.L.U.E. and your new company will not see your claim in there. Also if the insurance company that you are getting a quote with is not a subscriber they will not be able to pull any of your past claim information from the C.L.U.E. database.

Think that you will be able to find a cheaper rate by finding a company that doesn’t subscribe to C.L.U.E. so that they will not know about your past claims history? Don’t bother. Most insurance companies today subscribe to this database and even for the few that don’t, they have their own methods to be able to find your information.

Who Uses C.L.U.E. Reports?

The main users of the C.L.U.E. database are insurance companies so that they can accurately base your rates according to your claims history. You can also request your own C.L.U.E. report on yourself for car accidents or for the property that you own.

To request your own C.L.U.E. report call 1-866-312-8076.

What if There Is a Wrong Entry On my C.L.U.E. Report?

If your insurance company is telling you that there is an entry on your C.L.U.E. report that you disagree with or you have requested your own report and there is something there that you don’t feel is correct, just like with a credit report, you have the right to dispute the entry. To file a dispute or even to have a note added to your C.L.U.E. report about a past claim, you can contact ChoicePoint.

ChoicePoint will make a note on your report for you or will contact the insurance company for more information if you are disputing the information that they reported to the C.L.U.E. database.

IIA and CPCU: Education for the Insurance Professional

Written by Michele Wilmonen. Posted in Definitions Last Updated: 05/27/2011

Education within the insurance field to enhance the ethical & technical knowledge of its professionals is just as important as in any other field of business.

Graduating from a IIA or CPCU Course

Insurance professionals enhance their knowledge of insurance by earning IIA certifications or a CPCU designation.

Just like with any other professional field, insurance has its own profession specific education and designations. Unlike in other fields though, this education is not a requirement (like a law degree) to get a job in the insurance field. But, having this education under your belt does present you as a better candidate for open insurance positions and also promotions.

What Is the IIA and CPCU?

The Insurance Institute of America (IIA) and the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation program, provide training and education for those that are in the insurance field. Their training is specific to just property and casualty insurance (homeowners, auto and businesses).

They offer classes in claims adjusting, underwriting, reinsurance, premium auditing and also risk management.

Where did the IIA and CPCU Start?

The Insurance Institute of America was the first of the two that was started and was founded in 1909. It is still the oldest national organization that has provided education in the fields of property and liability insurance on a continuous basis.

The American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter started the CPCU designation program and was founded in 1942. It was a combination of all the parts of the property and casualty insurance industry coming together to promote ethical behavior and competence in the technical aspects of insurance.

Both the Insurance Institute of America and the American Institute for CPCU merged in 1953 to provide education to insurance professionals as one entity.

Is There any Significance to these Acronyms?

For an insurance professional to earn a CPCU designation and be a member of the CPCU Society, it takes hard work and a long series of courses and testing. Once they have earned this designation they can put the acronym CPCU after their name in all of their business correspondence. Because it is an insurance specific designation and not something that is general knowledge, only those in the insurance field really understand and respect being able to put CPCU after you name.

But, this designation is the same as being able to put CPA (Certified Public Accountant) or RN (Registered Nurse) after your name in other fields. In insurance the CPCU designation means that this person has meet the experience requirement, passed their insurance knowledge courses and tests and also met their ethics requirements.

Do the Institutes Do Anything Else?

The institutes also include the Insurance Research Council which collects and analyzes insurance data to provide information through research reports. They also offer executive education programs through The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition, there is also the Institute for Global Insurance Education (IGIE) that the institutes are a part of with the insurance institutes of nine additional nations to “provide a forum for members to discuss educational issues with global implications.”

For more information about the IIA and the CPCU visit their website at: aicpcu.org

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Car Insurance Guidebook Unravels the Car Insurance Mystery

Unless you work in the car insurance industry, the topic is probably a mystery to you. The words deductible, comprehensive, collision, liability, premium, loss of use and bodily injury are all gibberish when they reach your ears.

Unfortunately, insurance is something that you are required to have by law if you want to drive. Because of how confusing it is many people go around in almost an insurance daze while they get car insurance quotes from the auto insurance companies that they have heard of. In reality, they are completely lost as to what they are actually buying.

Instead of looking at what each insurance company offers in the terms of protection for both themselves and their car, they are instead looking for cheap car insurance. Finding the cheapest car insurance coverage makes having to buy the required product all that much less painful, but misses the whole point of having insurance.

Learning about insurance through your insurance agent or websites like Car Insurance Guidebook will give you the upper hand when you looking for car insurance. You can take your knowledge and not only find the best price for insurance, you can use it to find really great insurance to protect you and your assets. Then you aren’t stuck settling for just average car insurance that can hurt you financially if you ever need it because there isn’t enough protection.

For example, when looking for insurance the car insurance rates are just the first of many factors that need to be taken into account when you are shopping around for car insurance. You also need to take into account the type of vehicle that you are driving. Many people don’t know this.

Are you driving around a vehicle that is a new sedan and can be protected under any blanket insurance policy? Or do you have an old car that you fixed up that needs special protection and could be better covered under classic car insurance?

Don’t just assume that when you compare car insurance that it will be a one-size-fits-all policy. This is where the insurance knowledge will come in handy; you will know what you need to protect yourself and your vehicle.

You will understand what your insurance agent is talking about when they use insurance terms and you will actually be able to make an informed decision. This is much better for you instead of the “nod and smile” approach people take in their insurance agent’s office.

Also just like your life changes your insurance needs will change. This year you may just need to learn about the best deductible to have. Next year you may need to educate yourself on car insurance for young drivers. As the years pass, motorcycle insurance may be something you will need to know.

Many wise people say that you never stop learning, so take their advice and educate yourself on the insurance that you spend a lot of money on and can’t get away with not having.