Safeco Insurance Company
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The Safeco Insurance Company got its start in 1923 in the rainy city of Seattle as the brainchild of insurance executive Hawthorne K Dent. Dent sought to balance the benefits of a shareholder-owned company with the lower rates that could be offered by a mutual-owned company and set out to create just that. Located far from any major centers of insurance and with its unorthodox ideas, the General Insurance Company of America Corporation, or ‘The General’ as it was known, was quietly dismissed. As the years rolled by, however, clients began to see the value in Dent’s idea and the company’s profile and customer base began to grow.
By 1953, other companies had also moved into the market niche that The General had carved out and the business realized that in order to compete, new technology was the key. The Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America, or ‘Safeco’, was born as a subsidiary of The General and focused on using computer automation tools to streamline both the insurance purchasing process and the claims process. Initially, only Safeco auto insurance and fire insurance were offered, but by 1960, the company saw the advantages of moving into the life insurance market as well. The company enjoyed so much success that The General was officially named Safeco in the latter part of the 1960’s.
For thirty years, the company continued to forge ahead but in 1997 decided it was also time to expand and purchased the American States Financial Corporation. This not only gave the company a far greater footprint in the eastern United States, but also doubled its agent base. This allowed the company to purchase and name the new stadium for the Seattle Mariners in 1998, which is one of the most well-known and technologically advanced stadiums in the country.
In 2001, the company suffered a setback with a $1 billion dollar loss, but by re-focusing its attention on the tenants laid out by its founder, the business turned itself around and by the next year had posted profits of over $3 million dollars. In 2004, the company stepped back from the life insurance business to focus on where it had always seen the best results – patented Safeco auto insurance. By 2007, the company was posting record profits in addition to opening an R&D department tasked with designing new and innovative insurance products such as ‘teensurance’, an insurance product geared toward teenagers and their families. With a focus on auto insurance and a commitment to new innovation, Safeco is a company trusted by many Americans for their insurance needs.