Safeco history

leadership team discussing history of Safeco
1923 - Pioneering a New Approach to Insurance
In 1923, founder and insurance executive Hawthorne K. Dent had a vision to pioneer a whole new approach to insurance. Defying convention, and ignoring doubtful peers, he started the General Insurance Company of America in Seattle, Washington.

People called us “The General.” Although back then the center of insurance activity was located in the Northeast, we began to earn praise for our competitive prices and superb service. Over the years our business spread down the West Coast to Southern California and as far east as Connecticut.

1953 - The Name SAFECO is Born
In 1953, “The General” created a subsidiary called Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America, or SAFECO, as a strategy to compete against fast-growing national companies. The key to our success? Computer automation tools. Just a few years later, we entered the life insurance business. And by the late 1960s, we began to offer mutual funds and commercial lines of credit. We were so successful that “The General” renamed itself Safeco Corporation.

1997 - Expanding East
In 1997 we took a major step forward by acquiring American States Financial Corporation. This doubled our agent force, increased our presence east of the Rocky Mountains, and enabled us to become a leading writer of insurance for small to mid-sized businesses.

2002 - Returning to Our Roots
To recover from a tough financial period in the late 1990’s, Safeco refocused on the tenets first set out by our founder H.K. Dent - competitive pricing and disciplined underwriting combined with automated technology tools. In 2002, the strategy proved successful as our financial strength began to recover and grow.

2004 - Shifting Our Focus
In 2004, we sold our life and investments division, focusing our attention fully on property and casualty insurance, as well as surety bonds.

2008 - Becoming a Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
In September 2008, Safeco became part of Liberty Mutual Insurance. The financial strength of our parent company, combined with a national network of local independent agents, has enabled Safeco to focus exclusively on personal insurance. We continue to offer the comprehensive mix of coverage, pricing, and personalized service to individuals and families that’s kept us in business for over 90 years, and we’re looking forward with confidence to the future.