Safeco Insurance sells car and truck insurance in Maryland. We tend to see Safeco in larger, commercial cases but it writes standard personal car insurance policies as well. They are the 11th largest auto insurer in Maryland. The company also writes homeowner's insurance policies, umbrella policies providing excess coverage, boating insurance, and a ton of other things.
Safeco is has been around for 88 years. Four years ago, it was purchased by Liberty Mutual. Somewhere around this period, for whatever reason, both Liberty Mutual and Safeco became, at least in our view, a bit harder to deal with on settlement of personal injury claims. Still, most of our cases with them have reached a settlement agreement. There has been only one case in recent years where we were forced to take the case in front of a jury (which awarded five times Safeco's offer).
How is it dealing with Safeco insurance adjusters in personal injury claims? It is a mixed bag. Our law firm has dealt with many reasonable adjusters and some not so reasonable. (There is one in particular - let's call her B.H. - that we often see who seems to revel in making things difficult and trying to create conflict.)
Safeco uses the law firm Rollins, Smalkin, Richards & Mackie to defend cases in the Baltimore area. They may use other outside counsel as well, but we have only seen Rollins Smalkin. It is an excellent law firm that also handles a lot of work for Erie Insurance.
This insurer seems to keep a tight noose around it counsel. It does not seem like they have a lot of authority to make real decision without running back to Safeco to get permission. It is surprising. Most insurance companies give counsel more latitude because the lawyers are the ones who are in the trenches seeing what a particular personal injury claim is really about.Safeco Verdicts and Settlements
Below are summaries of verdicts and reported settlements in actual cases in which Safeco was the primary insurance carrier. We have only included cases involving personal injury liability (auto insurance) as opposed to property damage (homeowners insurance).
- Campbell v Campbell (Oklahoma 2019) $73,000 Settlement: Adult male passenger died at the scene of a violent motor vehicle accident. His surviving spouse brought a wrongful death claim against the driver who was insured by Safeco. Decedent was survived by a wife, minor son and 2 adult daughters. Safeco agreed to settle the claim for $73,000, which was probably very close to the applicable policy limits.
- Jemioto v Safeco (Connecticut 2018) $88,438 Verdict: Plaintiff was struck in a head-on collision by an uninsured driver. Plaintiff’s alleged injuries included 20% partial permanent disability to his cervical spine and an injury to his eye. Plaintiff sought UIM damaged from his insurer, Safeco. Safeco disputed liability and disputed causation and damages, arguing that the plaintiff’s injuries were not really related to the accident. The case went to trial and a jury awarded nearly $90,000 in damages.
- Corbett v Safeco (Washington 2018) $936,420 Verdict: Adult-male plaintiff was rear-ended by an uninsured driver pushing his vehicle into the median. Plaintiff reportedly suffered injuries including a traumatic brain injury resulting in balance issues and decreased concentration and work speed, as well as right carpal tunnel syndrome and right medial nerve damage treated with surgery. Safeco denied plaintiff’s claim for UIM benefits disputing whether he actually suffered any brain injury and claiming his other injuries were not really related to the accident. The case went to trial and the jury awarded over $900,000 in damages.
- Donatelli v Safeco (Maryland 2017) $315,560 Verdict: Plaintiff, a 69-year-old female, was driving on the highway when another driver suddenly changed lanes without looking and caused a collision. Plaintiff allegedly suffered extensive injuries including a traumatic brain injury with a coup-contrecoup injury resulting in permanent physical symptoms and multiple lumbar disc herniations. She receives a policy limits settlement from the at-fault driver and then pursued her own insurer, Safeco, for additional UIM damages. Safeco refused to resolve her UIM claim with a fair settlement offer and took the case to trial. A jury in Baltimore City awarded the plaintiff $315,000.
We have handled a lot of car accident and other serious injury claims against Safeco. If you have a potential claim, call Miller & Zois at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation today.More Resources/Information for Dealing With Safeco in Personal Injury Cases