Safeco Corporation (NASDAQ: SAFC (http://quotes.nasdaq.com/asp/SummaryQuote.asp?symbol=SAFC&selected=SAFC)) is a major US-American national insurance company.
Safeco was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1923 by Hawthorne K. Dent as the General Insurance Company of America, a property and casualty insurer, which name is still used by Safeco on some of its insurance products. Thirty years later the company founded the Selective Auto and Fire Insurance Company of America, or SAFECO.
General Insurance began to sell life insurance in 1957. Eleven years later the corporate name changed from the General Insurance Company of America to SAFECO Corporation. (The company would end up changing the capitalization of its name from SAFECO to Safeco at the turn of the century.) Around the same time the company began to offer mutual funds and commercial credit (though precursors to the SAFECO Funds had been around since the 1930's).
In 1997, SAFECO bought American States Financial Corporation so as to expand beyond the West Coast. Washington Mutual's WM Life Insurance Company was purchased the same year. Two years later SAFECO bought R.F. Bailey (Underwriting Agencies) Limited of London so as to better provide international services. In the economic downturn that followed, these purchases put a severe financial strain on the company, but restructuring has restored profitability. Commercial credit operations were sold to General Electric in 2001, and on March 15, 2004, the company announced the sale of its life insurance and investments businesses to a group of investors led by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd. The same day, it was announced that Hub International Ltd. was buying Safeco's insurance brokerage operations. Less than a month later, on April 12, it was annouced that Mellon Financial Corporation would buy Safeco Trust Company, whose business is providing financial and estate planning services to individuals with over $1 million in assets. On August 2, the closure of Safeco Asset Management, the mutual-fund business, was announced.
Corporate headquarters remain in the University District of Seattle. Safeco has naming rights to the Seattle Mariners' baseball stadium, Safeco Field.
- Official site (http://www.safeco.com)