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Safeco Corporation

Safeco Corporation is a major US-American national insurance company which also provides financial services in the form of mutual funds, retirement accounts and services, and trust services, as well as surety bonds and structured settlements.

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 September 29, 2003, the company announced it would be exiting the life insurance and investments business to concentrate solely on property and casualty insurance.

Corporate headquarters remain in the University District of Seattle.

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