Career in Casualty Insurance Fits Specialty Underwriter Best

Underwriter Sees the Value of Investing in Others

Stefanie Almada first set out to pursue design, but almost 20 years into her career in casualty insurance, she has found her niche as a specialty underwriter.

Stefanie Almada poses with two girlfriends

Stefanie Almada was studying interior design and fashion in college when she realized her major was more of a personal passion than the career of her dreams.

She decided to consider other professional opportunities after learning more about the kind of client interactions common to that industry.

“Doing some of the work in class, it showed me how customers could potentially behave in that line of business,” she says.

When she got an offer for a position as a workers’ compensation quality analyst, she took it.

“It wasn’t even on my list of things I would have wanted to do,” she says.

The hardest thing is delivering bad news to a broker when you want to be a people pleaser.

— Stefanie Almada

Finding a career in casualty insurance

Almada stayed in workers’ compensation insurance for 10 years. Then the housing market crash sent her in a new direction.

“Everybody felt it,” she says. “I ended up getting laid off, which was a blessing in disguise.”

The career detour meant going back on the job market. Despite her concerns about what jobs she would find to match her experience, Almada landed a primary casualty position with AIG. After a few years, she moved into excess casualty, before joining the core excess team at Colony Specialty in 2017. She moved to the specialty excess team in 2020 and handles risks of at least $25 million.

“I feel like I’m constantly learning every single day,” she says. “I wanted to do something that was more challenging and outside my comfort zone.”

Something that never gets easier is being the messenger when the message is difficult for clients to hear.

“The hardest thing is delivering bad news to a broker when you want to be a people pleaser,” she says. “But the flip side is that in the midst of all of that, you get to build great relationships with people.”

Treat others the way you want to be treated

Almada believes in making time to help others. When a new underwriter joined the team, Almada encouraged her to reach out with questions before or after work. Rather than mentoring, Almada views this kind of help as living out her philosophy of treating people the way she wants to be treated.

“When somebody is new to a career in casualty, I want to be sure I am here for them if they have questions,” she says. “If I don’t know how to answer, we will get an answer together. I feel like you should always provide help first when they need it without making them feel like it is a burden.”

Lessons from dad: an early work ethic

Based in Scottsdale, Almada has lived and worked in Arizona her whole life. She got her first job refereeing youth basketball games at the YMCA on weekends.

“I like to brag that I’ve been working since I was 14,” she says. “I got to hang out with my friends and earn $25 every Saturday.”

The work ethic she developed on those weekends as a teenager was also nurtured by the example her father set.

“He inspires me because of his hard work ethic and his patience,” she says. “I have never in my life met a more patient person – very basic things but things most of us are still working on. It’s something that I struggle with. He is just a super cool guy.”

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