Meet American Specialty SVP Cathy Schnell
Cathy Schell is rejoining the American Specialty team as the SVP, Claims & Litigation Leader. Cathy brings with her 33 years of high-level claims management experience, of which 18 were spent serving as Vice President of Claims Litigation Management at American Specialty. We got a chance to sit down with her and ask her a few questions to get to know her better.
1. We are excited to have you back on the team! What brought you back to American Specialty?
It was definitely a love of the sports and entertainment industry as well as an opportunity to work with a lot of fabulous, talented people that I knew from when I was here before. I was excited to be able to come back into a role where I can have more of an impact on not only the claims department, but also in helping American Specialty further its goals as a whole.
2. How do you hope to impact American Specialty in the next 5 years?
I hope to further our relationships with our carrier partners, broker partners, and insureds. I hope that as each of these grows, I can help to foster collaboration that will benefit all parties. Internally, we want to continue bringing younger generations into the business. I am excited to help search for young talented individuals and help develop this next generation of claims professionals that will have a huge impact on the future of the insurance industry.
3. What is your educational background and how do you think that has helped you in your career?
My major in college was speech communication which has definitely helped me to be able to communicate effectively, both in writing and orally. It has given me the ability to think before speaking, organize my thoughts, and articulate my thoughts well. I think that is a skill that translates well into claims because you talk to people from all walks of life who are often going through bad experiences because they have been hurt or something has been damaged. Building rapport with others and working to bring a situation to a conclusion can only be done well with the help of effective communication. Being able to tell people things that they may not want to hear, in a way that lets them know you are sympathetic, can help to soften the blow and de-escalate situations.
4. How did you get into the world of insurance and claims?
A friend of mine at Ball State, where I went to school, introduced me to insurance. I was in my junior year looking for an interesting class or two to take to fill credits. He suggested I take an insurance class with a particular professor, and it was just a ball. I continued to take more courses until I graduated and even joined the insurance fraternity on campus. When I graduated, I was ready to get out and start my professional career. I had interviewed with several companies through my insurance fraternity. During my first interview for an underwriting position, the underwriting manager said, “You know, I think you might enjoy claims more than underwriting. Would you like to talk to the claims manager?” And I did, and I got the job, and the rest is history.
5. What is your biggest piece of advice to someone starting out in the industry?
Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, in whatever role that is. If you can do that to a certain extent, that helps you to be able to relate to that person and be more cognizant of what their issues, concerns and responsibilities may be.
6. Why would you recommend someone get into claims?
Claims are just so interesting. You get to investigate claims, talk to different people, and learn about many things that you would not otherwise be exposed to. No claim is ever going to be the same because there are many different variables. You must look at where the incident occurred, how it occurred, who is involved, injuries or damage, severity, and so much more. Each one is different and unique. You get to approach the claim with your own eyes. This is not a process that can be done with a machine, so it allows you to be creative.
7. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love to cook- I am not saying I am good at it, but I like to have fun with it. We like to be outdoors when we can, camping and doing things like that. My new favorite thing to do is visit my son who is currently in Arizona. At home we have two dogs, so we like to Be outside and play with them as well.
Haley Agnew serves as the Marketing Coordinator at American Specialty Insurance. She graduated from Purdue University with a major in Marketing in 2022. During her time at Purdue, she directed a student-led agency where she was able to lead marketing and public relations efforts for 16 local clients each year across various industries. Her prior internship gave her content marketing experience in the insurance industry.