Deborah Saunders

Senior Director, Claims Management Comcast NBCUniversal.

Deborah Saunders is Senior Director, Claims Management for Comcast NBCUniversal. She is responsible for managing all lines of Comcast and NBCU’s claims programs, including Workers’ Compensation, Auto Liability, General Liability, Employment Practices, Property and Media Professional E&O. Prior to joining Comcast in 1998, Deborah was the Workers’ Compensation Claims Specialist for Campbell Soup Company. She started her career in claims as a representative for Travelers Insurance, where she handled both workers’ compensation and commercial liability claims. Deborah earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts. She also holds Associate in Risk Management (ARM,) Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional (CWCP) and Certified Claims Professional (CCP) designations and is a certified paralegal.

“I think when people either look at risk management programs in schools or look for a career path when they get out a lot of focus is on underwriting, but I’ve found that claims provides endless opportunities to do good in the world and to satisfy curiosity and the desire to grow.” Deborah states in an interview with RISE founder, Amy Cooper. Deborah discussed more about what her typical work day is like along with some encouraging advice for young career seeking professionals.

What do your mornings look like?

My alarm is set for 5:25 but I get up between then and 6 am, depending on the day. I actually have an evening regimen, so I don’t need a morning one. I lay out clothes, look at my calendar for the next day, and have my bags packed. That’s a trick I learned from my mom.

What is your commute like?

I go to the office almost every day that I’m not traveling. I cross a bridge from New Jersey to Pennsylvania during my commute, which takes 20-30 minutes. I purposely add one mile to my route in order to pass by the fountain at Logan Circle. It’s one of the many things in the city that makes me happy so I make sure to enjoy it.

What is the first thing you do when you start your work day?

A: I pick up coffee on the way in. The first thing I do when I get to the office is break out the lint roller! I have pets. I update my to do list for the day and carry over any leftover tasks from the prior day.

Who do you work most closely with?

I am responsible for a claims team within the Global Risk Management team for Comcast NBC Universal. There are eight  of us in claims, and with our colleagues in program placement, we make up the risk department. I consider our TPA, brokers, and insurers partners to be an extension of our team. Not everyone can say that, but these partnerships are very collaborative.

How do you balance meetings, email, solving problems, and your own tasks?

I’m not a practitioner of a formal time management technique. I’ve been here for more than 20 years and I have a lot of practice pivoting when needed. It’s second nature for me. I have non-traditional work hours while traveling, which is great catch up time. I travel 2-3 times a month but usually they are short trips.


Usually I eat lunch at my desk. When I was starting out, it was Snickers and Diet Coke. I’m doing a lot better with my food choices now, so I typically get soup or sushi. I try to avoid lunch meetings because I find them to be inefficient.

You never get through a day without ______.

On the downside, I never get through the day without falling into an internet news rabbit hole. I’m extremely interested in current events.  On the positive side, I never get through the day without stopping to be grateful. I have a wonderful family and fun career. I try to think about it every day.

Who is home waiting for you at the end of your day? What is your biggest motivation in getting up every morning to do it again?

My husband, who is now retired, two cats and a dog. Motivation isn’t an issue because I don’t need to motivate myself since I love what I do. I thought it would be hard to leave the house once my husband retired, but it’s not.

What changes in the role of technology have you noticed in your department? Does this change the skills you hire for?

I began my career with paper files – I’ve been at Comcast for more than 20 years. Yes, it does change at least some of the skills that you’re looking for. We need people who are effective and accurate at a much faster pace, with the efficiencies that come with technology. I appreciate people who are detail-oriented and methodical but need them to be thoughtful about how they spend their time.

What is the most rewarding/favorite part of your job?

I work with great people inside my organization – everyone is smart, creative and looking for solutions that improve people’s lives.  I love the diversity of the business in both within Comcast and in the claims profession. I’ve had the same role since joining Comcast, but endless opportunities to learn. Almost every day, there’s something new.

Can you name an innovative solution that made a huge impact for your area of responsibility?

We use data analytics, as a lot of people do, but we tried to figure out a way to use it not just for goal setting, but also to eliminate bottlenecks that stood in the way of  resolution and closure. We used data analytics to set discretionary settlement authority limits with our TPA – we figured out how much authority we could give them so they don’t have to wait for our response, while still controlling the dollars. We were able to eliminate 80% of the instances they had to contact us but still keep control over the vast majority of the spend. It worked exceptionally well.  We’re also looked at how closely we monitor ALAE.  We trust our TPA team as professionals as long as spend is line with industry benchmarks.

When you were 18, did you envision your life to be like this? What advice would you give to your 18-year old self?

I absolutely did not envision it. I have this great career because the path I had in mind didn’t play out the way I thought. Follow your dreams, but if through circumstance you’re diverted, be open and curious. Wherever you can, set yourself up for job satisfaction – there’s always something you can turn into a positive. Find it, build it, focus on it, and you’d be surprised where it can take you. I could not be happier.

What advice would you give to other women who might be considering a career in insurance?

This is so important to me. My advice is to consider claims. I think when people either look at risk management programs in schools or look for a career path when they get out a lot of focus is on underwriting, but I’ve found that claims provides endless opportunities to do good in the world and to satisfy curiosity and the desire to grow. It’s perfect for people who think of themselves as lifelong learners. The number one thing I would say if you’re considering claims – call me! I’ll be delighted to tell you why  I think it can exceptionally rewarding career.

Stacey Jurado

Claims Casualty Manager
Atlas Financial Holdings, Inc.

Stacey spent time with RISE founder, Amy to discuss her daily routine along with some advice for the new insurance professionals entering this space.

What is your morning regimen?

I get up at a quarter to 5 am, and my regimen is: coffee, shower, and play with my dog for a while to clear my mind to get ready for the day.

What is your commute like?

I’m very fortunate, I live less than 5 miles from the office so drive in.

What is the first thing you do when you start your work day?

The first thing I do is get some administrative tasks done. I get in before everyone, so I am able to get all my end of day reporting from the previous day done. This way I’m ready to field whatever people need when they get in.

Who do you work most closely with?

I’m in the casualty department within claims. I have one supervisor and a total staff of 11. Currently I’m looking to fill 2 open positions. I work most closely with my team, legal staff, and outside counsel. I also have one property damage adjuster as well.

How do you balance meetings, email, solving problems, and your own tasks?

 I try to schedule my day, and I allow certain times for different activities. Each person has a specific time, so if they need attention, we can address it at their time. I live by my calendar, both personally and professionally.


 Lunch is usually at my desk. It includes a coffee run which takes about 15-20 minutes to reset and refocus, gets me outside for fresh air, and allows me to step away, because that is important.

You never get through a day without ______.

Having plans change. You must always be ready to roll with it!

Can you name an innovative solution that made a huge impact for your area of responsibility?

We’re using an outside vendor to manage our legal billing, and we moved to flat fee scheduling, which gives better control over spending. I used this before at a prior company and it works very well. I’m also working on putting in place an early settlement bonus. I’m going to tighten up the plan because it will benefit both us and our outside counsel, and it will cost less in the long run.

What changes in the role of technology have you noticed in your department? Does this change the skills you hire for?

We’re now paperless so that gives people the opportunity to work pretty much from wherever. Everything is more advanced so we look for people who can be more independent. We do have several people who work from home remotely several days a week.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the results and seeing people succeed professionally. I enjoy winning cases. I also enjoy building rapport with others in other departments. Watching peers receive promotions is amazing. Seeing my team expand their roles is the best, because that’s how I got to where I am today.

What is your biggest motivation in getting up every morning to do it again?

My family is my motivation. I just want to make them proud. My mother owns her own successful business so I’ve always wanted to make her proud.

When you were 18, did you envision this to become your career?

 This is definitely not what I thought I was going to be doing. I don’t think I had a clear vision at 18. I would encourage others to find something they are passionate about. Just be open to try things because that’s the only way to figure out what you love. I happened to fall into it, but I love it. Insurance is much more interesting than it sounds! People have a preconceived notion that insurance is boring. No two claims are the same, and you constantly have to think outside the box to come up with innovate ways to achieve the results, whether it’s utilizing resources that have served you in the past or finding an outside vendor. Insurance is anything but cookie cutter.

What advice would you give to other women who might be considering a career in insurance?

Work hard! Try to get as much exposure as you can, whether that’s working in different departments or forging relationships with other departments. Become well rounded so you become a resource. Surround yourself with the people you want to emulate. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Adena Edwards

Assistant Vice President Environmental Claims
Starr Adjustment Services, Inc.

Ms. Edwards is based in New York and serves as an Assistant Vice President overseeing Environmental Claims for Starr Adjustment Services, Inc., a member of Starr Companies. Ms. Edwards joined Starr in January 2015. Ms. Edwards is an attorney licensed to practice law in New York and New Jersey and holds numerous adjuster licenses throughout the United States. Ms. Edwards has more than 22 years of experience handling and overseeing environmental, toxic tort and construction claims, both domestically and internationally. Prior to joining Starr, Ms. Edwards was a law clerk for 4 years before becoming a practicing attorney for 7 years specializing in environmental, toxic tort and mass litigation cases and has held environmental claims positions at AIG, AIU and Zurich for more than 8 years. Ms. Edwards also has approximately 12 years of experience handling and overseeing environmental emergency response and crisis management claims. Ms. Edwards holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

RISE founder, Amy Cooper spent some time with Adena to find out more about what a day in her life really looks like and this is what she said…

What is your morning routine?

I’m up at 5:30 am to workout. After my workout, I make a protein shake and a pot of coffee and start checking email until I get on the train.

What is your commute like?

I take the train in to the city which is about 40 minutes. My husband drops me off at the train station or, if it’s a nice day, I walk. Once I get to Grand Central Station, there it is only about a 5 block walk to the office.

What is the first thing you do when you start your work day?

I start reading and responding to emails from the second I wake up. 

How do you balance meetings, email, solving problems, and your own tasks?

I am very type A, so I’m guilty of trying to take on everything, which is not good.  I do realize I need to learn to delegate tasks better to my team and gain more balance between work and home. I find it hard to disconnect.  So much so that my husband and I specifically picked a place for our honeymoon where there is no cell service and minimal email service, to make sure that I disconnected. I keep up by being very good at multitasking.  I also have a crazy memory and remember details of almost every claim I’ve ever touched. It helps because I am able to recall things quickly during meetings and remember situations from the past that are applicable to current claims.  


I make myself go out to get lunch, so I can take a break from my desk and walk around the block. Otherwise, I’d never take a break the whole day.  

You never get through a day without ______.

My coffee in the morning.  I have a lot of natural energy but that one cup of coffee in the morning just gets me started.

Who do you work most closely with?

I work most closely with the person who is my underwriting counterpart. I sit right next to them, so I end up talking to the head of environmental underwriting 50 times a day. It’s actually the most effective set up of any company I’ve ever worked for.  Because he and I work so closely together, there is constant communication and very little in the way of surprises.  When we have a bad claim, he knows about it; if we don’t like the way something is worded due to claims experience, we discuss it and work on better language together. If we need a change endorsement on policy, we deal with it together right away.  I also work closely with my team.  I oversee two people in New York, one in Philadelphia, and one in Chicago. Most of my communication with my team outside of New York is email, phone, and Skype but I do travel to Philly and Chicago periodically for face-time with my team. Having my team spread out in other locations helps us to waste less time on travel to claim-related activities around the country but it is hard to oversee people who I don’t see every day in person.

Who is home waiting for you at the end of your day?

My husband and two dogs.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Helping people and teaching people.  When an insured has a claim, it’s basically their worst day.  We deal with claims every day but an insured may only have one claim ever in the history of their business. I like helping insured’s going through their worst day to make that day not so bad.  I try to help alleviate their fears and anxiety by taking things off their plate but also explaining things to them every step of the way. I enjoy taking time to coach my team and my adjusters.  When I see a mistake or an error, I take it as an opportunity for them to learn and pause to discuss and explain why what they did was wrong and how to incorporate this learning experience into their knowledge base to improve in the future.

What changes in the role of technology have you noticed in your department? Does this change the skills you hire for?

Communication is the biggest change – how to communicate not just internally but also with insureds. I’ve been doing this a long time, so I remember back when they had paper files 12 years ago to now being paperless, both in notes and files. We never print anymore. Also, as my team is spread out among 3 offices around the country, we hold team meetings mostly via conference call and Skype. It was hard to get used to at first and it is not without its issues. When someone works in an office where their boss is not, they tend to work more independently.  I do thing we lose something by not all being in one place – electronic communication feels less personal and there is a bit of a disconnect from those not located in New York.

I hire good people no matter what level.  Some are techy and some are not.  Most all of our admins are millennials, so when someone doesn’t know or I don’t know how to handle something technical, generally, they know and can help. Unfortunately, due to the claims technical nature of Environmental Claims, my team all has at least 15 years experience, which is necessary for what we do.  This makes it harder for millennials to break into Environmental claims. Back when I started, AIG had 7 or 8 Environmental claims departments and a formal training program.  They hired who departments of people without any experience and trained them from scratch.  That doesn’t exist anymore.  Environmental claims departments are shrinking so the hiring criteria is more stringent. Less jobs has caused many people with experience to no longer be able to stay within this specialty area. That makes it even harder to start if you don’t have any experience.

What advice would you give to other women who might be considering a career in insurance?

Do it! Not enough women are in insurance. We need more women leaders who are strong and won’t take any nonsense. The more women in this industry, there will be a greater chance for equality in the long term. There is so much opportunity in the industry for leaders and there is plenty of opportunity for those who want to rise, especially in claims! My advice is to work hard! You will stand out if you are creative, take initiative and think outside the box.

Communication, Culture and Consciousness: Redefining Claims Careers for Today’s Talent

By: Rob Howard, Chief Claims Officer, Farmers Insurance®

Claims is the greatest arena of differentiation among modern insurers. A claims experience is likely the primary touchpoint our customers have to consider when it comes time to decide whether or not to remain a customer. How well we serve them in their moment of need is often the make or break moment of the relationship.

In recent years, I’ve watched as technology adoption has transformed nearly every facet of the life of a claims representative. From process to culture to customer service, our every function has become more dynamic and talent-friendly.

Embracing Innovation

The insurance industry has always offered tremendous career opportunity — I should know, I started as a claims representative straight out of college and now serve as chief claims officer. But the fact that our culture at Farmers® has evolved and come to celebrate technology has allowed us to pair the traditional benefits of a career in claims with values that matter most to younger generations: innovation, flexibility and balance.

This new paradigm benefits employees and customers alike. Whether it’s working remotely or having the option to communicate via an alternative channel, we’ve implemented technologies that improve both sides of the claims experience.

It’s No Longer Business As Usual – It’s Business As You Like It

In this business, you’re unlikely to have two days in a row that are similar, and increasingly, there is more than one way to get the job done. We have an entire toolbox of technologies that streamline the way we work even as they expand the service and support we offer our customers.

Today’s customers can “Ask Alexa” for claims updates. They can send a text to file a claim. They can connect to the chat team for simple inquiries and get rapid answers and solutions. Our teams have drones to help them assess damages in the field. Employees can work from almost anywhere with an internet connection. The list goes on, but it all adds up to this: We’re doing good work with great people in smarter ways. That’s an outcome we want to repeat again and again, because it helps us attract, retain and develop the best talent to serve our policyholders.

 Communication Is Still Key

And speaking of talent, I think it’s important to note that technology hasn’t eliminated the core traits of a good claims representative. Rather, it’s made it easier for those with the right skill set to thrive.

Claims has always been the domain of self-starters and great communicators. That’s as true now as ever, though the tools used to get the job done are certainly different from those used when I got my start in this discipline. Yet dependability, willingness to learn, and interpersonal skills are still keys to success in claims and, for that matter, in the larger insurance industry.

Claims is where the connection we have with our customers comes to life. Our success or failure there comes down to the talent we have on our side. Fortunately, there’s never been a better or more exciting time to be a claims representative. No matter their ultimate career goals, this field is the perfect proving ground for upcoming talent to refine their skills and master their trade. Innovation is all around us, transforming the work we do for our customers and, critically, enhancing the work of all those who are creating the claims experience of tomorrow.

For more information on careers at Farmers Insurance visit