Rising Star Shantelle Cabir Wants to Provide Better Service for Her Construction Clients

The young broker talks building a career in insurance and working as a woman in a male-dominated industry.
By: | March 9, 2024


Come see the Stars! As part of our ongoing coverage of the best brokers in the commercial insurance space, Risk & Insurance®, with the sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance, is expanding its coverage of the Rising Stars, those brokers who represent the next wave of insurance brokering talent.

Look for these expanded profiles on the Risk & Insurance website and in your social media feeds throughout the year.

We recently caught up with Shantelle Cabir, principal and senior vice president at Newfront and a 2023 Construction Power Broker.

Risk & Insurance: What led you to a career in the insurance industry?

Shantelle Cabir: When I was 16 years old, I started my career as a telemarketer for a boutique insurance brokerage. Eventually, I grew through the ranks and became a producer. After a few years, I developed a strong book of business composed of blue collar businesses within construction, agriculture, janitorial and distribution. From that experience, I saw that the construction industry, in particular, was underserved — and I wanted to do something about it. 

When I joined Newfront, I knew I wanted to double down on my construction expertise, so I pursued a Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS) certification. I’m also proud to currently serve on the board for the Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOE) California chapter as secretary. I’ve been able to leverage this experience to better provide support for my clients and guide them in the right direction from a policy and negotiation standpoint.

R&I: What excites you or challenges you about working as a broker in the construction space? 

SC: I love that every client is unique. It keeps me on my toes. They all have different challenges and priorities, so I get excited to look at every single aspect of the business and really listen to what they need to find a tailored solution for them. 

It’s also exciting to be “in the weeds” of my clients’ businesses — I’m not just looking at their needs from an insurance standpoint, but also from a risk management and compliance standpoint. That way, I can help mitigate different kinds of risk and put them in the best position possible when communicating with customers, protecting employees and creating a strong workplace culture rooted in safety.

R&I: What is the biggest challenge facing your clients in the market right now?

SC: This, of course, depends on the client. That said, we’re seeing specific lines become more limited from a coverage, rate and placement standpoint, such as property, auto, builder’s risk and umbrella. This continues to prove a challenge, as clients are looking for proper and affordable coverage — something I’m committed to helping them work through. 

From a worker’s compensation and employment practices standpoint, we continue to see litigation at an all-time high, especially in California. Employers continue to see cumulative trauma and post-termination cases being filed against their businesses, directly affecting their experience modification ratings and total cost of risk. Now more than ever, it’s vital for businesses to consult with experts in legal, risk management and HR. 

R&I: What’s your brokerage philosophy? How do you approach customer service? 

SC: At Newfront, we’re looking for clients who are interested in creating a strong partnership and taking advantage of all of the products and services we offer. We want to work with teams who want to work with us — that way, we can have the opportunity to put their businesses in a position of success in the long term. 

We don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to specific industries. Instead, we look at what our clients’ needs are and what challenges they’re facing. From there, we’re able to make a decision together to find out the best way to cover and protect the business. At the end of the day, we want to work towards the solution that best benefits the client.

R&I: Who were your mentors in the industry? 

SC: Whether it be my team at Newfront or the many underwriters I’ve worked with throughout my career, there are many people who have guided and pushed me in the right direction where I’ve been able to grow and flourish. They’ve shared wisdom and knowledge from their many years of experience and I’ve acted as a sponge to take in their advice and insights to apply to my expertise and propel me forward in my career. 

I’d also like to mention my dad, who has always shown me the value of grit, persistence and passion. He’s always motivated me to keep going throughout my career. 

R&I: What excites you about the future of the insurance industry and your role in it?

SC: I’m a big believer in technological adoption (for any industry) and see huge potential for technology and AI integrations in our space. Within the insurance industry, some antiquated processes have been around for many years, and now we’re finally allowing clients to have more control and transparency into what we (the brokers) are doing through our technological integrations. I get to give clients a truly new experience — something they haven’t seen from any other broker.

We’ve been using data and analytics to ensure our clients are making the best decisions for their businesses, and that’s exciting. The transparency on both ends allows both parties to move forward together in greater partnership.

This is what led me to Newfront. They have been at the forefront of these innovations. Being here, I get to see it from the ground floor and am even more excited for what is to come. &

Courtney DuChene is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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