CAS Profile: Melissa Salazar

My name is Melissa Salazar and I am a Senior Actuarial Analyst at Nationwide Insurance where I work in Management Liability and Specialty Lines of insurance. I was raised in Florida where I went to school at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics as well as minors in Actuarial Science and Communication Studies. I have been in NYC since April 2017 working in my actuarial role. Prior to this position, I worked with Nationwide in Gainesville, FL as a claim adjuster for non-injury auto accidents as a diverse claim representative, meaning I handled claims in English and Spanish. I am a loud and proud Colombian, and in my free time I enjoy exercising, watching movies and cheering on the Colombian National soccer team!

Why would you recommend a career in the insurance industry to current college students?
The insurance industry offers a wide array of career paths that cater to various skill sets. In insurance you can find technical careers such as actuary, data analyst or consultant; careers after law school such as coverage counsel; positions that create and maintain relationships with brokers and clients; hands-on work as loss estimators after catastrophes occur; and many positions in which skill sets overlap like underwriting. Transitioning from one department to another is also very possible and IS often encouraged. For instance, I started my career within the insurance industry as a claim adjuster and am now an Actuarial Analyst.

Why did you become an actuary?  
I knew I wanted to become an actuary since my junior year of high school when my math teacher brought it up to me. I was excelling in my AP Statistics course and found the material very intriguing; once I did some research on the actuarial field, I thought it was the perfect storm of applied mathematics and sciences. My coursework in college solidified my decision – I wanted to be a problem-solver.

What drew you to a career in property and casualty insurance?
In reality, I wasn’t particularly drawn to a career in property in casualty because when I embarked on my search for an actuarial role, I didn’t know enough about the different sects of the profession to prefer one over another. I serendipitously ended up working on non-injury auto claims and that got my feet wet in the P&C sector. From there, I applied to an actuarial position which also happened to be in P&C. Now, I can’t imagine working in any other industry!

What can students do now to prepare for a career in the industry?
Students looking to have a career in the insurance industry can start by understanding the ins and outs of insurance from the moment a policy is written to the moment a claim is paid out, to the essential equation of insurance. At the beginning, the learning curve is steep; insurance is like an alternate reality that as a young adult, we don’t have much experience in, especially when it comes to commercial lines. Having a basis of knowledge of insurance and understanding the big picture can be a great start. Additionally, particularly for the actuarial profession, making an effort to be proficient in excel and having some programming experience will help immensely!

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Changes to Canadian University Accreditation Program

The CAS recognizes the exam waivers granted by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) University Accreditation Program (UAP).

The CIA has recently revised the program to allow credit for Exam 1. Starting with courses given in summer of 2019, the CIA will recognize courses completed with a minimum grade requirement at many of the 11 accredited universities.

The CAS will grant UAP credit for Exam 1 and will continue to grant UAP credit for Exam 2 and 3F. In addition, the CAS gives credit for prior Exam 4 if the course work was completed by 12/31/2018. For more information on the CIA’s University Accreditation program, visit the CIA’s University Accreditation Program webpage.

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The CAS Trust Scholarship: Expanding its Reach and Impact in the P&C Actuarial Industry


Fall is upon us again, and university students have been back in the classroom for a few weeks now.  With the new academic year also come exciting changes to the CAS Trust Scholarship that will not only increase the awards available for college students, but also help position the CAS as the premier actuarial society for P&C insurance.

The CAS Trust Scholarship committee is very impressed each year as we look at dozens of applicants that demonstrate innovative thinking, noteworthy actuarial experiences, and impressive recommendations with respect to the P&C actuarial industry.  In addition, many students demonstrate great actuarial potential and would be valuable additions to our professional community, even if their “resumes” don’t necessarily reflect some of the common attributes we often see: a summer P&C internship; a supportive college actuarial science student program; or devoted actuarial coursework intended on helping students pass exams.  These types of students might be in the midst of changing their major, attending a university not typically associated with actuarial science, or have some other type of life experience that is consistent with the type of thought diversity that would improve the CAS.  Nevertheless, they demonstrate the type of hard work, innovative accomplishments, and thought creativity consistent with the standards with which our committee evaluates.

In the past, awarding only up to 3 scholarships  usually meant we were not able to recognize and encourage some of these types of students with the benefits of being a scholarship recipient.

Therefore – as noted in a recent press announcement – the CAS will now be awarding up to 8 scholarships (4 at $5,000 and 4 at $2,500), which reflects a significant increase in not only total dollars awarded but also number of individual winners each year.  We on the committee feel that this new award structure will facilitate a greater reach of support on behalf of the CAS, and recognize a broader pool of actuarial talent which we are confident will eventually contribute to the ever-innovating professional society that is the

On top of the financial award, one aspect of the scholarship of particular value for students is the opportunity for the four $5,000 recipients to attend an expenses-paid trip to the CAS annual meeting.  This trip is a great opportunity for both the students to network and gain insights through a deeper view of the CAS, but also for experienced members of the CAS to meet and encourage these up-and-coming rock-star actuaries.

The benefits of the Trust Scholarship are clear – and I speak from experience.  As a 2008 scholarship recipient myself, I appreciate not only the financial value the scholarship brings, but even more so the encouragement and morale-boosting this recognition affords to hard-working students focused on their education, exams, and future actuarial career.  It is truly a blessing to be able to sit on the other side of the table and pass this type of honor onto the next generation.

The scholarship application is now posted online and I encourage all university students to apply and demonstrate their understanding of – and future contributions to – the P&C actuarial industry.  Good luck to all applicants and I look forward to helping broaden the CAS’s reach to a fantastic talent pool!


About Author: Brett Jaros, FCAS, RPLU, CPCU is Chair of the CAS Trust Scholarship Committee and a 2008 scholarship recipient. He works as Actuarial Director of specialty pricing in the Financial Lines department at CNA Insurance in Chicago.

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CAS at the Gamma Iota Sigma Annual Conference

The CAS was proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of the Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) Annual International Conference last week in Dallas!  We had a great time connecting with faculty, students, and industry partners throughout the event.

As part of our involvement, the CAS hosted a booth in the exhibit hall where participants could learn more about the P&C career path. Thank you to everyone that stopped by as well as the CAS volunteers who provided valuable insight and information to students about their experience in the P&C field.

The CAS also hosted a panel entitled Risk in the Driver’s Seat: Navigating the World of Automated Vehicles. The panel discussed the risk surrounding automated vehicles and provided insight into the complex intersection between semi and fully automated vehicle technology and insurance. Thank you to Roosevelt Mosely, FCAS, Pinnacle Actuarial Resources, Barbara Ingraham, Verisk, Chris Nyce, FCAS, KPMG and Erin Olson, FCAS, USAA, for participating in a thoughtful program filled with great discussion between attendees and panelists. 

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Lastly, the CAS would like to thank Gamma Iota Sigma for putting on an amazing event. As a Sustaining Partner of GIS, we are proud to support this annual event; thank you for all your hard work making the conference flow seamlessly. We look forward to attending next year’s conference!

To learn more about Gamma Iota Sigma and the membership opportunities, visit  For those who are already GIS members and attended this year’s conference, let us know in the comments below what you found to be the highlight of the conference!

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