Trendsetters: Executive Women
Bonds, Bail Bonds
Ah, those golden days of youth. Deborah Jallad well remembers her father, Hank Snow, taking her and his other four kids to work with him. “OK, kids, get in the station wagon. We’re going down to the jail,” he would call. And afterward, “he’d take us for ice cream,” Jallad says.
Jallad’s dad was a bail bondsman. Frustrated he couldn’t find a knowledgeable insurer to guarantee the bonds he wrote for defendants, Snow founded his own insurer, Accredited Holding, in 1971. When a stroke sidelined him in 1993, Jallad took over the firm. Her sister, Sharon Jallad, is executive vice president. The two brothers they married, Sharon’s husband, Samir, and Deborah’s husband, Johnny, are vice presidents.
Bondsmen charge defendants 10% of the bail and underwrite like lenders, assessing risk by length of employment, homeownership and so on. The average bail in Florida is $2,000 to $2,500; in California, it’s $15,000.
Accredited never has paid a bail bond loss thanks to careful selection of the 1,700 agents representing it nationally. Agents shoulder the majority of the risk and the responsibility of making sure defendants show up for court. “They’re the ones going out at 3 o’clock in the morning to take people to jail, and it’s not always an easy task,” Jallad says.
In 1993, Accredited was licensed in eight states. Now it’s in all 50. Jallad added non-contract commercial surety — notary bonds, probate bonds, judgment bonds and the like — that accounts for 60% of the business.
Revenue is $113 million, up from $76 million in 2002, making Accredited the fourth-largest woman-led business in Florida, according to a study by Florida International University.
After all the growth, Jallad, 56, isn’t looking for new business lines. “You realize after awhile you can only do so much and do it well.”
CEO, president, Winter Park
No property insurance for her:
“I’d rather be in the bail business than the homeowners business any day of the week.”
Florida doesn’t allow bounty hunting for profit. Only bail agents, private investigators and law officers can pursue those who skip bail.
She went out a few times in her teens and early 20s when a woman defendant had to be retrieved.
Only a handful of women worked in the field when Jallad started, but women now comprise half of all bail agents nationally. “It’s a great business for women. We have good intuition. You can raise your family. They have definitely changed the complexion of the industry.”
“If you don’t do this correctly, it can go wrong very quickly.”
“Owning a business of any size is 24/7.”