On this week's Spøtlight series, we caught up with Rita Yates, the CEO of InsurTech Australia, to learn more about the organisation and its benefits.

Established in 2017, Insurtech Australia now has 60 insurtech members and 22 corporate partners.

Hi Rita, could you start by telling us a little about yourself and what InsurTech Australia does?
Insurtech Australia is the national not-for-profit industry association supporting the growth of the insurtech ecosystem here in Australia which includes insurtech startups, Insurers, Hubs, Accelerators, Investors and advocating on behalf of our members and partners. Insurtech Australia aspires to make Australia one of the world’s leading markets for insurtech and insurance innovation.
You were recently appointed to CEO in May and, by the way, a huge congratulations from all of us. As one of the founding team, can you tell us where the idea for InsurTech Australia came from and how the organisation came about?

Back in 2016 a group of us started running some insurtech meetups in Sydney and realised very quickly that there was a surge in interest in this space. We came together in October 2017 and formalised as a national organisation so that we could have a more structured approach to building the ecosystem and the opportunities that lay within. We have now grown to around 60 insurtech members and 22 corporate partners all of which are very engaged.

What would you say the benefits are for an InsurTech venture to be part of an organisation such as InsurTech Australia?
We know from reports such as startup genome that the local ecosystem around startups is one of the key indicators that can have a significant positive effect on growth. All initiatives we focus on at Insurtech Australia whether it be events, education, reports, our international delegation or the many connections we make are all about providing tangible opportunities to both our members and corporate partners to help them move into the future of insurance.
What do you see as the most important qualities for an InsurTech venture in today’s ecosystem?
Making sure they have product market fit and their proposition solves a real problem in the insurance world.
Why do you think Australia is such an exciting place for InsurTech right now?
We have seen huge growth in the number of insurtech startups being established here particularly over the last 12 months with some really interesting propositions being developed in all aspects of the value chain. The size and environment of the insurance market here in Australia is definitely one which is attractive to explore propositions within and we have seen this reflected in the rapidly growing interest insurance incumbents have in working with insurtechs. Interestingly we have also seen growth in the number of international insurtechs looking to scale into the Australian market and these organisations now make up around 20% of our membership. The majority of our insurtech members (around 95%) are also looking to partner with incumbents rather than completely disrupt. this has helped create an environment of collaboration.
Is there a particular venture within InsurTech Australia that you think the Insurance world should really keep an eye on?
We have around 60 insurtech members so its hard for me to play favourites. We have members working across all aspects of the value chain with a number being established more recently focussing on the distribution space that are looking to improve efficiencies and current offerings where I see a lot of potential.
You’ve got some events coming up in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in August. Could you tell us a little more about these events that you run?
Each of our events are usually run in partnership with one of our corporate partners and they are usually focused on very current topics of interest within our community. They attract between 100 and 200 people from various aspects of the insurance world. Aside from hearing from some experts and showcasing some of our startups they are an excellent opportunity to network and forge connections. We’ve also recently run events where we have used technology via an app to connect audience members with insurtechs presenting so that they can explore opportunities after the event.
In the Sydney and Perth events, the primary topic is AI. Why do you think AI is so important in today’s insurance world and how do you see it affecting the future?
It seems likely and quite possible that AI will have a significant impact on all aspects of the insurance industry and value chain particularly distribution, claims and pricing. The potential for AI to automate parts of the insurance process, create a more seamless and speedy customer experience, assist with fraud detection and more effectively utilise the growing streams of data is already starting to become obvious but is likely to grow exponentially.
There are a lot of other events going on this year that are focused on the wider conversation of attracting, developing and retaining female professionals in the industry. Are there any words of wisdom you might like to share to aspiring businesswomen in the InsurTech world?
For those females interested in the world of insurtech I would say educate and immerse yourself in it. It is a growing industry which is exciting and ever changing. For those women currently in the insurance industry it also provides another avenue to progress and expand your career into. We have some wonderful female insurtech founders here in Australia and I am looking forward to seeing even more over the coming years.
Finally, what’s your favourite piece of new technology from the world outside of insurance?
I’m fascinated with the developments in the world of driverless vehicles and how this will change our lives in the future – although this then also plays into insurance ultimately. On a personal note I'm also a sucker for any new tech that comes out of Apple...

If you would like to find out more about InsurTech Australia, you can explore its website, and its Sønr profile.

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