Industry Focus

5 in 5 series with industry leader Rita Yates on digital innovation

Published on July 14, 2021

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Experteq values digital innovation, technology advancement and digital leadership. In our “5 in 5” series, we spend five minutes with inspiring leaders who are making a difference to achieve digital innovation, by asking five critical questions of the now.

Rita Yates was named CEO of Insurtech Australia in May 2019, but has been part of Insurtech’s leadership team since its inception. With experience from the corporate insurance sector and having managed corporate partnerships for innovation hub, Stone & Chalk in an earlier role, Rita has helped finance sector-focused tech start-ups find success through smart partnerships with other organisations.

Rita discusses some digital opportunities that lie ahead for Australia’s insurance industry, and shares some tips for insurance leaders when it comes to digitalisation and partnerships.

What are the key drivers for digital opportunities in Australia’s insurance industry?

New technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and Internet of Things are more advanced and readily available with applications relevant in the insurance space, and they continue to develop at a rapid pace. Most digital opportunities in insurance are driven by consumer demands in line with the experiences they have in other industries.

Multichannel access, instant customer service and processing, tailored options and 24/7 access have become the norm for consumers — but are not always the norm in insurance currently.

How are insurtechs helping to unlock these digital opportunities?

Insurtechs are building technology solutions right across the insurance value chain for the benefit of consumers. Starting from the way insurance is distributed in a more efficient and transparent manner, to a faster, more customer-friendly and digital way of lodging and managing claims, and every element of insurance in between — all of these can potentially be improved using technology.

In addition, insurtechs are building solutions to help consumers and businesses reduce their risk before incidents occur; for example in weather events, cybersecurity, personal injury risk and property risks. These are value-add propositions that are becoming more evident and important in the insurance landscape.

What should insurance business leaders prioritise when it comes to getting digitalisation right? What are some critical factors for digital success?

Being clear on the digital  innovation strategy and how it aligns to customer needs and outcomes as well as fits with the overarching business strategy, is a priority. There is an appreciation that a good digital strategy for insurers will now encompass a mix of building and partnering — the elements they have the capabilities to build internally, together with elements they wish to partner on with external providers to deliver. After all, insurers are not technology firms, and will not have the capability to become fully digital on their own.

It is also important to note there will be many iterations along the way. Digitalisation is a long-term, iterative process – not once and done. For insurance leaders, building their workforce for the future is also critical, encompassing digital skills and understanding across the business together with a mix of employees that have experience outside insurance, in particular coming from those industries that have already been widely disrupted.

How can insurtechs and insurers continue to partner together to drive better outcomes?

Partnerships between insurtechs and insurers are key to the continued success of the insurtech industry and contribute to how incumbents will become the digital insurers of the future.

Identifying the desired outcome and the problem it solves at the beginning of the process is vital, as is setting clear timeframes. Having a fast-track framework across the business in order to execute whilst understanding iteration will be required along the way is in line with being comfortable with a test-and-learn environment. There are also multiple models of partnership out there, so finding the right fit will be important for ongoing success.

Insurtechs and insurers move at a very different pace but the hope is during the partnership process, these organisations can meet somewhere in the middle. New insurtech solutions and businesses are being built regularly so it is important for insurers to have their finger on the pulse of these developments, and be aware of opportunities these could bring to their businesses.

What has been a significant digital “aha” moment over the last several months?

COVID-19 forced much of the insurance industry to move to remote working for the first time, and it has been fascinating to watch how well the industry has adapted to this through the use of digital tools and technology. It was also interesting to see how quickly organisations were able to partner to implement new technology such as remote claims assessment when the need presented itself. This is a positive sign that when the right digital  innovation opportunities appear, insurers hopefully will be more willing to explore partnering more quickly than has historically been the case.

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Rita Yates
CEO and Co-founder, Insurtech Australia
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