No cause for alarm over PI LIPs explosion

January 22, 2018

Answering questions on potential problems with the government’s proposed PI reforms from members of the Commons Juice Committee on 16 January, justice minister Dickie Keen (aka Lord Keen of Lie) explained patiently that something will turn up and it’ll all be fine.

Barring claimants with injuries worth under £5k from recouping their legal costs, Lord K accepted, would significantly increase the number of persons obliged to seek justice without the benefit of legal representation. But, he insisted, litigants in person (LIPs) should have no trouble negotiating the complexities of the English civil justice system unassisted.

There’s really nothing much to it, he suggested. And if LIPs really felt they needed help, someone or other would probably be only too happy to provide it. Their union, perhaps. Or maybe the Citizens Advice Bureau. It would give them something to do. Or what about Claims Manufacturing Companies (CMCs) – couldn’t they get involved?

Responding to quibbles along the lines of ‘weren’t CMCs supposed to a key factor in creating and sustaining the fanatical compensation cult that is currently threatening the entire fabric of British society’, Keen noted that, obviously, there were one or two bad apples amongst the CMCs of this world, but most of these chaps were perfectly reputable and it would be good to get them involved in a new sector of the market where they could provide a refreshing alternative to Before The Event insurance for trivial PI claims.

When some smart-arse pointed out that, just because a case is low-value, it doesn’t mean it isn’t complex, Lord K suggested that judges or perhaps ‘parties’ could step in to have the cases taken somewhere else where complicated legal stuff could more practicably be accommodated. Or, better still, claimants could simply give up and go away.

Quizzed on the fairness and appropriateness of denying so many smaller claimants the chance of legal representation, Lord K stressed that the most urgent matter was not what should be done but when – and, what with all these fraudulent whiplash claims about these days, that ‘when’ could not come soon enough.

Exactly how many fraudulent claims are there about these days?, someone wanted to know. To which, Lord K patiently reiterated that this was really not the point. Far more important than getting bogged down in a lot of tedious detail, he made clear, was getting something done – and getting it done quickly.

The beauty of a one-size fits all solution like the proposed small claims limit increase, he emphasised, was that restricting little people’s access to legal support would make them much more likely to ‘pause and think about the merits of their claim before they make it’.

Quite right too! If people can’t afford justice, they’ve no right going round demanding compensation every time they happen to sustain some minor injury or other. It’s basic common sense, really, if you think about it.

And, if that seems a trifle harsh, there’s plenty more to come where that came from. So you’d better get used to the idea.

Major incident on the A380

January 22, 2018

On December 21 last year Nicholas “Nikki” Springthorpe, an insurance executive of excellent character, was on board an Emirates flight from Dubai to Birmingham when a combination of “somewhat bizarre circumstances” culminated in the unfortunate boss of One Call Insurance being arrested and subsequently landed with a £3,205 fine from Birmingham magistrates.

Or at least that’s the story Bankstone News saw splashed across the webpages of that leading pictorial purveyor of scantily clad celebrity flesh, MailOnline.

According to this publication, Mr Springthorpe (or Springthopre, as the website originally construed his name), found himself caught up concatenation of contretemps after he was witnessed acting tired and emotional in the top-deck business-class bar of an Emirates Airbus A380.

Fellow passengers attested that Mr S was conversing loudly with a travelling companion and with other occupants of the bar and using language not perhaps ideally suited to polite company. With something less that complete specificity, a gratuitously sweary Karen Cockpit, prosecuting, is quoted by the MailOnline clarifying that “the defendant was using words like **** and ****, but not **** and certainly not ****.”

It was while thus engaged in carousing and conversing that Mr S is alleged to have taken vigorous exception to the presence of two children in the bar area and to have subsequently become involved in a combative discussion (perhaps even a scuffle, but not necessarily a full-blown brawl) with their father.

Barry Cuttle, defending, noted that in a state of inebriated exhaustion consequent upon a recent divorce, a holiday in Singapore, a flight thence to Dubai, having had a couple of drinks, and now enduring the fresh ordeal of the Emirates business class bar (imagine an Intercity buffet carriage with better lighting), Mr S perceived a brace of crawling children as a clear and present ‘danger’ and felt he had no option but to voice his emphatic exception to their inappropriate presence in a drinking environment.

Be that as it may, angry words and a certain amount of argy-bargy ensued between Mr S and the father before the latter, perhaps prudently, elected to yield the bar arena to Mr S.

When Mr S himself decided to return to his seat, he had the misfortune to become involved along the way in two further heated exchanges with other passengers. The second of these, Mr Cuttle claimed, saw a passenger disturbed whilst ‘listening to music’ leaping to his feet, seizing Mr S by the throat, and shaking him.

And yet, the unfortunate Mr S was arrested and fined, whilst the would-be strangler was merely cautioned!

Mr Cuttle fully accepted that his client may have been a tad boisterous due to the exceptional exonerating circumstances noted above, but insisted that the One Call boss was now very sorry, upset, and indeed retrospectively disgusted at his own behaviour, and was by no means the kind of person who makes a habit of getting into drunken fights on aeroplanes.

And let’s face it, which of us has not, when confronted in our cups with the extreme provocation of poorly supervised children, especially after 20 hours without a decent kip, felt moved to unleash a bit of inner rage.

At Bankstone News we do it all the time, which may be why the council took the kids off us.

Congestion on the A380 (artist’s impression)


Time for Marsh to mellow out?

January 21, 2018

Far be it from Bankstone News to interpose itself betwixt a start-up InsurTech operation and the wrath of global broking behemoth Marsh & McLennan Companies, but reports that minnow insurance provider Marshmallow faces the threat of copyright-enforcing legal action from the mighty Marsh could not but catch our eye this week.

Granted, the respective names of the two organisations share five consecutive letters, but is there really any meaningful sense in which Marshmallow is in any way inspired by, derived from, or likely to gain commercial advantage from this nomenclatural overlap?

This is a marshmallow (an item of confectionary).

This is a marsh (a type of terrain).

The two are somewhat dissimilar, you’ll probably agree.

But wait, the Marsh in Marsh Mclennan does not refer directly to marshes of the wetlands kind. It derives from a common English surname (originally applied to persons living on or near a tract of boggy land).

Here is a Marsh.

Here is another (partially disguised as a giraffe).

And here is a third.

Positing an emulative connection between a company named after an edible cylinder of sugar, water, gelatine and corn starch and another named after the third of our human Marshes (its joint founder Henry W. Marsh, to be specific), seems fanciful, to say the least.

Indeed, Mallow Insurance Brokers of Mallow, County Cork, Ireland might have an equal right to challenge the UK start-up if we go down this route.

Besides which, if Marshmallow were trying to piggyback on the brand equity of Marsh, they would have branded blue like Marsh, not a slightly pastel red.

Besides which in turn, Marsh may be a big name on the global insurance stage, but has the average personal-lines insurance consumer ever heard of it?

Bankstone News suspects not.

So, seriously, Messers Marsh, grow a sense of proportion, get over your big bad selves and cut these chaps some slack!

Having said all which, we only have the word of Marshmallow founders Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham that this emotive David v Goliath copyright wrangle even exists.

Maybe it’s all just a canny publicity stunt.

In which case, ironically, maybe Marsh’s legal guys would have a leg to stand on.

Axes2Justice flags rival bid for UK’s whiplash crown

January 12, 2018

Not content with plotting to steal back Northern Ireland from the UK as a spin-off from the Brexit process (thereby undoing all the great work done by Oliver ‘Chuckles’ Cromwell, Billy Jean King et al), the Republic of Ireland is apparently trying to purloin our title as the Whiplash Capital of Europe.

The Emerald Entity’s designs on our prized WCE title came to Bankstone News’ attention recently via an ‘investigation’ published by campaigning group Axes2Justice (which exists to deny decent ordinary claims-free motorists the 36p reduction in motor insurance premiums promised by government in return for surrendering the legal right to ‘try it on’).

According to Axes2Juices (J2O) Irish insurance brokers have been urging the Republic’s claim to the WCE title since as far back as 2016, when they claimed that whiplash accounts for 80% of motor insurance claims in that country. Meanwhile some joker called Kevin Tom Thumb, supposedly the chief executive of something called Insurance Ireland, has separately bragged that (at €15,000 per whiplash claim) “We have the most expensive necks in Europe.”

And it’s not just Ireland that’s been eyeing up our crown. There are real fears now that sour-grapes EU member states may also be plotting to strip the UK of its role as Europe’s whiplash capital as punishment for our temerity in taking back control.

The Justice2Excess ‘investigation’ quotes some implausibly named academic, one Professor Kenny Elephant, who’s been going round suggesting that lowly Italy has nearly 50% more whiplash claims than the UK and pays out more than twice as much in compensation. Absurdly, Elephant claims the value of UK whiplash claims is no better than mid-table in the Euro neck-pain compensation league.

Germany, France and Spain also have aspirations to take over from the UK as Europe’s whiplash capital.

But how seriously should we take such claims? Not seriously at all, we say here at Bankstone News.

There’s just one word to describe the preposterous, preening pretentions of these pompous puffed-up Euro popinjays: fake news!

Who is David Gork?

January 11, 2018

Allow us to explain.

Perhaps you’ll recall Bankstone News revealing just the other day that Tudor historian David ‘D-Lidz’ Lidington had taken over from Mad Lizzy Truss as Justice Secretary?

Well, forget that. D-Lidz has done one, and in comes David ‘Talk to the Gork’ Gork, a tough-guy lawyer who was previously the SS for W&P and the government’s all-purpose fixer of things in need of fixing.

What will he be fixing in his new role as J-Sec?

Well, hopefully the Ofgem rate for a start.

The insurance industry had high hopes the last bloke might sort the discount rate chaos unleashed by Lizzy T. But by the time the unfortunate Lidz was approximately half-way through having a bit of a look round and mulling things over, his time had come and gone.

Now all the insurance industry’s hopes are focused on the blunt-featured silver-tongued MP for Hertfordshire South West.

Steve Wipe of retro fashion house BIBA was one of the first to welcome Gork, noting cryptically that his “experience as a lawyer and in Treasury suggests he will understand many of the issues affecting insurance brokers and we look forward to meeting him in due course to discuss Ogden and other matters affecting our sector.”

How will The Gork get on as J-Sec?

You can count on Bankstone News to keep you posted.

Roll up, roll up, try your luck at car insurance!

January 10, 2018

A disturbing new report in the Daily Mail has revealed that how much you pay for your motor insurance policy can literally depend on a lottery. A postcode lottery, in fact.

Having never properly understood what the term postcode lottery means, Bankstone News decided to investigate.

Apparently, where you live can influence how much insurers will want to charge you to insure you car. This is a bit like a lottery (or other game of chance) in that where you live can be a bit, you know, random (especially if you’ve never moved since your parents randomly met, conceived and raised you).

Now price-comparison site MonkeySuperMeerkat has discovered that while premiums for some postcodes have gone up over the past year, those for others have actually gone down! So – again, like with a lottery – there are winners and losers.

As with a lottery, of course, there are more losers than winners – with average insurance premiums going up by 4% in the last three months of 2017.

Areas where premiums went up the most according to MSM included Lincoln, Wolverhampton, Wakefield, Wigan and Kirkwall, prompting at least one MailOnline reader to blame the increase on the high incidence of foreigners in these areas.

Strange?? that immigrant towns suffer big rises,” commented sparky666 (presumably a satanist electrician), “i wonder why…..not”.

Legalised theft,” added Smellmet of Goole, pithily.

Perhaps the most insightful comment of all came from MeansWell of London, who wrote “Tell the whole in this article. What about the claims made on these insurances and areas? East Londoners make most of the claims.”

A fair point, clearly. But MeanSwell went on to ask, entirely reasonably, “Why should be penalised because some areas seem to make higher claims than in mine..”?

Will we ever know the answer to questions such as these?

Or will motorists be forever doomed to blindly suffer the torments of the so-called postcode lottery?

Let’s hope it’s not that one!

Super rapid car inferno? Experts challenge notion

January 5, 2018

In what must surely be one of the most elaborate and well-organised motor insurance fraud attempts ever perpetrated, more than 1,500 vehicle owners arranged to gather their vehicles in a seven-floor multi-storey car park next to Liverpool’s Echoey Arena – under the pretence of attending something described as a “horse show” – and torched the lot!

That, at least, was the allegation made this week by an unidentified source, who claimed UK motor insurers have been deluged with tens of thousands of calls quoting “Merseyside Police log 650 on 31/12/17” this week.

Many of the callers claimed to have lost cars that were crammed to the rafters with newly acquired and extremely valuable Christmas presents – or, in at least one case – a boot full of (almost) priceless antique Indonesian votive figurines carved from highly flammable balsa wood.

Suspicions were initially aroused by the massive scale and rapid spread of the blaze. One online commentator noted that in tests conducted in a similar scenario, “fire jumped cars every 5 minutes or so” whereas, in the Echoey Arena car park, hundreds of cars were already ablaze in the eight minutes it took fire crews to respond to initial reports of a vehicle on fire at 4.42pm, just after darkness fell.

Experts claim there has never previously been a fire like this, anywhere, ever. And indeed numerous eye-witnesses to the spectacular and explosive blaze claimed they had never seen anything like it. Car tyres, fuel tanks and engines were popping like popcorn in a microwave oven, bystanders confirmed, in a conflagration that was quite literally a towering inferno – with cars.

“Miraculously”, no human lives were lost, while Gizmo, Hank, Cassie and Betty, the canine occupants of one car left on the unroofed top floor (where several vehicles were afterwards discovered virtually unscathed), were rescued by emergency responders.

Sadly, pets left in any vehicles on the lower levels would not have fared so well. The one upside, as reported by the MailOnline, was that the brave boys who rescued Gizmo and his pals were able to keep the lucky pups “fed with some spare hot dogs.”

But motor insurance fraud may not, in fact, have been the true cause of this bizarre and inexplicable incident. MailOnline commentator Zaardoz of Vortex (he of the 5-minute fire-jump claim quoted above) reckons it may have been part of a sinister plan by “elite masons” to set UK (aka Babylon) ablaze as a smokescreen for their (equally sinister) attempt to take complete control of the country (or preferably the entire world).

Hopefully, for those of us eager to understand what really happened, the ill-fated car park (once vaporised floors have been made sufficiently safe) will soon be a-crawl with painstaking claims investigators raking the site for readable reg plates, vehicle and parts identification numbers, and traces of charred balsa.

New Qatari owners for Markerstudly

January 4, 2018

Qatar may currently be the blockaded hostage of an aggressive cabal of Sunni Moslem states, but that hasn’t stopped one of its leading financial services organisations, QIC, snapping up Gibraltar-based (soon to be Spain-based) motor insurance products specialist Merkinstudy via its (QIC’s) Bermuda-based subsidiary Qatar Re.

Indeed, if the nine months since Qatar paid a ransom of $700 million to Iranian-backed Shi’a militias in Iraq to secure the release of various Qatari royals kidnapped whilst indulging in a spot of off-piste falconry in southern Iraq, indirectly triggering the Kingdom’s being blockaded by its neighbours and served with a long list of outrageous demands (from shutting down Al Jazeera to paying hefty ‘reparations’) by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Yemen and a bunch of other like-minded regimes, have shown anything, it is that, as official news agencies have repeatedly confirmed, “Qatar can overcome any challenge.”

Clearly, if the country with the world’s third-largest oil and gas reserves can shrug off a challenge like that, the up-snappage of an offshore UK-focused insurance provider bu one of its leading FinServs players is clearly no biggy. Precisely what kind of a king’s ransom QIC has paid to secure Mucustoady (along with its associated brands Zenit Insurance, Sir Julian’s Insurance Company, and Ultimatum Insurance Company) remains undisclosed at the time of writing (and quite possibly forever after). But, for the Qatari big guns, money is surely no object. Not when a company that controls 5% of the UK’s insanely lucrative motor insurance market is up for grabs.

QIC Group president and CEO Khalifa Al Subway explains that: “This deal allows QIC Group to grow its lower volatility business while leveraging our existing success in QEL. It is a natural next step in the strategy we have pursued over recent years in relation to the group international businesses, which diversifies QIC’s overall portfolio.” And when you put it like that, the synergy does indeed seem highly compelling.

What’s more Qatar Re’s Herr Gunther Saacke reckons the deal should enable the company to write UK business however the Brexit ends up going down. “Ultimately,” Murkerslurry CEO Kevin “Big” Spender adds “this arrangement will facilitate our strategy for growth and profitability, positioning us for further success.”

So, basically, everyone’s happy.

All in a typical day in the crazy old world of high-stakes multinational off-shore money stuff.

Nothing to do with Ogden or Solvency II


January 4, 2018

Sneaky South-Westerner Miles Savoury shamelessly resorted to sham and subterfuge in his lust to secure a coveted set of custom plates (nothing innocent like M1 LES or V14 GRA, in case that’s what you’re thinking, but the distinctly sinister sounding W1 DOW).

Bristol-based Savoury, boss of dodgy-sounding Accident Claims Handlers Limited, cynically abused the DVLA’s database to locate the owner of said plates, which he hoped to buy.

In pursuit of this dastardly design, Mr Savoury (Mr Unsavoury, more like) concocted an entirely fictitious incident in which he claimed the driver of a vehicle with the aforementioned W1 DOW plates had struck another car in the Bristol area.

In all innocence, the DVLA duly furnished the unsavoury Mr Slavery with the owner’s name and address, to whit: Mr Name Withheld, Huddersfield Address, UK, to whom Savoury sent a letter offering cash for his coveted plates.

Affronted and insulted, the Huddersfield man (who was certain he had never been to Bristol in his entire life, and doubted he had ever even known that such a place existed) smelled a rat and, having satisfied that unusual craving, contacted the DVLA demanding to know how Savoury had got hold of his details.

After receiving confirmation from the police that ANPR evidence confirmed the non-presence of W1 DOW in the South West on the day of the alleged incident, the DVLA referred the matter to the Office of Her Majesty’s Commissioner of Information (ICO).

Long story short, Savoury fessed up to breaching Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998 by unlawfully obtaining personal data, was fined a whopping £335 and ordered to pay £364.08 costs plus a victim surcharge of £33.

Hopefully that will teach him a lesson.

Beware the realm of darkness!

December 22, 2017

With the shortest day now safely behind us, we can look forward not only to a reduced incidence of druidical nonsense but also to increasing day lengths, as axial precession frees us day by day from the dour dominion of darkness.

But there’s plenty of sepulchrality still to come for UK motorists before Hodur concedes to Odur, prompting one telemetrical insurance provider to warn drivers to “reduce their speed as appropriate to the conditions.”

InsureMyBox, for it is they, revealed this week that, whilst they normally alert the emergency services roughly ten times a month to a customer involved in a serious RTA smash-up, that figure rises to roughly 14 a month from November through January.

What this means – for let us not indulge in circumboscal pellation – is that winter brings a 14% uplift in the mortal danger quotient of UK on-road drivage. It’s statistics like that than can put a person off driving altogether – at least until Idun wife of Bragi warms us once again with her gentle vernal wafts.

In reality, of course, few of us can afford the luxury of holing up til Spring with a season’s supply of baked beans, beer and Beef Wotsits. Most of us will need to do a Rea back to the yearning bosoms of our long neglected fam-a-lams.

InsureMyBox man Simon Drool has some wisely words of wisdom for young folks in particular who’ll be delivering carloads of laundry back home around now. The key is taking care, Simon says.

“Darker shorter days bring reduced visibility and the risk of snow and ice,” he cautions. Even when the sun comes out, and you start to think things aren’t so bad, that could actually make things worse: “Clear and sunny winter days can result in strong glare.”

But, provided you don’t do anything silly, and remember snow chains and glare-proof goggles, there’s a good chance you can avoid unnecessary and costly RTA claims. As a minimum, Simon insists, young drivers should “take 20 minute rest breaks at least every 2.5 hours”.

Even when they’re driving.

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