See Monkey Moviestars on YouTube

December 18, 2009

Yes it’s true: the long awaited rushes of this year’s Monkey Moviestars epic charity fundraising event are now available to view on webthing YouTube. To catch all the action (warning: strong language, adult themes and nudity from the start) simply click here.

Last month Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe was at the Yorkshire Ambulance’s Annual Recognition Awards at Rudding Park in Harrogate in front of 180 people including local celebrities Dickie Bird, Martyn Moxon, Gaynor Barnes and Jon Mitchell to collect the Corporate Award for Bankstone in recognition of its support for the life-saving charity.

Was it with a sense of unreserved pride that Dickon strode back to his seat with the warm applause still ringing in his ears? Was it b*ggery!

It’s all very well dozens of grizzled insurance people spending a weekend haring round Yorkshire film locations on laughably undersized motorbikes – click here for the evidence – but where are all your blo*dy donations, you rotten skinflints?

Less than £2k of Bankstone’s £10k target for the 2009 event has so far rolled in, and that simply isn’t good enough. Christmas is a time for giving. So get yourselves to Just Giving (click on the link to the left) and start bl*omin’ well giving!

December 18, 2009

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! So implored poet John Betjeman, no great fan of the Berkshire town with the ambiguously spelled name, which rhymes with plough, not tough, or though, or through, or for that matter with (Frank) Bough.

Struggling for other selling points, the town latterly made infamous as the setting for TV’s The Office has promoted itself for the past half century as a “Safety Town.” These days even this limp boast lies in tatters.

This year Slough was again confirmed – for the third consecutive year – as the UK’s number one urban accident spot.

Slough’s rate of motor accident claims per insured driver was 41.3% above the national average during 2009 according to an annual index compiled by insurer Endsleigh.

Belfast is the safest place to drive in the UK. Scottish towns are statistically safer than Welsh, which are safer in turn than English conurbations.

If you want to drive somewhere safe in England your best bets are Norwich, Ipswich, Cambridge and Cheltenham. B towns like Bradford and Birmingham (second and third worst respectively) are generally best avoided.

“Clearly there are some parts of the UK which are safer than others,” concluded Endsleigh spokesman Stuart Wartalski, “when it comes to the frequency of accidents on the road.”

December 18, 2009

Weirdly named insurance group Markerstudy has embarked on a potentially dangerous experiment. According to the firm’s website, Markerstudy plans to inject fun into the insurance industry.

The latest phase in this controversial initiative is appointing former QBE motor man Steve Stone as Nice Underwriting Manager from 1 January 2010.

As the man with the coolest name in insurance, Stone’s arrival should help to balance out the whole Markerstudy thing.

But, given that he’s a respected and experienced veteran of three decades’ QBEing, via Torch and Ensign, his propensity for contributing on the merriment front has yet to be seriously tested.

Stone’s decision to move on has, however, fuelled speculation that QBE is preparing to exit personal motor – put off perhaps by the excess of fun in the market currently.

Mr Stone – on whom the astronaut Stony Stevenson in Kurt Vonnegut’s Between Time & Timbuktu is reputed to be based – will not, however, be straying too far from his former Chelmsford base with Ensign/QBE.

He’ll be basing his team of new team of nice motor underwriters in… Chelmsford.

December 17, 2009

Enough is enough. The good people of this country are sick and tired of picking up the tab for the feckless few who flagrantly flout the law of the land. The time has come for action.

Decent hard working people are paying the price for a malingering minority of young male drivers, uninsured drivers, drink drivers, drug drivers, text drivers, pile drivers, drivers who look at billboards, scenery, attractive members of the opposite sex and so on. Irresponsible idiots, quite frankly, who add literally thousands of pounds to every bill you will ever pay.

But now the people of this this country are drawing a line in the sand (or snow depending on local conditions). They are standing tall, proclaiming loud and clear: “This far, danger drivers, this far – not one inch further!”

Raised up on the shoulders of this yeoman army of honest everyday people is Nick Starling of the Advanced Barometry Institute who took the opportunity of the Institute’s Annual Motor Conference to announce that 72% of Brits want insurers to check applicants’ licences for endorsements and criminal convictions.

How can he know this? Can he see inside our hearts to read our true desire? Maybe. Maybe not. But his specific claim to knowledge in the present instance rests on an ABI survey of 2,000 motorists, 1440 of whom demanded licence checks.

Another 1440 (72% again) also mentioned that they thought the people most likely to cause motor accidents were those who use mobiles while driving, followed by young male drivers (45%) and uninsured drivers (34%).

Starling said: ” We rely on people being honest, but those who conceal motoring offences not only push up the cost of insurance for everyone, but also run the risk of having any claim rejected. To protect honest customers, insurers are currently discussing with Government whether they would be able to check for relevant motoring convictions and endorsements.”

Godspeed you, Sir, we say. May you prevail in your endeavours and may the clearly expressed will of the Great British public be implemented without quibble.

December 16, 2009

People often ask: what is the perfect length for a news story with a motor insurance claims type theme around lunchtime on the last working Friday before Christmas? Bankstone News generally says something like, oh, around 47 words, I suppose.

Season’s greeting from all at BS News!

December 10, 2009

Not so much Bankstone News as Bankstone News News this week. But brace yourselves… next week’s will be the final edition of Bankstone News… for this year at least.

Yes, sad to say, Bankstones’ news monkeys will be taking an ill-deserved break over Christmas and the New Year. But at least there’s still next week’s Bummer Christmas Special to look forward to.

After that, if you want to read a lot of garbled old nonsense with an insurance theme, you’ll have to rely on Post Mag, Insurance Times et al for the remainder of the Noughties til BS News comes back with a bang in the Tenties.

December 9, 2009

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
But here’s some news to chase away your cares
There’s a broker getting bigger
And it’s raised a pretty figure
By issuing 20 million’s worth of shares

So… always look on the Brightside of life…
[whistle and repeat]

It will all be quite amazing
‘cause the proceeds of the placing
Will be used to do extraordinary things
We’ll all feel better knowing
That the group will soon be growing
With new technolo-gy to give it wings

So… always look on the Brightside of life…
[more whistling, more repetition]

It’s sure to be a hit
When you look at it
And there’s plenty left still minus 1 mil fees
The bright prospect they’re invoking
Covers med rep, finance, broking
And enhances earnings opportuni-ties…

So …always look on the Brightside of life…
[more whistling and repetition ad nauseam]

December 9, 2009

Quote comparison site reckon young drivers spend an average £2,455 a year insuring their cars. Does that mean they’re crazy? Probably, say Adrian Flux.

But the Fluxsters aren’t just impugning young drivers’ mental health for the hell of it. They’re here to help.

“All it takes is a bit of common sense,” claims Fluxman Gerry Bucke, and you can cut that figure in half.

So let’s have no more of this foolishness, young drivers! Not when the Fluxmen are on hand with a handpicked handful of handy hints to help you take your motor insurance costs in hand.

Step One: Choose the right car. Nothing over 1,000cc and avoid like the plague those badges saying things like Sports and GTI, warns Bucke.

Step Two: Take Pass Plus (or equivalent advanced driving course) and get yourself a discount of up to 30% – see for details.

Step Three: You kiss and hold her tight. No, wait, that’s not it…

Step Three: Join the owners’ club – virtually every make and model has one, they’re virtually free to join, and membership can qualify you for 10-15% off your premium.

Step Four: Go for a limited mileage policy – limiting yourself to, say, 5,000 miles could save you 10%.

Step Five (here’s how confident Flux are): Shop around! “Call several insurers and compare quotes,” Bucke suggests.

Step Six: Don’t put your faith in the internet, and beware of suspiciously cheap online quotes – if and when you make a claim you could find there’s a whopping excess.

Step seven: Although… opting for a higher excess is a good way of paying less each month.

Step eight: Buy a classic car – classics (which could mean something as little as 10 years old) are usually a lot cheaper to insure that standard models.

So, by the time you’ve passed Pass Plus, bought a classic Mini with an 848cc engine, joined the club, opted for a high excess, and promised not to go too far in it (mileage-wise, at least), the insurance company will probably be paying you.

And you can spend your weekends in your parents’ garage with a spanner, trying to make the bloody thing go again.

December 9, 2009

In a move that has surprised virtually no one, Capita is handing back what’s left of Teceris to former Teceris man Stewart Steel who’s now ensconced at VeriClaim U.K. the recently launched UK offshoot of VeriClaim Inc. The deal is thought to include most of Teceris’ senior management and support staff.

Meanwhile Capita is selling its motor fraud investigation arm to Mike India 5. This is the business  formerly known as Brownsword which Capita bought from founder David Brownsword back in 2004. Mr Brownsword remained at the helm until 2006, before being “lured out of retirement” to become CEO of… MI5. So effectively he’s sold and bought the business back.

Or something.

December 9, 2009

Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, Marijuana, Ecstasy and Alcohol (x4), C-c-c-c-c-cocaine! Thusly enumerate Queens of the Stone Age on their classic (and highly irresponsible) paean to mind-altering substances, Feel Good Hit of the Summer.

Now Lord Adonis, secretary of state for transport and male beauty, has delayed publication of the government’s new road safety strategy while he seeks advice on drink and drugs.

The source of said advice? It’s legendary legal swordsman Sir Peter North QC, whose prolific output was such a seminal influence on 1991’s hugely acclaimed Road Traffic Act (RTA).

North will now be adopting an expression of blissfully productive concentration as he comes up with a veritable flood of fresh thinking on drink, drugs and driving – and how the law should handle their interface.

According to a recent survey by road safety charity Brake, 50% of UK drivers and bikers admit to drinking and driving (consecutively, in that order, presumably – rather than simultaneously) and 10% to doing it at least once a month and/or to driving after three or more units.

There is no clear correlation between the number of units consumed and the level of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream, on which the 80mg per 100ml legal limit is based. A person’s size and weight make a big difference (good news for the corpulently sanguine, less so for the bloodless skinny).

Fifty per cent of Brits wrongly believe it would take at least two units have any effect on their driving, and 8% that at least four units would be required.

There is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol when driving, only a legally permissible amount. We must all behave like grown-ups and reach our own accommodation with the knowledge that any moving motor vehicle is a potentially lethal instrument.

Confusion also reigns over what drinks have what effect. Contrary to popular opinion, a single pint of strong lager or cider (between four and five units) can contain more alcohol than two glasses of wine or two measures of spirits (around four units).

Having fallen dramatically over the past two decades, deaths due to drink-driving appear to be on the rise again. There were 560 last year (more than ten a week), up 6% on the 2001 low-water mark.

With the 2008’s overall road death toll down 14% at 2,538 (around 50 per week), it seems drink-driving is currently implicated in around one in five driving fatalities.

How many road deaths result, in whole or in part, from the use of recreational drugs, nobody really knows. But, according to an AA/Populus survey, half of UK drivers believe drug driving is at least as much of a problem as drink driving. It’s a tough one to prove when post mortem testing for controlled substances is by no means routine and roadside testing remains rudimentary verging on non-existent.

In the absence of drug-alysers, UK police rely on something like the US drunk tests so memorably parodied by Steve Martin in The Man with Two Brains. Suspected drug users have to count out 30 seconds, walk nine paces back and forth, balance on one leg, touch the end of their noses (with their eyes closed), and pass a pupil dilation inspection (with their eyes open).

Roadside drug testing equipment is already in common use in Europe and the US. In South Africa their drug-alysers can detect cannabis, cocaine, opiates and amphetamine from a single saliva swab, all in around three minutes – showing in the process that 19% of drink drivers have also taken drugs and that 12% of those who pass the booze test fail the drugs test.

Delegates at an AA seminar on drug driving heard how different drugs affect drivers in different ways. Cannabis impairs concentration, steering accuracy, and reaction times. Cocaine induces over-confidence leading to aggressive driving, errors of judgement and excessive risk-taking. Ecstasy distorts visual perception and impedes concentration and risk-awareness. Opiates like Heroin slow drivers’ reaction times and make them lethargic. And LSD can basically freak a citizen out completely, causing them to react to things that aren’t even there.

So what options will Sir Peter be proposing? Limits on the quantity of illegal substances permissible in drivers’ blood streams? Graded penalties for being caught more or less drunk at the wheel? Harsher punishment for repeat offenders?

One of the most likely outcomes is a proposed reduction in the legally acceptable alcohol limit bringing us into line with the 50mg per 100ml in force in several other EU countries.

In reality, most of those involved in fatal drink driving incidents are not just slightly over the limit, but way over. Major cuts in the current levels of drink-and-drug-related driving deaths will require a direct and effective appeal to the consciences of individual drivers rather than fine judgements of calibration.

Given that such individuals’ moral faculties may already be considerably impaired when they get behind the wheel intoxicated, this is no easy task.

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