January 29, 2009

Peter Winslow, chief executive of the BGL Group is sad, reports Insurance Times. Why? Because Bob Perry, managing director of the group’s claims management business ACM ULR is moving on after 13 years.

“I’m sad to see Bob leave us after a long and illustrious career with the group,” Winslow confesses. But every cloud, as they say, has a silver lining. Brightening appreciably, Winslow continues: “we are fortunate that Martin Overton has an enviable track record in new business generation and contract management that will take…”

Hang on, you interject, who’s this Martin Overton? Why, none other than the new managing director of ACM ULR as of 31 January. Martin Overton, Martin to his friends, moves across from being business development director at BGL’s affinity business Junction. He joined Junction back in 2007, having first served time as COO at customer care and billings supplier Servista. Ser vista, of course, is Spanish for  get noticed’ ‚ which Mr Overton clearly has! BGL now plans to have another go at flogging ACM’s services to third parties, claiming it “plans to bring renewed focus to the external outsourcing potential of ACM’s model” and is “well placed to work with new partners in the industry.”

So who’s filling the business development director role now at Junction? No idea mate. What do think this is, a news service or something?

January 26, 2009

Bankstone has appointed Steve Halliday as National Sales Manager. His responsibilities will include building relationships with personal lines brokers interested in reducing their costs and administrative burden and maximising their revenue from handling clients’ claims.

Steve is an experienced insurance professional, having worked with leading names like Endsleigh, Swinton, Highway and Legal & General, but was also previously an outstanding middle-distance runner ‚ representing his country around the world and beating legends like Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett over 1,500 meters. He is also an ardent supporter of Halifax Town football club and co-editor of fanzine Shayven Haven.

Bankstone director Dickon Tysoe comments “We are delighted to have Steve on board. With his strong track record and excellent industry contacts, I am very confident he will play a valuable role in helping us further develop our relationships within the UK broker market. He’s a most welcome addition to our growing team.”

Since it began trading in November 2004 specialist outsourced claims provider Bankstone has established itself as a leading specialist provider of complete claims management solutions to brokers, insurance companies and claims management companies.

January 22, 2009

Insurers are chuffed, says Insurance Times. Government plans to criminalise owners of uninsured vehicles are going down a storm.

“Uninsured drivers thought themselves above the law,” says tough-talking Zurich direct boss Mike Quinton. “This needs to stop, and stop now.” Government plans to seize and crush uninsured vehicles should see to that. That and fining their outlaw owners! A  blight’ is what Quinton calls the uninsured. AA Insurance director Simon Douglas agrees. “They add £30 to every honest driver’s premium,” he says, welcoming the crackdown on “this scourge of British motorists.” The insurance industry, he adds, is “well geared up” to get renewals sorted pronto so customers aren’t “landed with an automatic £100 penalty for failing to insure their vehicle.”

Driving uninsured now gets law-breakers “a fine of up to £5,000 and six to eight penalty points,” he notes with satisfaction, with police empowered to “confiscate and dispose of uninsured vehicles.” He’s happy to go easy on those “away from home or in hospital when their existing policy expires” though, and wraps up saying “the industry needs to work with Government to ensure the Motor Insurance Database holds the right information at the right time ‚ so that, for example, law-abiding motorists are not wrongly accused of being without insurance, especially if they change insurers.” You can’t say fairer than that.

January 22, 2009

Fleet managers need to be fully aware of repairs costs before ordering new cars, warns Fleet News somewhat platitudinously. Why? Because new bumper test results released by motor insurance repair research centre Thatcham show that even walking-speed crashes can cause damage costing thousands of pounds to fix.

Most spectacularly, crashing a Subaru Impreza at just 6mph rendered the vehicle undrivable and resulted in £4,151’s worth of repairs! “The car achieved its poor rating,” Thatcham explained helpfully, “because of the severity of damage and excessive repair costs.” Obviously concerned about losing the Impreza’s no doubt vast share of the fleet car market, manufacturer Subaru countered that the tests are not part of Thatcham’s insurance group rating assessment. But Thatcham had already considered that: “If the insurer identifies that the repair costs on a particular vehicle are consistently higher than other vehicles they will look to mitigate their risk and adjust premiums accordingly.”

Fleet News also quotes CAP’s Mark Norman agreeing ponderously that: “In terms of whole life costs it is unlikely to have any visible effect on individual models as many fleets already tend to exclude higher insurance group vehicles from choice lists already. Where costs are likely to be pushed up by this,” he adds, continuing to eschew elegance of expression in favour of an authoratatively gritty and comma-free tone, “is via any further rises in insurance premiums due to higher repair costs.”

Of the 12 vehicles tested by Thatcham, most achieved  poor’ or  marginal’ ratings. Only the dependable Ford Focus got an  acceptable’ rating (repair cost £789) in the rear bumper test. It was also the best performer up front, with a repair cost of £1,556. Nine out of twelve needed new headlights ‚ the Impreza’s at an eye-watering £382 each. “Many bumper systems do not protect the rest of the car from damage because they are too weak, poorly aligned, too small, or in some cases, not there at all,” Thatcham, unlike this story, went on.

January 21, 2009

New powers to target those who merely keep (rather than actually drive) an uninsured vehicle will help the government catch “the selfish minority of uninsured drivers who cost law-abiding motorists £400m each year” and keep them off the roads said Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick who unveiled the new measures yesterday (20 January).

In future the DVLA will work in partnership with the insurance industry to identify uninsured vehicles. Their owners will then receive letters telling them their vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning they must insure it within a set period. Failure to comply will result in a £100 fine. Then if the vehicle remains uninsured – regardless of any fine paid – it could be seized and destroyed.

Government figures suggest that uninsured driving adds around £30 a year to every motorist’s insurance premium – amounting to more than £400m a year in additional premiums ‚ and that uninsured and untraced drivers kill 160 people every year and injure another 23,000.

The police already have powers to seize and destroy vehicles driven uninsured and improved access to the Motor Insurance Database making it easier to detect uninsured driving by using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) equipment. Police removed around 150,000 vehicles (more than 400 a day) in 2007. A new offence of causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured was introduced last year.

Jim Fitzpatrick said: “The selfish minority of drivers who refuse to insure their cars push up premiums for other motorists and kill or injure thousands of people each year. Increased police powers already mean more than 400 uninsured vehicles are seized every day but these tough new measures will leave uninsured drivers with nowhere to hide.”

Latest government estimates indicate that around 6.5% (around 2 million) of GB motorists drive uninsured. The penalty for driving without insurance is a maximum fine of £5,000 and 6-8 penalty points. Around 300,000 offenders are convicted for uninsured driving every year.

January 20, 2009

Brit Insurance has unveiled an enhanced motor fleet policy to include improved corporate manslaughter cover.

Now available to both new and renewing customers, the policy is designed for fleets of five or more vehicles, including cars, vans, HGVs and “special types.” In addition to unlimited cover for corporate manslaughter legal defence costs, the new policy also includes personal accident cover for both drivers and occupants. Brit underwriting director Ray Cox comments: “We are always striving to improve policy cover and the services available to our brokers and their customers. These enhancements have bolstered an already-competitive product and reflect our commitment to this area of the market.”

January 16, 2009

Aviva-owned RAC Motor Insurance is switching back to using a panel of underwriters, reports Post Magazine news editor Mairi MacDonald.

Three years ago, the operation ditched its previous panel arrangement to use new owner Norwich Union as sole provider. Before that ‚ as Post editor Jonathan Swift notes elsewhere in the magazine ‚ the operation was solely underwritten by Axa, before being bought by RAC and placed with a panel. The latest panel deal sees brokers Junction signed up for five years to provide online service support via the RAC contact centre. NU is expected to lead with 30% to 40% of the business, with Axa, Fortis and Chaucer (plus another six to be announced) all joining the panel this month.

The plan is to double premium income and customer volumes within five years. RAC’s head of sales Mark Godfrey told Post the deal would “enable RAC to grow cross-selling opportunities among its customers and allow it to take advantage of Junction’s experience working with insurance panels. Using a panel,” he said, “allows us to leverage our existing RAC breakdown customer base.”

January 15, 2009

Brendan Devine, previously MD of GE Money Loans UK, has been appointed to replace the recently departed Martin Oliver as managing director of Kwik-Fit Financial Services.

Reporting directly to Kwik-Fit Group chief executive Ian Fraser, Devine is charged with growing KFFS as a UK personal lines broker ‚ extending its strong presence in motor insurance into areas such as motorcycles, vans, and household insurance. Mr Devine said he was excited: “I am excited,” he said, “to be joining such a dynamic team and relishing the prospect of a new challenge.”

Continuing with scant regard for syntax, he added “KFFS is one of the most respected and successful insurance brands in the UK and has also won many plaudits as well as a fantastic place to work.” KF CEO Ian Fraser commented: “We are delighted to welcome Brendan to the team. He brings a wealth of experience of the financial services sector and has the right credentials to lead KFFS through its next phase of development.”

January 14, 2009

Following the success of Monkey Monopoly in 2007 and 2008, Bankstone’s charity fundraising antics for 2009 are sticking with the general concept of careering around Yorkshire on Monkey Bikes – but with an excitingly different theme this time.

It is a little known fact that over 120 major movies have been filmed on location in Yorkshire. These include the Harry Potter films, Brassed Off, The Full Monty, Little Voice, Kes, Brideshead Revisited, Calendar Girls, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, The Railway Children and many more besides.

So over the weekend of the 11th and 12 of July this year Bankstone and friends will be taking to the road again on their Monkey Bikes and visiting some of the county’s most famous film locations. At each one they will be recreating a famous scene shot there.

With over 400 miles to cover in two days, they will be filming against the clock, using a selection of props, riders and of course the Monkey Bikes themselves. Any one for Brideshead on Monkey Bikes?!

Further details of the films and stops on the route will be available nearer the time. Once again the county-wide tour will raise money for an excellent cause – helping keep the Yorkshire Air Ambulances flying.

Anyone wishing to support excellent cause can make a donation at

If you would like to take part – or offer your support in any other way – please contact Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe.

January 14, 2009

No sooner, it seems, had Insurance Times’ Ellen Bennett put the finishing touches to a 1500-word review of the proposed sale of Royal Bank of Scotland’s insurance operations (published in last week’s edition), than The Sunday Times pops up with the news that former Aviva man Patrick Snowball is mounting a bid for the operation which includes Direct Line, Churchill and NIG with private equity backing. In a piece entitled The Great RBS Giveaway, she argued that RBSI’s price had been slashed from £7bn to £3bn, but that still no one was interested. CVC Partners, she wrote, appeared to be the last remaining bidder, notwithstanding the loss of former bid partner Swiss Re, concluding: “If the bank does not have a realistic offer on the table by the annual general meeting in February, chances are it won’t sell ‚ but it will be looking to make the deal to free itself from the government’s grip. For CVC, if the price is anything close to £3bn, it will be worth the wait.” The Sunday Times piece (reported in the online editions of both Insurance Times and Post Magazine this week) makes no mention of a price tag ‚ though analysts suggest it could be more than £3bn ‚ but does specify that Snowball’s bid ‚ backed by leading private equity firms Apollo and BC Partners ‚ would involve retaining current incumbent Chris Sullivan as CEO.

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