Size matters

May 29, 2009

Consternation reigned at the recent BIBA conference in Manchester when brokers Heath Lambert unveiled their latest slogan. Big Enough to Deliver and Small Enough to Care, their stand graphics proudly proclaimed.

Reassuring as conference delegates must have found the idea that a commercial organisation of moderate size might actually give a damn, representatives of insurer Groupama smelled a rat. Hadn’t they been using almost exactly the same slogan since 2005?

Cue red faces, wrangling, and, no doubt, eventual humiliating climb down by Heath, who clearly haven’t looked at the insurance papers much in recent years. Though Groupama weren’t being all that original themselves: Air Cargo Portugal have been “Small enough to care – large enough to deliver” since 1990.

Even within the insurance industry, being “small enough” is far from being the unique preserve of the tidily proportioned Groupama. Other self-declaredly small-enough organisations include Beacon Insurance, Henderson Insurance Brokers, DMKC Insurance, Oxley Insurance Brokers, PRS Insurance, Turnbull Whittaker Insurance and Waveney Insurance.

And then there’s National Australia Communications, FTC Transportation, HBA Accounting, Surecare Residential Nursing, Advance Thermal, Abela Airline Catering, Jessups, Bikes UK, Belmont Homes, Cirecncster Friendly Society, Daw Computers, Oklahoma’s Plainview Public School, Cranetech – the list goes on and on.

And without boring you with the details ‚ and despite all those unsolicited emails suggesting otherwise‚ it turns out there’s quite of bit of being-big-enough-ness around too.

But frankly anything that carries even the suggestion that caring might be a problem is not exactly the strongest of grounds on which to base an advertising slogan. Let the wrangling continue‚ Bankstone News is too big to care.

Anyone who does care can check out the relevant websites which can be found at Heath and Groupama, we think…

May 29, 2009

More disturbing news of casual dishonesty in the UK this week as the latest in-depth research from aggregator shows 19% of parents happy to front their kids’ motor insurance.

Then again, maybe it’s blissful ignorance rather than immorality fueling this dubious practice. The same unimpeachably objective research exercise revealed that 31% of drivers believe it is legal to register their offspring’s vehicle in their name and add them as a second named driver.

Only 34% of those surveyed by were aware the practice is illegal, with the remaining 35% firmly in the don’t-know camp.

Bliss, however, is no defence in the eyes of the law, and those frontin’ for the kids could be in for a rude awakening.

“It’s staggering,” says Steve Sweeney, head of motor insurance at, “to see the lack of awareness around the practice of fronting – how worrying that such a large percentage of motorists think it is either legal to do so or don’t even know.”

“London and Wales are the worst,” the survey findings suggest, “where only 15% and 17% respectively would tell the truth to their motor insurance provider.”

If that’s not worrying, Bankstone News doesn’t know what is!

May 29, 2009

Confirming what every Arsenal fan already knows, nodding dog insurer Churchill has statistically proved that no good comes of frequenting White Hart Lane‚ not if you’re a motorist at any rate.

In yet another glorious mash-up of dry claims data with PR-friendly novelty angles, Churchill can now reveal drivers parking up round Spurs’ North London manor (N17) face a 59% above average risk of needing to make a motor insurance claim. Fellow Londoners West Ham (E13) aren’t much better at 46% above average, closely followed by Aston Villa in Birmingham’s B6 at 45%.

Over the past four years Wigan Athletic’s JJB stadium (pictured)‚ situated as it is in the middle of nowhere‚ has been the safest Premier League ground to take your car. But you’d probably need a better reason than that to bother visiting the Latics’ ground.

Taking a perverse pride in his team finishing first in something for a change, Spurs fan James Murray at Churchill turns out to be something of a social scientist: “Traditionally football stadiums have been built in inner city areas with high population densities.

“Areas with high population densities are more likely to experience car insurance claims, possibly more so on match days when the areas are crowded. On the flip side, the newer grounds in non-residential areas see fewer car insurance claims.”

May 29, 2009

Football fans are causing chaos on our roads claims ITV national weather sponsor Esure.

The evidence? Research carried out by TTE systems at the University of Leicester suggests that listening to sport on car radios causes two million road accidents or near misses each year.

The report claims startlingly that the average driver listens to football on the radio three times per month and‚ even less plausibly ‚ that six percent (two million people) somehow contrive to do so every day.

Tests involving football commentary and driving simulators saw fans speeding up at key moments, tailgating at times of tension, and generally driving distractedly.

A Newcastle fan (presumably topless) was monitored putting his foot down and overtaking recklessly as his team surged forward in their recent match against Pompey. Thankfully they’ll be on the radio less from now on.

A Chelsea fan depressed the accelerator when Barcelona were reduced to ten men in their controversial Champions League clash a couple of weeks back. Given the unprecedented referee-related provocations of that evening, however, increasing from an average 68mph to 73mph in moments of excitement may not seem all that dramatic. Whether he began shouting and slamming his fist against the dashboard minutes later when Andres Iniesta scored is not recorded.

Professor Michael Pont’s view was that “where possible – football fans should ask someone else to drive during important matches.”

Esure’s Mike Pickard adds: “Red cards, penalty shoot-outs, and the intensity and pace of a football match can result in sudden acceleration or deceleration, erratic lane changes, tail-gating and over-taking manoeuvres. It’s safer to get a lift, stay at home or just don’t tune in whilst driving.”

The research found that drivers in the North West listen to sport on the radio in their car most (an average 10 times a month)‚ and that’s just the ones who haven’t had their car radios nicked‚ while the Welsh listen least, presumably because you can’t pick up a medium wave signal in the valleys.

Sadly Esure and the prof went to press with their findings before this week’s Champions League final and were therefore unable to record whether traffic ground to a halt in the North West as Man U fans drove slower and slower and slower before grinding to a sobbing halt‚ an effect no doubt all the more pronounced in places with a high concentration of Reds fans like London, Bournemouth and the Far East.

May 29, 2009

Latest news on Bankstone’s charity fundraiser Monkey Moviestars (see many previous stories) is that there are 17 Monkey Bikes now signed up to take part, the biggest herd of Monkeys ever gathered for this annual event.

“Imagine,” muses Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe devilishly twirling an non-existent moustache, “how the inhabitants of Yorkshire will tremble as these mighty machines rumble past on the 11th and 12th of July!”

But seriously the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service plays a vital role in saving many lives each year on the county’s roads. They desperately need your financial support to keep their choppers flying‚ so do the decent thing: visit Bankstone’s justgiving page and pledge your generous support right now!

May 28, 2009

Fleet News has a radical theory about motor fleet insurance premiums. Apparently the better you manage risk, the lower your premiums.

Improved risk management, the paper claims, can get fleet managers lower premiums even when premiums in general are going up.

All fleets, the paper claims, “will face pressure on insurance premiums as cars become more expensive to repair and personal injury costs escalate.”

Andrew Fletcher, commercial motor underwriting manager at Groupama Insurances, told the paper: “Most fleet insurers have had an unprofitable time in recent years‚ they need to improve their underwriting results by increasing premiums.”

For every £100 of motor insurance premiums in 2006, insurers paid out £111 in claims and expenses. Meanwhile “accident claims costs are rising, with average parts and repairs costs increasing from £592 in 2005 to £708 in 2007,” with a further 17% predicted by 2013.

Fleet managers can cut costs by self-insuring a broker claims ‚ cutting out the insurer’s 20% profit margin and overheads. But of course, Aon’s Allan Briscoe warns stiltedly, “it is vital that your claims history is understood and the firm is committed to a full risk management programme.”

A culture of zero acceptability for accidents is recommended, and even charging a proportion of at-fault accident claims costs to the drivers responsible.

Next week in Bankstone News: how to boil an egg.

May 28, 2009

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders or “smut” to their friends report that new van sales have fallen off badly. Commercial vehicle production fell by 65.2% in April to a miserable 7,655 units for the month.

New van registrations for April were down 45.6% for the month and down 30.3% to 236,967 for the rolling year. The implication is that fleet managers and other buyers are increasingly turning to the second hand market.

SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt hasn’t stopped believing though: “With the scrappage incentive scheme fully operational, industry is optimistic about the positive impact this will have on the market and on UK production facilities,” he claims.

May 28, 2009

The Times has been warning its readers about the hidden perils of buying a second hand car. “Cloned cars and forged documentation are all too common in the second-hand car market,” the paper claims.

Stolen cars are top of the list. The Home Office figures suggest that 170,000 cars were stolen last year. Anyone who has unwittingly forked out for one of these can end up badly out of pocket if police find the vehicle and return it to the previous owner or their insurance company.

Cloned cars create problems for the owners of the original vehicles with the same plates and vehicle identification number (VIN), in the form of unexpected parking fines and speeding tickets. But having either a stolen or a cloned car creates problems for new owners when making an insurance claim.

While third-party costs may be covered, insurers are unlikely to pay for damage to a vehicle that is not legally the policyholder’s property.

Potential nasty shocks for second-hand car owners making a claim include discovering that outstanding finance owed by the previous owner means the vehicle is technically the property of the finance company.

“If a vehicle has a number plate starting with Q,” claims the Times’ article, this means “the identity of the vehicle is unknown or it has been built using several used parts,” and “it will be very difficult to obtain car insurance.”

Owners are also warned to check whether their car has been written off previously by an insurance company. If a vehicle has been declared a total loss, or a category A or B write-off, it may have sustained serious structural damage in the past and potentially be unsafe. The AA’s Ian Crowder suggests purchasers pay for a mechanical inspection.

If buying privately, the paper suggests cannily, say you are calling about  the car’ and be wary if the seller asks which one; make sure you view the car at the seller’s home, not a public place; and check the seller’s phone number does not appear in several advertisements.

May 22, 2009

A partnership between technology firm Tracker and the ACPO’s Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service codenamed Operation Semita allows police to detect Tracker-fitted stolen vehicles.

Tracker then sends teams in to recover the vehicles, splitting the proceeds with insurers.

Detective chief inspector Mark Hooper comments: “Semita has helped insurers recover not only stolen vehicles fitted with tracking devices, but also associated vehicles discovered at the time or as a result of subsequent inquiries.”

Around one million UK vehicles have been fitted with Tracker devices, but in many cases their owners are not even aware of the fact. Tracker MD Bill Raynal said the technology would save insurers millions of pounds by targeting precisely these vehicles.

Whilst Raynal claims “Feedback from the UK insurance industry has been extremely positive,” not altogether surprisingly some insurers are less than enamoured with Semita, being of the view that they alone should profit from the sale of recovered vehicles.

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May 22, 2009

Born again bikers are writing themselves off at an alarming rate according to Strathclyde Police.

Thirteen bikers aged between 40 and 55 died on the region’s roads last year, with another three already gone the same way this year‚ even before the prospect of a fine bank holiday lures more victims into the deadly embrace of Strathclyde’s undulating tarmac curves.

All three fatalities this year have occurred on rural roads, at the weekend and involved riders in the middle age bracket. Of the thirteen fatalities in 2008, all were men. Their average age was 43, and nine of the incidents took place at the weekend.

Superintendent Niven Rennie urges caution on middle aged weekend warriors: “We are aware that certain roads within the Strathclyde area are seen as being particularly attractive to motorcyclists and whilst we welcome motorcyclists and motorists to the region, we want them to be safe when they are here.”

“Motorcycle riders will always be more vulnerable on the roads than car drivers,” Rennie claims. “Weather conditions changing suddenly, excessive speed and poor judgement in overtaking can all add to that danger.”

“In addition,” he notes with the utmost tact, “a lot of the motorcyclists who fall into the 40 to 55 year old age bracket may not have quite the same experience in handling powerful motorbikes.

“While we don’t want to spoil people’s enjoyment of their hobby, we have to urge caution. Our main aim is to reduce the number of road deaths and make Strathclyde’s roads safer. To this end, I would ask motorcyclists to reduce their speed and obey the rules of the road”.

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