Any colour you like, so long as it’s green

June 25, 2009

Traditionally seen as unlucky and accident prone, green cars are suddenly in vogue – though not necessarily green coloured ones.

Cars of that hue are the equal-second-most-likely to have accidents‚ tied with black, just behind brown – according to research carried out by the University of Auckland in New Zealand in the early Noughties, which also found silver and white the least likely to crash‚ but we digress!

No indeed, the green cars in question are the environmentally friendly ones currently being promoted by politicians, transport activists and municipal authorities up and down the land‚ and specifically the electric and hybrid ones.

Monkeysupermarket.com, that reliable stand-by source when trumped-up car insurance stories are hard to find elsewhere, has proven beyond all statistical doubt that 39% of motorists would buy a hybrid or electric vehicle, if buying one they were.

More startling still is the accompanying revelation that the motor insurance premium for a green car is typically “similar to a standard car” or, to put it more precisely, similar to the insurance premium for a standard car. Can it really be only October last year when the same moneysupermarket.com were telling us “eco-friendly car insurance can cost over 105% more than standard cover”?

Thirty-three of the 39% green-leaners cited above would opt for the hybrid, and just 6% for a full-on plug-in. Meanwhile 36% of UK motorists would not even consider purchasing either, with the remaining 21% not knowing, not caring, or both.

Insurance for an eco-friendly vehicle is similar in price to a standard petrol car, moneysupermeerkat.com claims, but “eco-friendly Brits can make savings elsewhere as hybrid and electric cars qualify for reduced or even zero road tax.”

Sweeney Steve, their head of motor insurance says: ” Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, [green cars] are also incredibly cost effective for the owner. Those driving a car such as the Honda Insight Hybrid would only pay £35 in road tax per year due to its low emissions [compared with] around £120 for standard petrol cars. The G-Wizz would not even qualify for road tax as it does not emit any harmful CO2 pollutants.”

The survey found Londoners and South Westerners most receptive to verdure, with 48 and 49 per cent respectively saying they’d opt for a hybrid or electric car.

This may not be altogether unrelated to green cars’ exemption from the congestion charging scheme in force in London, where Major Bozzer Jozzer recently outlined plans to set up thousands of vehicle charging points across the city and‚ perhaps revealing wider political ambitions‚ to make Britain the “electric car capital of Europe”.

London currently has 100 electric vehicle charging points in roads and car parks‚ a figure expected to rise to 250 by the end of 2010.

Bo Jo now plans to have 25,000 charging points by 2015, serving 100,000 vehicles. There will be both “slow charging points” allowing cars to be refuelled overnight and industrial-strength “rapid charging points” at petrol stations.

Moneysuppermarket.com also found younger people far more eco-car-inclined that older ones ‚ with almost half of 20-somethings saying they would go green. Young uns are more evangelistic on the subject too, suggesting that running your car on petrol could soon be about as socially acceptable as drink driving.

For previous coverage on electric vehicles in Bankstone News – and a lovely picture of a crouching BJ – we dare you to click here.


June 25, 2009

Marking an exciting first for Bankstone News (i.e. someone has quite clearly read one of our stories), we have been asked to remove the piece originally posted here about Crash for Cash scams in Bradford on general grounds of taste, decency and fair play, but here’s one we made earlier.


June 25, 2009

Brits are cutting back on their insurance spending in an attempt to save money. Or so say Sainsbury’s Finance.

Their latest press statement suggests that nearly 950,000 UK residents have either given up or cut their home contents insurance, whilst another 700,000 have reduced or stopped payments for their buildings protection.

Nearly 600,000 have reduced their car insurance, and over half a million have dropped their life insurance policies to pay “more important bills.”

Sainsbury’s home insurance manager, Neil Laird, warned (a little late for some) that reducing or axing insurance cover could have “serious financial consequences – were anything to go wrong.”

To see how the situation has moved on since we last “covered” this story in April, click here.

June 25, 2009

Latest statistics from the ABI show fraudulent insurance claims on the rise as the recession starts to bite.

An estimated 107,000 false claims last year (worth £730 million) constituted a 30% increase on 2007.

Household insurance fraud was most prevalent by volume, with 50,000 false claims during 2008, but motor insurance claims came out top by value ‚ totalling £360 million.

But the ABI has a warning for anyone thinking of topping up their spending money with a dodgy claim. “Insurers,” their representative body claims “are intensifying their crackdown on insurance cheats and the fraud that adds an extra £40 a year to the average premium.”

All right, we wrote this in a hurry! To read a previous, much longer and more entertaining story on the same topic, you could always try clicking here.


June 25, 2009

On 18 September this year Bankstone’s crack karting crew will be hugging the corners indecently close at Daytona Milton Keynes as they compete in the 2009 Insurance Endurance event.

Haring round the 1300m track‚ modestly described in its own publicity as the finest outdoor karting facility in the UK‚ the Bankstone boys will be hoping against any repetition of the downpour that rained racers off the all-weather Delugrip surface at the same event last year.

Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe says: “this is always a great day out and I warmly recommend it to anyone who might be considering whether or not to attend.” Further details of the event and how to book places can be found by clicking here

Bankstone News will be reporting back later in the year on how Dickon, Andy and the rest get on in this, the ultimate test of grit, skill and overall body weight.


June 19, 2009

Like the more famous TV series before it, the 2008 British film of Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 Novel Brideshead Revisited was shot on location at Castle Howard north of York.

Waugh’s novel is mostly about fleeting youth and Catholicism. Both TV series and Film are mostly about the flamboyant lifestyles of the British Aristocracy of the early 20th Century and tragically unfulfilled love.

The TV series made a star of Jeremy Irons but ultimately failed to do the same for Anthony Andrews ‚ oddly miscast as teddy bear wielding Sebastian Flyte, supposedly the handsomest youth in Oxford.

The Howard family was apparently eager to welcome film crews to the estate again ‚ hoping the film would renew interest in the property in the same way as the TV series before it. But a none-too stellar cast and mixed reviews may have limited this effect in practice.

All this, of course, will change with the triumphant arrival of Bankstone’s Monkey Moviestars convoy next month!

Over the weekend of the 11th and 12th July, a convoy of around a dozen monkey bikes will be setting off from the Bankstone offices in Brighouse to visit the locations of 10 well known films around Yorkshire.

There will be six stops on the Saturday including an overnight stop in Whitby and then four more sites on Sunday finishing back in Brighouse.

The sites are:

• The Piece Hall, Halifax ‚ Brassed Off
• Cow and Calf Rocks, Ilkley ‚ Calendar Girls
• Aysgarth Falls, Aysgarth ‚ Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
• The Golden Lion, Northallerton ‚ The Way to the Stars
• The World of James Herriot Museum, Thirsk ‚ All Creatures Great and Small
• Goathland Station, Goathland ‚ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
• Whitby Abbey, Whitby ‚ Dracula
• The Coffee Bean Cafè, Scarborough ‚ Little Voice
• Castle Howard, Near Norton, York ‚ Brideshead Revisited
• Leeds United Stadium, Elland Road, Leeds ‚ The Damned United

At each stop, the monkey bikers will be recreating a scene from the film concerned in costume.

If you would like to support this insane quest‚ and why would you not‚ visit www.justgiving.com/monkeymoviestars where you can also see a video of last year’s event and, of course, make a generous donation.

It’s all in support of a great cause. The Yorkshire Air Ambulance relies solely on the generosity of individuals and sponsors to help save lives across the region. It costs £7,200 a day to keep its two helicopters and highly trained paramedics in the air. Since the service was launched in October 2000 it has flown over 2,200 patients to hospitals across the region and saved many lives.


June 19, 2009

Poor old AXA. Every time the French insurer has the misfortune of laying off vast swathes of its workforce the same old clichéd headlines roll out. AXA the axer – ever heard that one? And now, as the firm looks set to shed a further 500 head of staff, the same old headline is sure to be back in circulation.

But is it fair that AXA should be branded Axer? And what exactly is an axer anyway? Need something chopped? Call an axer! Has anyone ever said that? Probably not. Because, even if we sort-of know what it means‚ it isn’t really English is it?

In that sense, it’s a bit like AXA’s own weirdly lost-in-translation slogan Be Life Confident. Though, on reflection, perhaps even that mistranslated doggerel is an improvement on their 2002 effort, You Only Have to AXA – or the laboured hand-holding of 1999’s Go Ahead. Go Ahead with AXA.

Perhaps that blandly patronising injunction worked better in the original as: Allez-y. Allez plus loin avec AXA. Or maybe not.

No doubt the axer tag does AXA an undeserved disservice in seeming to suggest relish rather than regret in culling surplus staff during straitened times.

Which reminds us: Bankstone News’ Jamaican friend Alexa works for AXA in Alaska. We hope they didn’t axe her. Has she still got a job? We’ll have to aks her.


June 19, 2009

Microsoft plans to spend $100 million advertising its “new” search engine Bing. Will that be enough to lure us all away from the ubiquitous Google? Will Binging it one day replace Googling it?

More cynical observers have noted that Bing is basically yet another re-brand of the search engine that began life as MSN Search before becoming Live Search.

On the plus side, there is general agreement that the snappier name is an improvement and that the user interface looks and feels a lot better than previous incarnations.

But some have questioned both whether Bing’s core search functionality is as fast, efficient and reliable as Google and whether some of its more eye-catching add-ons like video previews from search results slow it down further.

There are also concerns that Microsoft’s model of delivering search results influenced by local commercial partners makes it less appealing than Google’s purer focus on delivering simply the most relevant results.

If you are searching for car insurance, for example, Bing returns only UK results while quite a good few auto insurance deals creep in via Google. Bing’s local tendency is arguably useful in that it saves you typing in UK‚ but clearly there are unseen hands steering your search in ways you didn’t necessarily ask for.

Bankstone can’t complain, though, since a lot more of the Bankstones returned by Bing are us (i.e. leading UK specialist insurance management company) rather than the fictional London suburbs immortalised by “00” gauge model railway enthusiasts or West Bank Stone Throwers picked out by Google.

Can’t decide‚ no problem‚ just click through to mash-up “Bingle” at https://bingle.pwnij.com/ and you get to use both at the same time.

Type Bing into Bingle and it looks like Bing is being curiously modest. Bing finds Crosbys and film production companies, while Google pings back Bings of the kind that everyone’s currently searching for. Modesty or inferior algorithmny – judge for yourself.

Meanwhile typing Bingle into Bingle pulls up an Australian car of that name, Bradford and Bingley, Santa’s helper Mr Bingle, and antipodean model Lara Bingle.


June 19, 2009

The Scrappage backlash is well and truly under way. The supposed environmental benefits of swapping older motors for newer more efficient ones have been comprehensively debunked. The jobs supposedly created are often overseas. While dealers (those that have opted in) are supposedly recouping their half share of the £2000 sweetener by cutting back on cut-price finance deals.

Two thousand pounds off often seems to mean 2k off the full list price, which no-one pays anyway. For all but the smallest cars, online brokers are already offering more than £2k off most models.

The latest flaw found in the scrappage scheme (which saw 60,000 10-year plus vehicles traded in during its first month) is that scappagers are seeing the savings they made subsumed by increasing insurance costs.

Not only do they face higher premiums on their nice new cars, reports myfinances.co.uk, but the costs involved in switching are also taking their toll.

The story looks a little in danger of falling flat, however, with the revelation that (according to data from uSwitch.com) average adjustment fees for a car insurance policy are just £19.40, with the highest fee (£25) charged by AA, Esure, More Than, and Sheila’s Wheels. The average cancellation fee was put at £41.67. But even that is a relatively small chunk out of £2k.

A bigger problem for the scrappagers could be depreciation. Myfinances.co.uk claims “motorists buying the UK’s top ten best-selling new cars are set to lose £527 each month due to depreciation in the first year behind the wheel of their brand new motor.” Now that would take care of £2000 fairly quickly!

The UK’s best-selling car‚ the Ford Focus Style ‚ the article continues, loses £8,625 or 51 per cent of its value in the first year, while the Vauxhall Astra loses 67 per cent of its value. Depreciation hits hard in the event of a write-off‚ as the insurance payout only covers the vehicle’s value at the time of the accident.

June 19, 2009

According to disturbing new research from insurers Direct Line and national road safety charity Brake, two thirds of British motorists don’t recognise a zebra crossing sign. Many drivers are apparently unaware of the meaning of common road signs.

Forty five per cent were stumped by the  no motor vehicles’ sign. A third didn’t recognise the  bus lane ahead’ sign. Almost one in six drew a blank on the  national speed limit’ sign, and only 12 per cent knew the meaning of all eight signs shown to them in a test.

Direct Line’s Maggie Game explains: “Road signs play a central role in mitigating many of the risks on our roads. If motorists don’t understand what a sign is trying to communicate, the risks increase significantly.”

Quite so.


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