A dark presence broods over Britain’s roads

August 28, 2009

Several fleet publications this week carried the findings of a survey of 200 fleet managers carried out by tracking systems purveyor Road Angel Fleet which claims that more than two thirds of fleets are still without a tracking system.

The survey established beyond any possible doubt that 68 per cent of fleets have any sort of tracking system installed, and only 11 per cent have tracking installed across their entire fleet.

Road Angel in Chief Graham Mackie is perplexed but not downhearted at fleet managers’ persistent disregard for the manifest benefits of having tracking systems installed: “It’s understandable that fleet managers, and their finance departments, are hesitant when it comes to investing in a tracking system – it can involve a substantial capital outlay and the tangible, monetary benefits are often hard to measure.”

Surely he can do better than this, you’re probably thinking. Of course he can; he’s just lulling you into… well, let’s just call it lulling. Anyway, back to the action:

“Measuring how much fuel you save by reducing idle times or private mileage is very difficult, as are the productivity gains resulting from more efficient vehicle use. We have worked, and continue to work, very closely with a number of our clients to establish any potential cost savings they are experiencing by using our systems, and on average each continues to save in excess of £1,000 of fuel per vehicle, per year – and that’s not taking into account any insurance or maintenance savings. That equates to a return on investment of over 500 per cent in some cases.”

Whether Mr Mackie is available for public speaking engagements in not made clear. But Bankstone News can confirm that they do have a very interesting –not to say bizarre – website with an oddly sepulchral feel to it. Bone-white type on a raven-black background establishes the death-obsessed gothic ambience. The ghostly image of a distinctly dark graveyard angel broods over a layout that includes the cross-hairs of an assassin’s rifle and the fragile spiky peaks and troughs of a cardiac monitor – beating still, but for how much longer?

An animated screen meanwhile shows a death-wish driver (tracked by satellite of course) weaving recklessly in and out of traffic crossing Westminster Bridge before narrowly avoiding stationary vehicles in Parliament Square and finally ploughing through a line of smaller vehicles to slam (as we must always now say) into the back of a coach packed with schoolchildren.

What kind of angels, exactly, are watching over Britain’s Roads?

August 27, 2009

Little did Bankstone News appreciate the influence it wields as a ‘lone voice of reason’ type commentator on matters of an insurance nature.

A little mild derision aimed by us at Aviva’s Plymouth Argyle ads and the insurer appears to have changed tack completely and gone for a surprisingly different approach.

A sneak preview of its latest campaign appears to go with an aquatic theme – perhaps illustrating how much more fun life can be with appropriate and attractively priced insurance cover in place.

Still not sure they’ve got it quite right!

August 27, 2009

Motor cover is falling out of fashion with today’s young people – a group who allegedly account for four times as many RTAs as anyone else.

According to a new report from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), one in five motorists aged between 17 and 20 (18 and 19 year olds, then?) is driving (illegally) without insurance.

What’s more the Mibsters found that one in ten of these tearaway tyro tykes has the effrontery to claim “What, it’s illegal to drive without insurance?!” Or words to that effect.

The insurer-funded body claims that 250,000 17 to 20 year olds (we think that’s what they mean) drive without any kind of motor cover. The two-to-three-grand-per-annum cost of insuring the motoring antics of a 17-year old male cited in the report may perhaps offer a clue to the root cause of this problem – that and a flagrant disregard for the law of the land, obviously.

MIB man Ashton West (just outside Bristol we think) says: “Young people make up a significant number of uninsured drivers, and with one in five newly qualified drivers having an accident in the first year of driving they need to make choices based on the consequences of driving without insurance and not just on price alone.”

How does he mean, exactly? How about having their vehicles seized, being fined and receiving up to eight penalty points on their license for starters?

Quoted in The Guardian, Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance is not surprised but shocked: “I’m not surprised at these figures,” he says, “even though it is shocking to see this statistic confirmed.

“Young drivers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a collision than more experienced drivers,” he continues, offering a shocking statistic of his own. “If they have no insurance, any claim has to be met by the MIB, which in turn is funded by honest insurers.” Honest insurers as opposed to anyone in particular? Maybe he meant honest insureds.

The Guardian’s report offers some salutary comparisons between UKland and its continental neighbours: “The UK has one of the highest proportions of uninsured drivers in Europe,” it claims, “with around 5% of motorists not having a policy in place compared with 0.1% in Sweden and 0.2% in Germany. According to [the] latest government statistics, a third of drivers killed or seriously injured on the road were under 25.”

Bankstone News blames the parents.

August 26, 2009

A curse and a pox on yon scurvy recession, sputtered salt-encrusted motor insurer Admiral this week. If it weren’t for a flood of claims shipped amidst the roiling of the current economic storm, the Admiral wouldn’t have had to hoist premium rates five and one half percentage points to make an honest living.

Unfurling its latest results for the first half of the year, the old sea dog revealed a 5% rise in profits swelled by rising car insurance premiums – which, in the wake of this year’s 5.5% rise, are now 8% higher than a year ago. Time to break out the grog, then.

Scanning the seas ahead, the Admiral spied a further 6% rates increase over the coming half year. The increased costs of sailing with the Admiral don’t seem to be harming recruitment though. Without any recourse to press-ganging, an additional 17% have come aboard, boosting turnover to £540m.

A report from consulting firm Watson Wyatt, meanwhile, suggests the UK private motor insurance industry’s underwriting loss in 2008 was more than double that reported to the FSA.

UK insurance companies reported an underwriting loss of only £493m last year. WW reckon actual losses were far worse but were disguised using past years’ reserves.

Senior consultant Ryan Warren said: “These insurers have tried to bolster their results by releasing money from their reserves, therefore disguising the actual underlying performance of the business. By removing these reserves and allocating them to the year they actually come from, we were able to identify and better understand the true underlying profitability of the market.”

WW conclude that the 2008 result was slightly better than the underwriting loss of over £1.1bn in 2007 and represented a break in a continuous trend of losses since 2004 – the only profitable year in the past decade, when the market made a profit of £77m.

RW said slightly improved results last year were due to a reduction in the number of claims, a slight increase in rates, and the restructuring of reinsurance programmes leading to savings in reinsurance spend. However many still struggled to break even last year.”

The firm predicted a return to profitability next year, with projected underwriting losses falling from the current 15% of earned premiums to 6%, with a 2% per annum return on capital after allowing for investment returns.

August 20, 2009

There’s some unsavoury people about these days. And they’re not above flogging punters a dodgy motor or two. Oh no! They’re scouring the scrappage yards for any old rubbish with four wheels and something that looks a bit like an engine.

Esure bloke Mike Pickard reckons second hand car buyers need to do more history homework before they start peeling off notes. His firm claims 59% of slump-hit UKlanders are thinking about buying a second hand car. It doesn’t say what the other 41% are thinking about. Sex probably. Or football. Or shoes or something…

At least they’re thinking. That’s a start, isn’t it? Well maybe not, because it looks like Brit-people are not exactly gifted in the thinking department and don’t even bother to check out “whether the vehicle or the vendor has an unsavoury past.”

Get some official documentation, you muppets! Otherwise Esure are going to chuck your claim out like a hot brick. And don’t say they didn’t warn you! “People can be left disappointed” Pickard says nicely, “if an insurance claim is refused due to the vehicle information they have provided being incorrect.” E.g. probably if you say it’s one car and it’s actually two half-cars welded together or something.

Sounds like another of those false economies people are always going on about.

August 20, 2009

Moneysupermarket.com have been crunching numbers like there’s no tomorrow at their top secret HQ – a giant pristine warehouse where dapper dragon Peter Jones trolley-surfs past endless shelves stacked with loo-roll branded Zurich, Admiral, Churchill etc.

The comparison site claims to have analysed one and a half million insurance quotes and come to the startling conclusion that comprehensive motor insurance is much cheaper than TPFT or third party only. It says fully comp costs £400 on average, TPFT £560 and third-party only £822.

Moneysuperman Sweeney Steve says: “This research shatters several myths. Traditionally motorists might assume a third-party only policy will be cheaper because of the reduced levels of cover, but in recent years, drivers with a more ‘risky’ profile, such as younger motorists, have opted for this cover to keep the cost of motoring down. Providers have reacted to this perceived increase in risk by driving up the cost of third-party only cover.”

Expect a massive surge in motor insurance claims costs this year, then, as all those young motoring wolves start passing themselves off as fully comp sheep.

August 20, 2009

Oh dear, every comparison site wants to emulate the success of the compare the meerkat campaign – but nobody seems to know how. The latest lacklustre effort comes from GoCompare who have abandoned wholesome non-entities in clingy sweaters in favour of a hilarious opera-singing racial stereotype called Gio Compario – Italian for “an accomplice of Giorgio Armani” fact fans.

The first of the new ads begins with two bluff young men in the coffee bar round the corner from the ad agency’s London offices asking one another “Car insurance, eh?” “What can you do?” before a well-padded Welshman with a comedy moustache and Italian accent pops up and belts out the GoCompare song. Genius!

In a distinctly half-hearted attempt to build buzz around the campaign’s launch, GoCompare appears to have funded a legion of iPhone users in I heart Gio and Who is Gio t-shirts to fan out across central London to spell out the word GIO… on one computer screen back at the ad agency’s office.


August 20, 2009

Bankstone’s sister company Bankstone Advantage has a new website. Advantages, of course, are almost universally regarded as good things (though fair-play sticklers may baulk at those deemed unfair) and Bankstone Advantage is certainly no exception to this rule.

But what advantage or advantages, precisely, you may wonder – assuming you haven’t already clicked off to their new site to find out for yourself – does Bankstone Advantage bestow upon its clients? Well, quite a few, actually. Exactly which depends on whether you’re a fleet manager, somebody running a leasing company, an insurer or a broker.

Commiserations, incidentally, to those who find themselves none of these things. If that’s you, you might want to take a few moments to ask yourself where your life has gone wrong and whether, perhaps there’s still time, as Michael Jackson used to say, before clearly there wasn’t for him or that weird looking bloke in the mirror, to make a change.

Rather than spill the beans here, and thereby inevitably spoil the suspense, Bankstone News will spare you the specifics and content itself with urging you, in the strongest possible terms, whatever niche you call your own in life’s professional panoply, to visit Bankstone Advantage’s richly informative and user friendly website to find out for yourself.

You’re sure to find it a refreshing change from the tediously protracted and utterly unilluminating old b*ll*cks you’ve just read.

August 20, 2009

A war of words – or of subtle nuances at least – seems in danger of breaking out between brokers and insurers over claims.

In the wake of new research suggesting that his members are spending a lot more time these days negotiating fairer pay-outs for their clients, BIBA guy Eric Gallbreath has come perilously close to suggesting the unsuggestible.

Research among 350 BIBA members showed that two thirds of brokers think insurers are increasingly trying to wriggle out of paying claims. Brokers reckon they are having to fight harder than ever for their clients. Twenty per cent improvements on original claims offers are said to be commonplace, while 94% of brokers say they have overturned outright claims rejections.

BIBA’s Gallbreath has words to spare: “These statistics seem to suggest a too frequent reduction in the amount offered in claims settlements – a position that could ultimately lead to more customers believing they need to inflate claims in order to respond to what they expect will be the insurer’s initial offer.”

An ABI spokesperson responds: “Insurers believe that fraud rises in a recession and will certainly, in the interests of honest customers, be extra vigilant for suspected fraudulent claims. Being tempted to inflate a genuine claim is fraud, and runs the risk of harder to obtain and more expensive future insurances and credit.”

On a technical note, Bankstone News suspects that being tempted per se (whatever the source of temptation) is highly unlikely to be construed as constituting an act of fraud by any reputable legal authority. The ABI’s legal fact-checkers were probably busy that day.

Allianz claims bloke Roy Hebburn meanwhile is diplomatically firm but fair: “The fraud threat is a very real one that increases during recession, but it is vitally important that our counter fraud activity does not impact upon the service delivery to our honest customers, who are far and away in the majority. We will happily engage in any subsequent debates.”

Let the debating commence!

Could global warming get worse?!

August 13, 2009

Premier Repair Group (PRG) has entered a partnership with Bankstone Advantage Ltd to provide central functionality processes for the repairer group that include industry leading deployment technology, centralised invoicing and full management information facilities, both on line and traditional.

For further details on this story click here to visit the Bankstone Advantage website.

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