Motorway mayhem

April 30, 2010

Bankstone staff may encounter more difficulty than usual getting into work tomorrow to begin their regular task of tallying the weekend warrior wipeouts.

Why, you ask, agog with rapt avidity? Because – according to local paper the Huddersfield Examiner (they get to the bottom of every story), angry truckers and bikers (they always mix well, don’t they – like buses and cyclists) plan slowing our local motorway (the M62) to a crawl in protest against rising fuel costs (for which, obviously, fellow road must be held accountable).

With petrol now selling at £120,000 per litre, it does make one wonder exactly why we bothered invading Iraq (twice). Perhaps it was because Saddam Hussein was a bad man and our brothers the Iraqis are better off without him. But we digress. (Don’t we always?)

Billing their little outing as “May-Hem” (technically defined as the maiming or mutilating of another person or persons), the protesters say it will give motorists a chance to vent their anger over soaring fuel costs (while moving at 5mph) (good opportunity to give the dog some exercise at least).

April 30, 2010

Oh yes: the Mighty Quinn is now licensed to thrill once again with its own inimitable brand of insurance product across the full length and breadth of UKland.

But for many Quinners (Quinnies?) it looks like a classic case of too little too late. Around 900 staff, the Irish Independent reports, could still lose their jobs under plans being finalised by the company’s administrators.

The recent decision to allow Quinn to re-enter the UK motor insurance market, having only just been asked to pull out prematurely, may provide some minor satisfaction for the Quinnsters. But the landscape looks a little different now.

Unofficial confirmation of impending lay-offs, looks set to dash workers’ hopes of the firm renewing its low-cost love affair with the UK motor insurance market right where it left off.

Sources quoted by the Irish Independent noted that “the UK move would result in a smaller business for Quinn in that market – because prices are set to go up, thereby cutting the number of policies written.”

Not to mention the mood-killing effects of some cold water thrown by the press.

April 30, 2010

“It’s nothing sinister, just a natural evolution of the technology that is out there,” an AA spokesman told the Daily Telegraph.

The evolution in question involves sinister satellite surveillance of our every automotive move. Speed cameras from space, currently being tested, combine GPS and 24/7 all-weather number plate recognition technology to track your average speed across the country.

The Home Office admitted trials were taking place but declined to provide details for reasons of commercial confidentiality. The AA said it would monitor the (not sinister) system carefully, without specifying exactly how. From space perhaps.

Photographer: Danilo Rizzuti

April 30, 2010

“It is a joke. I’m not bothered. I knew I’d get three points,” shrugged Paul Railton, 23, of County Durham. “I might save myself some money not having a car,” he observed laconically. after being disqualified for six months thanks to nine previous points.

According to Associated Press reports, Railton’s offence involved ‘walking’ his dog whilst driving a Nissan Navara down a country lane in County Durham. At his hearing Railton was accused of hanging onto the dog’s lead through the driver window” whilst proceeding at 5mph, and consequently not being in full control of his vehicle. On being found guilty, he was fined £66 and ordered to pay £43 costs and a legal surcharge of £15.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA told Bankstone News: “Sorry Love, they’re closed now. Try calling back in the morning.”

April 29, 2010

Recycling is catching on like never before in today’s make do and mend Britain. More than 100,000 writes-off get back on the UK’s roads each year.

Musician-friendly motor insurer Swiftcover reckon 105,000 former write-offs came back into circulation legally last year after passing the relevant checks. But many more return without any form of check, it is claimed, with incautious second-hand car buyers putting themselves at risk of finding their motors uninsurable.

The DVLA allegedly has “no idea how many people are driving write-offs.

Swiftcover’s handy hints for those buying a second-hand car include:

• Ask the seller whether it’s a write-off.
• Don’t lie about a write-off when applying for insurance.
• Get a friend who knows about cars to look it over for you.

April 23, 2010

Independent insurance intermediary Central Insurance Brokers has signed up outsourced claims specialists Bankstone to provide a full-service white-labeled external claims handling service to its clients.

Chris Lozetsky senior partner of Central Insurance Brokers comments: “Having thoroughly researched the market, we picked Bankstone because they seemed the most professional and responsive provider in the outsourced claims space. Their technology platform is very advanced and it’s great to be able to see all our claims in real time via a dedicated secure web portal.

“A key attraction for us is the ability Bankstone provide – via our software house SSP – to extract client data instantly and seamlessly from our system. This makes the whole process of first notification far quicker and slicker – and saves asking customers for lots of information we should already know as their brokers.”

Bankstone director Dickon Tysoe adds: “I am delighted Central have chosen Bankstone. They and their clients will benefit from our market-leading technology platform, our state of the art online claims facilities and our team’s exceptional knowledge and experience. I’m confident we can add significant value by helping Central maximise customer satisfaction and client retention while reducing operational costs.”

April 23, 2010

“It’s all over the front page, you give me road rage, Mulder and Scully, la la la la” or something, sang popstress Cerys Matthews of yore.

How prescient those words now sound, with the world in the grip of so-called “rom rage” where lovers’ altercations manifest in recklessly random road use.

A new survey of 1,183 motorists by insurers More Th>n found has that found that driving after a heated row with a partner has “been responsible for ne>rly 2.5million >ccidents.”

So Tiger Woods and his missus may have been just the tip of a large and hideously misshapen iceberg.

One in three admitted seeing red and taking off in their car following an argument. One in 12 admitted crashing in the process. Meanwhile 36% told More Th<n they pay less attention to the road after a quarrel, and 19% claimed they drove “err>tic>lly.”

Firm believers in the power of cognitive science to overcome emotional disturbance among their policyholders, More Th^n have collaborated with exotically-named psychologist Honey Langcaster-James* to create a unique new units system for measuring romantic road rage.

The silent treatment, apparently counts as 2 units – allow five minutes cooling off, or you might step on the pedal a little too hard.

A snide remark is worth 4 units on the More Th>n Scale – allow 10 minutes, or you might turn your hurt and pain on other motorists by, for example, “driving too close to cars in front.”

A heated debate gets you 8 units and could cause you to lose control at the wheel unless you take 15 minutes out to calm down.

An exchange of cross words: 10 units – after one of these you’ll have to wait half an hour until those fight or flight instincts wear off.

A blazing row counts as 12 units and you’ll have to wait an hour before you drive or you’ll probably kill somebody. Some breathing exercises may help.

More Th>n’s M>rk Christer comments: “It’s vit>l th>t drivers underst>nd how getting behind the wheel in >n overly emotional st>te could be the c>use of > serious, or even f>t>l, >ccident.’

* Brainstorming and creative sessions led by Honey Langcaster-James, her website claims, help firms “get inside the minds of their customers and stimulate creativity.” Honey also acts as a spokesperson for PR and marketing campaigns. Her recent projects include the launch of new fragrance, Pure Purple, by HUGO BOSS.

April 23, 2010

“I’ve never seen anything like it in all my 15 years on the bench,” said presiding magistrate Neil Munson, as reported in the Daily Telegraph this week. “This is most unusual.”

The case in question involved former RAF aeronautical engineer Paul Hutton, 40 who was banned for three years after driving a modified electric child-size Barbie car on the open road with twice the legally permitted level of alcohol in his blood.

“I’m not unhappy with my punishment, just a little bit surprised,” Hutton told the Telegraph. “You have to be a contortionist to get in,” he said of his ride, “and then you can’t get out. Originally it was a pink Barbie car designed for three to five year olds, but I put bigger wheels on it.”

On the basis that – pimp-tuning notwithstanding – the Barbie mobile still moves slower than a mobility scooter, the bench found itself inclined toward a lenient view. Mr Hutton is now hoping to get his impounded vehicle back from Colchester police.

April 23, 2010

“After years of paying premiums,” fraud specialist Tony Jones told MSN Money, “some policyholders believe it is time to get something out of it.”

Jones is client services director at fraud firm Treating Customers Fairly (TCF), who reckon eight out of ten adult UKians would consider exaggerating or fabricating an insurance claim “or know someone who has.”

Believe it or not: fraudulent insurance claims cost £1.9 billion a year, adding £44 to the average UK premium, with an estimated £5.2 million of fraudulent claims going undetected every day!

The main offenders, according to MSN’s report are “males between the ages of 18 and 34 in full-time employment, with an income of more than £30,000 and non-mortgage debt of more that £5,000.”

The current economic downturn has unleashed a spate of upgrade-necessitating damage to electronic equipment: mobiles dropped in water closets, laptops drenched by beverages, that kind of thing.

Accidental damage to high-value items like LCD TVs and high-end watches has increased by as much as 35% since 2008, says MSN, quoting “insurers.”

And why bother with scrappage or swappage or sewage, or whatever it is now, when you can simply torch your car, report it stolen and cash in on the insurance? Treating Customers Fairly report a 300% increase in motor arson claims from 2008 to 2009.

“I love the smell of burning Nissan in the morning,” commented Keith (not real name), 24.

April 23, 2010

What has become of our young ladyfolk? First they match their male peers drink for drink, now it seems they’ll soon be paying the same astronomical motor insurance premiums.

The latest EMB Car Insurance Price Index shows that premiums for ladypersons between 21 and 35 years of age are rising significantly faster than those for any other section of the population.

“The ladies have had it too easy for too long,” comments Arthur Vale of Premiere Motor Solutions. “You seem them round here tearing up and down, ten to a car, semi-naked, bellyful of alcopops, texting, chatting, applying the lippy. Accident waiting to happen, mate.”

“In pure monetary terms,” add EMB partners Peters and Lee, “younger females still pay less, and younger females cost insurers less overall in claims than younger men. But the recent lager increases affecting women suggest that many insurers are narrowing this price differential between the sexes at younger ages.”

Exactly how young these insurers are when they narrow the price differential is not specified, but it’s surely a sign of things to come.

Overall, EMB found that car insurance premiums have risen by around 14.3% in the past year, from £458 to £524. And with claims costs on the rise, they warn, the upward trend could well continue.

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