Lexus man’s racial abuse claim

August 27, 2010

The drive home from a hospital appointment in Manchester “turned into a nightmare for pensioners Alma and Eric Gallanders,” writes Stephen Wombat in the Daily Mail this week.

When their stereotypically age-appropriate Micra collided with a Lexus, the octogenarian couple were pitched straight “into the middle of one of Britain’s biggest insurance frauds,” Wombat claims.

The Gallanders were more than a little surprised when Lexus driver Abdullah Ahmed insisted they were responsible for the prang. They were a lot surprised when hauled in for questioning by the police, accused of racially abusing Mr Ahmed.

Alma told the Mail she was distressed and upset by the language Mr Ahmed’s statement claimed they had used.

The North West, of course, is a notorious centre crash for cash claims, with Manchester currently at number four in the IFB’s top ten C4C cities, but it was some time before the racial abuse smokescreen cleared and the true nature of Mr Ahmed’s game became apparent.

The crash occurred in October 2007, but only now have the Gallanders finally seen justice done as Burnley-based bad boys Rezwan and Rehan Javed of accident management company North West Claims Centre were sent down for running a fraud ring linked with 700 suspected staged accidents.

A joint Axa-IFB investigation found that the Lexus – supposedly running up storage bills for 111 days after crashing with the Gallanders – had in fact been tracked by traffic cameras on 13 occasions whilst ‘in storage.’

One of 35 drivers used by the Javed brothers and subsequently convicted, Abdullah Ahmed admitted in court that he had invented the racial allegations.

The Javed operation was just one of “25 substantive investigations ongoing” into suspected motor claims fraud networks. 122,000 fraudulent claims, worth £840 million, were detected last year according to the ABI – merely the tip of a suspected £1.9 billion iceberg.

Former butcher Eric Gallander told the Mail ‘It is so hard to believe people were sitting down and plotting all this out and that our accident was just a small part of this huge scheme. I am so relieved that it is all over now.’

For you maybe, Mr Retired Butcher, but for the IFB the fight goes on. Members of the public have a role to play too. There’s now a dedicated number you can call to make a false allegation of racial abuse. To make a spurious report simply dial 0800 228 7363.

August 27, 2010

It is a commonly held belief that buying insurance makes your home or vehicle better protected. This cosy assumption is now in doubt after the FSA imposed a record £2.3m fine on insurer Zurich for exposing its customers to the risk of burglary.

An allegedly relaxed attitude to data security saw Zurich lose track of 46,000 policyholders’ data – including personal identity and credit card details, addresses and household security information.

The FSA claims the loss of an unencrypted back-up tape on route to Zurich’s South African data storage centre in 2008 could have caused serious financial detriment to customers or even got them burgled.

Zurich claims it has seen no evidence to suggest that personal data was compromised or misused.

What, something like a thank you note from a burglar?

August 27, 2010

Like a carelessly experimental person with a speech impediment, the ABI this week provided the FT with a handy list of its top insurance hints and myths.

Along with pointing out that you’ll get the cost of replacement, rather than the cost of purchase if your car gets totalled – and that you should always tell your insurer everything – the ABI has ruffled a few feathers with its flat denial of the existence of Acts of God exclusions in insurance policies.

Where others doubters take a less confrontational line and state merely that they remain to be convinced of the existence of Acts of God exclusions, the ABI is adamant, describing the idea as a myth. “Insurance policies do not contain such an exclusion,” the insurers’ organisation told the FT.

But Brian Salaud of the Society for Objective Documentation believes the ABI is in denial. “These guys are living on another planet,” he claims. “A couple of minutes on the internet is all it took me to find dozens of policy wordings that mention Acts of God in the exclusion section. The ABI needs to get real and stop denying the undeniable.”

The official Church Council on Causality maintains that unforeseeable events of the kind termed Acts of God by lawyers (but not by insurers, if we believe the ABI) should better be described simply as unforeseeable events. “God has better things to do than confound insurers’ expectations,” a spokesman said.

Ironically, Post Magazine this week reported that God-friendly insurer Ecclesiastical “has attributed its pre-tax loss of £9.9m for first half of 2010 to a string of exceptional weather events.”

The Islamic scholar Rashid ad-Din Sinan, however, argues that the whole issue is a red herring and that nothing happens without God willing it, hence any distinction based on whether or not an event is divinely actuated is meaningless.

Christian theologian R. C. Sprawler agrees, but goes further: “In a universe governed by God, there are no chance events. Purchasing an insurance policy is tantamount to second guessing God or seeking to escape his implacably righteous ire. Insurance is the Devil’s work and should be shunned by true believers.”

Seems pretty clear.

August 27, 2010

Confusion reigns over what’s gone wrong with’s ad campaigns of late. The confusingly named comparison site contributed an unsightly blemish to the otherwise handsome results posted by parent company Admiral this week.

Where once an attention-grabbingly quick-cut shouty man shouted about how confusing finding cheaper car insurance was and how could make it less confusing for us, faux-reality idiots now blather forgettably about how they bought some insurance online whilst remaining apparently clueless.

Surprisingly, were surprised their ads made so little impression and – on the back of a 20% fall in profits – are now having a little rethink.

“Confused has responded quickly,” a spokesperson claimed, “pulling back on TV spend in the middle of 2010 in advance of rolling out a new campaign in the second half of the year.”

Certainly the ads are duds, but maybe the problem runs brand-deep. Maybe now we take comparison for granted, the whole ‘insurance-for-dummies’ style confused thing has run its course and just sounds naff and patronising.

Just a thought.

August 27, 2010

The latest new rider to sign up for Bankstone’s forthcoming charity fundraising jaunt Monkey Business is Nick Chalkley of accident repair centre Motorbelle.

Having taken advantage of EasyRider’s exclusive discount monkeybike purchase offer – just £600 for a brand new 125cc machine – Nick is now all set to join Bankstone’s fleet of minature motorcycles on their round-Yorkshire tour on September 18th and 19th.

Other participants should note that Nick has already signed up 100 people to sponsor him (all funds go the the life-saving Yorkshire Air Ambulance service). If your own sponsorship roster still looks a little sparser, maybe it’s time to get bothering people!

If you’d like to take part and you haven’t already signed up, it’s not too late! For details, email Dickon Tysoe at

August 20, 2010

What follows is a true story.

Danny Gibbons was an ordinary bloke with a perfectly understandable passion for cars, motorcycles and insurance claims.

One day he opened an email asking him to sponsor a charity fundraising event involving so-called Monkey bikes. “I’m too busy today,” he told himself. “I expect somebody else will sponsor this excellent cause, so I needn’t bother.”

But as he clicked away from the email his computer screen flickered, he heard a strange moaning sound, and a gust of icy wind whipped around the room – even though the window was closed! “That’s odd,” he thought, “I must speak to the landlord about electrics/neighbours/insulation.”

He thought no more about this strange incident until later that night when he woke from a terrifying dream to find himself dead at the bottom of a really deep well with his neck broken in 452 places and was never seen again.

August 20, 2010

Lord Young’s heartfelt advocacy of a ban on claims management companies advertising their services to consumers has failed to sway the UK’s pragmatical coalition government.

Following the lead of the Guardian, Insurance Times suggests one explanation may be that David Cameron used to work in commercial television.

It is indeed true that Cameron – who once famously sprained his ankle while dancing to bagpipes in Rome and whose ankle tattoo-sporting wife used to play pool with Wild Bunch member Tricky – spent seven years during the 90s working as Head of Corporate Communications for Carlton TV, where he was described as “poisonous and slippery” by The Sun’s Ian King and as someone who “never gave a straight answer” by the Telegraph’s Jeff Randall. But other factors may also have affected the government decision not to ban advertisements asking ‘Had an accident?’

Bodies like the Legal Services Board do not appear to share Young’s distaste for ambulance chasing.

Like the songs of blue-collar rebels The Clash, best known for Hooray Henry singalongs Should I Stay or Should I Go and Rock the Casbah, claims management companies’ ads do not apparently harm consumers but simply help them know their rights.

August 20, 2010

It is always quite exciting when the big papers appear to take an interest in the humble general insurance market.

Hence the racing pulses that impelled proud industry organ Insurance Times to prick up at the FT Lex column’s assertion that “The British insurance sector’s locker room is awash with testosterone.”

Where is this locker room, and shouldn’t somebody fetch a mop – or could the hormone somehow be harvested and auctioned off to raise funds for the ‘Let’s Make Insurance Sexy’ campaign?

Among the leading producers of the superabundant secretions in question are (allegedly) Aviva’s Andrew ‘Macho’ Moss and Brit’s ‘Big’ Dane Do-it-all  – men, according to the FT, “who seem more enamoured with the grandeur of their roles than they are talented at performing them.”

RSA man Andy Haste’s bid to snap up Aviva’s general insurance bit is seen by the FT as an attempt to turbo-charge his own alpha-male credentials and attain the peak of true grandeur.

Maybe Uvavu should just buy RSA, the FT opines, and let Haste run the GI bit.

Meanwhile: best wear wellies if you’re headed for that locker room.

August 20, 2010

Car crime is on the rise. Or so claim M&S Car Insurance, who reckon Brits are apt to sloppiness on the car security front.

Forty percent of drivers interrogated by M&S confessed to leaving vehicle security systems de-activated whilst parked on a serial basis. A similar percentage admitted having left their cars utterly unlocked at some point.

If they don’t want to invalidate their claims, warns Not Just Andrew Ferguson, car people need to pull their socks up. “During the summer months,” he warned gravely, “many drivers unwind windows and leave roofs open.”

The eight per cent of drivers who told the survey they’d had stuff nicked out of the cars would doubtless corroborate Fergie’s earnest imprecation that “It’s important to make sure the vehicle is secure when unattended.”

August 20, 2010

Many Brits are facing the chilling prospect of having to switch insurers at their next renewal as major insurance companies like Aviva and RSA raise the cost of motor insurance cover.

RSA has increased its rates by 13% for motor policies and claims it plans “to take action on rates as and when necessary.”

Meanwhile Aviva’s Davey Mac said his firm had imposed “double-digit” increases in motor premiums over the past six months.

Scratching his head perplexedly, he added: “In many respects it is surprising rates didn’t harden sooner.”

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