Plymouth man scoops super prize

November 26, 2010

Congratulations to Mike Anderson managing director at Plymstock Insurance – whose South Park inspired website animation has the unmistakable whiff of maverick genius about it – worthy winner of last week’s spot-the-missing-Meat-Loaf-lyrics competition.

Next time you’re up near Brighouse, please call by and claim your well-deserved prize of all the beer, savoury bar snacks and scintillating conversation you can handle in a single session at acclaimed local hostelry The Slaughtered Lamb.

Failing which, we’ll bring the Bankstone corporate super yacht, Gin Palace III, round to Plymouth and host the promised festivities in the opulent steaming splendour of the upper deck jacuzzi lounge.

Meanwhile, to see how insurance selling should be done, Bankstone News readers could do very much worse indeed than check out the inspired intro animation at www.plymstockinsurance.co.uk

November 26, 2010

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency’s response to a freedom of information request made by Philip Swift has revealed that, of total of 27 million vehicles on its database MOT’d between 1 April 2009 and 31st March 2010, over 700,000 mysteriously showed a lower mileage at the end of those 12 months than at their beginning.

In other words, fully 2.5% of Britain’s motors are actually getting younger, reversing a lot, or just conceivably getting tampered with in some way. VOSA did point out – very reasonably – that other possible explanations could include paperwork errors, malfunctioning odometers, tachograph replacements, etc.

But not in all 700,000 cases presumably.

November 26, 2010

Who’d be a horse? One minute you’re happily clopping along the road beneath some nice young lady in jodhpurs. Next thing you know – some maniac in a Golf has taken your legs out, and then some other b*stard turns up and blows your brains out. How can that be right?

Attentive readers of Bankstone News will recall from last week’s issue that 2,222 humans died on Britain’s roads last year. Well brace yourselves, O Nation of Animal Lovers, because the death toll from on-road equine accidents far exceeds this piffling total. Around 3,000 UK horses meet their maker this way each year.

Bankstone News first stumbled upon these shocking statistics in a campaigning article highlighting the plight of the 500 horses killed on Britain’s racecourses each year, which threw in 3,000 equine road deaths as an aside.

Exhaustive research by the BN fact-finding team uncovered data collected by the British Horse Society suggesting that there are an average eight road accidents daily involving horses. This equates to an annual figure of at least 2920 horses injured, allowing for multiple horse hits. Assuming the vast majority of these get the proverbial coup de grace, the two figures tie up nicely. But if Bankstone Readers know better, please be sure to let us know!

Some animal rights campaigners argue for a major extension of the UK’s bridlepath network as a way of reducing this carnage, others have proposed that cars should be banned or that horses should be enclosed in giant plastic bubbles like the ones that hamsters have.

How can it be that more horses than people die on Britain’s roads each year? Probably only because government cost-saving measures have yet to reach the point where ambulances turn up with handguns for human heads in place of drips and stretchers.

Meanwhile if 3,000 horses killed sounds bad, spare a thought for Britain’s badgers, a staggering 50,000 of whom get RTA’d each year – an estimated 1/5th of their total population.

November 25, 2010

Why exactly is motor insurance so expensive? That’s what the people supposed to be running this country have finally got round to asking. And now they’re getting some answers – lots of different answers – from people who should know. People like Aviva and Zurich, the Road Haulage Association, and er… Confused.com.

Since Bankstone News got its filthy paws on the written evidence submitted to the House of Commons Transport Committee’s inquiry into why motor insurance is so bleedin’ expensive, we’ve hardly been able to put it down.

We’re planning to report back at greater length on the fragrant diversity of views offered up within this extraordinarily creative composite work in next week’s issue. Suffice for now to say: it’s doozy from cover to cover.

Proceedings get off to a rollicking start with Martin Prosser whose “personnel submission of evidence” makes no attempt to explain why motor insurance is so expensive but suggests that all would be well if people paid quarterly instead of annually, insisting that “grater use” of (smaller) upfront payments would “reduce the cost and risks taken by the insurance industry currently in providing flexible payment terms.”

Zurich’s Tony Emms is quoted conjuring up a memorable image with the assertion that there “are too snouts in the trough making a profit out of accident, which has dramatically increased claims cost.” Whether he means that there are two snouts or too many snouts is a little unclear, but, either way, Tony reckons the solution to snouts is transparency.

In a similar vein, we have Allianz’s Graham Gibson proclaiming “I, amongst others, have in the past called referral fees the “guerilla in the room that nobody wants to talk about”. Count Bankstone News in as one of those others: “Who’s that beardy guy in the corner in the combat fatigues and beret?” ”Shhh. Just ignore him, dear, and perhaps he’ll go away!”

Trust us – it’s a veritable treasure trove of priceless insights like this. Be sure to check back next week for an in depth dissection of the whole glorious festival of buck-passing, special pleading and fatuous self-aggrandizement.

November 24, 2010

The government has launched its promised consultation on the civil litigation funding and costs reforms proposed in the Jackson Review.

If Jacko has his way, claimants themselves would pay success fees and associated costs in no win, no fee cases rather than recover them from unsuccessful defendants – thus giving them more of an incentive to rein in excessive costs.

Views are also sought on proposals that include allowing contingency fees based on damages awarded, and increasing general damages by 10%.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly claims: “We want to reduce overall costs, ensure claimants have a financial interest in controlling legal costs incurred on their behalf and deter avoidable unnecessary or unmeritorious cases.”

The government, he said, is keen to “prevent the situation in which, regardless of the merits of the case, defendants are forced to settle for fear of prohibitive costs.”

What could possibly be wrong with that?

November 19, 2010

Correctly complete the following Meat Loaf lyric and you could win an exclusive beer and crisps dinner with Bankstone News.

You took the words right out of my…

A: Policy wording
B: Sock
C: Mouse

Answers by email please to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk.

First correct answer wins!

November 19, 2010

What do women want? What does anybody want for that matter? What the hell is Bankstone News on about this time?

Duellists demand it. Keith Richards couldn’t get any – although Cliff Richard claimed improbably that his soul was getting it on a regular basis from a “living doll.” Best not dwell on that, probably.

We speak, of course, of that elusive commodity, satisfaction. Much sought after, seldom attained. It is this, according to someone called Rachel Swift, who has asked them all personally, that the ladies crave (*though see below for an older, more plausible, but thematically less helpful answer).

“Satisfaction is not something you can get simply from a description or a drawing,” warns seasoned scouse sex kitten Kim Cattrall in her best-selling self-help guide Satisfaction for Dummies, thereby appending a telling epitaph to the fruitless quest of countless confounded connoisseurs of specialist literature down the ages.

So where can satisfaction be had? Perhaps from Aquarium Lighting Fixtures whose website promises 100% Total Satisfaction Guaranteed. Inconveniently, however, they’re based in the US. Other US outfits like Airsoft Automatic Guns or Sushi Making Kits might also be worth a try. They both promise 100% Complete Satisfaction. Or if you’re in Dubai, Quiet Generous Girl, Full and Sexy, Hot and Juicy appears to promise something similar.

But this week news has reached Bankstone News’ ever-avid news ears of a potential source of satisfaction rather closer to home. In a survey conducted by some bloke called J. D. Power (probably a Texan, we’d guess – or from Barnsley via a deed poll name switch), 300 year old insurance firm RSA (formerly Sun Fire Office) bestirred its ancient bones sufficiently to come first in a poll of UK motor insurers for giving its customers satisfaction.

Coming first isn’t always a sure fire recipe for providing satisfaction; but in this case – beating off a stiff challenge from saucily named rivals LOVE (formerly Liverpool Victoria “satisfaction guaranteed”) and Sheila’s Wheels – it seems game old-timer RSA truly is still cream of the crop for satisfaction delivery.

Mr Power also discovered that “policyholders who interact with their insurance provider through a local broker are much more satisfied than policyholders who use other contact methods such as call centres, websites, e-mail or automated phone systems.” Which just goes to show (n.b. Cliff Richard) that when it comes to getting satisfied, you can’t beat personal service.

One disturbing finding, however, is that Britain’s motor satisfaction seekers are showing a worrying propensity to disloyalty and faithlessness. “Furthermore,” says Mr Power’s somewhat pompous spokespiece Jeremy Blower, “44% of customers overall switched insurers during the past 12 months, which represents nearly £3.5 billion in premiums that were up for bid. It’s clear that focusing on customer retention can bring insurers substantial benefit in reducing costs and boosting profitability.”

If you say so, Jezza.

*What women really want, of course, is nothing so simple as satisfaction, but, as Arthurian knight Sir Gawain famously discovered from the formerly-loathsome latterly-lovely Lady Ragnell is “that they will have their will.” In other words, they want what they want, and generally they want it when they want it.

November 18, 2010

When it comes to temptation, Farhadi Farhadadi of myvouchercods.co.uk is something of an authority. Only a couple of weeks back, Bankstone News related FF’s comment that “If people are avoiding going through their insurance so their no claims bonus and premium won’t be affected, I can see why it’s tempting for many.”

Not content with that extraordinarily perceptive psychoanalytical leap, FF has jumped afresh into the mindset of Joe and Joanna Public this week, to no less affecting effect: “I can see why people would be tempted to try and get new products or items they didn’t have before,” he claims in myvulturecod’s latest headline-snaffling news release on household insurance fraud, “especially after a break-in, where claimants are no doubt just trying to create a silver lining.”

Bankstone News must remember that line next time we’re caught out in some heinous act of larceny. “But Your Honour, I’ve been having a tough time recently and I was only trying to create a silver lining!”

There’s not much can surprise Farhadadi Farhadadadi in fact. In a highly scientific poll conducted by myvulturecods.co.uk, more than half of all respondents said they had lied to line their nests, and a further quarter admitted they would if they thought they’d get away with it.

To you or I, Dear Reader, this might sound slightly shocking, but Farhadadi takes it in his stride. “I wasn’t surprised to see that a quarter had lied when claiming on their home insurance,” he observes laconically. So he probably wasn’t exactly bowled over to learn that
36% had lied when taking out their motor insurance policy.

Noting that insurers are doing things now like asking for receipts, FF concludes wryly that “People are evidently still being crafty.”

Say what you will, but Bankstone News has taken a bit of a shine to vulturecods’ new media star. Farhadadi’s empathetic and phlegmatic take on life’s little temptations, makes a refreshing change from the usual sanctimonious nonsense insurance people spout about how it’s naughty to lie and how honesty is always the best policy.

The best policy, as FF would no doubt see in a flash, is the one with a tempting silver lining.

November 18, 2010

Admirers of that fecund vein of East European humour based on crude racial stereotypes will no doubt be familiar with the one about a Ukranian, a Russian Latvian and a Greek Cypriot.

But – be warned – there’s nothing humorous about the sickeningly ghoulish version of that familiar tale with which Bankstone News is about to regale you.

For the trio of whom we speak are no ordinary people who speak a bit funny. No indeed, Vitaly Malaydakh, Elina Jaksone and Gagik Kyriacos Manucharyan, for it is they of whom we speak, stand accused of being that foulest of creatures, the ghost broker.

This is the story of how three unprincipled bloodsuckers preyed upon vulnerable communities by purporting to provide cheap motor insurance policies whilst covertly amending the paperwork to line their own ghastly pockets.

The FBI announced this week that this loathsome troika are charged with tax fraud and money laundering offences totalling £500,000. Not content with this level of lawlessness, they apparently had 30,000 “duty free” counterfeit cigarettes out the back of the shop.

Congratulations FIB, we say, on a fine piece of ghost broker busting!

Pictured above: Elina Jaksone aka Elina Kalnina (artist’s impression)

November 17, 2010

They know how to enjoy themselves over at the Institute of Advanced Motoring. Hot off the presses – in the way that only a chilling and morbid thing can be – is a new IAM report offering the very last word on “Deaths and Injuries on Britain’s Roads.”

Looking for some racy bedtime reading to stave off your latest nightly practice-run at full immersion in the waters of Lethe? This may not be it. But it’s no good pretending it’s safe out there. As 69 showed for Jack Kerouac, the words Death and On The Road have a way of coming together.

An eerily symmetrical 2222 people died on the UK’s roads in 2009. It’s certainly a sober statistic; but, then again, it could be a lot worse – and has been really quite recently.

Back in the 60s and 70s when cars were made like tin cans, seatbelts were for wimps, and 10 pints was a pre-driving sharpener, Brits routinely racked up 6,000 to 8,000 annual road fatalities.

Recent successes in “driving down casualties,” IAM reports, have shunted the UK up to number one in the world road-safety league table for safest roads in 2009, up from 6th in 2007. Believe it or not, our death rate is now half that of Belgium.

Calculating that the average fatal accident on our roads costs the UK economy £1.79 million in lost output, healthcare, pain and suffering, there’s clearly more than grief avoidance at stake.

Recognising that financial quantification is always the way to get people’s attention, IAM’s Neil Greig reckons that if we could halve road deaths again over the next 10 years, “we would save the economy over £4 billion.”

Not quite enough to clear the deficit – but a decent start.

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