Left is right

January 28, 2011

In the absence of any news relating to Bankstone itself this week – or any we are legally permitted to discuss, at least – we bring you the first in a series of riveting exposés on what is wrong with the world and how it can be fixed.

As internationally renowned experts in the field of RTAs and how they come about, we are strongly of the opinion that all human beings should be compelled to drive on the left.

Why? Because driving on the right is insanely dangerous. The only reason anyone does it is because of the perverse desire of madmen like Napoleon Bonaparte and revolting colonials to reject the wise example of the glorious British Empire.

In olden times, horsemen meeting on the highway passed on the left in order to have their right hand available for waving a cheery greeting, drawing a sabre, pistol etc. In the tourney lists, you don’t expect to see contending champions with lances couched in limp left upper limbs, now do you?

As a predominantly right-handed species – it makes obvious sense for us to use our right arm for important tasks at hand – steering motor vehicles for example.

All the evidence suggests it’s safer using the left hand to change gear, switch channels on the in-car entertainment system, text, caress a nearby thigh etc – leaving the right hand to keep the car on course.

Right-handed human beings naturally mount and dismount from motorcycles, and pedal cycles from the left – placing UK bikers safely on the pavement while Frogs and Yanks must fight their natural instincts or risk being struck by passing traffic.

In the common interests of humanity, we urge David Cameron to take up this issue personally at the next available meeting of the UN. The sooner the world switches over the better.

If the changeover results in a short-term spike in road deaths – so be it. Progress has its price. Perhaps the switch could be phased in gradually. Make it voluntary to start with. Canada and Scandinavia both lived with a combination of left and right driving for years.

If the Americans prove reluctant, we can point out how much easier it will be to fire a handgun whilst at the wheel – dramatically improving the accuracy of drive-by shootings, drive-in bear hunts etc.

January 28, 2011

According to the AA’s BIP index, car insurance premiums rose by 6.4% in the last quarter of 2010 to achieve an impressive total rise of 33.2% over the year.

The British Insurance Premium index showed that even drivers who “shoparound” can still expect to pay around £210 more when they renew their cover.

Younger drivers – who will now pay an average £2,251 a year to insure their cars – watch helplessly as their premiums rise by the positively Zimbabwean factor of 5% per month.

In less than a decade from now, at the present rate of increase – barring hyperinflation in the economy at large – it will be cheaper, if less compliant law-of-the-land wise, for youngsters to buy a new car every year than to insure the one they have.

“There has been no let-up,” asserts Douglas Simon of Alcoholics Anonymous, “as insurers struggle against losses from 2009, when for every £100 taken in premiums, £123 was being paid out in claims.”

Setting aside the subcontinental superfluity of “was being paid out,” Dougie’s clearly on to something here, and if there are fingers to be pointed, he is having a good idea where they should be directed:

“A sharp growth in the number of accident management and personal injury claim firms has helped to develop a hard-sell system in Britain that encourages people to claim, even if they have not suffered an injury,” he says.

Claiming that legal costs account for 87p out of every pound paid in compensation for the non-existent condition popularly known as whiplash, Doug says: “I hope the Government is able to help the motor insurance industry stem haemorrhaging costs. Swiftly introducing the Jackson reform of rogue accident management firms and increasing police resources to help tackle insurance fraud would be welcomed.”

Either that or insurers are going to have to charge higher premiums.

January 27, 2011

Rounding up drink-drivers is like shooting fish in a barrel these days. Police in England and Wales nabbed 6,613 of them over the Christmas period – more than 200 a day – prompting Vernon Duncan of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Crazy Accidents to describe the situation as disappointing.

According to figures quoted by the RSPCA, 32% of these drink-drivers were under the age of 25. “It is disappointing,” Duncan said, “that so many people are still not getting the message that drink driving is dangerous and can be avoided.”

Older drivers may perhaps already be aware that it can be avoided – and even that a good way of avoiding it is not consuming alcohol before taking charge of a motor vehicle.

“We cannot let up on drink-drive education,” Duncan confessed: “there are always new drivers to reach with the important messages, and others who need reminding.”

The number of drug-drivers also appears to getting dangerously high. Police administered so-called Field Impairment Testing to 20% more drivers this year than last. “This issue needs addressing,” Duncan insisted.

Anyone who doubts that Britain’s law enforcement community is taking the issue seriously should take a long hard look at this blood-curdling YouTube presentation.

January 27, 2011

More commonly associated with an episode of compulsive behaviour or the favoured ride of old-school gangsters and Oxford detectives, AJAG is also apparently the collective name for a presumptuous group of individuals who contend that their fellow citizens should be allowed the luxury of legal redress in cases of personal injury.

AJAG, AKA Access to Justice Group, reckons that 77% of potential personal injury claimants wouldn’t bother pressing their case if Lord Jackson had his way and they risked paying the defence costs of successful defendants.

AJAG’s survey of 1,000 random Brits also found that the “compensation culture” is a traditional story reflecting the historical values of our society and possibly offering an explanation of its origins. It may not be a very good myth, however, if only 52% of us think we would be likely to claim for an injury at work.

Former MP, solicitor, maker of very long speeches in defiance of bogus bills, and current AJAG spearhead Andrew Dismal commented “The changes proposed by the Government will mean that ordinary people will find their access to justice severely restricted. The winners will be the insurance companies and the losers claimants.”

This would come as further good news for insurers, after a survey by Experian found that they are the fourth least likely kind of company to have gone out of business during 2010. Oil companies were the least likely to fail, and – further down the petrochemical food chain – plastics and rubber firms the most likely.

Overall, 1.04 per cent of UK businesses – mostly not insurers – became insolvent during 2010.

January 26, 2011

In what down-with-the-kids news organ The Sun has oddly opted to characterise as “the most unexpected musical collaboration since GLENN HODDLE and CHRIS WADDLE sang Diamond Lights in 1987” (a curious reflection on the red top’s target demographic) portly car insurance mascot Gio Compario is to collaborate with Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.

Or rather: Welsh tenor Wynne Evans is – because Bankstone News has just made the heartbreaking discovery that Gio Compario is not a real person!

Jones – born John Baldwin – selected the exotic Cambrian surname and the continentalesque double-barrel first name to make himself sound more interesting: like some Gitanes-smoking French philosopher or a pope or something. Wynne took on the pseudo-Italian Compario monicker to make a bit of a tit of himself/provide for a comfortable retirement.

Apparently, the pair met during rehearsals for a new musical based on the life of another fascinating individual with a double-barrel name: acclaimed thespian, muse and role model Anna Nicole Smith. Now Evans’ vocal talents are to feature on a forthcoming release from the erstwhile mandolins-to-Mellotrons god of heavy rock.

What does moody hunk Evans, 37, see in the sexagenarian Jones? If you ask Bankstone News – and we would strongly recommend that you do not – he’s only doing it for the money.

January 21, 2011

This coming Monday – 25 January 2011 – Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe and Andy Jones will be at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre mingling with great and good motor insurance luminaries like Bikesure, Wilbys, Debitt, Carole Lash et al at the modishly named Motorcycle Trade Expo 2K11.

Can we make a story out of that? Not really.

Here, instead, are some of those hilarious true things (American) people say in court:

Lawyer: What gear were you in at the time of the impact?
Witness: Gucci Sweats and Reeboks.

Lawyer: How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?

Lawyer: Did you blow your horn or anything?
Witness: After the accident?
Lawyer: Before the accident.
Witness: Sure, I played for ten years. I even went to school for it.

Lawyer: You say that the stairs went down to the basement?
Witness: Yes.
Lawyer: And these stairs, did they also go up?

Lawyer: The truth of the matter is that you are not an unbiased, objective witness, are you, because you were also shot in the fracas.
Witness: No, sir. I was shot midway between the fracas and the navel.

Lawyer: So, after the anesthesia, when you came out of it, what did you observe with respect to your scalp?
Witness: I didn’t see my scalp the whole time I was in the hospital.
Lawyer: It was covered?
Witness: Yes, bandaged.
Lawyer: Then, later on…what did you see?
Witness: I had a skin graft. My whole buttocks and leg were removed and put on top of my head.

That’s probably enough of those.

Here’s a joke to end with:

A golfer is cupping his hand to scoop water from a Highland burn on the St Andrews golf course, when a groundskeeper shouts “Dinnae drink tha waater! Et’s fullah coo’s shite an pess!” The golfer shouts back ‘Terribly sorry, I’m up from London, could you repeat that in English?’ “I said, use two hands,” the keeper replies, “you’ll spill less that way!”

Some proper news next week, possibly…

January 20, 2011

The game of Young Lions is a charming and energetic variation on the popular British pastime of happy slapping. When idling groups of South London youths spy a late night cyclist passing by, one of their number is apt to cry out “Young Lions.” Upon which cue, various of his associates will give chase, playfully attempting to pull the individual in question from their velocipede and administer a sound drubbing.

In a not altogether dissimilar fashion, personal injury lawyers up and down the land are apparently on the look out for passing ambulances and chasing after them in the hope of being the first to reach a freshly injured new client.

Road safety minister Mike Penning has yet to make any statement on the Young Lions phenomenon, but he has now come out firmly against so-called Ambulance Chasing. Appearing before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport this week, he decried the “Sheer culture” of ambulance chasing, which, he said, “we have inherited from America.”

Is America dead? Does our special relationship entitle us to a share of the legacy? Bankstone News is already confused and we’re only half-way through the story.

“It is quite frightening,” former fireman Penning confided to a no doubt sympathetic group of MPs. “We are going to be in a situation, if we are not careful, where you get lawyers turning up at road traffic accidents.”

If they’re strictly chasing and not actually turning up yet, it’s harder to discern a serious problem – as with the non-contact version of “Lions” played in better policed areas.

“While I want people to get compensation,” Penning declared with admirable generosity of spirit, “if we get to a situation where it is penalising other people in their premiums in particular then we have to do something about it.”

With the ABI claiming that ten percent of every insurance claim now goes to fund the antics of the personal injury lawyers, and premiums up 30% in a year, perhaps the time has come start doing something.

“The situation is completely out of control,” Penning confessed to committee members, noting en passant that he’s considering plans to give insurers access to the DVLA records of anyone who wants to get their car insured, and getting more learner drivers onto Britain’s motorways

“I might have my toes clipped,” he added.

January 20, 2011

Psychology: the study of the soul – pioneered by Thales and Aristotle, perfected by Paul McKenna. Now insurers are applying the powerful techniques this intriguing discipline offers to find out if you’re lying.

“Criminal actions cast a shadow…” the British Psychological Society claims poetically on its website, “but psychological science can reveal the source.” Now, Insurance Times reveals, insurers like Axa, Aviva, Avaxa and Zurich are “using investigative psychology techniques to assess the credibility of home and motor insurance claims.”

Innovation Group claims to have used staff trained in the powerful techniques of IP to analyse 900 suspect claims between August and November 2010, helping insurers throw out roughly half of them. IP is the way to go, IG claim, wheeling in Dr Sharon Veal of Portsmouth University to dismiss traditional techniques focusing on detecting signs of nervousness and guilt as “no better than tossing a coin.”

“Clients are looking to service providers such as ourselves for help,” claimed IG MD Bob Thomson perspiring visibly and repeatedly touching his hand to his mouth. “Innovation Group is making innovative use of investigative psychology to offer insurance companies a proven approach which delivers compelling return on investment.”

In case you are worried none of this sounds scientific enough yet, IG have some jargon ready at hand: they are using Criteria-Based Content Analysis (CBCA) a core tool of Statement Validity Assessment (SVA) and they’ve bunged over £100k to Ms Veal and her Portsmouth colleagues to look at the application of CBCA in reducing fraud levels in motor insurance.

A spokesman for a major insurer commented: “These exciting and powerful new techniques could prove a major weapon in our ongoing battle against paying claims… sorry… against the dishonest minority who are spoiling it for everyone else. We are also keen, however, to look into the coin tossing approach, which could offer significant cost benefits.”

January 19, 2011

The great British public’s puzzling reluctance to let insurers charge more for motor cover – the cost of which has risen by a mere 33.3% in the past year according to the AA – is fueling the growing popularity of the practice known as fronting.

British insurers’ association the ABI, however, is concerned that those who allow young relatives to drive around a lot in vehicles registered in their name may be imperilling their future ability to purchase insurance cover.

A newly published survey conducted on the ABI’s behalf has found that 53% of Brits think fronting motor insurance purchase on behalf of younger, higher-risk people is OK or sort-of-OK. So, while insurers may not like it, the public vote seems to be pro-fronting.

Top Gear’s James May caused a storm recently when he suggested that pretending to be your dad might indeed be a good way to get a cheaper motor insurance quote over the phone. But…

“Trying to deceive your insurer is a false economy that will cost you, dear,” said the ABI’s Nix Darling. “Not being honest with your insurer could lead not only to you driving illegally but to financially crippling bills if involved in an accident, harder to obtain and more expensive future insurance and difficulties in accessing other financial products,” he intoned interminably.

Click here to read Bankstone News’ easy to follow but hopelessly out of date guide to fronting.

January 18, 2011

“I am Geraint Anwyl, a Chief Superintendent representing ACPO. I am the head of National Road Policing Intelligence,” Geraint Anwyl told the House of Commons Transport Committee earlier this month, going on to claim, as Insurance Times sub-editorialised it, “Expert Gangsters now rule cash for crash (says top cop).”

Yes, responsibility for organising an estimated 30,000 staged crashes in the UK each year now apparently rests with a highly professional network of “expert gangsters,” with doctors, solicitors, claims firms and “victims” all lined up ready to play their respective parts.

‘Major frauds that are now occurring are linked to organised crime,” Anwyl claimed candidly. Are the police having any luck tackling them? ‘If they were based in certain areas they would be easier to detect,” he explained, “but groups are moving around.”

What’s worse, fewer than 6,000 road safety officers in England and Wales are now “full-time road safety officers,” Anwyl revealed. And most of those are probably too busy pulling 400 uninsured vehicles off the road every day to be doing much about expert gangsters.

Frankly, if Bankstone News has to have someone pulling to an abrupt halt in front of them on a roundabout or slip road, we’d rather not be dealing with an amateur.

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