Moneysaving whores spell ruin for the motor market

February 25, 2011

Monkeysupermarket were busy this week hammering yet another nail into the heavily-studded coffin of motor insurance profitability.

New ‘research’ commissioned by the aforementioned comparison site has revealed that one in five motor insurance buyers fails to shop around each time they reach their annual renewal.

“With car insurance renewals season in full swing,” said Harris Peterson, ‘car insurance expert’ at Moneysupermeerkat, “it’s important that drivers shop around to take advantage of the savings that can be made by switching. In just a small amount of time, motorists could save themselves £270 a year.” And thus, presumably, pay nothing at all within a few years from now. Or is that £270 between them?

“Motorists,” Peterson claims, “are wasting £1.7bn each year by renewing with their current insurers. Providers lure drivers in with a competitive deal or special discount in the first year,” he said, “which is not ordinarily available to existing policyholders. Rest assured, if you don’t shop around in the second year, certain insurers will not hesitate to increase your renewal price – hardly the thanks deserved for being a loyal customer.”

No indeed. Motorists need to rouse themselves from their hypnagogic apathy and be sure to shaft those fiendish profit-reaping insurers by deserting them before they have a chance to recoup loss-leading intro offers. It’s that or showering your insurers with excessive premium payouts in a wanton act of onanistic wastefulness.

One Insurance Times reader, Peter Phelps, was “intrigued” to read the words of Mr Peterson, labeling first-year swappers “rate tarts” and questioning how insurers are supposed to make any money with such faithless customers.

It surely cannot be long before the state is obliged to step in and set up some kind of not-for-profit national car insurance fund – leaving comparison sites with rather less to compare.

Either that or car insurers could consider some kind of cartel arrangement…

February 25, 2011

The monkeybiking world reeled this week at Bankstone’s shock announcement that premier annual charity event Monkey-Whatever-it-is-this-year has been moved back to its original highly popular mid-summer slot, giving riders just four months to prepare themselves mentally and physically for the arduous tootling challenge ahead and purchase something made of rubber to stick over their helmets.

“Oyez, oyez,” announced head monkey Dickon Tysoe. “Let it be known throughout the land that there shall a mighty tour of Yorkshire castles be made this summer upon two wheel-ed fire-carts. Its name shall be Medieval Monkeys, and hereupon I summon valiant road-knights across the realm to gather at the House of Brig upon the morn of July’s second day. Nor shall any man (or woman, obviously) depart again for their own lands before ten mighty Yorkshire strongholds have been visited, a fulsome sum of gold been raised for charity, and a mighty feast of roasted meats been had upon the evening of the following day.”

Yes, Bankstone’s latest half-baked excuse for a couple of days of meandering en masse round its home county on underpowered, mechanically unreliable and uncomfortably undersized bikes raising funds for life-saving as-seen-on-TV charity Yorkshire Air Ambulance involves dressing up as medieval types with the aid of doublets, hose, jerkins, pull-on rubber helmet covers etc (Given what happened to Isadora Duncan and The Incredibles’ Stratogale, surcoats are not recommended when riding) and attempting to get round all of the following castellar venues in a single weekend:

You’ll be hearing much more about all this Medieval Monkey mullarky in the coming weeks (sorry!) For now, the important thing – whether you are riding, camp following, donating vast sums of money, or supporting in whichever other capacity you see fit – is to block off the weekend of 2nd and 3rd July in your diaries.

February 23, 2011

Almost half of UK road users confess to flashing other drivers to warn of speed checks ahead, according to a poll carried out by I AM.

I AM Chief Inquisitor Peter Rodgerer confirmed that only 21% of respondents thought drivers should be prosecuted for flashing warnings to other road users.

Not that this helped the motorist who was fined £175, plus £250 costs last month, for speed flashing, according to Fleet News.

The most promising mitigation, should you get nabbed speed flashing, is apparently to claim you were attempting to avert the dangers associated with unwarned drivers decelerating suddenly.

Worth a try, Bankstone News supposes.

February 22, 2011

Following the revelation last week (see link below) that discriminating between male and female drivers is to be outlawed, there are fears that the very act of underwriting could soon be deemed illegal.

In the face of alarming rumours that regionalist insurers have discriminated against home insurance applicants simply because they happen to live in so-called crime hotspots, that motor insurers penalise the young, and that life insurers are discriminating against the old and infirm, moves are afoot in Europe to put an end to the insidious practice of so-called ‘underwriting.’

French equality body Haute Autorité de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour l’Egalité (the “lofty power struggling against discrimination and for equal rights”) has recently urged that anyone found to be discriminating in the French insurance market should be harshly brought to book. With three-year gaol sentences already on the statute book for sex discriminators, similar moves could soon be made across the continent – and by extension here in Blighty.

Watch this space.

Or if you grow tired of that, try reading last week’s insurance sex crime update here.

February 21, 2011

The perfectly formed insurance marketing quote of the week award this week goes to Mr Geoffrey Ashton of modelling-clay specialists DAS for the following gem: “The financial crisis has seen the need for business to have access to expert legal advice and assistance become a necessity.”

The financial crisis has doubtless witnessed many things, but when a need becomes a necessity, the disturbing implications for business are unmistakably clear. Everyone must purchase lots of legal expenses insurance – one is bound to conclude – and do so without delay.

The occasion for Mr Ashton’s elegantly crafted utterance was the announcement of an exciting tie-up between his firm DAS and leading provider of multiple unlocking solution options Keychoice Underwriting, whose MD Davey Jonathan added some historical perspective by explaining that: “Quality legal expenses cover has always been important for businesses and recent market research has highlighted that this is an area of increasing importance to SME businesses in particular as the economic climate remains uncertain.”

“DAS is delighted” – this is Mr Ashton again now – “to have been chosen by Keychoice Underwriting as a strategic partner to provide commercial legal protection to their brokers.”

And, let’s face it, we could also use a quality partner and a bit of strategy in these uncertain times.

February 17, 2011

Websters Insurance Brokers has chosen outsourced claims firm Bankstone – regular readers may have heard of them – to provide a full-service external claims handling service to its customers.

Webster’s Jeremy Webster comments: “Our priority is giving our customers the best possible service. I am confident Bankstone are well placed to uphold that key objective. Having researched the claims handling market in detail, I am fully persuaded that Bankstone will deliver an efficient, professional and cost-effective service.”

Bankstone director Dickon Tysoe adds: “I am delighted Websters have chosen Bankstone, as their claims partners. We look forward to delivering a first-class claims handling service, helping Websters maximise their customer satisfaction and client retention whilst minimising operational costs.

“Websters and their customers will benefit from our market leading technology platform, our recently introduced advanced dashboard management information capabilities, and the exceptional knowledge and experience of our team – many of whose members come from a broking background themselves and so have a good understanding of Websters business requirements.”

About Websters

Founded in 1964, Websters have come along way from being a small family owned brokerage to a thriving multifaceted company specialising in most types of insurance. In 2000 Websters moved into purpose-built offices fully equipped with the latest e-commerce technology and telecommunications systems to enhance its service to clients.

Websters operates established schemes for motor, household, travel and commercial packages – combining true professionalism with a personal touch. The firm’s specialist motorcycle division Bikerline Direct is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of bike insurance, with an extensive network of dealers and a dynamic and innovative approach to marketing.

February 17, 2011

“There are millions of men taking my lead, and I have to take them to the promised land of sexy,” insisted multitalentless self-promoter P “Puff Daddy” Diddy aka Sean Combs aka Sean John launching his perfume Unforgiveable.

Not that Mr Diddy has a monopoly on toiletries with terrible names. Worthy mentions also go to David Beckham for Intimately Beckham, and Karim Samii for Destingerator “For the man who deserves everything he gets.”

But where exactly is Bankstone News going with all this talk of men’s fragrances, have we somehow strayed in the realm of the perfumed ponce? Well, yes and no, really.

All of the above is really just a convolutedly space-filling way of getting round to the bit where we reveal that this is actually a story about the outrageously inflated prices charged for run-of-the-mill products at motorway services stations.

What’s the connection? It goes like this: Speaking of Unforgiveable, that’s exactly the word What Car? Editor Steve Fouler used to describe Rip-Off Britain’s motorway shakedown shame: “It is unforgiveable for retailers to take advantage of motorists in such a brazen manner,” he sputtered apoplectically. “We suggest that all motorway users plan their journeys carefully and try to avoid using such greedy retailers as much as possible.”

Sound advice there, Mr Fouler! Because if you don’t plan carefully, you could end up paying 5.2% extra for fuel, 16% extra for not just a sandwich but an M&S sandwich or – brace yourself – 91% extra for a bottle of water from WH Swizz.

That’s more than it costs in Harvey Nichols, What Car? fulminates. Now, that reference might be lost on some motorway service station users – but not on Bankstone News. We’re in Harvey Nicks all the time, mostly browsing in the “male grooming” section.

February 16, 2011

Five clubs in ten years as a professional footballer, and still Cambridge County Court has the effrontery to claim that Darren Bent hasn’t shopped around enough.

When Allianz objected to a £63,000 claim for credit hire fees made on Mr Bent’s behalf by Accident Exchange, he found himself caught up in the ongoing wrangling over whether the level of credit hire fees insurers face is obscene or merely outrageous – see previous Bankstone News reports.

Following a ruling that credit hire should only be available to those unable to afford spot hire rates – among whose number Mr Bent may well not feature – the case was appealed and subsequently sent back to CCC with a view to having a proper look at the reasonableness or otherwise of CH fees.

The court has now decided that “a reasonable person, if spending their own money, should have hired for a rate significantly lower than that charged.” Bent’s lack of reasonableness, was adjudged to have resulted in him paying 30% over the odds, which – with DB9s costing £600 odd quid a day – over 94 days – cost him – or rather Allianz – an extra £20k or thereabouts – i.e. about a third of what he earns a week.

Allianz claims man Marty Saunders professed himself satisfied with the ruling. “This case was always about establishing some clear principles that will assist the industry going forward,” he droned robotically. “This has been achieved.”

February 15, 2011

According to this week’s Insurance Times, stats boffins at leading stats boffineering boutique EMB believe they have uncovered a hitherto unsuspected link between cash for crash claims and rising insurance premiums.

String-haired karaoke queens Confused.com commissioned EMB (originally an abbreviation for Englishmen on Bicycles, we believe) to crunch some numbers and churn out the startling finding that there appears to be some kind of link between those postcodes with most increased premiums and those with the highest rates of C4C shenaniganry.

The Confused/EMB Motor Price Index puts Bradford top of the list with an outstanding 62% rise in comprehensive car insurance premiums in 2010. Astonishingly, Bradford also has a lot of C4Cing going on.

Mashing up the EMB MPI with the Insurance Fruit Bureau’s league table of C4C hotspots shows what EMB have ventured to describe as “a clear correlation.”

Insurers admit fraud is a problem, but only one of a range of reasons for putting premiums up, Insurance Times reports, and even EMP partner Dave Brown favours the sophisticatedly open-minded philosophical assumption that “nothing is definite.”

“The number of accidents with a bodily injury component is around three times higher in some areas of the country than others,” he notes. This is “undoubtedly driven by claims management companies,” he adds speculatively.

But “to what extent does fraudulent behaviour play a part?” Dave asks rhetorically. “I’ve got no data to confirm that, but I would not be surprised if there was a correlation.”

Frankly, nor would anybody else, Bankstone News rather supposes.

February 14, 2011

Fleet News this week reported the findings of exciting new research from New Zealand which purports to show that being a bit anxious isn’t necessarily good for your driving.

A team of top antipodean research bods led by acclaimed white coat person Dr Joanne Taylor of NZ’s Massive University have made some fascinating discoveries about the links between anxiety and poor driving.

Dr Jo and her team examined two groups of anxious drivers: those affected by previous traumatic experiences and those who were just a bit anxious.

Intriguingly, they found there wasn’t much difference between the driving behaviours of the two groups. Both were rated: not that great.

But when the team looked at people who weren’t particularly anxious at all, they found that these individuals tended to exhibit fewer “counterproductive driving behaviours” than either group of anxious drivers.

Among the things anxious drivers did wrong according to speed obsessed Kiwi researchers were: “driving too slowly, and slowing for unnecessary reasons.” Call Bankstone News psychoanalytically incurious, but wouldn’t the more material consideration be the necessity or otherwise of the slowing, rather than the reasoning behind it.

Once you have wandered into the anxiety zone, it seems, you’re pretty much in Catch 22 territory. “Ironically,” Feet News reports, “it is possible that people are so anxious about driving that they overcompensate in changing their driving behaviours, which in turn increases the likelihood of being in a collision, which then further increases anxiety.”

Is there no escape from this pitiless cycle of self-reinforcing calamity and despair? Happily, it seems there is: “Targeted fleet driver training is the obvious way to improve knowledge, brush up on skills, boost confidence, and reduce the amount of anxiety experienced,” Fleet News claims blithely.

So what are you waiting for, fleet managers; fleet safety costs and right here is where you start paying!

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