Days unconfused

March 25, 2011

Leading fleet management company Days Contract Hire brought in Bankstone Advantage to provide a full range of motor claims and accident management services to its clients.

For further details see the Bankstone Advantage website.

March 25, 2011

George Osborne may be putting fuel in the tank of the British economy, but today’s young Brits are going nowhere – thanks to the prohibitive cost of motor insurance.

As previously revealed by Bankstone News, youngsters today are turning their backs on car ownership, and this – if no lesser authority than Axa Personal Limes Insurance is to be believed – puts us all in imminent danger of death by dodgy driving.

If that sounds a little alarmist, allow us explain how it works. An ever-increasing proportion of youngsters who pass their tests don’t bother getting a car of their own because of the high cost of vehicle ownership and insurance. What chance do such individuals stand of developing into properly adjusted members of society?

Those in their teens and early twenties who do drive regularly are increasingly likely to be doing so either uninsured or as an additional driver on a fr*nting parent’s insurance policy – gateway behaviours, both, to a lifetime of casual ethical laxity. Social scientists warn that today’s insurance cheat is tomorrow’s aggravated burglar.

As the ECJ’s ruling on sex equality in insurance begins to bite, a whole generation of young females could be put off playing a full part in our car-owning democracy and forced into sharing taxis, taking a late-night solo trips in grubby unlicensed minicabs, or fatefully accepting a lift from that strange beardy man with the hairy hands.

But now Axa Personal Limes have uncovered a new threat more terrifying than any of these. They’ve done the research. They’ve thought through the full implications. They’ve even come up with a pithily punning name for the peril they’ve pinpointed: look out world, here come the “stop start drivers.”

No, it’s not that they’re a bit nervous on the brake pedal. Nor that they keeping stalling and restarting their engines. No: stop start drivers are those aged 17 to 29 (they’re generally OK after 30) who learn to drive but then don’t do it enough to develop the skills required to avoid unleashing car-borne carnage every time they get behind the wheel.

According to Axa there are a staggering 1.5m of these lunatics out there already – with one in five test-passers joining their ranks – who drive a couple of times a month at most, have completely forgotten how to operate a motor vehicle, and wouldn’t recognise the highway code if you drew a thick black line round the words ‘highway code’ on the cover and introduced them formally.

Clearly, if we can’t ensure young people buy cars and drive them regularly, Britain’s roads will soon become very dangerous places indeed. Axa Personal Limes Insurance motor director Sarah Vaughan, promises vaguely that her firm is “currently working on a number of potential solutions for younger drivers, including looking at product features.”

Insurance brokers, meanwhile, take an understanding attitude to the predicament of youngsters teetering on the brink of irregular driving. Axa’s research showed that “over eight in ten” brokers “struggle to find insurance for younger drivers, and almost two thirds believe that premiums are currently too high for young drivers.”

One in five brokers were so understanding of young people’s problems that they told Axa’s researchers they would turn a blind eye to fr*nting. Presumably they did so anonymously?

March 25, 2011

Just days after the controversial claim from Lloyd’s deputy chairman Chalky White – covered in last week’s Bankstone News – that “insurance isn’t banking,” two other influential commentators have come out in support of the Lloyd’s man’s provocative assertion.

Plainly panicked by the FSA’s announcement that “large firms” will be picking up the lion’s share of the tab for funding the regulator, Aon was first off the block, claiming – according to respected new organ Insurance Times – that “insurance brokers are excessively regulated and must be separated from the banking industry when it comes to working out how to fund the FSA.”

Quite independently, fashion chain BIBA has arrived at an eerily similar conclusion, claiming this week that insurance brokers in the UK pay three times as much for the privilege of being regulated as those in any other European country. BIBA chief exec Eric Gallbreath claimed at some industry booze-up or other that insurance brokers contribute 1% of UK GDP, pose no conceivable threat to anyone, and should be regulated lightly and cheaply, please.

Faced with arguments like these, the FSA seems almost certain to back off and stop bothering brokers with its expensive and unnecessary so-called regulation. Brokers are not bankers after all! Hopefully, we can expect to see a new initiative from the FSA anytime now exempting brokers from the costly burden of regulation.

When it comes to things like fruit, breath, underwear and Bel Air-based royalty, freshness is clearly a virtue. The FSA, however, doesn’t seem so sure. The regulator has apparently just announced a moratorium* on fresh initiatives for 2011/2012. As a result the regulator’s budget will increase by less than £500m for the next financial year. Good news for whoever will be left to pick up that tab.

Read Chalky White’s controversial views in full here.

* A cross between a mortuary and a crematorium, we think.

March 24, 2011

“So that’s Underarm and Hollywood at 2 o’clock on Thursday,” a matronly fellow bus passenger bellowed into her mobile phone just a seat or two ahead of Bankstone News this week.

And whilst on the subject of geographical designations with tonsorial connotations, it is Bankstone News’ solemn duty to relate the sad tale of Axa claims employee Licia Faithful and how she was mocked out of a job over her supposed vocal resemblance to well-known Brazilian sub-aquatic cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, or RobertiñoEsponja CalçaQuadrada as he is of course known in his native land.

The unfortunate Mrs Faithful, also a native of Brazil, was forced to accept a £140,000 settlement after fellow Axa employees allegedly put her through 18 months of hell in what employment tribunal Judge Gill Sage characterised as a “hostile and degrading” environment (Tunbridge Wells).

Co-workers supposedly ridiculed and mimicked her ‘squeaky’ and ‘annoying’ voice and played it back to her to demonstrate exactly how annoying it was. So that’s what that line about call centre calls being recorded and used for training purposes means.

Faithful was also forced to look on as colleagues were showered with cash and vouchers and other rewards whilst she was branded ‘cranky,’ ‘lazy,’ and ‘Brazilian.’ The alleged abuse apparently left Mrs Faithful depressed, agoraphobic and unable to carry out even the most menial household tasks.

Judge Sage had no difficulty deciding that Faithful had been bullied (or “buillied” according to Insurance Times’ mildly idiosyncratic version of the story), awarding her £81,740 for racial and other discrimination, £10,012 damages, £24,765 for hurt feelings and £25,473 for personal injury.

An Axa spokesperson professed disappointment at the judgement: “Treating our employees fairly is very important to us and we work hard to create a positive, supportive workplace culture where employees enjoy their working environment and feel that they can give their best in serving our customers.” What, even annoying, squeaky-voiced ones who are from South America and therefore probably on drugs?

All together now: Quem vive em um abacaxi sob o mar? (Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?)

March 23, 2011

Knight Commander of the Apes, Dickon Tysoe was all of a slaver this week over just-released images (see below) of the super-sleek new model monkey exclusively available – at cost – to riders in this year’s charity epic, Medieval Monkeys (see previous Bankstone News stories).

“The elegant yet chic red frame and wheels,” he glosses lasciviously, “provide a sublime counterpoint to the glistening deep noir of the tank, mudguards, tyres and side-panel, whilst setting off the brushed burnished aluminium of the engine and sparkling chrome highlights of handlebars, headlamp and rack like glittering accessories adorning the most exquisite catwalk model.

“The entire ensemble,” he continues with unabashed relish, “is set off by the modish, yet totally co-ordinated, tartan seat to create a look which just shouts 2011. ‘You want me,’ it screams. ”You know you just have to have me!

“Fortunately,” Dickon reveals, “ Just £600 will secure you this little piece of two-wheeled heaven. So please contact me immediately if you would like to place an order for you, and you will have the added benefit of being able to ride it in our Medieval Monkey Yorkshire Air Ambulance fundraiser on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd of July.”

And if you are looking for insurance for your new monkey, why not check out Performance Direct whose website strongly suggests they are the people to go to for specialist monkey bike cover. Although rather worryingly – for an innocent like Bankstone News – it also suggests they cover naked bikes and muscle bikes. What can it all mean?

As the UK’s leading monkey bike insurance specialists, Performance Direct or Grove & Dean as they are sometimes known, are sure to want to enter a bike in this year’s event. Bankstone News looks forward to seeing a PD monkey in the starting lineup (and hopefully the finishing lineup) for MM2011.

And finally, while we are quoting the great Monkey Lord himself, Mr Tysoe doffs his elaborately simian medieval headgear in the general direction of the driver of a yellow Suzuki Ignis seen heading north on the M11 near Junction 10 yesterday around 16.45 sporting a sticker memorably proclaiming: “I’m not drunk. I’m just avoiding potholes.”

March 18, 2011

Whilst gazing idly at some tempting looking tubs of guacamole down the local chippy, Bankstone News chanced to overhear a fascinating exchange between two young women just ahead in the queue.

Unwilling to continue spending what she plainly and unequivocally regarded as exorbitant sums on motor insurance, one told the other she had got rid of her car and was finding it cheaper to travel by taxi. If her calculations beg the question, the recent European ruling on gender equality in insurance could soon lend them greater credence.

Clearly things have come to a pretty pass when young people find personal chaufferage more affordable than vehicle ownership. But with the youth of today increasingly inclined to think car insurance is overrated, losing the custom of people like this young pescivore may be the least of motor insurers’ worries.

A more worrisome calculation – one implicitly raised by confused.com’s Gary Klot commenting this week on the findings of the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the krazy kost of kar insurance – is that the maximum fine for driving without insurance currently stands at £1000 and is often as little as £200 in practice, which, particularly if you are a younger driver, compares rather favourably with the cost of getting insured.

“Fifteen percent of young drivers cause 31% of all accidents,” Klot complains, “leading to 40% of all motor claims.” How can we root out these ne’er-do-wells? “Making the driving test harder, re-assessing the pass plus scheme, and increasing the use of telematics devices should all be investigated,” he said, backing calls for the creation of a special insurance police force – a bit like the religious police in Saudi Arabia, probably.

March 18, 2011

From a mere glint in the eye of maverick geniuses like Tim Berners-Lee, the Internet has grown like Topsy, only more so, to the point where it threatens to consume all in its path.

Hot on the heels of news last week that Google has snapped up EatThatQuote.com, now web development and online marketing firm Vast Visibility has gobbled up bike insurance comparison site The Bike Insurer.

The directors of Vast Visibility have shocked the world of bike insurance by insisting that they “are extremely excited about our future plans and the prospect [of] developing the bike insurer business further to the benefit of all involved.”

With former SSP business development director Andy Wiseman installed at the helm, and Vast Visibility promising to introduce a range of exciting innovations such as improvements to website functionality, developments in the user journey, MI reporting and a mapping refresh (Bankstone News has no idea what any of this means btw), it seems there’ll be no stopping the original two-wheeled aggregator now.

Much as Bankstone News would like to toss off of some of its stock in trade sarcastically scathing remarks – we really can’t. Anyone glancing down at the bottom right hand corner of this page will understand why.

So vast is the vastness of Vast Visibility, there’s really no way of escaping it.

March 18, 2011

Medieval Monkey mania continues to sweep the land as Bankstone and friends gird their collective loins for this year’s round-Yorkshire charity monkey bike weekend in July.

The latest missive from Monkey-Lord Dickon Tysoe, clarifies that although all riders and supporting cast are strongly encouraged to dress medieval, knightly garb is far from the only option.

Those who fancy something a little less martial are welcome to attire themselves as peasants, serfs, damsels, jesters, monk(ey)s etc. But if you say you’re coming as a peasant, please don’t turn up looking like a serf!

Reporting back following a top-level charity fundraising summit, Dickon told Bankstone News “It as was also suggested after a couple of beers last night that riders could come as Lady Godiva.”

Not the most practical suggestion for a British summer you might think; but wait: “Those of you who took part in the Monkey Moviestars run in 2009,” Dickon continues, “will remember Kevin dressed in the naked lady suit for the Calendar Girls enactment at the Cow and Calf rocks.”

Those of you who weren’t, may or may not wish to glance briefly at the rather disturbing image below, which features YAA mascot Bernie the Bear getting friendly with the aforementioned Lady Kevin.

“If we can find the suit,” Dickon offers iffishly, “and it will fit over your leathers, you are more than welcome to wear it for the ride, if the fancy takes you.”

Another suggestion to emerge from the aforementioned summit, Dickon reports, is “taking a set of stocks with us to enable punishment to be meted out at each stop for any minor misdemeanours committed along the way. Passing members of the public could be charged 20p a time to chuck stuff at the miscreant – with the proceeds used to boost our charity coffers.”

“Suggestions for what could be thrown are welcome,” Dickon continues. “Tomatoes have been suggested, and, depending upon who is in the stocks, we may even take them out of the tin!”

You can’t say fairer than that, Bankstone News is fully prepared to accept.

March 17, 2011

With the dials on the Japan Quake claims estimate totalizer spinning faster than Peter Mandelson in a tumble drier, it takes a level head to focus on the fundamentals of the global insurance business. One like that surmounting the neck of Lloyd’s deputy chairman Graham “Chalky” White, who reminded delegates at Qatar’s fifth annual MultaQa conference this week that “Insurance isn’t banking.”

Like someone visualising an elderly relative in the hope of prolonging the sexual act, denizens London’s major insurance broking houses are focusing on the human misery of those caught up in last week’s quake-tsunami-nuke triple whammy in a vain attempt to avoid hissing like overexcited pressure cookers at the glorious prospect of rising rates and hence commissions.

At times like these, it takes a practical man to remind us that low rates – along with meddling regulators and measley investment returns –are one of the major challenges facing insurers today. “We must ensure we are regulated as insurers, by people who understand the needs of the insurance community,” White insisted. Perhaps some kind of self-regulation would do the trick.

“Mutton never tastes quite as good as lamb,” he reflected ruefully by way of allusion to the fact that brokers should make sure their insurance buying clients understand they’ll get what they pay for and should focus on security not price and thus allow insurers to charge a bit more for the cover they offer. After all, he reminds us, the property and casualty (re)insurance industry has made an annual underwriting profit only five times since 1975 – hence the notable poverty of its senior practitioners in comparison with those bloody bankers who get away with murder.

In an uncharacteristic lapse into crass genderism, White said he found it “very disappointing” that the European Court of Justice has ruled out discriminating on the basis of sex. “Motor insurers,” he lamented, “will no longer be able to quote a higher premium for young male drivers than for young female drivers – even though the latter pose a higher risk.”

You can’t say things like that, surely!

March 16, 2011

In an ideal world brokers would get paid for doing nothing. Clients would simply hand their money over without putting their brokers to the trouble of “arranging their insurances.”

This, at least, was the model for the short-lived utopia created by insurance brokerage Ideal Insurance whose director Faron Wilson could be facing a five year custodial sentence after being accused – along with co-director Neil McKay – of milking clients of their money without bothering to pass any of it on to insurers such as Willis, RJ Kiln and Lloyd’s, none of whom had ever heard of Ideal.

As the pair went to trial at Southwark Crown Court on 14 April Jenny Goldring commented: “Both gentlemen milked the bank account of the proceeds of the fraud. These weren’t bonuses or commission, they were profits of a fraud that both men were milking.”

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