A site for sore eyes

July 29, 2011

Regular readers may recall that Bankstone and friends recently rode round Yorkshire on monkey bikes for two days dressed all medieval raising money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Photographic evidence of these exploits has begun accreting in the section of the Bankstone web presence we like to call the Gallery (see it here).

Lots more images will be appearing in the next few days. So if you like looking at fancy dress people and small motorcycles, you are certainly in luck!

Perhaps if you stare at them long enough you will want to donate some money to the most excellent cause that is Medieval Monkeys 2011.

To do so simply and seamlessly in an online environment click here to visit the the MM2011 page on charity donations site JustGiving.

July 29, 2011

“Let them change the law,” declared Admiral main man Henry Angelheart, unrepentant in the face of calls to cease accepting acceptance fees.

The nautically inclined motor insurance provider – unlike uptight Europrigs AXA and Zurich – has no plans to turn its back on fee acceptance. This despite disapprobation from industry body the ABI, who claim that UK consumers are funding the legal profession to the tune of £2.7m a day through insurance premiums inflated by inflated PI costs.

“We are not doing anything I would not tell my mother about,” he insisted defiantly. Despite growing condemnation of such payments – recently dubbed “rotten” by justice minister Jonogly Djanogly – the Admiral man says if anyone is to blame it is the Labour government who abolished legal aid for personal injury claims, thereby unleashing on an unsuspecting nation the Pandora’s box of evil that is the whole No win no fee, ATE, referral fees complex.

But without NWNF, the Guardian pointed out this week, shamed Sunday tabloid NOTW might very well still be in business. And without CFAs many of the 3,800 potential NOTW phone hacking victims might in future find themselves unable to pursue their claims.

“Many papers, including the Sun and the News of the World, have been having a go at ‘greedy lawyers’,” ungreedy lawyer Mark Lewis told the paper,” “Their agenda has been to get rid of no win no fee. But the real issue is about access to justice.”

Certainly, getting rid of CFAs would help to put a stop to the antics of all those trouble making low lifes who’ve been making life so complicated recently for politicians, media moguls and policemen.

Clearly, there’s a difference between seeking redress for tabloid defamation and pursuing a spurious claim for a non-existent pain in the neck. But, as Lewis points out, drastic reshaping of the legal system risks “not only throwing out the baby with the bathwater, but losing the bath as well.” And if the very rule of law is under threat, that does sound quite bad.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan has these chilling words to impart:“The government’s proposals to make it more difficult to get a no-win-no-fee arrangements could severely damage the ability of individuals with limited financial means to take action against the nefarious practices of large corporations.”

Brazil, here we come.

July 29, 2011

“It seems things have gone full circle – and potentially not in a good way,” muses a wistful-looking Post Magazine editor Lynn Rouse this week. The immediate cause of her unease is the planned scrappage of the Metropolitan Police’s stolen vehicle unit (SUV), but one senses deeper existential concerns at stake here.

Each week her haunting byline photo seems to offer a silent reproach to those of us who blithely go about our lives not troubling to look beneath the surface and confront problematic issues like the eternal conflict between predestination and free will.

Where others see merely that insurers will once again have to take up the slack as our cash-strapped government delegates another of its responsibilities to the vagaries of the Big Society, Lynn strives to comprehend the deeper unseen causal processes that ultimately drive these superficial effects.

The “worrying revelations” about the police’s latest strategic withdrawal, she says “have reignited concerns that UK insurers could inevitably be approached about additional private public partnerships, where the invoices invariably land on only the private sector’s desk.”

Her language clearly reflects a profound preoccupation with questions of what will be – and, more particularly, what perhaps must be. The tortuous “could inevitably” plainly betrays the vexed conceptual knot that so tortures her psyche.

Where will it all end, Lynn worries, speculating that “the ‘floodgate’ question will now undoubtedly be trained on other potential crimes where insurers have a vested interest. Will the same fate inevitably befall burglaries?” she wonders, returning inevitably to the question of inevitability. Could it be that inevitability itself is inevitably inevitable? Clearly, Lynn will know no peace until she has found some resolution to these nagging questions.

Until then Bankstone News can only look on helplessly, week after week, as her troubled portrait gazes inaccessibly into an intensely private world of perplexity.

July 27, 2011

“I’m having to walk everywhere and catch buses because of the ridiculous situation I find myself in,” complained student and newly qualified driver Leah Graves, 20, of Bradford, who was recently quoted £53,000 to insure her car (make and model unspecified).

“It was tough passing my test and I was so excited and over the moon about passing,” she explained, “but since then the lowest quotation I have had was £4,000.” Luckily her local MP, Bradford East, has brought the matter to the attention of Prime Minister Dave Cameron, instructing him to clamp down on insurers.

The system is “clearly broken,” East claimed. “For a 20-year-old to be quoted these amounts is just obscene. It cannot be acceptable that thousands of young people in Bradford are simply deemed not worth insuring for any reasonable price. The government has to step in and do something.”

But £4,000 is clearly a big improvement on £53,000, and it could soon get even better for Ms Graves – if the AA’s British Insurance Premium Index is to be trusted. The BIPI indicates that motor insurance premiums for those aged 17-21 fell by 5.6pc during the last quarter, bringing the average annual premium to £2,294.

Douglas Simon of Alcoholic Anonymous said “young drivers have for a long time been the biggest losers” but “it seems at last that insurers are starting to compete a bit more for their business, with rates starting to come down.”

July 26, 2011

“I feel really angry with the way it’s been dealt with as well,” complained an angry Justin Line, 32, of Oakley whose car was impounded by Newport Pagnell cops in the early hours of July 16 after his insurer appeared not to have renewed his motor insurance policy.

“I couldn’t believe it when we were pulled over and I was told I had no insurance. I kept telling them that I did, but on their records it said that I didn’t,” complained Mr Line who was obliged to take a taxi the remainder of the way home following a night out in Milton Keynes.

His policy, purchased through Tesco Car Insurance, had been due for automatic renewal after it ran out on Friday 15 July, but patrol cars pounced when records showed no policy in place. “Our premium was put up by £250, and we weren’t even covered,” Mr Line claimed. “It’s ridiculous,” he went on to observe.

A spokesperson for Tesco Bank said: “Our customer was not driving uninsured and has been continually covered by Tesco Car Insurance, with no gap in cover. At the point Mr Line was stopped by the police, one day after the renewal of the policy, the Motor Insurance Bureau records did not reflect this. We are picking up with both the police and the Motor Insurance Bureau on the matter and on why the vehicle was impounded. We are reimbursing the cost of the impound charge.”

Look out for plenty more of these stories to follow.

July 25, 2011

Conflicting reports this week on Sean Quinn, formerly of Quinn Insurance, and his post-Quinn plans. Reports in the Irish Independent and Insurance Times that Quinn is planning to launch a new insurance venture, Q2, based in Malta, have been cast into doubt by a flat denial from the Maltese regulator that the proposed venture has a licence to operate in that jurisdiction.

The original suggestion had been that Quinn and former Quinn executive Dave Mackey had been secretly working on plans for a new operation based in Belturbet, County Cavan, developed a “highly efficient software programme,” secured reinsurance from Swiss Re, and stood poised to nick back lots of Q1’s business.

The licence to run an insurance company in Malta was said to have been acquired four years ago by a Cavan-based building firm P Elliot & Co who never got round to doing anything with it and had now transferred it to Q2.

Not so says Malta Financial Services Authority (MFIA) chairman Joseph Bannister, who denied the existence of any licence in Q2’s name. P Elliot & Co had applied for a licence in 2007,” he confirmed, “but had withdrew its application in 2009 when the economic downturn hit.

“You cannot buy a licence in Malta,” he told Insurance Age. “Any licence granted would require extensive due diligence and the MFSA is in regular contact with other regulators.”

Other jurisdictions are available. Some of them doubtless less sniffy.

July 25, 2011

South Korean motor insurers are braced for a tsunami of high-value claims after floods left much of Seoul underwater this week. The well-heeled Gangnam District and other affluent neighbourhoods in southern Seoul were particularly badly affected, with hundreds of BMW, Mercedes, Lexus and other luxury vehicles caught up in the floods.

Meanwhile in Ireland, the AA has revealed detailed statistics on animal road deaths. The number one and two target critters respectively were perennial favourites dogs and cats, followed by an array of woodland creatures headed by rabbits, foxes, badgers and hedgehogs. Four out of ten Irish drivers have hit at least one animal at some point.

AA Insurance spokesman Colin Farrell said “One AA member said they faced €600 worth of repairs having sadly hit a badger.” Other members confessed to hitting sheep, deer, cows and donkeys.

“If you see large animals on or near the road,” the AA suggests, “you should slow down and proceed with caution.” You should also “avoid throwing food out of car windows, as this is likely to entice animals.”

July 22, 2011

Recuperating from the rigours of Medieval Monkey riding, Bankstone bigwig Dickon Tysoe has been grabbing some well-deserved R’n’R in sunny Majorca.

Far from filling a quiet news week with our beloved leader’s holiday snaps, we are telling you this because we knew you would want to know, and take solace from learning, that – in the brief available intervals between heroic bouts of bacchanalian hedonism in the fleshpots of Magaluf – Mr T put his time on the holiday island to good use improving his notoriously inadequate golfing skills (see previous story).

As the attached image clearly testifies (if you look really closely at the sky), DT succeeded on at least one occasion in hitting the round thing with the sticky thing and propelling it gloriously skyward. The secret of Dickon’s newfound prowess with a golf stick? Apparently it’s all down to “special shorts.” Intriguing!

Meanwhile the Medieval Monkeys totaliser has crept past the half-way point (see JustGiving panel below left). That’s one lifesaving helicopter funded for one day. Or two for half a day each. Which is good. But not good enough. (If you have no idea what we’re talking about, please see stirring tales of charitable fundraising derring-do in Bankstone News of yore).

So please have another look down the back of the sofa and see if you can dredge up something to assist us in our dogged limp towards the totaliser finish line.


July 22, 2011

People driving too slowly and/or at the designated speed limit are causing havoc on Britian’s roads. Almost half (45%) of us apparently feel obliged to dice with death in a reckless attempt to get beyond such idle dawdlers.

New research from confuse.com has revealed that six out of ten motorists become stressed and irritable when confronted with “a vehicle driving slower than the rest of the traffic.”

Leaving aside the question of whether it is the vehicle or its driver who is driving, it seems only reasonable to suppose that –until such time as we’re all formed up into computer controlled traffic trains moving at a single constant speed – some cars will always be moving slower than others. Hence 60% of us are eternally doomed – except when on the loneliest roads – to near-constant stress and irritation. No wonder we are continually colliding with one another, impelled, no doubt, by pure and unabated rage.

Separate research by the Department for Transport suggests that so-called Sunday drivers directly cause precisely 143 accidents a year. But time may well be running out for the elderly, uncertain, ruminative, stoned, or just plain sight-seeing individuals who blight the UK’s highways with their inadequate vitesse.

Half of British motorists apparently support confusing.com’s genius brainwave of imposing minimum speed limits UK-wide and cracking down hard on those who fail to observe them. This should be easy enough. Traffic cop car chases involving such offenders would doubtless be of limited duration. Officers running or cycling alongside the worst offenders could even hand out on-the-spot fines.

Confuse.com also found overwhelming support for the idea of installing a nationwide network ‘slow speed cameras’ to capture offenders on film and send out automatic fines. Roadside signs could also flash up warnings such as: Increase speed now!

Confuse.com spokesman Gaz Klot claims “Slow drivers are a constant source of anxiety on UK roads and responsible for a large amount of accidents each year. We support the introduction of a programme of measures to eliminate this hazard.”

Fifteen per cent of confuse.com’s survey respondents supported the idea of allowing slow drivers on the roads only at certain dedicated times of day.

Five per cent thought it would be a good idea for slow drivers to be obliged to display a special badge to warn other drivers. Alternatively, Bankstone News supposes, they could just be required to place a straw Panama hat on their rear parcel shelves. Others, however, felt that a badge might just have a red-rag-to-bull effect on more speed-inclined drivers and exacerbate the stress / irritability / rash overtaking problem.

Depends how the stickers are worded, probably.

July 21, 2011

Let’s face it, everyone loves Google. Even the name is cuddly. Spurning other search machines, we live and die online in line with the G-man’s plan for info domination.

But next time you make use of one of Google’s nifty online tools, give yourself a pat on the back: it’s all powered by insurance.

Wired magazine recently revealed that 97% per cent of Google’s revenue comes from advertising – and what is the most lucrative advertising keyword of them all? Why it’s insurance, of course, driving almost a quarter (24%) of Google’s advertising revenue, beating loans and mortgage into cocked hats marked second and third, and leaving lawyers back in sixth and claim a tiny twinkle down at tenth.

So there you have it: a morbid fear of loss it is that makes the online world go round.

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