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November 30, 2011

Bankstone News has been going since, oh, 2007 or something. And on this auspicious occasion we wanted to thank all of you who’ve accidentally clicked on one of our stories and wondered “Who writes this rubbish?”

Without you, Bankstone News wouldn’t be the quintessentially disposable lunchtime email it is today. And now we’re inviting you – yes you – to get in touch by emailing us on editor@bankstone-news.co.uk

We know, of course, that Bankstone News is frighteningly close to perfection already, but we’d love to hear any comments and suggestions you may have. Are there any additional topics you would like us to cover? That kind of thing.

We are also more than happy to accept contributions. Forward us your corporate propaganda and we’ll include it. Send us scurrilous market rumours or outright lies concerning your competitors and we will trot them out faithfully, unwittingly unleashing upon ourselves the fierce attack dogs of the law.

Recommend us to your friends, and they’re sure to admire your taste and discernment. Get them to subscribe, and you could win the National Lottery or a raffle or something.

Whatever you want to tell us, Bankstone News is all ears.



November 29, 2011

The coalition government’s reckless plans to increase the motorway speed limit to 80mph, will lead to countless extra deaths and injuries and could send motor insurance premiums through the roof, insurers claimed this week.

When Transport Minister Phil “Top Gear” Hammond introduced his crowd-pleasing speed-fiend’s charter last month, he claimed that deaths on Britain’s roads had fallen by 75% since the 70mph limit was introduced, but that it was now time to “put Britain back in the fast lane of global economies”, along with places like Italy which already has an 81mph limit.

Though lorries will still to be limited to 70mph, so goods won’t get from place to place any faster, Phil anticipates massive economic productivity gains from rushing top business persons from one meeting to another more fastly.

Surely, you might think, a few extra deaths would be a price well worth paying for the huge surge in productivity the move will surely unleash.

But curmudgeonly motor insurer Allianz believes, according to this week’s Post Magazine, that “should this change lead to more deaths and injuries on our roads, it will need to be funded by increased premiums, unpopular though that might be.”

When approached by Post’s reporter, a spokesbeing for RSA was unable to comment, saying: “The needs of the economy, the impact on the environment and a potential rise in accidents would need to be analysed closely.”

Along with kick-starting Britain’s economic resurgence and turbocharging “the arteries of a healthy economy”, Hammond reckons the move will have the added benefit of decriminalising the “otherwise law abiding” vast majority of motorists who already drive at 80mph (albeit not the large subset who drive at 90mph+).

Decrimalising otherwise law abiding people sounds like an excellent project. Perhaps the government could also consider decriminalising otherwise law abiding people who simply happen to shoplift, fly-tip or graffiti from time to time. The only flaw in this argument, of course, is that reaping the full economic benefit of supercharging the circulation of this country’s economic lifeblood rather depends on all those now driving at 80mph driving at 90mph, those who drive at 90mph driving at 100mph etc… Can we be sure they will show true bulldog spirit and respond – or will they simply slip back into comfortably law-abiding lackadaisicality?

So come on motorway users: put your bloomin’ foot down and speed the British economy along the road to recovery!

November 24, 2011

Looking for the perfect venue for an unforgettable corporate shindig, seminar, staff perk or senior training event – with Alpine pursuits on the side? Come on, we know you are! Look no further, then, than Chalet Lachlan, Veysonnaz.

In the first in an exciting new series of exclusive reader offers, Bankstone News can exclusively offer its readers a unique and exclusive opportunity to book the extraordinary Chalet Lachlan at a mere 85% of the standard price during periods of surplus availability over the coming low season.

Set in the famed four valleys ski region, 14km from Sion and just an hour’s skiing from Verbier, the chalet sleeps 10 in traditional-all-mods splendour and is a paltry 500m from the telecabine.

Enjoy breathtaking views from the spacious verandah balconies. Wander back inside, ice jingling merrily in your apéritif of choice, and there’s an American fridge freezer, a lift, a sauna, some wifi, and even a charming dinner gong beneath an attractively unfussy pine staircase, as well as copious sofas throughout the enviably large living areas.

No snow? No problem! There’s golf, Alpine walking, white water rafting, and ice climbing through the summer – and Zermatt, Chamonix and Salins all nearby.

Whisk your clients or prospects off here for a week and they won’t forget it in a hurry!

So bestir yourself and reserve your chosen dates immediately – and don’t forget to quote Bankstone News when booking to qualify for your unrepeatable 15% discount.

November 24, 2011

Love is, of course, available in many formats. There’s brotherly, conjugal, computer, puppy and unrequited, to pluck just a handful at random. Then there are more obscure loves like the idiot love which David Bowie predicted would spark the fusion, or that mysterious one that dares not speak its name.

Van Morrison in his pre-Cliff prime was wont to extol the righteous power of crazy love, while former ABI director general Marc Bolan was always a fervent advocate of the now infamous hot love. The love-style currently favoured by the body he once headed, however, is the up-close-and-personal no-holds-barred discipline that goes by the name of tough love. Here’s how it works:

Young persons, armed only with three-door runarounds, a shaky grasp of how to drive them, and a sadly misplaced confidence acquired from endless sweaty hunching over simulator games, willfully persist year after year in causing reckless death and injury to themselves and others, forcing insurers to charge them and their less culpable peers ever-higher premiums for their private motor insurance. This is not good.

But, fear not, the ABI’s Nick Sparrow this week announced a cunning “tough love” plan that will make all well again. “Novice drivers,” the ABI’s press release declares, should be banned from driving after dark (raising potentially tricky questions, at this time of year in particular, such as just how far dusk may descend before you pull over and walk the rest of the way home) and “should not be allowed to drink any alcohol while driving.”

Whilst Bankstone News strongly agrees that drinking whilst driving can be dangerous – especially when you tilt your head right back to drain those last few drops from the can – we feel bound to express a certain sympathy with Douglas Simon of Alcoholics Anonymous who responded to the ABI’s proposed restrictions on the under 25s with the observation that it would be better to lower the permitted booze-to-blood ratio for everyone – and with the somewhat euphemistic objection that banning driving after dark would alienate young people who rely on their cars “to drive to or from late-shift work or who find themselves having to drive at night for other practical reasons”.

Practical reasons like cruising round the local nightspots, perhaps.

November 24, 2011

What’s in a name, mused romantically thwarted 13-year-old suicide Juliet Capulet in a well known work of dramatic fiction dating from the early 1590s.

If a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, would not the ABI’s Nick Starling remain just as fragrant as ever rebranded Nick Sparrow? Adds a bit of urban street cred or piratical swagger perhaps.

Whether this was anti-referral-fees warrior Jack Straw’s intention when he recently substituted one bird name for another on Radio 4’s Money Box Live, Bankstone News is (predictably) ill-equipped to judge.

Perhaps Straw, whose original family name was something longer and more East European and who switched, whilst a radical student leader in the sixties, from plain John to Jack in homage to the Peasant’s Revolt leader with whom he now shares a name, is just a bit casual with nomenclature.

Or maybe, given that Straw’s insurance salesman father ran off and left his family in severe financial difficulties when John was but a child, Straw harbours a longstanding grudge against insurance types and likes to take them down a perch or two whenever the chance arises.

Perhaps that’s why he’s planning to nationalise motor insurance.

November 23, 2011

In what must rank as one of the copyrighting oversights of our the century so far, its originators’ failed to tether the word ‘app’ to its intended punning association with the Apple brand, and hence it now means simply – and not unreasonably – a small application, typically one that runs on a mobile device.

Apps abound prolifically across a truly plethoric raft of platforms. One of the latest and surely most exciting is a new price comparison app launched by monkeysupermarket.com, which brings users the ability – with just a few clicks – to compare and purchase car, home and travel insurance on the bus (network connection permitting), on a windswept hillside (ditto), or even on the loo.

Monkeysupermeerkat’s insurance expert Julie Kingfisher claims the app launch is a “real leap forward” which will come as a relief to those weary of feigned or merely imagined leaps forward. “We know,” the expert revealed, “that a vast amount of people in the UK now own a smart phone,” adding that she hoped “the industry will soon follow our lead and optimise their sites to support those who want to buy their car cover while they’re on the move.”

It seems her wish may soon be coming true, as Confusing.com have felt obliged to rush out a press release this week warning that it too is working (with cutting-edge app specialists CDL) on a smart phone app that will allow people to buy their car insurance cover while they’re on the move. In reporting this announcement, Insurance Times opined that if such apps take off they could “rake in millions in extra premium.”

Which is probably true. Bankstone News certainly wasn’t planning on purchasing motor insurance until we found out we could do it on our iPhone whilst weeping drunkenly into a lonely late night Meat Phall in the near-deserted Taste of Gandhi after yet another disastrous assignation arranged through the Someone Special online dating service.

There’s certainly no denying the massive convenience gains to be had from price comparing on a screen a mere fraction the size of your standard computer monitor and entering data via Apple’s acclaimed ‘big fingers, small keys’ entry system. Why stay in one place to make major financial decisions when you can sweep ever onwards like some smoothly gliding human basking shark?

The truly genius thing about price comparison apps, of course, is that once the punters have downloaded your free app from the Apple App Store, they are unlikely to bother downloading somebody else’s, so you’ve got them for life. With ‘first mover advantage’ so clear, why stop at making your app free? Why not pay people to download it. Too crass? How about free vouchers for curry, thermal tights, gentlemen’s magazines or something practical like that?

Just a thought… but, if you’re reading this, monkeysupermeerkat people, Bankstone News is available for consultancy work at very reasonable rates.

November 23, 2011

Not content with heading up the most strangely named outfit in the world of insurance, it seems Markerstudy’s Kevin Spencer is planning to become a pawn barron.

In reporting this story, Insurance Age has somehow got its hands on what is surely the week’s most arcane metaphorical explanation for corporate strategy.

When asked why Markerstudy had decided to purchase E J Markham, the “oldest pawnbrokers in Essex” a company spokesbeing simply noted that the acquisition shows that, whilst Markerstudy is currently known for insurance, “the other strings to its bow are being lubricated, and liberally”.

Whilst normally something of an authority on liberal lubrication (particularly of a Friday afternoon), Bankstone News must confess to some initial puzzlement as to the precise import of this statement.

But, if we clear our head, switch off the IACGMOOH live feed, turn Susan Boyle’s Nativity Cruiseline Anthems down to 7, pour another Malibu and milk, and r-e-a-l-l-y concentrate, Bankstone News can generally puzzle these things out in the end.

So let’s see if we can parse this one… Having more than one string to one’s bow is something to do with archery. It roughly means that if one string goes west, you’ve got another spare. Which is good.

A little further research reveals that lubrication – with a product such as Ronnie Sunshine’s Lube Wax or Xcclerator Bow String Wax – keeps your bow strings fresh and twangy. Although – a word of caution might be in order for Markerstudy here – over-enthusiastic lubrication can bring problems of its own.

So basically it sounds like Markerstudy are sitting pretty with a lovely lubed-up second string, so that, as and when the whole insurance lark goes tits up, they’ll always have pawn to fall back on.

See, it’s never as complicated as it seems at first!

November 18, 2011

Back in December last year, the ABI declared its view that it would be ‘beneficial to the integrity’ of the General Terms of Agreement (GTA) between insurers and credit hire organisations (CHOs) to have participating CHOs audited by an independent third party.

The CHOs gave their collective assent and agreed to split the costs of the exercise 50/50 with the ABI. Independent auditors Fusion duly took on the job and began auditing the 70 first-tier GTA subscriber firms early this year.

The task now having been completed, Fusion approached the ABI with a bill for their half of the fees. At this point – as it so often will in the world of credit hire – the issue of impecuniosity reared its ugly head when the insurer body found itself obliged to admit to facing certain difficulties ability-to-pay wise.

Fortunately the freshly audited CHOs were able to do what they do best by extending credit to the ABI in the form of carrying both shares of the bill until such time as the ABI can squeeze some more cash from its stone-like members.

Don’t you just love a happy ending?

November 18, 2011

Hard times bring out the best of British resourcefulness and creativity. Inspired by the hugely successful grass-roots Cash for Crash (C4C) movement that’s helped many hard-pressed families through short-term shortages of booze, fags and widescreen TVs, the latest craze, it seems, is Pet Harm for Profit (PH4P).

Carys Clarke, a fraud investigator with law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer announced this week that almost £2m of bogus pet insurance claims were detected last year – a big increase on around £400,000 in 2009.

How many of the hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs injured each year in the UK have actually been worked over by their owners remains unclear, but Clarke suggests the official £2m PH4P figure could be just the tip of an iceberg of animal cruelty.

Unscrupulous vets are suspected of colluding with cold-hearted pet harmers to concoct inflated bills for treatment or termination following suspicious or entirely specious injuries or illness. Alarm at the rising tide of PH4P has prompted calls for insurers to replace deceased or badly damaged pets on a like-for-like basis rather than fund repairs or replacement under owners’ supervision.

Now insurer body ABI plans to make a big list of all known pet injuries and put it on a computer somewhere so they can tell if things look dodgy.

“These sad sickos should be strung up,” noted one response to a version of this story featured in The Sun’s online edition, doubtless echoing the general feeling of our animal-loving nation.

Spare a thought, though, as the festive season approaches, for all the those of the human species whose life assurance cash-in-value will shortly trigger mysteriously terminal mishaps as depression succeeds recession.

November 18, 2011

No sooner had Bankstone News announced a vacancy at Bankstone in the role of management accountant than a veritable deluge of eligible candidates engulfed Bankstone’s startled HR functionaries.

The eligiblest of whom, by a clear margin, was Mike Hall who joins Bankstone following an illustrious career taking in both Towergate-implicated RBR Jacobs of Ilkley and Hebden Bridge based Cotesi (UK) Ltd, a noted manufacturer of industrial and pescatorial ropes, nets and twines.

Bankstone’s Andy Jones saluted Mike’s welcome and timely arrival with the warmly expressed expectation that: “His amply evident skills and experience will surely assure us of manifest management accounting excellence.” Or words to that effect.

Mike Hall confirmed that he is “looking forward to the challenge” of working with Bankstone. When not accounting or standing next to sign boards outside the Bankstone office, Mike is an accomplished Crown Green Bowler.

A member of the well-respected Guiseley Bowling Club, Mike also represents Airedale & Wharfedale District in the National Federation Leagues, and has previously competed with the Yorkshire County Parks team in major competitions.

Married to Sandra, Mike has one daughter Alison who runs her own business called Waterbabies based in Warrington, Chesire. Mike has two grandsons Thomas and William and loves to spend time with them whenever possible.

Welcome aboard Mike!

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