Video exclusive: going ape suit crazy

February 24, 2012

No summer season would be complete without Bankstone’s annual simian-themed charity fundraising thing. Over the weekend of 7-8 July our justly-fêted round-Yorkshire fancy dress fundraising monkeybike run, returns – affording you, yes you, the chance to do a very fine thing indeed by joining us and raising some money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

So source yourself a ridiculous medieval-style costume (renaissance or dark ages will do), find a monkey to ride (fantastic deals on these coming to Bankstone News shortly) and join us as we stage – in the words of someone with more time on their hands than the present incarnation of Bankstone News currently has – a scintillating succession of breakdowns, comfort breaks and running repair stops round some of the UK’s most scenic rural roads and charming historic landmarks.

What’s it all about? Click on the image below to check out a unique and exclusive video of last year’s event and see for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!

February 24, 2012

Insurance Times’ Ellen Bennett this week turned savagely on BIBA for its ball-dropping failure on multiple fronts and for not sticking up for its members. “Where’s Biba at the prime minister’s table?” Bennett demanded scathingly in her lead editorial.

Where indeed! Flicking forward to an exclusive double-page spread on pages 14 and 15 of this week’s BIBA Failure themed issue, we can see for ourselves exactly who was there for what IT wittily describes as “the tabled discussion.” A special cut-out-and-keep table plan shows who they were, where they sat, and what they looked like (middle aged blokes in ties with weird orangey-coloured auras, mostly) and – most damningly of all – that not one of them was there to represent the views or interests of brokers.

Page 5, meanwhile is devoted to further excoriating lambastry, reporting that BIBA chief exec Eric Gallbreath is “under pressure to explain why there was no broker representation at last week’s crunch talks between David Cameron and the insurance industry over spiralling motor insurance and workplace compensation.” Confusing as all this talk of crunching and sprialling may be, the main point is clear enough: BIBA wasn’t there.

So why was BIBA not at this fateful table to fight the cause of its broker members, who “still control a lot of motor and workplace insurance” Insurance Times demanded to know. BIBA seemed pitifully short of excuses, telling the paper wistfully that it “wanted to attend” but “was told the meeting was full.” BIBA “missed a trick” by not “being more vocal” Insurance Times concludes. At this rate they could end up like poor old Hector Santa (see previous issue)!

But maybe they didn’t miss that much? Perhaps, you might think, nothing much new really got decided at the 60-minute “summit.” Are you serious?! This was, Insurance Times insists, a “landmark meeting” at which the insurance industry may have “turned a corner” in its battle to stop the nausea-inducing curse of “spiralling” claims costs. Crucially, the session put the seal on a solemn undertaking from insurers that if the Government can help them out by stopping people claiming so much money off them, they’ll have a go at maybe reducing premiums a bit.

How sad that BIBA couldn’t be there too to make some ill-defined promises about cutting the premiums its members charge – or, you know, commissions or whatever.

February 24, 2012

Doc Doc Doc Doc Doctor Whiplash, Gloria Estebankstone should really be singing by way of introducing the following article, which provides a characteristically slipshod and misapprehended summary of something we found on popular right-minded bikini-body pictorials site (although she’ll have to somehow elide the two-syllables of whiplash to make it fit – she’s a professional – she can do it).

Somewhere in between lasciviously-documented coverage of how “fitness guru Jennifer Nicole Lee narrowly dodged a wardrobe malfunction in a tight cherry bikini” that “struggled to comfortably withhold all of her assets” and how Italian housewives have banned their husbands from visiting a cafe “where busty barmaid serves up drinks in skimpy outfits” (with Laura Maggi, 34, depicted in no fewer than 10 different virtually non-existent outfits to prove the point) – stories, we should stress, that detained Bankstone News’ researchers no more than a few fleeting seconds – we learned that HMG plans to bring in a crack team of superdocs specially trained to sniff out whiplash fakers and save us all (particularly those of us who happen to be motor insurers) a packet!

Following his top-level personal injury claims summit last week (see separate story), the Mail reveals, David Cameron intends to create a cadre of “whiplash injury experts” who will “weed out bogus claims” and – just to make sure they don’t have too big a workload to contend with – to simply outlaw “all whiplash claims in accidents at speeds of under 10mph.”

“Insurers,” the Mail reports, “say whiplash claims cost them £2  billion,” forcing them to add £90 to the average car insurance premium. The paper reveals that high on the Government’s agenda are plans to “root out bogus claims early by forcing all cases to be examined by medical experts, already dubbed ‘Dr Whiplashes’.”

Justine Greebling will apparently be putting forward detailed proposals on the whiplash crack team doc squad by the end of March. So watch this space!

Is it doing anything yet?

How the Mail reported Jennifer Nicole Lee’s arse this week (note the unslightly wicker chair impressions clearly visible – if you look closely)

February 23, 2012

Are you planning to visit France this year? Really? Why on earth would you do that? Well, if you absolutely insist, you should know that driving around without a breathalyser (or kit self-alcotest, comme en dit en Français) in your voiture, could land you dans l’ordure profonde.

Bizarre as it may seem – not content with insisting that we lug around an objet à trois cornes de sécurité, a gilet pas très à la mode mais de haute visibilité, and assiettes de la Grande-Bretagne – those bloomin’ Froggies are now demanding that we carry (and use) our own personal kits test de l’haleine to check whether we’ve accidentally inhaled near a cork or something and gone over the risibly low French drink-driving limit (limite de boire-conduite).

Dog-food-to-driving-advice provider IAMs warned this week that, from 1 Juilet, carrying a breath test kit in your car will be compulsory (de rigueur) and that, from Novembre, failure to produce your kit when challenged will attract a massive €11 fine. The good news is that such kits can be had (peut être eu) at the ferry or tunnel terminus (terminus) for £2 or less. You’ll need at least couple (un couple) – parce que what if you use the only one you have and then they stop you?

Does the breath test law apply to bikers too, Bankstone News wondered. IAMs have promised to look into it and get back to us. We’ve also asked “can a high protein diet affect my pet’s behaviour” and “how can I tell if my pet is too fat or too thin”, and we’ll update you on the answers to those queries too in due course.

Dans les temps avares, Bankstone News vous conseille de ne pas conduire même un peu quand vous avez eu quelques!

February 23, 2012

Now, it would be no good Bankstone News pretending that we are not easily confused, but we heard something this week that has got us more confused than that stringy-haired stripey-top bird on the telly who pulls unfeasibly large objects (microphone stands and the like) out from under her skirt while singing about comparing insurance.

Apparently, technology provider SSP is planning to launch an insurance “quote hub” that sits in a cloud somewhere. Rather like in those old books by William Gibson where people used to plug themselves into their computers and zap themselves off somehow into ‘cyberspace’, SSP now reckons it can launch brokers and insurers up to a cloud (via the internet) where they can access the quote hub and update their rates and so on in “real time.” You can read their press release here, if you insist.

SSP Bloke Richard Crocker claims: “The insurers that are adopting real-time pricing and data enrichment will see immediate benefits. They’ll be able to validate customer information to rate more accurately and effectively, and at the same time reduce fraud. Plus they’ll have greater control of their underwriting footprint and be more responsive, which is imperative in the motor market where incorrect pricing can be very costly. Over the coming months we’ll see more of the early adopters coming to market and everyone else will have to keep up or they will be left with the business they don’t want to write.”

All very puzzling, but as Socrates once famously observed, “Have you not sometimes seen clouds in the sky like a centaur, a leopard, a wolf or a bull?” Bankstone News certainly has! So why NOT a quote hub? Whatever that may be…

Artist’s impression

February 16, 2012

Badly needed as our beloved leader Dickon Tysoe may be in his current role at leading professional insurance claims handling specialists Bankstone, it must reluctantly be admitted that – in the light of Fabio Capello’s merciful release and not-good-with-money Henry Redknap’s steadfast refusal to abandon his beloved Tottenham Hotpants – Dickon’s country must come first.

With this in view, Bankstone News would like to take this opportunity to present in summary form Mr Tysoe’s failsafe manifesto for restoring this nation’s once glorious footballing renown.

Mr Tysoe’s initial premise is both startling in its originality and dazzling in the brilliancy of its undeniable truthfulness, he claims. It is a widely accepted fact, he notes, that pretty much any premiership team (aside perhaps from those based in the North West) could see off any team of national representatives. Add to this the generally accepted fact that the Premiership is the best league in the world and, bingo, we may logically infer that the best team in the Premiership could beat any national side in the world, at a trot probably. Maybe even after a couple of beers and the odd fag.

Why allow this eloquent deduction to languish in the realms of theory? Why not, Mr Tyson argues persuasively, create a brand new top flight team established with the very purpose of booting it firmly into the international arena of footballing practice?

Obviously, this will require a few minor adjustments to the structure of English football. These will consist, Mr Tysoe explains, of relegating two sides from the Football League at the end of the current season and elevating just one from the benighted hinterlands of non-league. Meanwhile three teams will be dismissed from the Premier League* and only two promoted – a move cascaded down through the leagues – to make room in the Premiership for the newly formed (all-English league and national side combined) Three Lions FC, managed, if there is any justice at all in this world, by Mr Tysoe.

The Lions will play 19 home games at Wembley, each of which is sure to attract a capacity crowd – who would not, after all, want to see their side of over-rated foreigners pitted against England’s finest – comfortably generating £50 x 90,000 x 19 = £85m in ticket sales alone. The finest English players would naturally gravitate towards TLFC, blessed as they would be with the finest facilities and the finest coaching team (see comments regarding Mr Tysoe above) and top position in the league would be more or less guaranteed within a couple of seasons max.

Gone would be the endless arguments over players being released from club duties to play at international level. Gone too the endless moaning about them coming back hideously maimed with career ending/interrupting injuries.

To the extent that there were semi-competent English players left to play in them, other Premiership sides would be reduced to the status of feeder clubs for the national team. They probably wouldn’t mind.

In theory, qualification for the Champions League would be more or less inevitable. In practice, there might be questions over eligibility for both this and the FA and League Cups – leaving TLFC players to concentrate their energies on their league and international commitments.

You know it makes sense!

In future editions – his duties as new England coach permitting – Bankstone News will bring you Mr Tyson’s solutions to the Palestinian, Falklands, and Meaning of Life questions, as well as providing Mr Cameron with a better solution to the problem of rising motor insurance premiums than the currently proposed fixed-fees-via-portal knee-jerk reaction.

* Except in the unlikely event that one of the three bottom-placed teams turns out to be WBA, in which case 2, 1 or possibly 0 teams will be relegated from the Premier League and Mr Tysoe will come up with a slightly modified plan.

February 16, 2012

Kill. Kill. Kill, the compensation culture, Douglas Simon of Alcoholics Anonymous urged Prime Minister David Cameron this week, according to Insurance Times. By a happy coincidence, it seems Mr C is more than happy to oblige.

Compensating people for their genuine losses, when they’ve faithfully paid their premiums, is all well and good, but – in an age where morals have sunk so low that “even MPs” milk the system for all they can get (e.g. some extra expenses) – a vast and sinister parasitic mould has bloomed upon on the sweetly beneficent surface of the insurance industry that somehow encourages large numbers of previously blameless people to take fraudulent advantage of insurers’ innocent generosity.

Such times clearly call for militant rhetoric. And no doubt there was plenty of that being bandied about at Mr C’s special Valentine’s Day Downing Street compensation culture summit, where representatives from Admiral, AXA, Cooperative Insurance, RBSI, Uvavu, Zurich and the ABI heard all about the Government’s plans for hitting the Compensation Culture – and hitting it good.

Here’s how it will all go down. First up: if there’s one kind of claim Mr C can’t abide it’s a trivial claim: “I want to stop trivial claims,” he said, adding that he is also going to clear up all the red tape and trivial health and safety nonsense that gets in the way of low-cost carefree capitalist enterprise.

Turning specifically to the personal injury engine that plays such a key role in driving the compensation culture, Mr C said he would ban whiplash claims below a certain speed (say, 30mph?), ban trivial claims, and ban claims without multiple medical certifications. He also said he would make lawyers wear caps that prevent them earning large sums of money from personal injury claims. So they’ll hopefully go off and do something less antisocial instead.

He also suggested that everyone should have a special “smart box” in their car that shows whether they are driving nicely and deserve to have cheap car insurance or whether they drive badly, go to bad places, contravene speed limits, conduct extramarital affairs, cheat on their expenses etc and deserve to be declared an enemy of the state and detained indefinitely without trial.

That should do it.

Mr Blue

February 16, 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron has cruelly snubbed a courageous young entrepreneur who reached out for help in his hour of need. The Liverpool Daily Echo this week highlighted yet another young business person whose dreams have been trampled by the collective indifference of central government and greedy corporations.

Runcorn-based gardening enthusiast Stefan Casson, 22, holds a Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture, has his own uniform, and plans to invest £2,000 in some ropy old van in which to cart around the tools he’s bought with a couple of £500 grants.

Or rather he did – until he saw his dreams dashed upon the altar of corporate greed and Westminster indifference. Quoted £3.5k by Comparethemeerkat and £4.5 by GioCompario for his motor insurance, Casson says: “I emailed David Cameron, who still has not got back to me.”

“I am trying to better myself in life and move forward, but I cannot. I am trying to open my own business doing what I love, which is gardening,” Mr Casson explained. Can that be too much to ask for? Apparently it can.

Mr Casson is pretty clear why he’s been cold-shouldered by insurers: “I believe the reason the insurance is so high for me is because some companies are ageist.”

Has David Cameron bothered to get his head out of fat cat insurers’ “pockets” for long enough to challenge them on the issue of ageism? Has he had the simple courtesy to respond to Mr Casson’s email?

In each case the answer is a simple damning: no he probably hasn’t, as far as Bankstone News knows.

Hopefully by the time you read this some enlightened insurance provider’s PR department has recognised a golden opportunity when they see one and provided the self-bettering Mr Casson with a non-ageist quote. It’s never a bad thing having a decent contact on the local paper.

February 15, 2012

Required by the EU to offload its insurance bits by 2014, state-owned financial services disaster RBS asked design agency Johnson Banks (who previously did MORE TH>N) to create a new logo for the former RBSI, now rechristened Direct Line Group.

Instead of Direct Line, however, the designers appear to have heard the more interesting-sounding Bendy Strip.

Hence the curvy multi-coloured thing that now adorns the Direct Line Insurance Group’s freshly-printed letterheads. Closely resembling, as it does, a half-finished attempt at constructing a Möbius Strip, the new design loops back on itself to start back where it began.

What is conspicuously missing, however, is any sense of direction. Unless, that is, as the designers would doubtless point out with a smug look suggesting infinite subtlety, you consider this absence in the specific context of the white space enclosed by the (D-shaped) bendy ribbon. Bollocks, we at Bankstone News would contend, still looks like a gaudy bendy ribbon to us.

Motorised phone fans will be relieved to learn that the famous red telephone is (also) going nowhere and will be retained as the primary visual branding device for Direct Line itself (as opposed to the name-borrowing holding company that also “umbrellas” nodding-dog-fronted Churchill, self-explanatory Green Flag, candid-proactive-forward-thinking-close-to-brokers-awkwardly-nondescript NIG, and the virtually-brand-free Privilege).

Doesn’t really matter what it looks like, though, because no one’s ever going to see it again – apart from all those poor unfortunates to whom RBS attempts to flog its (mostly direct) insurance subsidiary.

February 14, 2012

In a frankly bizarre move, the Belfast Telegraph today revealed, the new owners of Quinn Insurance – US insurer Liberty Mutual and IBNR (the former Angloirish Bank) have decided to sacrifice all the precious brand equity built up since 1996 by rebranding Quinn Direct as plain old boring Liberty Insurance.

“This is frankly mystifying,” one commentator told Bankstone News this week, “The Quinn name has really come to mean something in Ireland – especially to Fermanagh men.” Nevertheless, new chief exec Patto Brien, today confirmed the re-brand and announced a major ad campaign designed to lure back some of the business lost since the departure of the iconic Sean Quinn.

As regular readers will recall, Mr Quinn applied to the High Court in Belfast for bankruptcy protection in November last year. Since then, the injustices meted out to this unfortunate individual have only multiplied.

The latest indignity is that IBNR have filed a motion at the Irish High Court alleging contempt of court against Mr Quinn and various family members. The supposed offence relates to Quinn and Co breaching an injuction preventing them from shifting all their assets overseas before IBNR can lay its hands on them.

If convicted Mr Quim could face imprisonment. Surely it won’t come to that though. A Quinn family spokesman said the charges would be defended “vigorously.” Which, coincidentally, is the same way some Quinn Insurance claims used to be defended.

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