Cats away!

August 31, 2012

With Bankstone supremo Dickon Tysoe away on holiday this week, Bankstone News reckons it can get away with some pretty brief stories in this week’s edition. Far too busy touring the cultural highlights of Southern Spain to care about such things, he’ll probably never notice if we skimp a bit on quantity this week. And you, Dear Reader, probably won’t either. And if you do, you might even be glad of a whiff of brevity about this week’s edition.

For a while now BN readers, quite literally sick and tired of the our needlessly time-consuming meandering style, have been crying out for something a bit more pithy. Intially such demands met with puzzlement amongst the Bankstone News editorial team. What is this pith everyone is asking for? We’d heard fellow drinkers at the Badgers muttering about being off in search of it – only to return a minute or two later apparently empty handed.

When the penny finally dropped, it came as music to our ears. What prospect could be more appealing than the chance to get our weekly news round-up finished quicker and have more time down the Badgers on the fruit machines?! In fact, why not push the envolope a bit on this one and reduce all next week’s stories to a single sentence so as to impinge as little as possible on our busy readers’ frantic Friday afternoons!

Ah… call just in from Jerez. Apparently, they do still have the internet in Spain and all stories will be of a “normal and acceptable” length in next week’s and subsequent issues.

August 31, 2012

Every year British motorists flush a princely £3.1bn quite literally down a metaphorical lavatory by neglecting to switch motor insurer. That was the startling claim this week from totally disinterested price comparison site MonkeySupermarket.com.

A shocking one in five drivers remain knownobetterishly loyal to their current insurer each year and simply allow their annual policies to autorenewicise! Not only is this a senseless waste of money, it also surplenishes motorsurers’ already prebursticating coffers, encouraging them to competifize ever more recklessly with luresome premiums for the one in four who do switch annually.

MonkeySupamarket.com claims that eight million insurees could save £404 each if they “shopped around”. The only thing is, it suddenly occurs to Bankstone News, that if everyone changed insurer every year, might there not be some kind of impact on the luresomeness of the deals motorsurers were prepared to offer “new” customers?

Much as the laziness and complacency of people who neglect to “shop around” may irk the Supermarketeers, as things stand these individuals are surely the only thing stopping motorsurers from doing the exact same thing as those tigers in the formerly-charming children’s tale that inadvertently gave the world the racial slur sambo i.e. turning into a dairy product of extremely brief shelf life in the sweltering heat of Southern India.

August 31, 2012

September 1st marks the official end of the silly season. As Bankstone Readers will doubtless be well aware, the term “silly season” refers to the extraordinary situation that arises each year during the summer holiday season (SHS) when, for a few brief weeks, PR departments can put out any old guff on behalf of their clients and expect to see it dutifully trotted out in the pages of insurance publications – something that would never, of course, occur at any other time of year.

Rather than bow out quietly as the open season for PR boll*cks expires, AXA’s media relations people have decided to go out with a bang. The bare minimum requirement for a printable press release is at least one date or “statistic”. With a neat flourish, the French insurer takes the passing of the summer as the peg from which to hang a solemn warning to Britain’s motorists never to drive on September 1.

“But why?”, you may ask, all wide-eyed innocence. Because this is literally the most dangerous day for driving of the entire SHS.

They’ve even got some “stats” to back this extraordinary claim. Last year, AXA maintains, it received 40% more claims on 1 September than on an average day during the SHS. In the two previous years, claims on 1 Sept were 30% higher than average. This year, the carnage could be even worse than usual, the insurer warns, as the dreaded 1 September falls on a Saturday, the traditional holiday changeover day.

For anyone who does insist on travelling on the dreaded day, AXA has a handy “top ten tips” prepared. These include: don’t rush (you’ll probably crash if you do), don’t set out without knowing where you’re going (you’ll probably crash if you do), don’t forget to take a break now and then, so you don’t get too tired (you’ll probably crash if you do), “keep snacks and drinks in the car and don’t forget to consume them to keep your blood sugar levels high (you’ll probably crash if you do), don’t forget to plug your children firmly into in-car screen-based entertainment (you’ll probably crash if you do), don’t forget to use your phone in hands-free mode (you’ll probably crash if you do).

The best advice, however, of course is “avoid 1 September”.

August 31, 2012

Talking exclusively to broadcaster BBC this week, inveterate controversialist Sonya Branch of the Office of Fur Trading made the inflammatory claim that the car insurance industry is “not running in the most efficient way”. She should know, she argues, because the OFT has just done a “study” on motor insurance and why it is so bloomin’ expensive.

According to reports on the BBC News website, the OFT study revealed that “artificially high car hire and repair charges add £225m a year to drivers’ premiums”. Now the OFT is suggesting that the sector might need some looking into by The Competitors Companion.

OFT chief exec John Fingermouse added to the controversy with the extraordinary allegation that “Competition in this market does not appear to work well for drivers”. Some insurers are conniving, Ms Twig told the BBC, with garages and suppliers of courtesy cars to let them charge inflated prices.

Nick Startling of insurer body ABI demurred at defending the defensible and said he completely agreed but it was all someone else’s fault. “Inflated rates for credit hire cars and excessive hire periods have led to higher premiums”, he said

“There is no control of costs, which have run away”, Startling lamented helplessly. “Some people have taken advantage of the system”, he went on to confide darkly.

BBC Arts correspondent Will Gompertz concluded that “If any more evidence was needed that car insurance has turned into a gravy train for a variety of businesses, it is here for all to see in the OFT’s market study.

“But a Competition Commission inquiry will shine an even brighter light into the murky world of backhanders which has distorted car insurance and led to policies becoming unaffordable for some drivers.”

Outraged at being singled out in this clearly vindictive and politically motivated way, credit hire organisation the Credit Hire Organisation (CHO), argued that “the excessive costs identified by the OFT in its report amounted to just 2% of the car insurance industry’s total spending of £13bn a year” and therefore, clearly, were ‘no biggy’ and probably not worth investigating.

Fortunately for any and all alleged advantage takers, the OFT’s Fingermouse stressed that there was no “quick fix” for the problem. This may partly be because the OFT’s view that it might want the competitors companion to investigate the motor insurance sector is “a provisional one” and it won’t decide whether it really is requesting an investigation before October 2012.

"mixed emotions"

Sonia Root speaking to the BBC: "mixed emotions"

August 24, 2012

We may have inadvertently have given the impression in previous editions of Bankstone News that the level of excitement surrounding the forthcoming Daytona Milton Keynes Insurance Endurance event could not get much higher. We now realise that it would be untrue, and indeed that Bankstone News would be a liar, if we were to say to you that, Dear Reader, it couldn’t get much higher. In fact it just has!

The proximate cause of this latest unanticipated up tick in excitement has been the delivery of Daytona’s new fleet of karts which are a literally terrifying 1 second per lap faster than the previous karts and are equipped with state of the art braking systems and high-performance Bridgestone JLS tyres. Click here for the full low-down on the crazy new prokarts. Or to simply get on and book your team’s place click here instead.

Incidentally, while you’re here, please take a second to glance across and down a bit to the left hand side of this page and you will note that the Medieval Monkeys 2012 totaliser now stands tantalisingly close to the 100% mark that will allow it to fund a full day’s lifesaving action for those lovable helicopter heroes at Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

If it’s not too much trouble, would you kindly click through to the MM2012 JustGiving site on the other side of the banner bottom left and pledge whatever you can afford to help us reach that target.

And while we are on the subject of fundraising for good causes, you might also want to consider supporting our friends at Colin Appleyard Motorcycles who embark on a 24 hour “commute” in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support on 31 August 2012. Quite what sort of commuting involves riding all day and all of the night, Bankstone News is uncertain, but Appleyard staff and customers have pledged to ride throughout the night stopping only for fuel and rider changes on a brand new Yamaha Vity scooter which will then be raffled off, with the proceeds going to Macmillan. If you would like to support this excellent if mildly nonsensical initiative (who are we to quibble), you can purchase raffle tickets online here or indeed at any of our the six Appleyards dealerships. We strongly recommend you do so.

Also… longstanding readers of Bankstone News will be delighted/appalled to learn that these pages will soon see the return of much missed/long forgotten motoring correspondent Marty Butch who is shortly to be let loose on the automotive prides and joys of assorted friends and associates of leading professional claims handling firm Bankstone.

In short, there’s never been a better time to be a Bankstone News subscriber! It’s always been like this, sadly.

August 24, 2012

The ABI’s Malcolm Starling appears to have some strange ideas about where claims managers and ambulance chasers choose to live and work. “Whiplash claims seem to be a cottage industry in this country,” he told Daily Mail reporters this week, apparently stumped for anything more original or earcatching to offer by way of a quote on the subject. In an ill-fated attempt at redeeming himself, he went on to explain that “at the moment it is too easy to bring a fraudulent claim,” stumbling on to reveal exclusively that “we want to make it harder for somebody who hasn’t been injured in an accident to bring a dishonest claim”.

Unsure as Bankstone News must confess itself to be as to exactly how people who haven’t been injured can be expected to make honest PI claims, we can at least reveal that sinister forces are attempting to push British motorists in precisely the opposite direction to Mr Startling i.e. they are trying to make it harder for somebody who hasn’t been injured in an accident NOT to bring a dishonest claim!

Hapless simpleton Andre Whopper featured prominently in the Daily Mail as the protagonist in a pitiful account of his being sued by no-win no-fee lawyers for declining to pursue a fraudulent whiplash claim. Rugby playing, Saab driving, Somerset resident Mr Hopper – or Mr Hooper (the Mail article calls him both, so it’s hard to tell) – was involved in an accident in July 2010, after which his neck felt a bit stiff. He claims then to have been plagued incessantly by unsolicited sales calls form claims management firms, manfully resisting their blandishments until finally in November 2011 he was a bit short of cash and was swayed by an assurance that: ‘Sir, there’s £3,000 with your name on it.’

Some might argue that in agreeing to make a knowingly fraudulent claim Mr Hooper/Hopper did wrong. But let us not leap too quickly to judgement: “It was a brilliant whiplash sales pitch from the claims guy,” explains Hooper/Hopper (presumably something of an authority on the subject after more than a year of fielding “sometimes several calls a day”) “and I could not say no to him.” Plus, Hooper/Hopper reveals, he was under intolerable personal pressures at the time – presumably from a home-improvements minded spouse – and concluded that “the money would come in handy. I could sort out the carpets and pay for a bit of decorating. It would really take the pressure off.”

Rather than censure Mr Hooper/Hopper we should perhaps pity him as a broken-spirited wretch with no apparent will of his own – someone, in short, who would have been literally unable to say no either to the house proud spouse whom Bankstone News has invented for him or to some smooth talking telesales monkey from an unnamed claims firm – someone, moreover so touchingly innocent of the ways of the world that he considered it a good idea to parade his weak-willed venality across the pages of a national newspaper, thus trashing forever anything that might remain of his personal reputation.

Why would he do that? you may wonder. Aha – our story is barely half done. Miraculously, Hooper/Hopper has a last minute crisis of conscience and attempts to withdraw from his claim on the very threshold of the independent medical expert’s GP surgery. Concluding that he could not lie to a medical professional, Hoops/Hops contacted solicitors Roland Robinsons and Fentons advising them that he felt OK now and didn’t want the claim to go ahead. RRF prompty responded with a bill for £1,140 for costs thus far incurred.

Hooper/Hopper was incensed. Casting about frantically for the sword and truth and the trusty shield of fair play, he declared that “I have fallen foul of a rotten claims culture which does nothing to rectify its wrongs. I have been stitched up and could be royally ripped off by a sordid, disreputable process.”

The thing of which Mr H had actually fallen foul, of course, was his own blundering stupidity – that and the small matter of a legally binding contract with which RRF, like that unappealingly manicured Lou Cipher bloke in that film with Mickey Rourke, can have Hooper/Hopper over the proverbial barrel any time they like. That he still doesn’t get this, and sees fit to proclaim his wrongheaded actions to the world at large confirms that Hooper/Hopper is a man in need of help.

Ironically, as Mail reader Dave, Spain points out in an online post: “He should have simply carried on with the medical, telling the doctors that he no longer had any pain and let the solicitors pick the bones out of that. His conscience would be clear and it would be up to the solicitors if they wanted to proceed with the case with no evidence of injury.”

In recognition of Hooper/Hopper’s late conversion to the path of righteousness, however, and his noble refusal to rip off honest motorists by forcing insurers to increase their premiums, perhaps the UK’s motor insurance providers might care to organise a whip-round to support him in mounting a stout legal defence of his thoroughly compromised position by arguing that “a salesman made me do it” and that since claims firms and no-win no-fee lawyers are manifestly evil their contracts don’t count, and then – if there’s any cash left over – perhaps it could go towards the purchase of some new furniture and maybe some curtains for the Hooper/Hopper lounge.

Does not the bible, after all, say something about joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance? Although, on the other hand, it might be worth noting that – with or without the very public intervention of a national newspaper – a remarkably small percentage of those who have contractually assigned their souls to the so-called Prince of Darkness have ever succeeded in claiming them back.

August 23, 2012

Those formidable scourges of the uninsured driving classes Men in Black (MIB) took evident relish in predicting this week that police are on the verge of seizing their one-millionth uninsured vehicle since the government gave them carte blanche to go round seizing such vehicles back in 2005.

The seizure in question will almost certainly take place in the West Midlands, MIB predicts, or maybe in West Yorkshire, another of the UK’s hottest beds of uninsuredness. Although, while we’re on the topic of Westness, the North West probably has one or two uninsured drivers too, as, for all Bankstone News knows, do West Lothian and West Wittering.

If we accept MIB’s estimate that around 30% of the seized vehicles have since been crushed, this suggests the creation of around two million twisted tonnes of torn and mangled metal since the seizure programme began. Not since the climactic sequences of The Blues Brothers has the automotive world seen such spectacular carnage.

As previously noted, uninsured driving is particularly rife in the West Midlands and West Yorkshire, where presumably the ignorance and lawlessness of the local populations are key factors in the widespread floutage of the relevant regulations. MIB report that one third of those living in WM and WY don’t know it’s illegal to drive without insurance. Those who do, often have a misplaced expectation that there’s little chance they’ll get caught should they choose to pass up on the undoubted, if pricey, appeal of private motor insurance.

Across the UK, the MIB claim, there are 1.2 million uninsured drivers. It was precisely those at the wheels of the estimated 1 in 25 vehicles driven without insurance whom Doug Simons of Alcoholics Anonymous accused this week of killing 160 innocent people and injuring another 23,000 every year in the UK (no comparative figure for guilty people was available at the time of writing). Clearly, if the individuals in question had only bought insurance, these grizzly statistics could look very different.

More to the point, uninsured drivers, Simons says, add £33 to every honestly-bought car insurance policy (again, no comparative figures were available for dishonestly purchased policies).

All things considered, Simons believes the MIB’s predicted millionth seizure this week will mark an important step forward. But dirty and potentially unhygienic tarmac appears to be a nagging concern for the AA spokesman. “A million cars seized is great news,” he said, “but we are still a long way from cleaning up Britain’s roads.”

Sorry.

August 23, 2012

What could otherwise have been a routinely drab news story was this week transformed into vivid brilliance, as Insurance Age reported that Uvavu has “swooped to appoint a new Head of Fraud for Underwriting, Pricing and Product to boost front-end detection”. This pithily apt poetical imagery seems perfectly to capture the hawklike decisiveness of Uvavu’s new streamlined management structure and – for Bankstone News at least – provides ample reassurance that no front end will pass undetected on Uvavu’s watch.

Uvavu has apparently “unveiled” Anne Grebe who will now be playing the aforementioned role of Head of Fraud for Underwriting, Pricing and Product (or HFUPP, as it is known for short). By taking a firm grip on fraud at the front end, Ms Grebe is expected to help Uvavu “clamp down” on fraud “ across the insurance lifecycle”, crushing everything from newly hatched application frauds to fully fledged claims frauds under the vice-like pressure of its implacably ineluctable fraud press.

Insurance Age reports that Ms Grebe has “garnered expertise in developing and introducing fraud strategies within financial services”, which is sure to come in handy now. Incidentally, should any readers find themselves nonplussed by the technical use of the word garner here, Bankstone News can helpfully point out that garnering involves collecting a thing and storing it away for future use – as in a granary (from the French grenier). Ms Grebe has also apparently “previously delivered anti-bribery and corruption policies”, but she’s sure to have more important things to do in her new job that ferrying documents here and there!

Uvavu’s UK Gerneral Insurance Chief Underwriting Officer (UKGICUO) Axel Foley explained that the insurer has “created this new role within underwriting, pricing and product, bringing together one team to place stronger emphasis on increasing our commitment to front end fraud detection.” Like the sound of one hand clapping, the bringing together of one team sounds a trifle mysterious to Bankstone News, but, let’s face it, a commitment to front end fraud detection can never have too strong an emphasis put upon it. With Ms Grebe’s hand on the front end fraud handle, Foley says, Uvavu can “leverage our expertise and learnings” to put fraud under even greater pressure.

Her appointment is sure to send an unequivocal and chilling message to any would-be claims cheats who happen to be reading Insurance Age this week.

August 17, 2012

With just two weeks left to go until the long awaited Insurance Endurance 2012 karting event at Daytona Milton Keynes, excitement is nearing fever pitch. There are still just a few precious places left on the starting grid for teams who have not yet found time to enter.

Insurance Endurance offers a great corporate day out and unparalleled networking opportunities with the great and the good of the motor insurance market. For the piffling outlay of just £1040, teams of up to ten individuals get to compete in what is surely the ultimate sporting challenge for insurance professionals who like to compete sitting down.

Daytona Milton Keynes now boast just-in supercharged new karts that whisk competitors round the rubber tyre lined circuit faster than ever before – even the considerably portly ones – making this a once in a life time annual event.

In the frankly improbable event you need further convincing here’s a quick re-cap of our previously published list of great things about Insurance Endurance 2012:

Insurance Endurance offers you all this:

Unparalleled networking opportunities (as noted above)

The chance to mix with anyone who is everyone in insurance (ditto, kind of)

Outstanding corporate entertainment bang for buck (no further comment)

If IE doesn’t bond you, nothing will!

A rich source of humorous anecdotal material for future reference

Some proper fun for a change

You’ll be really sorry if you don’t go and then you have to listen to everyone else’s crazy stories

A commemorative team hat or fleece, if you are lucky

A trophy if you and the rest of your team are lucky and/or good at karting

A chance to find out whether those new 70mph prokarts are really safe

An opportunity to take the wheels off an old F1 car

An outlet for all your pent up frustrations

One of the most pleasurable experiences known to man

The prospect of a new nickname honouring your failings as driver/human being

A high-octane alternative to golf

More glamour than Monte Carlo’s Rendez-Vous de Septembre

More karts than Brands Hatch

More slippy-slidy corners than a jar full of dice in olive oil

A chance to show off and/or make a tit of yourself

Counts towards your CPD (better check that with the CII)

Somewhere else to be on a Friday

A chance to learn new things about yourself and your business associates

Deliverance from the temptations of alcohol

Burgers and stuff

So don’t delay, book your team place online today at www.daytona.co.uk or if you don’t like computers, simply call Mark Wimblett at Daytona on 0845 644 5504.

August 17, 2012

Like a big brother tired of seeing their younger sibling constantly picked on by playground bullies and never sticking up for themselves, Insurance Age reckons “It’s time for brokers to rise above the customary bashing”.

Now bashing, most readers will surely agree, whether of brokers or bishops (see illustration below), is, like Royal Danish party rocking all night long, a custom more honor’d in the breach than the observance. But brokers certainly seem to come in for their fair share of it.

The latest savage onslaught of broker bashing came from the Daily Mail’s financially expository spin-off This is Money. TIM claims sensationally to have carried out a mystery shopping exercise to reveal that buying through a broker can add up to £500 to your annual premium.

Mystery Shopping, huh? How does that work, Bankstone News can’t help wondering. Given that a mystery is something people are aware of but cannot explain or understand, does that mean someone walks into an insurance shop, behaves oddly then leaves again, leaving the insurance shopkeepers (or brokers to use the technical term) thinking “what on earth was that all about?” Surely some kind of undercover customer impersonation exercise would have been more appropriate.

Whatever the shortcomings of their methodology, there’s no denying that TIM have given brokers a fair old bashing. Now you can push a “leading general insurance intermediary organisation representing the interests of insurance brokers, intermediaries and their customers” so far, but BIBA was in no mood to take this lying down and went so far – as Insurance Age acknowledges – as to express “its disappointment with the article.”

But even that was not enough for ‘the Age’ who insist that there is actually a subtle but important difference between an insurance broker and a website. That difference, to cut a long story short, appears to be that websites sell people cheap policies that are probably rubbish, whereas brokers will get you a more expensive one that does cool stuff like paying out when you make a claim.

Problem is, like, Generation Interweb don’t know nothing about brokers and that, you get me, and brokers them need to get on that with some education type of thing, isn’t it. Insurance Age goes on to suggest that the best way to combat this information gap would be “with gusto”, which must surely be right.

Whilst agreeing with TIM that brokers “may make premiums a tad more dear”, IA concludes resoundingly that “you can’t put a premium on honest, upfront, personalised service”. Leaving aside any facile quibbles to the effect that putting a premium on HUPS is precisely what the preceding article has been suggesting can and should be done – or indeed the implicit challenge to idle pricing actuaries out there – this also seems borderline incontrovertible.

Well done Age, we say, for saying what needed to be said.

Can't find any broker bashing pics, will this do?

Can't find any pics of broker bashing, so here's one of Bankstone's own Andy Jones administering a good kicking to another respected member of the community.

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