UKIM swoops for ARAG man

October 31, 2012

You know how Bankstone News sometimes mysteriously forgets to be all sarky and facetious? You might suspect that some firms or individuals get an easy ride just because Bankstone is friends with and/or does business with them. Unworthy thought. Banish it at once from your mind.

Not convinced? OK, then: the following story concerns Bankstone’s good friends at UK Independent Medical and ARAG, so if you’re right we’d be all gushy and “aren’t they simply the greatest” or whatever, wouldn’t we? Well, get a load of this:

So-called UK Independent Medical (UKIM) this week claimed to be “delighted” to announce the appointment of Anthony Berry in the role of “business development manager” – whatever that means! UKIM chairman Paul Healey (who also, to his great discredit, plays keyboards with Australian indie pop ensemble The LightRail) professed to be “certain that Anthony will be successful in conveying” [UKIM’s focussed effort to be] “one of the best in the industry for customer service” and “helping to build our business”.

What a load of old codswallop! Bankstone supremo Dickson Tickson happens to know Anthony “Chuck” Berry very well from the latter’s recently ended time with ARAG, and can attest that, whilst he may be “a top bloke and an excellent golfer”, he has never once come along to one of Mr T’s tuba and sauna evenings or expressed the slightest interest in the Bankstone man’s twin passions for scale-model diggers and Richard III. Quite how he expects to build relationships with that kind of attitude is anyone’s guess! Damningly, Tysoe claims Berry is “less funny than Victoria Wood” and “can’t hold a candle to Peter Skellern” when it comes to self-consciously retro crooning with a regional accent.

In the press release issued by UKIM, Berry claims preposterously that “I was always aware of UKIM’s reputation for quality and service and was therefore delighted to be asked to join the team.” He also talks candidly about how he plans to “use my existing knowledge and skills to build on already solid foundations”. That could leave a bitter taste in the mouths of some of his former colleagues at ARAG, where those skills and knowledge were so patiently burnished and honed. One of these former workmates – let’s call her Millicent (not her real name) – said that Berry may have been “all very nice” and “very good at his job and that” but also once used a unisex lavatory facility and left without putting the seat down. She also notes how another colleague thought they once heard Berry surreptitiously burp during office hours.

Another industry insider claimed that Berry “doesn’t look anything like Bruce Willis” noting “I’d like to see him try doing my job – I slave away here day and night and no-one pays the blindest bit of notice – and then some fancy pants like Anthony Berry – I knew him when he was just plain Tony – he waltzes in to that job at UKIM, bold as you like, and everyone is like ‘Oh, Anthony Berry – isn’t he great’. Good luck to him I say, but if people knew what I know…”

So Arag’s loss or UKIM’s gain? Who can say?!

October 26, 2012

Insurance Age’s roving editor Manuel Kenny continues to fly the flag for The Age of the Train as he zooms back and forth around the UK’s iron rail network collecting up the thoughts of the insurance world’s great and good and packaging them up into easily digestible three-minute videos. Latest to get the Kenny treatment is Juliet “Four” Williams of insure4biz.com.

The resulting intervid went live on the Insurance Ache website this week. In it, Williams – an accomplished martial artist who daringly conducts the entire interview in a bright red swimsuit (an appropriately modest one-piece costume, we should stress, of the type favoured by Britain’s Olympic sweatheart Rebecca Paddlington (not to be confused with star cyclist Victoria Peddlington) – comes down heavily in favour of the CII’s Chartered Broker accreditation.

Much as she relishes the elite status it confers on her firm, she believes “our entire industry needs to rise itself up” and that it would be good if all insurance brokers were chartered so that the industry can shake off its negative associations with “the insurance salesman/saleswoman”.

Asked how her firm uses Chartered Baker status in its digital marketing, Williams confides that “we use social media quite heavily in the business” and that on LinkTin she uses it “quite heavily” but also believes “you can use Faceboot and Twatter very successfully in business” so she says she mentions it in tweets and occasionally makes sure it is in her profile on Faceboot which she uses “quite professionally rather than just for fun.”

Speaking of fun, Kenny raises a smile when he cheekily wonders (through the medium of captions) whether SMEs are really interested in professionalism or whether they are simply “obsessed by price”. Williams argues subtly that SMEs merely think they are “obsessed by price” but that if you drill down into them, they are actually “very bothered about things being done right”. They might not initially realize that Chartered status means that things will be done properly, she concedes, but “that’s the broker’s job to educate them”.

As if poor old brokers didn’t have enough to do already!

October 26, 2012

In these social-media plagued times it’s sometimes hard to know whether you are distracting someone else from their work or they are distracting you. It was perfectly plain, however, that when Bikesure’s Simon and Katie descended on the claims firm’s Brighouse HQ for an annual audit of the perfectly well-oiled efficiency engine that is Team Bankstone this week, it was Bankstone’s Dickson Tysleo and Andrew “Jonesmeister” Jones who were attempting to distract the Bikesure Duo by dragging them off on a whistlestop tour of the hotspot fleshpots of lovely Leeds.

After an ill-judged attempt to subject the acrophobic Simon to an aperitif or two in the vertiginous 32nd storey Skylounge bar, and a worse-judged-still subsequent attempt to drag the poor man out onto the viewing platform balcony, which very nearly resulted in a fist-fight according to Jones, the Bankstone Boys then tried making amends by whisking the Bikesurers off to Leed’s 88th best restaurant Wasabi Tepid Yak, a Japanese establishment which is barely inferior at all in actual fact to the city’s alleged 1st best restaurant, the notorious Thai Ho Suk.

Here, it was Jones – with his well documented fear of complicated food – who struggled. Happily, diverted as he was by the establishment’s unusual tradition of allowing – practically encouraging – diners to whack various hot ingredients into holes with spatulas (you had to be there), Jones ended up coping manfully with a spicy array of raw fish and mystery vegetables. The beer and sake flowed, playful banter sparked, and a perfect evening ensued – right up to the point where the Bikesure auditors were wrestled back into the Jonesmobile and subjected to the seemingly interminable haul back to their uninspiring lodgings in dismal old Brighouse.

Still, never mind: someone else’s turn next year, probably.

October 26, 2012

You don’t see turkey eggs around much. They don’t taste as good as chicken eggs; the turkeys don’t lay them very often, and when they do they’re apt to see the fertilised ones whisked off to produce more turkeys and the rest fed straight back to them along with any other random cr*p that’s going spare. But if you’re wondering what shape turkey eggs are, why, you’ve come to the right place!

The firm best placed to confuse the hell out of everyone by taking over from Ex-Pat (formerly Brit) as England cricket sponsors, that’s Oval we’re talking about, obvs, were cock-a-hoop this week after picking up the coveted role of “livestock brokering and risk management” providers to none other than Norfolk’s… the UK’s… the World’s, for all Bankstone News knows or cares… producers of edible turkey parts, Bernard Manning Farms.

The firm’s founder Bernard Manning, who recently passed away, became a household name in the 1980s thanks to the literally iconic TV ads in which he wore a ludicrous tweed knickerbocker suit, badly mispronounced the word beautiful and offended many with his outrageous blue language, misogyny and racist outbursts.

An archetypal Norfolkshireman, Manning latterly attracted controversy when it emerged that – far from living with him in his spacious East Angular mansion Witchywoman Hall – his turkeys actually spent their days crowded into brutally functional barns. He also caught the caustic tongue of rascally tousled-hair rapscallion Jamie Oliver who castigated the fowl man for the fat-ridden vileness of products such as Golden Drummers, Turkey Twizzlers and Turkey Thunderballs, which were reputedly consumed in life-threatening quantities by children from bad homes.

None of which bothers the people at Oval one iota, Bankstone News dares say. Sure enough Oval man Andy Dutton told Farmers Boys Weekly this week that his team were “delighted” to be working “very closely” with the self confessed Turkey People to “negotiate a programme that was perfectly tailored for them” whilst, naturally enough, bearing a considerable resemblance to Oval’s off the peg “Paltry Unique” policy.

Booty-full, as the great man used to say.

another satisfied customer

Paltry Unique: another satisfied customer

October 26, 2012

In what must surely be the first ever instance of the successful bidders in a commercial tender being required to take out some form of insurance cover, FIFA’s selected goal-line technology providers Hawk-Eye and GoalRef (surely GoalsMan?) have been ordered to go away and take out some insurance, Insurance Times reporters read in the Daily Mail this week.

Why might the two firms need insurance?, you may wonder. The main reason of course is that – if wrongly calibrated – the laser technology used to judge whether a football has or has not crossed a goal-line (due to be introduced for Premier Ship League matches from next season) could potentially slice the likes Chelsea’s Pete Cheeks clean in half.

There is also a risk of being sued if balls were wrongly judged to have crossed or not to have crossed the goal-line to the prejudice of some club or other and its commercial interests. FIFA has insisted that the winning firms – who between them get to roll out their auto-adjudgative solutions worldwide (so presumably they are mounted on some kind of trolley) should sort themselves out with a policy that provides “sufficient insurance coverage for claims being raised by third parties due to the licensee’s activities or omissions (failure to act) as well as claims being raised due to potentially faulty (manufactured) products.”

FIFA goes on to stipulate that “the policy shall be concluded with a well-respected and reputable national or international insurance company”. The latter part of that stipulation obviously rules out all insurance companies operating on a purely regional basis. The former part rules out the rest.

Bit of a conundrum, really.

Hawkeye closes the deal with FIFA officials in Zurich

Hawkeye closes the deal with FIFA officials in Zurich

October 19, 2012

It’s a hard life being a high ranking specialist outsourced claims handling professional these days. Spare a thought – Bankstone News certainly does – for people like Bankstone top cheeses Dickie Tyson and Andy Cojones who find themselves constantly obliged to spend virtually every minute of virtually every day attending tiresome industry shindigs – much against their will and better judgement, of course.

Coming up in the near future, for example, they may well have to attend an Insurance Institute of Manchester event on 24 October at which they will hear all about the Supreme Court’s decision on EL Trigger and hear temptingly named Will Kintish will deliver a lecture on The 10 Deadly Sins of Naughty Networkers in which he shares his expert views on “where people don’t necessarily get it right when at business networking events”.

Then there’s the inauspiciously titled Personal Injury Awards 2012 on 14 November at the Park Plaza Riverbank on London’s Albert Embankment (could be chilly at this time of year) where the duo will be guests of the lovely Thorneycrofts Solicitors.

And then on January 25 there’s the implausibly titled I Love Claims Networking Lunch to attend at London’s Grand Connaught Rooms. Where they will have to endure, as celebrity speaker, the endlessly loathsome Chris Moyles.* The organisers of this event claim it “will provide you with some great entertainment and a years’ worth of networking in just one day for only £185+vat”. How Bankstone’s top dogs must wish that even the latter part of that promise were true.

Plus, of course, Tyson will have to drag himself along to the Newcastle vs West Brom match on 28th of this month, where he will be proudly wearing his new Appleberry WBA scarf. Did we mention these Appleberry scarfs? They’re very good and there’s a SPECIAL OFFER on them for Bankstone News readers.

So spare a thought is all we’re saying.

*The verb to moyle, incidentally Fact Fans, is an obscure term derived from the Anglo Norman word ‘mouiller’ (meaning to act in a moist or damp fashion) which connotes the oozing of fetid vileness from every sweaty pore. To suggest that Chris moyles, would of course be nonsense in view of all the great work he does for charity, when as recent news events have clearly illustrated, only pure hearted people do this.

October 19, 2012

Who could possibly fill the giant boots of outgoing BIBA boss-man Eric (Big G) Gallbreath? That is the question currently exercising BIBA chairperson Andy Homer who has been tasked with finding a successor to his lame-duck quitting ceo. Should alternative candidates not suggest themselves, who knows, he might even have to take on the role himself.

Describing his ten-year stint as the ‘face’ of BIBA as “amazing”, Gallbreath noted wistfully that he had been “instrumental in supporting the [recent Deloitte] strategic review”. He insisted, however, that he was committed to sticking around until BIBA have found someone better able to “take the association forward,” before going on to say, only slightly prematurely “I believe it is the right time to hand over the reins to a new chief executive.”

Reporting Big G’s hook slinging plans, Post Magazine anticipated that some in the market may not be too sad to see the back of him. “He will be missed by brokers,” the paper predicted, but “others” (not brokers?) “have welcomed the decision and the prospect of a new face leading the association into a new era.”

Who might these sinister others be? Others who apparently revel in the demise of a great champion of the ordinary hard working broker? On this potentially sensitive point, the paper declines to descend into the banal realms of specificity.

Andy Homer said: “We are all obviously disappointed that Eric will be leaving.” Running a lingering eye over one of the many Putinesque topless action-man portraits of EG that adorn the walls of BIBA’s Bevis Marks HQ he added admiringly “he will be leaving the organisation in excellent shape.”

Bankstone News will certainly miss old Eric whose no-nonsense straight-talking style has always been a breath of air in the convention-bound world of insurance broking.

Who could forget – for instance – when Eric gave bankers a damn good kicking?

When he literally wowed the crowds at this year’s BIBA conference?

When he refused to bury his head in the snow?

When he got it in the neck from Ellen Bennett?

When he made beautiful music with Barbie Bradshaw?

When he argued controversially that insurance is not the same as banking?

When he single-handledly took on the dark forces of cliché mongery?

When he lamb-basted insurers’ niggardly claims paying antics?

Or when he took the FSA to task over the outrageous costs of regulation?

Not us – we’ve forgotten already!

October 19, 2012

The residents of York don’t seem terribly happy about the proposed location of art loving Robert Hiscox’s North of England operations in their fair city.

Hiscox is threatening to create 500-odd jobs in England’s least racially mixed city (Anglo-Danish to a man) with a new North of England office in York’s Hungate district. But locals are not happy. They claim Hiscox paid the council too little for the old ambulance station site (currently a makeshift car park) on which the new offices will stand alongside the timber-framed Black Swan pub and a vast new residential development.

After the local paper aired an artist’s impression of the boxy commercial-modern stone-glass-and-metal clad edifice intended to house 300 Hiscox staff alongside a new 262 bedroom hotel, locals reacted furiously. “Hideous” and “inappropriate, unimaginative and totally incongrous” were typical comments. Experts rushed to join the clamour: “Appalling and out of context” was the damning verdict from restoration man Kevin Turvey.

Alarmed, perhaps, by the artists impression’s depiction of casually disheveled overweight men in lounge suits spilling out on to York’s historic streets from the new development, locals scrambled over one another to denounce the plans in the (web)pages of the local paper, branding Hiscox “greedy profit-grabbing capitalists” and calling for the District Auditor and/or the European Commission to be brought in to examine the supposedly shady deal that had paved the way for the blighting of this precious corner of semi-derelict urban wasteland.

Hiscox chairman, Bob Hiscox was quick to distance himself from the offending images, insisting that “this is not the final design” and that Hiscox has “not begun discussing the architectural style with the developers and will be consulting with local planners to ensure it is worthy of York.” A separate consideration might be whether York is worthy of Hiscox, a hugely successful and well-respected firm, recently voted one of the best companies in the UK to work for.

Whether or not the “within five years” timetable posited for the opening of Hiscox’s new offices will prove achievable remains to be seen. But just supposing Hiscox should end up concluding that its presence is not entirely welcome in snooty old York, Bankstone News can warmly recommend a possible alternative destination. Charmingly run-down former mill town Brighouse is conveniently located just off the M62 and boasts b*gger all alongside which any daringly high-concept carbuncle Bob H might care to erect could possibly compare unfavourably. Brighouse is ready and waiting to welcome Hiscox with arms wide open!

Before

Before

After

After

Top image copyright Google

October 18, 2012

Regular readers may recall how Bankstone News broke the news back in February that, as of next month (i.e. November 2012), anyone driving in France would have to carry an alcohol breath test kit with them at all times. That or face one or other (or both) of: a) an extortionately hefty fine* or b) indefinite anonymous detention in some dismal oubliette. Back in the spring there was some doubt as to whether this also applied to motorcyclists or just carists. Remember that? No? Well, never mind, because things have moved on a bit in the meantime.

The latest developments comprise elements of both good news and bad news. You’d better have the bad news first – and the good news about the bad news is that it is only bad news for bikers and barely news at all for those who don’t bike. It is, in short, this: bikers are indeed included in the breath test kit requirement – unless, that is, they are not really bikers at all but merely mopedists (mopeders? mopers?). And the promised good news? The implementation date has been pushed back til March next year.

There’s actually some more good news. Single-use breath test kits will be available from all good ferry and tunnel terminals for £2 or less and, as well as being handy for waving at gendarmes, if you breath into them they will give you an approximate indication as to whether you are legally sober enough to drive. You probably aren’t – especially if you have been anywhere near alcohol in the previous 24 hours – as the French limit is a paltry 50mg per 100ml.

But of course if you use them for breathing into, you cannot then wave them at gendarmes to any useful purpose – and a self-diagnosis of ‘sober’ constitutes no defence against a contrary second opinion from an agent of the loh. So basically they’re for display purposes only and a total waste of time.

*€11

October 12, 2012

This week’s Bankstone News editorial conference went something like this. Lead story? It has to be balloons – no argument. Balloons are on fire this week. Second lead? Sex. Of course sex. You’ve got to have sex! And family breakups is a cinch for number three. Bish, bash, bosh. Badda bing, badda bang, badda Bankstone. Take that bad boy to the bank and weep!

But, hey, what about that Bankstone News story? What’s our Bankstone story this week? Football. Football? Yes football. Again? Yes again. Really? Yes really. Why football? You know very well why football. But what is there to say about football that we didn’t say last time? Think of something! Oh “think of something” – sure, I’ll just go away and “think of something.”

Bankstone News has no idea why we have to speak in ridiculous cod New York accents in editorial meetings. It’s just sort of a tradition.

So Bankstone News is thinking. Thinking a bit more. Still thinking. Then suddenly a brainwave: we can do this hilarious thing where we have, like, an insurance industry football team where all the names are a cross between those of premier league stars and well known insurance people. This is great. Ha ha ha. We can have Fernando Torrance up front. Ho ho ho. And er… er… (cut to half an hour later). Right, not that then.

OK, let’s type football and insurance into Google and see what we get. Here’s something: Pressure grows on insurer RSA to reveal the final solution to the untold Hillsborough story. Hmmm… let’s see… RSA has refused to waive its entitlement to privilege and allow the Independent Hillsborough Panel confidential access to its archives – raising suspicions, as one Labour MP put it, that “they have something to hide” and prompting mutterings about a Sun-style boycott of RSA products on Merseyside. Maybe not.

We could do an update on how Bankstone’s Brighouse Academicals Team have already romped to a commanding 1274th place in the Insurance Times fantasy football league – and maybe look forward to a weekend of absolutely nothing of interest happening in the domestic football calendar. No, we’re even boring ourselves now.

Maybe we’d better just cut to the chase and tell you that those upmarket non-branded football scarf things we mentioned the other week are still available at a massive 15% discount, which they are, and be done with it.

What upmarket non-branded football scarf things?, you may ask. Why these ones:

“The famous Appleberry scarf allows the wearer to show pride in their football team in an understated and classically British style. Traditionally made in Saxony wool and hand-finished, Appleberry scarves come in the colours of all of England and Wales’ favourite football clubs.

“Made in England and 100% unofficial, the Appleberry scarf is totally free of club badges and sponsors and manufacturers logos; it’s a design classic that looks as good on your way to the pub or the office as it does at the match.”

Simply order online, quoting voucher code BS15 when you checkout, to qualify for a full 15% (yes, FIF-TEEN per cent) discount on every neckpiece ordered.

In the meantime, please send your suggestions for next week’s hilarious “insurance industry football team where all the names are a cross between those of premier league stars and well known insurance people” feature to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk

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