Christmas message

December 20, 2013

Well that’s it for another week, and for that matter another year.

As Bankstone News hammers out the last few weary characters of this week’s jauntily inadequate edition, Bankstone’s three directors (like the Three Tenors only less formal and less rotund) have already left the office and are on the Bleaktree Bus heading back across Bankstone Peak to the groovy 60s bachelor pad in Wibblydale that they call home (see photographic evidence below).

By the time you read this, they’ve probably put on bold stripey shirts and wandered over to the Elven Maid, where they’ll be tucking into three foaming pints of Pertwhistle’s Pride, with a side order of pork scratchings, and warming up for the endless round of skittles, shove ha’penny and barmaid bothering they’re pleased to call a Friday night.

Absent they may be in body (and quite possibly in mind by now), but I know they’d want us to wish all you lovely Bankstone News readers an outstandingly Merry Christmas and the very Happiest of New Years.

So we do!

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December 20, 2013

Windscreen wipers have an important job to do. Clearly. But, let’s face it, they’re a bit rubbish really, aren’t they. They squeak. They leave smeary marks. They keep needing to be changed. A bit like babies, really, only less endearing.

Wouldn’t it be great if one of those boffin types could come up with something better? Well, guess what, all you wiper-weary people out there, they just did!

Incredible but true! Loud car makers McLaren have invented a revolutionary new way of keeping detritus off windscreens – without using wipers at all! They invented it after seeing a remarkably similar invention used in jet fighters.

The invention, it turns out, involves using ultra high-frequency soundwaves to create a forcefield that stops anything sticking to the windscreen.

There are high hopes the system will soon be in use on McLaren’s full range of supercars and baby buggies, so anyone with a mid-range six figure sum to splash out on a new motor can soon wave goodbye to insect gut splatter and all those other visibility impairing annoyances. Which means in a year or two’s time we’ll all be blade-free.

Never again will you accidentally fill your oil tank with pre-mixed budget screenwash. Safari park apes and lank-haired bucket-and-cloth trolls lurking at the lights will soon have nothing to pull off the front of your car. Crank the frequency up a notch or tow, and birds, bats, drunks and cyclists may soon be bouncing harmlessly off your windscreen too.

The inventors are reasonably confident their ultrasound technology will not melt anybody’s brain or make their ears bleed or whatever. The sounds are so high pitched they are completely imperceptible to human hearing. Don’t expect your dog to want to ride along though.

But seriously, who’d take their dog in a McLaren? Now in a Merc maybe.

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December 20, 2013

More self-serving whinging from the credit hire cowboys this week, as imaginatively named representative body the Credit Hire Organisation moaned on predictably about how the proposals contained in the Competitor’s Companion report into inflated costs in the private motor insurance market will disadvantage consumers and line the pockets of fat cat insurers.

Humbug, we say at Bankstone News. Normally we would probably have said something like Balderdash or Poppycock, but since it’s nearly Christmas… See what we did there!

In the course their unnecessary and nonsensical ‘official response’ to the CC motor report, (a document, frankly, that can be of no possible concern or interest to anyone other than their own members, who may perhaps derive some tawdry frisson from the written confirmation of their own ridiculous prejudices) the CHO argues that the blameless drivers of damaged vehicles, in forfeiting the right to drive around indefinitely in some massively upgraded replacement vehicle while some CHO member rakes in hire charges willy nilly, will somehow be having their precious rights trampled over. It will be like sending motorists back to the stone age and/or forcing them to take the bus while their vehicle is off the road, the CHO expects us to believe.

As if that were not sufficiently absurd, they have also joined the herds of Whinging Williams who maintain – in utter defiance of proper decent common sense – that giving at-fault insurers the right to patch up the vehicles their policyholders have damaged, in whatever manner they see fit, could somehow act to the detriment of the non-fault drivers.

This simply makes no sense. What possible motivation could at-fault insurers have for skimping on vehicle repairs? Why cut corners or rush a repair, when a tip-top job could boost their reputation and that of the insurance industry as a whole. Has it not occurred to CHO that if damaged vehicles were simply lashed together on a budget there would, like as not, be more accidents and more expensive claims to follow (although, thankfully, those claims would mostly impact other insurers’ policyholders).

But, above and beyond such practical considerations, there’s a basic point of principle at stake here. If your child knocked a precious vase to the floor while visiting a friend’s house, would you want to see that damaged vase going out to some unknown and untrusted repairer? Certainly not! Not when Uncle Ted has his trusty Evo-Stick, and will happily do the job for the price of a pint.

It may be an old-fashioned phrase, but it’s what we like to call “doing the right thing”.

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December 19, 2013

Despite being named Insurance Times General Insurer of the Year earlier this month, flag carrier insurer RSA appears to be going through a slightly sticky patch lately. Maybe you’ve heard about this already? Nah, probably not. So anyway…

RSA are reportedly “hunting” for a new CEO after the previous incumbent Lee Simons opted not to hang around while investors forsook its shares, and sundry commentators slunk about saying unhelpful things like “Some of RSA’s key financial metrics are weaker than its ratings would suggest.”

That comment came from Fitch ratings analysts, who may yet adjust the insurer’s current A rating so that it accurately reflects RSA’s key financial metrics, but they are probably reluctant to start rushing into things.

RSA lead the way on Friday last week as the Footie Index slumped to a two-month low, losing 4.20 points, with RSA’s share price falling a literally whopping 17.3% following a profit warning and Lee Simons’ prudent if somewhat abrupt departure.

Which exotic lines of business are causing these latest problems for RSA? Business Wine reports that: RSA’s Irish reserves “will need to be strengthened by £130m as a result of its recent review. The majority of which relates to bodily injury strengthening in motor and liability lines. This follows the £70m reserve strengthening announced on 8 November relating to claims and finance issues in Ireland.”

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December 13, 2013

As many a kindergarten panto santa has said before us, Yo, Ho, Ho, and a Reet Merry Christmas to all our readers!

Slightly premature, you might argue, as, there will, sadly, almost certainly be another sorry edition of BS News flopping listlessly into your inbox before the traditional midwinter festivities get fully underway, but we simply couldn’t resist bringing you a sneak peak at the exclusive bespoke photographic imagery exclusively commissioned for the 2013 Bankstone Christmas Card.

The charming rural scene depicted shows delightful North Yikes Moors hamlet Goatland where the trainy bits in various Hairy Potter films and large sections of the dismal noughties heritage TV “drama” series Heatbeat were shot. It’s dear to the hearts of Bankstone and friends too, as the scene of various instances of hanging around for hours waiting for someone or other to get their motorcycling shizzle togizzle in the seemingly interminable course of various of our annual charity fundraising monkey-biking epics.

Somewhat disturbingly, according to information yet to be moderated off Wikipedia, “Goathland also has the highest concentration of ‘Golliwogg’ dolls for sale of any community, not only in Britain, but the entire world. [citation needed]”

The idea was to capture an appropriately wintry aerial view of Goatlad entirely covered in snow. But we didn’t bring quite enough of those little polystyrene balls to get a decent covering, and then, by the time we’d sent for more, the helium had all leaked out of the balloony bit for our patent Bankstone-Gondola-Cam and it was getting dark anyway.

So, frankly, this will have to do!

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Click to enlarge (this image)

 

 

December 13, 2013

So effective have the combined efforts of HMG and the insurance industry proved in combatting the scourge of whiplash, that claimants have stopped claiming for whiplash and opted for a range of alternative neck and back complaints that lend themselves less handily to snappy headlines such as War on Whiplash, Whiplash Windfall, Whiplash Whip-Off and the like.

It’s probably just as well, because, the more often you say it, the sillier the word whiplash comes to sound. We’ll all be much better off complaining in more generic terms about the “scourge neck and back injury claims” and decrying Brits for having the weakest spines in Europe.

You want facts and figures? As you would expect, Bankstone News has them ready to hand. We found them in Insurance Times! There we learned that whiplash claims reported to the Department for Work in Progress (DWP) were 10% lower in the 2012/13 financial year (at 428,000) than four years previously when they peaked at around 477,000 (see Note 1 below, if you can really be bothered).

However… back injuries had climbed by a whopping 185% over the same period, while non-whiplash neck injuries were up by almost 200%. Admittedly, such claims still have a little way to go, at 38,000 and 232,000 respectively to topple the still popular whiplash option, but at this rate the very word whiplash could soon be consigned to history (see Note 2 below), along with cuffglaff, groak, lunting and pussyvan.

So, basically it’s goodbye whiplash, hello something rather similar. All of which goes to prove that, as the Bard of South Warwickshire once memorably observed, “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Unless, of course, that A stood for Axel. And then it probably wouldn’t.

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1. What Insurance Times actually reported was this “In the 2012/13 financial year the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Compensation Recovery Unit received 477,257 claims for whiplash injuries, compared with 428,497 in 2008/09 – a decrease of 10%.” But we’re guessing they just swapped the figures round to keep readers on their toes.

2. At this point, retro music fans of the future would presumably have not the least idea what the late lamented Lou Reed was on about when intoning “Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather. Whiplash girl child in the dark”.

December 11, 2013

People aren’t sat at home thinking how they can get round the rules, Paul Edwards of law firm Hill Dickinson revealed exclusively to Insurance Times this week. Which is certainly reassuring news for rule abiding citizens everywhere.

So what are they doing while they are “sat” at home? Amongst other things, it could be that they are responding to in-depth surveys being carried out by the aforementioned Hill Dickinson.

One such survey (of an unspecified number of unspecified respondents*) has shockingly revealed that people are a bit less optimistic about the (unspecified) benefits of the Legal Aid, Sentency and Punishy Offendy reforms than they were back in April, pre-launch.

In March this year 86% of “people” told Hill Dick’s researchers that they thought LASBO would “reduce overall spend”. Since then, that figure has plummeted to a mere 69%.

It could be, Edwards explains, that people might have got a bit carried away with all the “spin about how good the reforms were going to be” earlier in the year. Or perhaps, he muses philosophically, ”69% is just a fairly reasonable number.”

The survey also revealed that most people now think “the number of exaggerated and/or fraudulent claims will increase” (up from 45%) in March. But Edwards is having none of it. The reforms will reduce fraud, he predicted confidently, “despite the results of the survey”.

It’s not all good news though, with Edwards predicting that because “a lot of fraud is motivated by non-legal factors; it’s down to the economy,” there will always be fraud in the insurance system.

What a miserable prospect. Bet you wish you hadn’t read that now!

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“…and do you believe exaggerated and/or fraudulent claims will increase?”

*There are some indications that “industry players” may have been involved.

December 10, 2013

The hot technology news this week was that Bankstone’s good friends Adrian Flux are set to become the first specialist motor insurance provider (the first anything as far as we know) to adopt “cloud based real-time underwriting products from new start-up MGA Walsingham Underwriting Limited, using technology pioneered by The Insurer Cloud (TIC), a “platform agnostic cloud based underwriting toolset” offered by Bankstone’s equally good friends Transactor Global Solutions Limited (TGSL) “as an “add-on” to the core Transactor system” that “gives insurers and MGAs in any market sector the tools to trade with their selected panels, and routes to market, from a single point.”

All of which, sounds absolutely bl*ody brilliant, to the extent that Bankstone News has the faintest idea what the press release in question is on about.

TGSL insurer relations director Simon Macrame complemented the Fluxters fulsomely on their longstanding amenability to new technology adoption and explained, we think, that this TIC thingy will provide “a real cutting edge around pricing and responsiveness to market changes.”

Gerry Bucke of Flux responded by saying that: “We have found Transactor to be extremely user friendly, efficient and it gives us added flexibility in a constantly evolving and demanding market.”

The two firms are now believed to be working together on “a number of further ‘niche’ aggregation solutions for deployment over the coming year.” News of which we will be sure to puzzle over almost as bemusedly as we have this last announcement.

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December 6, 2013

Good friends of Bankstone they may be, but, come on, seriously, is Bankstone News the only one who’s had just about enough of ARAG winning bl*ody awards?!

Is there any award they haven’t won? Repeatedly? Ad nauseam?

Once or twice is fine. But all the bloomin’ time?! Nobody wants to see that!

The latest in the tediously long line of honours they’ve notched up is one for APE Insurance Provider of the Year at the Prestigious Personal Injury Awards.

And that came only a week after picking up some other prize for so-called Illegally Expensive Team of the Year at the Underwiring Services Awards.

Enough is enough, ARAG, we say. Stop winning awards and get on with some filing or something. Let someone else have a go!

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December 6, 2013

Estonian celebrity love god and former Cheeky Boy Lembit Opec has put aside his habitual ‘hard to get’ persona to sign up with bike lobby boys the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) as Director of Communications and Public Affairs.

“If one person combines political focus with the passion needed fully to reflect MAG’s determination to defend the heart and soul of biking,” commented MAG cheese Johnny Mitchell, “it’s Lembit Öpik.” Which leads Bankstone News to suppose that there can only have been one person – or they’d hardly have picked this one.

According to embittered TV weather witch Siân Lloyd, at the time when the pair enjoyed an ill-starred season of encouplement in the mid-noughties, Opit’s driving passions were women and booze.

But now, Mitchell insists, the former IACGMOOH reject’s “core passions” are “liberty and motorcycling”, predicting that the man alleged to sext as “Puppy Dog” will be harnessing these twin passions very firmly to the M.A.G. cause.


His new employers availed themselves of the platform provided by the recent Motorcycle Live event to announce that the former Lib Dem MP for Montypythonshire would be coming on board to help them stand up for the rights of bikes and scooters everywhere (everywhere within the UK, that is).

“People know me for a lot of things,” acknowledged self-confessed serial bike owner Mr Optic. Which is almost certainly true. But mostly they remember Siân Lloyd, Gabriella Cheeky Girl, HIGNFY, and those somewhat dubious parliamentary expenses claims.

No-one could doubt, however, that the man has a talent for self-publicity. One that could rank alongside those of luminaries like Neil and Christine Hamilton or even David Ike. But while those others’ light may now burn but dimly, Lumpit avers that he is “as passionate as ever”.

Rejoice, then, O Bikers, for you have a powerful new friend!

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