Compensation creep

January 31, 2013

Know your rights, yelled late lamented posh punk paramilitarily-attired social activist rocker Joe Strummer in days of yore, by which, of course, he really meant buy my records.

This has precisely what to do with insurance?, you may already be wondering. Well, just bear with us and soon enough the Clash man’s words might start sounding highly relevant. Sort of. Possibly. Eventually.

Post Magazine reported this week that insurer L>V- believes that “claims companies are increasingly victims on roadsides and in hospitals to encourage them to make a claim”. What on earth can this bizarre assertion mean? As you would expect – nay demand – Bankstone News decided to investigate.

Frankly, we’re baffled. But – reading between the lines (or words, or whatever) it seems L=V have uncovered a sinister conspiracy on the part of claims firms to get people who were actually perfectly happy about having been injured in RTAs to start kicking up a big unseemly fuss and claiming compensation.

So remorseless have claims firms been in pressurising people into claiming the compensation they are due, that one “victim”, Post reports was contacted no few than 340 times after being involved in an accident. A shocking 6% of crash victims, LV+ claims are now being contacted “within two hours of an accident”, presumably the one in which they were personally involved.

This, L0V< complains, is causing a “quarter of crash victims” to make insurance claims they would never have made if money-grubbing claims firms hadn’t come sniffing around and put them up to it. This hurts not only insurance companies and their shareholders, but also ordinary decent motorists who haven’t been stupid enough to make victims of themselves on Britain’s roads and who are seeing their premiums rise simply to feather the nests of the victims.

That’s one way of looking at it. Another would be to conclude that, despite all Mr Strummer’s good work, UK people are still not fully cognizant of their entitlements under law. And quite, frankly, thank heavens for that! Imagine what motor insurance premiums would look like if they were. In the meantime our industry must await already long-awaited government reforms that will restrict the ability of RTA victims, and others who feel themselves injured or wronged, to run around claiming compensation left, right and centre.

Sadly, we can no longer rely on the once-great British Bobby to rein in the popular instinct for whining and fuss-making. Damningly, L?V* revealed (following a femidom of information request) that the police are colluding shamelessly with the ambulance chasers, with Hampshire fuzz receiving almost £500,000 for passing on victims’ details since 2010 and the Met netting a tidy £5m in the same way since 2009.

When a reported 20% of crash victims were actually alerted by a police officer to the fact that they might be entitled to compensation, you really have to wonder whose side the law is on!

"And you say the other carriage stopped abruptly in front of your own without the least warning?"

January 30, 2013

Don’t be deceived by the grinning shiny-cheeked imp pictured alongside his profile on the Direct Lime Group website (as Bankstone News, very nearly was), DLG’s Head of Claims, Steve Madcock is not a happy man.

Post Magazine somehow managed to penetrate a recent session of secretive insider policy-influencing cabal the All-Night Party Parliamentary Group for Insurance and Financial Services (APPGIFS), and reported that a steamed-up Steve recalled that the Group – APPGIFS, that is, not the Direct Lie Group (DLG), we think – had been “assured that the new fixed costs regime would be implemented as a package by April”.

Given that there now seems a very real prospect of civil justice “reforms” not being implemented before the latter part of 2013, Steve’s getting more than a little frustrated with all this pussy-footed fannying about. He reckons the industry could be saving a cool £1m per day once the changes come in and hence is understandably keen for HMG to get on and do as it’s told.

“If there is a delay” Steve noted darkly, “we need to know why.” The expectation is that Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will now be called before the APPGIFS to explain just what the hell he thinks he’s playing at.

January 29, 2013

When insurance people are fictionalised on screen, you’ll generally see a maverick employee defy his cynical bosses to pay the technically questionable claim of some deserving but impoverished person (usually an old lady).

In real life, of course, this could never happen. Not because anyone who would let sentiment cloud their judgement in such an unprofessional way could never work in claims. No, on the contrary, because such an opportunity could never arise – for the simple reason that insurers like nothing better than paying claims.

No sooner have they clapped eyes on anything with claim written on it, in fact, than they’ve almost certainly paid it post-haste, quibble-free, usually with a bunch of flowers thrown in.

Everyone in insurance knows this and hence struggles to take seriously the likes of Kevin “Broker’s Man” Whately (aka Lewis, the world’s least plausible male romantic lead) as they stumble through one grossly unfair portrayal of insurers after another.

Everyone, it seems, except BIBA. Every six months, regular as clockwork, someone from the brokers’ trade association pops up spouting some trumped up nonsense about how insurers are less than keen on paying claims. The latest outbreak of this foolishness saw BIBA bigwig Eric Gallbreath claim outrageously that two thirds of his members were having to ‘fight harder’ to get their clients’ claims paid.

This provoked the usual angry denials from people like the ABI and Uvavu bandying phrases like “I utterly refute these allegations” (meaning “utterly reject”).

But why all this unseemly wrangling – when surely brokers depend on insurers for their livings?

It’s all an act, of course, with no more intent about it than the ritualised pantomime contests of the WWF. It’s a chance for the likes of Gallbreath to pose as bellicose champions of their clients’ interests. Like so many aspects of insurance, it’s really just a bit of fun.

January 25, 2013

It’s a very exciting time at BLD, the firm’s CEO Jason (J-Man) Richards recently remarked. And he’s not kidding! Bankstone News has received no fewer than three press releases from the thrusting Ringwood-HQ’d bike-related business in the space of barely a week.

With so many exciting developments to take in all at once, Bankstone News was at serious risk of becoming a little confused, but – you know us, Dear Reader – we’ve crafted a deftly succinct distilation of all the latest BLD News below. And if you don’t like that, you can always look at their website and hear it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

If anyone ever doubted that BLD have, as their press release puts it “always followed the doctrines of their memorable strap line, “Staffed by Bikers. Managed by Bikers. For Bikers.” Then doubt it more more! The fact that they have always followed the doctrines of their memorable strapline is “even more evident with the launch of a new online shop geared towards motorcyclists.”

The new online shop caters to “the general and practical needs of the average biker” – which is clearly good news, especially if you are a biker and you are quite, you know, average. The new online shop also include a feature called – we think, possibly – One Stoppie Shoppie, where BLD’s near-legendary standard bearer Dave Stoppie recommends things he thinks average bikers will like.

“It’s a very exciting time at BLD,” comments BLD CEO Jason Richards. “We couldn’t be more delighted.”

With their new online shop to run and everything, it’s hardly surprising that BLD have been on the lookout for a fresh pair of hands to help out. And by all accounts hands don’t come any fresher than those of new BLD recruit Dave “David” Hancox. Prior to joining BLD, the press release reveals Dave went “through a variety of commercial management roles within Aviva” and more recently spent more than five years with Driver Cyst, whose recent demise must have come as a merciful reprieve for long-serving Dave.

“I am really pleased to be joining BLD at an exciting point in its development and growth. I am hoping that I can use my knowledge and relationships to work with Jason and the rest of the management team,” Dave comments, going on to say some other stuff we simply haven’t got room for here if we are ever going to get on to that third press release as well.

This tells us that BLD recently bought something called The Mega M.A.X. System. Whatever this does, Bankstone News immediately twigged, it is clearly something BIG! “Yes, but what does it do?”, you might ask, as if there were the least prospect of getting a sensible answer out of Bankstone News! Short (but probably wrong) answer: it reduces the proportion of damaged bikes that need to be written off.

“How does it do that?”, you might persist with bothersome tenacity. Well, according to the press release: “David is a chartered accountant having qualified with Deloitte and Touche and held a number of senior finance roles prior to joining Aviva.” No that’s not it. Hang on! It’s something based on a “sturdy platform” that will in future “include integration of some high profile brands which will expand the shop’s reach even further.” No, wait, that’s not it either.

Well, it’s a CMS, basically, which means Content Management System or Call Management System or Chronic Mountain Sickness or something – and apparently BLD are the only company in the UK to have one. Hang on, it’ll be one one of these bits of paper somewhere…

Here we go! The Mad M.A.X. Syndrome “enables BLD to take highly precise measurements of a bike’s framework and chassis without the need for disassembly work on most bikes. Measurements can be taken within 10 minutes from start to finish and the results are not affected by the state of the front fork. Blah… Blah…”

Basically, it seems that because BLD can now measure things really really accurately without taking everything apart, they can see which bits are actually bent and only replace them and not just write the whole thing off because various bits of it might or might not be bent and it’s too risky to chance it.

Pretty impressive, huh?

“This is a very exciting time at BLD,” comments BLD CEO Jason Richards. And you know he’s right!

January 25, 2013

With just days left to find a new home for no-longer-required mascot Anton the Ant, our good friends at Group Armagh have taken time out from being Ageased, to offer Bankstone a totally exclusive exclusive.

Pulling up exclusively outside the Bankstone News offices astride a custom gothed-up Vespa ET4 125 once apparently the property of none other than Meat Loaf himself, Group Armagh’s Personal Development Motor Lines Undertaker Ian Pritchard, his eukelele slung casually across his back, proclaimed loudly that he had music for brokers’ ears.

It is a widely acknowledged fact that the ears are the part of brokers most susceptible to music, so his message, whatever it might turn out to be, was clearly bang on target. Agog for further details on this broker friendly musical message, Bankstone News snatched up its trusty note pad and a freshly sharpened pencil and dashed out to join Ian in the car park.

“News in the last week that the number of small motorcycles and scooters on our roads has risen for the second year running,” he confided exclusively, “should be music to the ears of brokers looking to boost their book of motorcycle business.”

Swinging his uke round in a single deft motion Ian strummed a showy D minor seventh chord then continued to the tune of The Smiths‘ “I know it’s over” crooning that “These 125cc and below vehicles are not only proving popular with young motorists who are struggling with the cost of running a car, but are providing an economical, time-saving and fun solution for commuters.”

Not unpleasantly lulled by the morosely plaintive keening of Ian’s only marginally off-key vocal and a uke style more reminiscent of George Formby via Keith Richards than Johhny Marr, Bankstone News jotted furiously in its pad relying largely on a combination of crudely improvised pictograms and something we hoped looked a bit like short hand.

“With no sign of fuel prices falling,” Ian sang on, “demand for 125cc motorcycles and under looks set to continue. The top five best sellers for the year are all 125cc or just under. New registrations for motorcycles between 51-125cc saw a growth of 8.5% during 2012.”

As Ian blasted into a blistering uke solo, Bankstone News decided this whole multimedia-live-news experience was a little too overwhelming and wrestled the instrument from under Ian’s flying fingers. “I’m sorry, you’re going to have to stop that and go a bit slower, please,” we advised him, taking up our pad again and giving the pencil a quick lick.

“For brokers looking to capture this end of the market,” he resumed, now speaking slowly and clearly, “the key is to have a strong propasition – that’s P-R-O-P…” “Yes, thank you very much,” Bankstone News cut in, “I do know how to spell propasition, thank you very much!”

“The key,” he continued patiently, “is to have a strong propasition for provisional licence holders who make up the vast proportion of riders of these vehicles. In 2011, we saw the shift in the dynamic of this market coming and changed the acceptance criteria on our Optima Bike policy to cover provisional riders for the first time.”

Frankly, by this stage Bankstone News was hopelessly confused, but we continued faithfully noting down at least one in 10 of Ian’s well-chosen words – mainly things like vast, dynamic and riders which we hoped might spark some recollection later, over a pint and some scratchings, when we came to write the story up.

“Now an ever increasing percentage of our motorcycle book are riders with a provisional licence,” Ian continued remorselessly. “Optima Bike will continue to be developed during 2013, increasing our scope to cover this sector.

“But while the main uplift in new registrations is in smaller bikes, the MCI is also positive about sales of larger bikes so this is certainly not an end of the market that should be ignored.

“It seems the economic climate, combined with increased road congestion has created a resurgence in biking interest. Initiatives such as Get On which enables those want to try out a motorcycle or scooter for free under the guidance and safety of instructors, should be applauded.”

[A pause]

“Huh? Is that it?”, Bankstone News asked, coming to with a start and realising that Ian had finally stopped talking. “Yes, it is” he said gruffly, grabbing back his uke and gunning the Vesp. Having drifted off a bit somewhere around the word sector, which always seems to have a strangely soporific effect on Bankstone News, our notes were looking a) a bit sparse and b) completely incomprehensible.

“Could you just go over that bit about small bikes selling well?”, Bankstone News enquired more in hope than expectation. “It’s all here,” Ian grunted, pulling a crumpled sheet of A4 from some crevice in his leathers and handing it to your grateful reporter. And with that he was gone.

Talk about a man of mystery!

January 24, 2013

It is a little known fact that insurers actually love paying claims. They really do.

Much as their shareholders would like them to think first about making money and then about giving something back to their customers, insurers have got it all the wrong way round.

“The priority of insurers,” admits Nick Startling of the ABI, “is to pay all genuine claims as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

So what on earth do those scurrilous troublemakers at sixties fashion house BIBA think they are playing at running round telling anyone who’ll listen that insurers secretly don’t want to pay claims? What – as they say – is BIBA’s problem? And where, indeed, does BIBA get off?

Nine in ten of BIBA’s ‘members’ says they think insurers are being more fussy about which claims they will and will not pay. Two thirds of them go on to allege, quite outrageously, that they are having to ‘fight harder’ to get claims paid.  That’s the kind of fighting, presumably, that involves unleashing a fearsome arsenal of phone calls, emails, letters and faxes in a protractedly remorseless onslaught.

The ironic thing is that – so keen are insurers on paying claims – that three quarters of BIBA members have seen insurers change their mind about the tiny minority of truly dodgy looking claims they had reluctantly had to turn away and just pay them anyway!

Where will it end? Do BIBA not realise they are simply driving up the cost of insurance premiums for everyone else by militating endlessly on behalf of all these dubious pay-out seekers? These days everyone seems to be out for whatever they can get – regardless of the consequences. Two words: compensation culture gone crazy.

Disturbing confirmation of this trend come via the Financial Ombudsman’s Service who claim that they have seen a 12% increase in complaints about insurance companies in the past year – most of which relate to people who think they deserve to be paid more just for having suffered some form of loss or misfortune.

A clearly hurt and distressed Nick Startling utterly rejected BIBA’s unworthy allegations. “We do not accept any suggestion that it is getting more difficult for genuine claimants to be paid and we have seen no evidence pointing to this,” he said.

And quite frankly if the claimant isn’t a genuine person – that surely is the point at which – however much you might want to give them some money – you really just have to stand back and say “Whoah, just hold on a minute there, Bud!”

January 23, 2013

Finally we have an authoritative indication of what is really going on with lady motorists’ premiums following implementation of the EU Gander Directive last month. Tiger.co.ck has crunched literally several motor insurance quotes to provide a definitive insight into the current state of play vis a vis premium rate shiftage.

The shocking truth is that the average woman has seen her motor insurance costs soar by a literally sickening 5.2% year-on-year, while an average gentlemen will have been chuckling contentedly as he watched his premium tumble by 8.6%. With premiums for 20 year old women up by over 20%, the new motor sex laws have clearly turned the insurance world upon its head.

Each month Tiger analyses a perfectly adequate number of motor insurance quotes to provide what it claims is ‘the most up to date snapshot of policy pricing’ – sometimes for several days at a time.

Its latest findings provide a welcome reality check on the wild claims recently made by MonkeySupermarket.com (reported in last week’s Bankstone News) which absurdly suggested that women’s premiums had actually fallen (on average) in the past twelve months.

Meanwhile it is widely predicted that motor insurance premiums will fall dramatically in the coming year as the Government’s reforms come into effect and a range of other factors combine to push premiums ever higher and higher.

January 18, 2013

This week – for one week only (possibly) – Bankstone News takes you on a fantastic journey into the realm of sound.

Readers often tell us what a chore it is to read Bankstone News. Naturally, we wanted to do something about this. Many readers suggested we could simply stop sending them the bloody thing. Particularly those who have unsubscribed. Often many times.

But at Bankstone News, we like to think outside the box. There’s more room to move around out here – and it’s easier to concentrate when you’re not on your own in the dark constantly worrying about things like witches and cheese and the end of the world. Plus: there’s been a bit of a weird smell in there, recently.

Anyway… we’ve been doing some thinking, and here’s what we thought. We thought we’d ask some of our readers if they could think of anything we could do to make Bankstone News work even harder for them as a valued and trusted source of timely news and comment that actively supports and complements them in their busy lives today.

I must say it was both stimulating and challenging to engage with some of the very forthright and direct suggestions readers offered. But finally someone (you know who you are) came up with what sounded to us a bit like one of those brain wave things.

That idea – and we think you’re really going to like this – was why not create an audio version of Bansktone News – so people can listen to it in their cars as they drive endlessly around the country from one pointless and dispiriting meeting to another.

So that’s exactly what we’ve done. Now you can listen again and again to all your favourite stories from this week’s issue on the digital audio listening device of your choice.

Frankly, it’s been a terrible faff putting it all together. But we’ve roped in some very talented voice artists to give it all a unique look and feel – well, more of a sound really. And now we’re relying on you to tell us what you think. If enough of you like what you hear, then we’ll maybe do some more – we might even turn it into a proper podcast or something. But if you tell us it’s a waste of time, we promise never to do it again.

Please send all your lavishly complimentary comments to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk. Or you can call me if you insist – but I’ll probably just pretend I can’t hear you or I’m going into a tunnel or something.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it. And if it doesn’t work – or you can’t get it on your iPod or whatever – don’t blame me – it’s all somebody else’s fault. I’ll probably fire them in the morning.

Listen to this story as a sound file here: welcome-to-our-world

January 17, 2013

Notwithstanding the massive injection of wealth provided by insurance firms like Admiral, sponsors of Cardiff, and all those call centre comparisoneers, the Welsh have, as the natives would say, basically not got a pot i piss mewn.

Vigorously interviewed this week on Radio 4’s Today programme, First Minister Carwash Jones was reminded that the Welsh can ill afford to dream of independence due to the pitifully small number of top-rate tax payers in the Principality – just 89 compared with 227,000 in Scotland and 2.6 million in England.

One insurance broker, Harbinger (Harby) Panesar, however, staged a heroic attempt to buck this depressing trend and bring a little glitz and glamour to this morbid mist-enshrouded nation. Through the thrusting dealer-intermediated motor warranties business he ran with his father in law Tony Thomas of Llantwit Major, Harbo made a valiant stab at recreating the authentic Dallasty Lifestyle from his six-acre Vale of Glamorgan estate and mansion.

Harbinger and his family emerged triumphantly into the celebrity limelight, where stunning daughter Anysha has since remained, when the latter’s super-lavish 16th birthday party was filmed for MTV (Read on for further details). But, sadly, Mr Ponyczar’s dream lifestyle began to unravel when his underwriters, Isle-of-Man based Templeton Insurance, wised up to the fact that Harbs and Tony T had failed to pass on more than £2m in premiums.

As lavish as he may have been in his personal life – Mr P, it turns out, had been economising fairly drastically on things like sticking to the terms of his agreement with Templeton, arranging the cover policyholders had paid for, the truth etc.

Templeton got a freezing injunction slapped on Motorcare Warranties in July 2008, after it got wind that he was offering things he wasn’t authorised to offer and then – when it queried certain somewhat off-piste activities – received by fax a copy of a letter Harbsy claimed they’d sent him in 2004 (subsequently described by a judge as “an obvious and poor forgery”) giving him authority to basically do whatever he felt like.

Undeterred by this unfortunate turn of events, the Harbster went on to set up Motorcare Elite (within just days of Motorcare Warranties being frozen) into which the “business” of the former vehicle was effectively transferred. Sadly those spoilsports at Templeton took the matter to the High Court, arguing that Motorcare’s goodwill was an asset and therefore should not have been passed on to Elite under the terms of the freezing injunction. Panesar and Thomas were both found to be in contempt of court.

By March 2011 things had all gone pear shaped with the new business too, after several customers discovered to their cost that Motorcare Elite had been inventing fictitious insurers to “underwrite” superlatively (if oxymoronically) named policies like “Supreme Plus”. His credibility finally exhausted, Mr P was made bankrupt in May 2011 and received an automatic discharge twelve months later. In July last year he was handed a nine month jail sentence for assorted chicanery, embezzlement and dissemblance, subsequently suspended last September.

Barely had the unfortunate man begun taking stock of this merciful outcome, when the FSA bore down on him like some vengeful harpy (ashamed perhaps at ever authorising the highly questionable Motorcare Elite) banning him for life and imposing a grotesquely punitive £212,000 fine on the misunderstood entrepreneur. Why? Because their fast-paced investigations had revealed that Painseer had misappropriated more than £180,000 from the two firms and left 6,000 customers without the cover they believed they had paid for.

On the occasion of the stunning Anysha’s 16th birthday in 2009, Mr Panacea threw a lavish £20,000 Moulin Rouge themed party filmed for MTV’s My Super Sweet 16 – at which Nysh watched personal video messages from Flo Rida, Neo and Nicole Kidman (a £3,000 replica of whose dress from the film the teenager sported at the party and also (earlier) whilst descending from a helicopter to throw coveted invites into the midst of a horde of screaming school fellows at a blustery South Wales airfield).

Mr and Mrs P looked on proudly as N-Dubz’ Tulisa and DJ Ironik providing the entertainment and a brand new Golf with N16 YSH plates pulled up outside. Other gifts included a Gucci handbag, a £1,500 mobile phone and – shockingly – £400 sunglasses. Debriefed for MTV’s cameras post event, Harb appeared chastened by the expense, admitted confiscating his daughter’s diamante encrusted mobile after she ran up £500 in call charges within a week and conceded he could not have funded such a lavish celebration without the benefit of “long arms” for reaching into pockets.

His investment certainly catapulted Anysha into the media spotlight. She went on to further appearances on MTV and in September 2010 became the controversial winner of the America’s Perfect Teen Pageant – for which she qualified – much to the disgust of spurned indigenous contestants – by dint of the family owning property in Florida.

Anysha is now said to be supporting her financially ruined father as those heartlessly vindictive bureaucrats at the FSA insist he pay his fine in full – even if this drives him to a second bankruptcy.

A cautionary tale for our times, you might conclude.

Listen to the audio file here: vale of tears

Anysha Panesar in one of the outfits that wowed the judges at America's Perfect Teen (minus swirling black cloak discarded earlier)

January 16, 2013

Just days after five C4C fraudsters were convicted for their roles in a staged accident that led to the death of an innocent woman driver, another mighty blow has been struck in the War on Fraud.

The successful prosecution of ruthless fraudster Shujeg “Shuggy” Miah was hailed by DCI David Wooden of the Insurer Fraud Enforcement Depot (IFED) as a major breakthrough in the War on Fraud – one that sends a clear message that “this type of fraud no longer goes unchecked and that IFED is making sure the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

“Illegal insurance brokers,” Woody warned, “are costing the industry millions and casting thousands of drivers unknowingly into the role of law breakers as soon as they get behind the wheel with no insurance.” But we’ll all sleep a little sounder tonight knowing the sinister Miah has been brought to book.

Just days after five C4C fraudsters were convicted for their roles in a staged accident that led to the death of an innocent woman driver, another mighty blow has been struck in the war against fraud.

Miah, 19 (evil beyond his years), has been convicted of a particularly insidious form of illegal or “ghost” broking (so called because its perpetrators are often shadowy individuals who flit about in a vaguely unnerving fashion and sometimes disappear when you try to look for them). Let us call his crime ‘Classified Ghost Broking’.

His cynical modus operandi was this: sensing an opportunity to get people to pay him some money without having to give them anything more than possibly a piece of paper in return, he placed no fewer than four speculative classified ads on the Gumtree website purporting to offer cheap motor insurance – when, of course, all along he knew perfectly well that he had no such cheap motor insurance to sell.

The only flaw in his cunning master plan – which might otherwise have cast literally millions of people unwittingly in the role of law breaker – was that no one buys insurance from classified ads on Gumtree. This may explain why nobody replied to any of Miah’s ads.

Following a timely tip-off from an anonymous Gumtree user, IFED were able to pounce before Miah’s crime spree could spiral any further out of control, pinning him to the floor (probably) and confiscating the personal computer Miah had used to place the incriminating ads, watch porn (possibly) and knock up the odd bogus insurance certificate, just in case.

Having admitted to four counts of fraud by false representation and one of possession of a controlled article for use in fraud, Miah was handed a 12-month conditional discharge by City of London Magistrates. He won’t be trying that ruse again in a hurry!

Well done IFED, we say here at Bankstone News. If this doesn’t put the fear of God in would-be fraudsters, we’d like to know what will!

Listen to the audio file here: teenage-ghostbroker

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