Ambulance chasers rapped for disrespectful ads

July 29, 2013

Insurers are increasingly convinced that the only good lawyer is one who’s on your payroll.

Readers will recall how ABI director general Otto Son of Thor angrily smote the Law Society recently for running an ad campaign urging: ‘Don’t get mugged by an insurer – use a solicitor’ (a line, incidentally, that comes perilously close to saying ‘get mugged by a solicitor instead’).

In an open sandwich to the Law Soc’s Nick Fluck (a name we are spelling very carefully) Thor’s Son took vigorous exception the ads’ suggestion that insurers’ initial offers to PI claimants might not always be generously open-handed and fair. To suggest that insurers go around mugging people, he insisted, is a “gross error of judgment” and “little more than public name-calling”.

The evidence, Thor’s Son said, on which the Law Soc based its claim that PI claimants who reject an insurer’s initial offer and seek advice from a solicitor end up with a settlement worth an average three times the original offer was “patchy”, “limited”, and incomplete.

That, responded the Law Sock’s Nlick Fluck, is because of the inconsistent and incomplete information supplied by ABI members to the FSA. Any lack of watertightness in the Law Soc’s research findings was down, he said, to insurers’ “unaccommodating” attitude. If anything, the true figures would be even more damning.

Plus also, Fluck continued, who’s the public name caller when the ABI keeps branding solicitors ‘ambulance chasers”? Huh? Huh?!

The same Freedom of Information request on which the Law Soc’s controversial ‘three times’ claim is based found that only 3-4% of consumers reject the insurer’s first offer. The chilling implication here is that, if the ‘mugging’ ads gain any traction, PI costs could be set to rocket at a time when insurers are busy slashing premiums in expectation of the LASPO dividend.

This is getting serious.


July 29, 2013

Motorway speed limits are in the news again. A remanufacturing firm called BBA Reman, who presumably make things that have already been made (?), is urging HMG to re-reconsider its motorway speed limit plans.

Back in September 2011, then transp sec Phil ‘Top Gear’ Hammond said he was going to free the arteries of commerce and get Britain working again by lifting the motorway speed limit to 80mph.

Then insurers politely told him that he wasn’t – and election strategists advised that there probably weren’t that many votes in it anyway. This resulted in an announcement last month that trials planned for next year would not now be going ahead.

Now BBA Remains and others are calling on the Coalition to go ahead with the trials so that Britain can indeed – as Hammond promised “join the fast lane of global economies” and “generate economic benefits of hundreds of millions of pounds through shorter journey times”.

The thing is though: nobody drives at 70mph anyway. Try driving at 71mph yourself on a free-flowing motorway and see how many cars you overtake.

This was confirmed in a survey carried out by or for the aforementioned BBA which found that 66% of Britons regularly exceed the current 70mph limit (by an average of 10mph) and more than half of us want the speed limit increased to 80mph.

That 66% is surely a gross underestimate, in any case, based on the non-availability of a tick-box in the BBA survey labelled ‘I might… but I’d rather not admit to breaking the law, thank you’.

As Bankstone News noted at the time of Hammo’s original announcement, however, if Britain truly is to turbocharge its economic revival, people need – not simply to drive at 80mph, which they already do – but to drive at 90mph, which some may not wish to do.

The stark reality is that – in the absence of strict enforcement of the in-force limits – most Brits will continue to drive – not at the prescribed speed limit – but at whatever speed feels safe to them.

Bankstone News, for one, can barely stay awake at 70mph.


July 29, 2013

So what exactly did Bankstone and friends get up to over the weekend 29th-30th June?

Hint: it’s something to do with charity and with monkey bikes.

For further clues see virtually any edition of Bankstone News this year.

In the “special” report below, Sir Dickon of Tysoe picks up the story, promptly drops it, resolutely picks it up again, and, with occasional assistance from Bankstone News, staggers on a little further, until the narrative burden finally becomes too much and he collapses, utterly spent, along the margins of some dusty half-remembered Yorkshire byway…

At 326 miles in total, this year’s round-Yorkshire charity ride may well have been the longest yet! We set out full of hope and bacon rolls from Bankstone’s Brighouse HQ on the morning of 29 June.

Most of us were dressed as knights. Dan the Van Man dressed up as a helicopter. Sir Richard of Neve didn’t bother to dress up as anything, so we made him wear the Lady Godiva/Bubbles de Vere naked fat-suit costume in an attempt. This certainly raised a smile or two and must have helped to put YAA regional fundraiser Kerry Garner and other ladies present fully at their ease.

Following these preliminaries, we set off, barely late at all. By our standards.

First stop was the traditional ceremony of re-fuelage at one of Keighley’s finest stations of service. Thence, our knightly cavalcade of tiny motorcycles roared off towards the sun-soaked but not un-windy moors via Ilkley, shepherded by Sir Colin Whataman on his (relatively) giant charger.

The excitement of being in one of England’s finest spa towns proved too much for Sir Richard spilt the liquid contents of his gearbox outside Ye Olde Booth’s Supermarket in the aforementioned Ilkley, rendering his steed hors de combat and relegating Sir Richard to the lead cart, alongside the humble likes of Old Bankstone News editor Davy-Jane McManus and Izzy the Navigator.

Leaving ill-fated Ilkley, our brave band made off across the churning waters of the Wharfe, trundling up the moors alongside the giant balls of Menwith. Next stop, eventually, was Marmion Tower, where photographs were taken, the Bikesore Boys (Sir Grant and squires Luke, Christian and Jason) looking particularly fetching – if not entirely medieval – in musketeer outfits.

No less visually arresting were the jesters and damsels of the Bike Insurer crew lead by Baron Philippe de Wyldething. From Marmion to Mount Grace Priory (MGP) their contingent was represented by the almost all-female trio of Lady Jess, Lady Jo and Lady (Boy) Mike. More by luck than judgement, we all survived joining and crossing the 80mph traffic on the A19 dual carriageway to arrive at MGP. Friendly English Heritage natives supplied suitably medieval weaponry from the visitor shop for pics posed on the front terrace. Then it was lunch. Hurrah!

Lady Kathryn of Tysoe laid on a marvelous spread in the carpark. Not a single flapjack short of a picnic.

And there, alas, we must leave our tale for now, barely a quarter-way done, until such time as Sir Dickon sees fit to bestir himself sufficiently to explain ‘what really went on there’ in Part II of… MEDIEVAL MONKEYS 2013. Coming to these pages soon.

In the meantime, don’t forget to go here and donate massively to the stonkingly good cause that is the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service, or YAA, as they prefer to be called. Saves on stationery and signage costs.

Mount Grace

July 25, 2013

The insurance press this week noticed – and indeed reported – that Cathie Bruce had left leading insurer Royal Society of Arts back in March this year. Apparently no-one had bothered sending out a press release at the time. Hence the delayed reporting.

What could explain the insurer’s previous silence on this matter? Perhaps the fact that, what with La Bruce having only joined in Feb (i.e. one month prior to her departure), any public announcement would have made all too plain that the firm faces severe challenges in distinguishing its own RSA from its elbow.

No sooner had they recruited big hitter Cathie for the role of distribution director than they suddenly realised they didn’t actually need one of those, and – since there was really nothing much else for her Cathie to be doing – they’d better get rid of her again.

What a bloomin’ shambles!


July 23, 2013

The 2013 Insurance Endurance in association with Bankstone News will take place at Daytona Milton Keynes on Friday 13th September 2013.

Teams of up to 8 drivers associated with the Insurance Industry are invited to enter this year′s race.

This year′s race sees two new developments responding to driver feedback:

Pit Stop Head to Head Challenge

During the race, three members of each team compete in the Head to Head Pit Stop Challenge. Each team has to change one of the front wheels on the Jordan F1 Car against another team and against the clock – in a tournament format. The karts remain on track, still racing during the Pit Stop Challenge. After the first round, the winners of the head to head challenges progress to the second round, whilst the bottom half compete against each other in the Consolation Competition. The tournament continues until the top two teams in each competition face each other in the Head to Head Finals, with the overall winners being crowned the Daytona Pit Stop Challenge Champions.

The Bankstone Advantage

Each team will be permitted to use the Bankstone Advantage once every hour during the race. This will save them circa 8 seconds each time. The use of the Pass is monitored automatically by Race Control. Teams that make good use of the Bankstone Advantage will be able to use it to pass traffic and to catch and overtake teams ahead.

Daytona will be providing drivers with breakfast on arrival, refreshments throughout the day, barbecue lunch and the IE 2013 Event T-Shirts.

Entry to the event costs £850 plus VAT for a team of up to 8 drivers Companies interested in entering multiple teams will receive a 20% discount on additional teams.

The event will be given a full report in Bankstone News including the official race results.

Don′t miss out! To reserve your team’s place on the grid, call Mark at Daytona Milton Keynes on 0845 644 550

July 23, 2013

What a day it was! Many assumed the UK sporting calendar had reached its soaring apotheosis with all the excitement around the Olympics and Paralympics. Not so. Last Friday’s Insurance Endurance karting marathon at the internationally renowned Daytona Milton Keynes track only went and trumped them all! This was the event that quite literally had it all: go-karts, men in overalls, tarmac, tyres, bacon rolls… You name it, Insurance Endurance had it in spades!

Specifically, it had nearly 20 handpicked teams of death-defying demon drivers contending fiercely with one another in their super-fast karts as they tore round a twisting and turning track of tyre-trimmed tarmac for a full six hours, until at last one team emerged as the one to have gone round more times than any other. That team, as it turned out, was the team named, closely followed by the one called Lamps Champs, of whose unfortunate brush with engine failure regular readers may recall having read in our previous “Live from Milton Keynes” edition.

Who or what psuck might be, Bankstone News, as usual, had frankly no idea. Seeking further information on these dark-horse mystery people, Bankstone News was aided in its investigations by the fact that the team’s name corresponded fortuitously with the website url of the organization in question. The home page explains succinctly that PSUCK “will help you select customised solutions for you and your company. Our website provides you with lots of important information about our comprehensive range of specialist services.” So now you know. ‘Well done you psuckers!”, we say here at Bankstone News.

There were lots of other teams there, of course, namely (in reverse order of being a bit rubbish) Sagicore 1, NCI Insurance, General Lee, Key Choice 2, Copart, Bankstone Racing (yay!), The Bike Insurer, Sagicore 3, Driver Cyst, Bankstone News (double yay!), Sagicore 2 (enough with the Sagicores already!), Ace Group, Bonne Chance (representing Group Armagh – see last week’s BN), Sleasycall, Key Choice 1, Au Revoir UK, and Glass Olutions.

Copart’s team included one swarthily surly individual bearing an uncanny resemblance to Bankstone News’ occasional motoring correspondent Marty Butch – although he strongly denied being, having met, or having even heard of Mr Butch – so it can’t have been him, Bankstone News supposes. In a sneaky attempt to wrest the coveted Pit Stop Challenge from its rightful owners, Bankstone Racing, Copart included several fitters from their motor vehicle disassemblage centre in their team.

Their evil plan came within an ace of succeeding, with all four tyre on the F1 racer off and on again in under 10 seconds. All went awry at the last, however, when trigger happy nut gunner Sara Stainsby on the “back wheel on the passenger side” (nearside rear) omitted in her excitement to supply the requisite nut tension – resulting ultimately in a less than triumphant time of 45.2 seconds. Fortunately, Sara was one of only a very small number of women permitted to sully the occasion with their lamentable want of masculinity.

Bikesure’s Simon Toop must surely scoop the award for most pleasing decorative accessory (i.e. for having one, not being one). He came dressed in a charming and elegant Bankstone Racing cap. Less subtly Lloyd Geddes came dressed head to foot as Spiderman, thereby making his reckless endangerment of other drivers and their vehicles all the more obvious to the track marshals (see last week’s again).

Bankstone Racing team member Damian Cross incurred the fierce derision of macho team boss Brawlin’ Dick Tyson for driving in golf gloves in a vain attempt to protect what Tyson described as “what Captain Redbeard Rum would describe as the hands of a woman”. All to no avail, sadly, Tyson reveals, as the unfortunate Cross ended up with blisters the size of “small dinner plates” as he completed the team’s final stint to secure a highly creditable 8th place – just 18 laps behind the winning team.

Pete Aikenhead nobly substituted for Bankstone News team leader Davy-Jane McManus who retired to the pavilion feeling “delicate” and muttering something about having a newsletter to write.

Major plaudits and nuff respect to Nick Keen for organising all the Bankstone Racing driver changes and to Steady Eddie Moule for resolutely ignoring all the pit boards calling him in – to the point where members of the pit crew were overheard discussing the lobbing of tyres at him as he sped merrily past yet again.

What larks, eh!

Be sure you don’t miss next year’s event, which promises to be even bigger and better – not least because it won’t be happening on the same day as the UK Broker Awards.

READER COMPETION Name the team to which the image above refers obliquely and win a lifetime's subscription to Bankstone News. Answers by email only to

July 23, 2013

The day dawned cold and misty, temporarily vindicating Bankstone’s thoughtful distribution of branded team caps and jackets in place the usual polo shirts. Soon, however, brilliant sunshine saw these fine promotional items unceremoniously discarded, leaving Team Bankstone (or TB as we like to call them) to compete in merciful anonymity.

Given the non-comformity of most team members’ size and shape with that of the stereotypical karting competition winner, TB had its collective heart set on the coveted Pitstop Challenge F1 wheel-changing side event, in which it had indeed achieved utter and outright triumph in the 2010 event.

Reluctant to surrender hope altogether in the main event, however, evil genius team leader Dickon Tysoe cooked up a cunning plan for snatching victory from the very jaws of near-inevitable defeat. This involved avoiding other people’s accidents, profiting from an almost uncanny instinctive sympathy between man and machine, leveraging a well-honed race strategy designed to minimise time lost from driver change-overs, fuel stops and mandatory pit stops.

Equally essential to victory, of course, was having top-notch nick-names (more – much more – detail on this below).

The Pit Stop Challenge event involves jacking up a clapped-out former Formula 1 car, changing the wheels and jacking down again – and, ideally, doing it all quicker than any other team. Avid F1 fans will know that a respectable time within which to accomplish said tasks is something under three seconds. Anything under 20 will do for Insurance Endurance. Some early pitstop practice furnished TB’s first fresh-minted nick-name of the day. Ian Pritchard became ‘Hugh Jackman’ because he was operating a jack, he is a man, and his first name is… well, it’s near enough!

TB had an hour and a quarter to get some practice laps, plan which order its members would race in (allowing an early departure for those who needed to get away), and determine its start position on the grid. After revealing that his wife had given him a list of items to pick up from Ikea on the way home, Simon Toop became (bear with us) Simon “At home I am a Viking” Toop. Takes a little longer to say, but it’s well worth the extra effort, we feel sure you will agree.

Meanwhile Simon “At home I am a Viking” Toop’s colleague at Adrian Flux, Peter Cook was dubbed Peter “Reverse into the pit lane” Cook. Quite why, nobody can now remember. Although there is general agreement that Dave “purple mango special” Plummer owes his nick-name to having attended a curry-house-based tactics planning session with team leader Tysoe the evening before, rather than to any exotic bodily deformity.

Fascinating as all this back-story may be, Bankstone News readers will probably be content to learn simply that Clarke Bailey’s nick-name is Clarke “Huddersfield Giant” Bailey. You can draw your own conclusions.

With the familiar loping bass, fade-in snare, and whining guitar two-thirds of the way through Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain jangling over the Tannoy, TB’s number 18 kart, ably piloted by Simon AHIAV Toop, snarled out onto the track to take up its slot in the formation lap. The safety kart peeled into the pits. The chequered flag fell. The race was on!

Aiming to do 20 minutes each per session, the team had agreed driver hand-signals to indicate when early relief was required. Those not driving abused the numeric signal boards to improvise lewd and offensive messages using numbers in place of letters.

Paul “Plugs” Upton was next up for TB, exemplifying the true spirit of courtesy and restraint by allowing a procession of other karts to pass him in a safe and controlled manner, thus becoming Paul “Driving Miss Daisy” Upton.

With TB now in 13th, it fell to the Huddersfield Giant and Hugh Jackman to claw back a couple of places before lunch. The latter proved a disappointment: chicken more rubbery than kart tyres and burgers of a weirdly leathery consistency. From which Matt Collett took his “Grrr hard burger” nickname. The burgermeister, it turned, out was indeed no slouch behind the wheel, fully living up to his F1-via-fastfood monicker.

A stirling stint from the Purple Mango followed. It was while TPM was out on the track that the number 18 kart was flagged in for the much anticipated pitstop challenge. This threw the meticulous planning of team manager Dickon “Ross Brawn” Tysoe into disarray.

Dickon explains (kind of) what happened next: “We were in a quandary. All our practice runs had been with “At Home I am a Viking” driving and “PMS” on the left rear wheel gun. A quick shuffle was needed. With that out of the way, we decided to change the roles around a bit. So with the kart heading in along the pit lane, we had “Huddersfield Giant” on the front jack, “Grrr Hard Burger” on the back jack, Ian “Not Colin” McRae and “Driving Miss Daisy” on the front left, “Ross Brawn” and “At Home I am a Viking” rear left, “Reverse into the pit lane” on front right, Andy “The Brigadier” Jones on rear right, ably assisted by “Hugh Jackman”. Unfortunately “Ross Brawn” lost his nut, along with several precious seconds, but we still ended up with a broadly respectable 17.04 seconds on the stopwatch.”

Ending with a good but not great PSC time left TB with a tense remainder of the afternoon to wait out pending the eventual confirmation that, with a time 4.5 seconds faster than second-placed arch rivals The Bike Insurer (TBI), Team Bankstone had indeed clinched the coveted title for a second year running. One more of these and TB get to keep the trophy – and presumably go down in the anals of karting history.

Quickly switching “PMS” for “Not Colin”, TB rejoined that karting fray with a vengeance. “Reverse into the Pitlane” made a good showing with his memorably orange footwear. “The Brigadier” put in some stellar laps, and TB was working its way back up the leader board.

But then, in an act of villainous sabotage well worthy of “Dick Dastardly” himself, Lester “Dick Dastardly” Short of The Bike Insurer stole a Bankstone Racing cap and jacket, and borrowed a pair of specs to impersonate TB’s Dickon Tysoe. Thus disguised, he then proceeded to hang out a Kart 18 pit-board to bring the TB kart in for a spurious unscheduled pitstop!

TB’s attempts to bribe track officials to black-flag TBI’s Kart 29 having failed, TBI brought about their own undoing by overtaking under yellows and picking up a 30-second penalty. Shortly after TBI fell foul of a mechanical breakdown which cost them a full nine minutes and any chance of beating TB.

Now well into the second session, with the Viking long departed for Ikea, Dickon “Formerly known as Ross Brawn, now known as Loose Nuts” Tysoe opted for a daring single-fuel-stop strategy and forewent his second stint at the wheel to make full use of the talents of fast drivers The Brigadier and RITPL, thuswise enabling TB to edge its way up into a not entirely disgraceful 7th place finish.

A fitting reward for a true team effort.

Dick Tysoe (L) with Dickon Darstardly (R). We think!

Dick Tysoe (L) with Dickon Darstardly (R). We think!

July 23, 2013

As exclusively revealed in near-real-time in a stop-press addendum to last week’s Bankstone News, Team Bankstone caused a sensation at the prestigious Insurance Endurance event last week with their triumphant performance in the challenging Pitstop Challenge event

After years of trying (six to be precise), the Bankstone boys finally pulled off this most coveted of motorsporting achievements by switching all four wheels on a decommissioned Jordan F1 car in less than 22 seconds, crucial milliseconds faster than any other team competing in last Friday’s event, and just 19 seconds slower than a real F1 crew!

After three brief moments in the F1 spotlight back in 2000 with Jordan driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen, the vehicle in question had seen itself reduced to a lifetime as the trackside plaything of assorted corporate lummoxes. What pleasure could their ham-fisted fumblings possibly bring? Imagine then the thrill that coursed through its grateful chassis as those expert Bankstone hands brought the pitstop proceedings swiftly but surely to a highly satisfactory conclusion.

Who were those expert exponents of the trackside arts? Why none other than Dickon “Ross Brawn” Tysoe, Andy “White Shoes” Jones, Simon “Black Flag” Toop, Peter “Pitstop” Cook, Clarke “HIAB required” Bailey, Tim “Front Jack” Kemp, Matt “Rolling Start” Collett, and Doug “Big Helmet” Phelan. What a weird coincidence that they all have nicknames!

Apparently the day also featured some kind of ancillary competition that involved driving round and round in go-karts for hours on end. In this sideshow event, Team Bankstone stunned all present with the consistency of their mediocrity, qualifying and finishing the race in almost the same mid-table position.

All pit stops, fuel stops and driver changes went without a hitch. All apart from the memorable occasion on which Pitstop Pete somehow contrived to enter the pits backwards in a vehicle which (like Tony “War Criminal” Blair) has no reverse gear.

Simon Toop managed to pick up not one, but two black flags for inadvertently racing under the yellows, but cunningly escaped censure by sneaking into the pits before being flagged in. A judicious change of driver thus enabled the new occupant of the Bankstone kart to declare righteously “Not me Guv!” when challenged by the men in Day Glo.

With the Pitstop Challenge trophy now squatting malevolently – like some dark idol of the Indies – amongst assorted golfing souvenirs back at HQ in the crowded (if very small) Bankstone trophy cabinet, a little etching should suffice to remind the world for years to come how Brighouse’s finest (with a little help from their friends) set new standards in the taking off and putting on again of motor vehicle wheels.

July 19, 2013

Readers may remember how the ABI called last year for young people to be banned from driving after 11pm. Some commentators at the time expressed the view that this might be a little harsh. Au contraire, insists a large proportion of the Great British Public: young people should be banned from driving all together.

The shock findings of academically impeccable research carried out by vehicle racketing company British Carp Actions (BCA) this week revealed that no less than 35% of Brits believe the minimum driving age should be increased, with almost half specifying 21 as an appropriate time in life for youngsters to be allowed behind the wheel.

This would, of course, be great news for motor insurers who would no longer have to pay the huge volume of claims that result from young people’s notorious competence-deficit/confidence-surplus combo. They would also save a great deal of time and effort they would otherwise have had to expend in providing under 21s with motor insurance policies in the first place.

Such a move would also provide a considerable fillip for public transport and taxi services and stop all this black box/curfew nonsense in its tracks. Bankstone News for one believes that young people – and indeed everything else – should be banned altogether. With immediate effect.


July 18, 2013

The term windfall can mean a number of different things. From a frugivorous point of view, its most obvious association is with things that fall out of trees but which – even if a trifle bruised and perhaps a bit manky round the edges – still look good enough to eat. If you are Canadian – and pray God you are not – the word can mean a desolate patch of land littered with trees felled by high winds. It can also mean a fortuitous spot of good luck, from which there are benefits – frequently of a financial nature – to be reaped.

Which of these definitions leading global professional services company Towels Watson had in mind when pronouncing this week that “Rates drop as motor insurers anticipate legal reform windfall” Bankstone News is at a loss to say. Perhaps it was the trees one. Perhaps not. Perhaps it doesn’t really matter. Especially not in the bewildering context a press release that describes Twickenham as ‘trendy’.

The point is that, as previously reported in Bankstone News, motor insurers are literally tripping over one another in an attempt to under-price all possible rivals out of the soon-to-be-insanely-lucrative PI-free motor insurance market. The net result, accordingly to the snappily named Watson Car Insurance Price Index (CTWCIPI), is that comprehensive rates have fallen by almost 8% in the second quarter of 2013 and by around 15% in the past year.

The CTWCIPI also apparently shows that after all that fuss about the Eeeuw Gander Directive, discrepancies between males and females have now been more or less ironed out (presumably by the latter).

Young men initially benefitted massively from the Eeeuw’s intervention, with 17-20 year old male drivers seeing premiums fall back by over 30% in the last 12 months following two quarters of steep increases introduced by canny motor insurers in anticipation (possibly a theme here?) of the Gander Directive.

Young women have now “enjoyed quarterly price cuts of 11.6%”, which according to the grammatically compromised formulation of Towels W, “was comparable to those of young men.”   

But with all this rate slashing, insurers had better be pretty confident that the combination of LASBO and the War on Whiplash really will stop people claiming for things like personal injury – or there’s a real risk that motor insurance might not turn out to be wildly profitable after all. Again.

As Don Cananderson, Towels W’s Global Hen of Pricing and Product Management, puts it: “The early signs from the MOJ portal since April are that there will be a reduction in personal injury cases, but the rate changes seen in the last quarter still represent rather an optimistic outlook from insurers.”

Of course they’re optimistic – that’s why they’re writing motor business! Duh!


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