Your chance to shape the future of News

September 30, 2013

Like kooky 70s songstrel Davie Bowie, Bankstone News is continually going through ch-ch-ch-changes, which you, Poor Non-Hipster Reader, probably find more than a little bewildering.

Frankly, we bewilder ourselves sometimes – with our mercurial quantum-leap persona changes. Who could forget, for example, the time we went from five stories a week to four?!

Without wishing to destabilise your world any more than strictly necessary, we thought we should warn you that we are, once again, contemplating change.

But this time, it’s all about you!

Yes, that’s right: we’re inviting you to shape the destiny of Bankstone News.

Perhaps you’d like to see us do some proper reporting? No? OK, just thought we should cover that one off.

But perhaps you’d rather not receive one big chunk of story links in one email every Friday (or monday or whatever); perhaps you’d rather have us tweet or mail you links to the latest stories as they appear on our online industry news pages?

Perhaps you’d like to read more about Subject A or Subject B, or something. In any case, kindly be so good as to answer the three following questions by email to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk and you could win a luxury yachting jacket with classy Bankstone Racing branding all over it.

Q1. Are you on twitter?

Q2. Would you rather we notify you of new stories as soon as they are posted?

Q3. What topics would you like to see covered more in Bankstone News?

Optional extra Q. Any other thoughts/suggestions?

Email your answers to us by 11th October, and that luxury yacht jacket could be yours!

quality survey

September 27, 2013

Picture the scene: a sneaky looking youth in swaggy jeans, hoodie and baseball cap pulls up to the forecourt pumps. He starts pouring fuel in his Lime Green Ibiza.

Slam! Cage doors descend on all four sides of him. Red pump-lights pulse with ferocious intensity, while a deafening klaxon repeatedly shrieks. “Uninsured driver detected. Uninsured driver detected,” intones an artificially well-spoken female voice again and again.

In rage and frustration, the cornered premium dodger hammers uselessly at the cage – like a frantically tantrum-ing toddler in his oversized ghetto-style garb.

But cop cars soon screech up and specialists leap out, leveling their tazers as they charge towards the powerless youth who knows now with horrible certainty that his pride and joy will soon be scrap and he’ll never drive again.

Such heart-warming scenes could soon become familiar after the PM’s Office announced that automatic number plate recognition cameras will soon be in use on petrol station forecourts to help put motor insurance premium dodgers out of action for good by denying them the oxygen of petroleum.

The youth of today seem to feel they have a god-given right to drive but aren’t prepared to pay just a few hundred pounds a week for compulsory motor insurance. Sorry, Guys, if you can’t afford the ticket, you don’t get on the ride!

The one in twenty five motorists who would rather pay fines than buy insurance will no longer be able to purchase fuel on Britain’s forecourts. From now on they will have to steal it from other people’s cars – or get it from black market dealers operating from makeshift fuel bunkers in lock-ups, sheds and fronting businesses purporting to offer services like carwashing or repairs.

That should make them think twice!

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September 27, 2013

Bankstone News’ confusion threshold is notoriously low. No surprise then that being sent an email from BIBA’s Steve “in the afternoon” White this week sent us into convulsions of perplexity that were almost physically painful to endure.

The sender’s name appeared as Steve White (pledger@biba.org.uk). Is Pledger his nickname? Is he, perhaps, called that because he’s always making promises? Or is the email not really from Steve at all – but from somebody called something like Penelope Ledger or Roderick Ledge or whatever?

As if that weren’t confusing enough, the Reply-to address appears as Eric Gallbreath. What on earth is going on? Are we the victims of some elaborate act of imposture? Is some hideous deceit being practiced upon us?

Is Steve White not, after all, a straight-up guy from the posh end of Romford but some kind of composite persona concocted specifically to appeal to UK brokers with his robust, sleeves-up, down to earth professionalism?

Whoever it was really from, the email should, at least, have provided ample reassurance to anyone forking out for a BIBA membership sub that they are getting outstanding value for money. BIBA’s senior people (whoever they really are) have attended a quite staggering number of meetings and events in the past week.

The highlight was attending the Labour Party conference, at which various members of the shadowy cabinet were happy to pose for photos with Steve (if that’s who he really is) and his colleagues (possibly assuming they represented insurers rather than mere brokers).

As the accompanying photo clearly shows, Ed Millipede was much taken with BIBA’s small but optimistically entitled “manifesto” Meeting the Growth Challenge (from which his party may well be pinching a few ideas in the run up to the next election), and in no hurry at all to move on to his next meeting.

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September 26, 2013

Direct Lie is know for being a forward looking insurer. It was they after all who first came up with the brilliant idea, all those years ago, of doing away with insurance brokers.

What Direct Lime are particularly looking forward to at the moment, however may come as something of a surprise. According to Direct Lion Group’s Chief Officer of Customers D’rell Evans, they are looking forward “to joining the working group set up to help the regulator better understand the different approaches and processes across the industry to complaint handling,” which he hopes, “will enable us to make recommendations to the regulator and ultimately inform the FCA’s policy going forward.”

That the FCA’s current policy may be in need of some fine tuning is clearly apparent from the undue reliance it appears to place on the Financial Oboesman Service (FOS)’s obviously flawed methodology for recording and analysing customer complaints, which the credulous regulator goes so far as to quote in official documents.

The worry is that this might encourage the regulator to give credence to the patently nonsensical suggestion that an exceptionally large number of people complain about DLG and that an exceptionally high proportion of them have ample grounds for so doing.

According to this week’s Insurance Times, the FOS has gone so far as to allege that during the first half of 2013 “49% of all complaints referred to the ombudsman about DLG” were upheld. This puts DLG’s upholdance rate a full 17% ahead of a ‘cohort’ of peer insurers specially selected by Insurance Times in an unworthy bid to make DLG look bad.

Although Insurance Times goes on to insist that the 1,473 complaints received about DLG by the FOS is the most received about any insurer, it does at least have the good grace to note that DLG is a big company – so of course it provokes a lot of complaints – and that smaller ones would probably produce more if they got the chance.

Somewhat patronisingly, IT goes on to pat the insurance giant on the back for “starting to show signs that its complaints handling is improving.”

Indeed, D’rell Evans points out that “3% reduction in the number of complaints upheld, compared with the previous six months” was in fact an “excellent testament” to “how hard we are working across our business to improve the way we handle complaints,” going on to express an ambition that will surely come as refreshing change from all the usually corporate nonsense insurance firms trot out: “We want,” he says quite simply, “to be the best for our customers.”

Who could fail to be impressed by such a noble aspiration so affectingly expressed. Good on you D’rell, and good on DLG.

Let’s face it, someone’s got to show the way forward here.

redlime

September 20, 2013

Quite honestly, there’s not much going on in the world of Bankstone this week – aside from peerless outsourced motor insurance claims handling and, of course, the usual near-fanatical dedication to exceeding customer expectations in every conceivable respect. And, frankly, who wants to hear about that!

So we thought we would tell you about a funny thing that happened to me and Mrs Bankstone News the other night. We were all dressed up and ready to head across town to a murder mystery evening upstairs at the Badgers (I was going as Sir Percival Cobwrangler and Mrs B as Mistress Lusty the saucy landlady, if you must know) and Abdul from Ultimate Courtesy Cabs had just pulled up outside.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Brighouse is a lovely place and that, but you’ve got to watch yourself round here, so we left a few lights on and the telly on nice and loud and tottered outside. “Evening, Abdul”, I called out. “Good Evening, Mr Bankstone News,” he smiled back through the open driver’s window.

Just then, the cat ran under our feet and back inside the house. She’s a lovely animal, but she’ll shit all over everything if you let her. “I’ll be back in a jiffy,” I said, dashing off in hot pursuit.”

“He’s just gone in to say goodnight to Mother,” explained Mrs B, getting into the cab. Abdul’s a lovely bloke, but his cousins keep getting done for housebreaking and it’s best not to give anyone round here the idea you’ve left the place empty.

A couple of minutes later I got in beside Mrs B puffing and panting and complained: “The stupid bitch was hiding under the bed. I had to poke her arse with a coat hanger to get her out! Finally, I got her by the neck, wrapped her in a blanket so she couldn’t scratch me like last time, and threw her in the yard. Let’s just hope she doesn’t shit all over the vegetable patch again.” 

Abdul’s a lovely bloke, like I say, but I remember he did look at me a bit funny, and he didn’t say much on the way over to the Badgers. Mrs B didn’t say much either, but she had a right go at me when we got there. How was I supposed to know she’d been busy lying her arse off while I was chasing cats?

Any road up, it didn’t stop us getting burgled.

And that cat got back in.



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September 20, 2013

Women, eh? What are they like!

Sadly, Bankstone News has never really had much of a chance to find out. But they seem nice.

They’re not quite like other people, though, are they.

One of the weird things about women is that they are around 135 million times more likely to recommend their current motor insurer than men are.

Mystery shopping firm Consumer Intelligence asked some people about their current motor insurer and whether they would recommend them.

The results were literally stunning.

The average likelihood of women recommending their insurer was “5.9” whereas the chance of men recommending theirs was “-3.4”, which may very well mean, for all Bankstone News knows or cares, that the average man would actually ‘warn against’ rather than recommend their motor insurer.

Interestingly (humour us here), ladies like brands like Uvavu (bold bright yellows are clearly in this season), the Post Office and Direct Line (racy yet classic red and black colourways from both), whereas blokes prefer tougher manly marques like RSA, RAC and Zurich with no more than two syllables.

Ian Huge of Consumer Intelligence notes that, now the EU Gander Directive has prevented firms attracting women on price, they need to do something else to reel them in. Quite so, and what is it they are doing?

Seems nobody’s too clear about that as yet, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we do.

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September 20, 2013

When Phil Biles was chosen, on an interim basis, to fill the vacuum created in Uvavu’s management ranks by the momentous departure of Janice Deakin back in April, many feared he might struggle to fill the gap she’d left behind.

Turns out he fits it very nicely. Uvavu head honch ‘Rockin’ Robin Spencer confirmed this week that Biles has done a great job filling Deakin’s shoes and can have the Intermediary and Partnerships (I’n’P) Director gig for keeps.

Some might wonder exactly where brokers now sit ‘vizavi’ the yellow insurer’s UKGI strategy. But Spence is ready with an emphatic answer: “The broker market remains at the heart of our UKGI strategy.”

What role has PB played in developing and executing Uvavu’s strategy for remaining committed to the broker market ? Once again, Spence has a ready answer (in fact, it’s kind of the same answer): “Phil has been at the heart of developing and executing this strategy.”

Biles adds a comment of his own to his appointment press release: “I feel very honoured to be given the opportunity to lead a really strong team with a well deserved market reputation,” he says, being careful not to specify exactly what that reputation is for.

Rather sweetly, he adds: “We aspire to be number one for our brokers and business partners in all that we do and that mission will continue to drive us forward.”*

Forward is certainly a great direction to get driven in, and Bankstone News would like to take this opportunity to wish PB every success in his new role as a permanent fixture.

NBE

 

* Fans of rank hypocrisy may wish to glance quickly at the animated statement beginning “Committed…” that appears periodically towards the top right corner of the web page they are current looking at.

September 19, 2013

Bankstone News is indebted this week to cosmetics journal Bodyshop Magazine for the following story about cars getting bigger and parking spaces staying the same size.

If you are finding it harder to park lately, a recent news story in that august journal suggests reassuringly, it may not simply be your age, infirmity, poor eyesight, complete inability to drive etc. that are to blame.

No, a study by bicycle and car bits retailer Halfords has revealed that cars are getting bigger while parking spaces are staying the same size or even shrinking in some cases. No, you didn’t just imagine it! The average UK car now recklessly exceeds the 5’ 11” minimum (sic) recommended by Whitehall mandarins.

With even a dismal little Fnord Focus girthing out to a portly 6’ 7”, it’s scarcely any wonder would-be shoppers routinely find themselves trapped inside their laboriously parked vehicles, while Bill Bryson cleans adjacent cars with his M&S suit.

Those who do somehow manage to squeeze in have probably torn off bumpers, wing mirrors, hubcap scythe blades, lateral flanges etc. in the process and scored a paintwork scar the length and depth of a shallow snake grave down the flanks of adjacent vehicles in the attempt.

Shockingly, Halfords’ press statement includes the completely invented statistical FACT that “10 million motorists a year are having to repair their paintwork” (that’s a fair few cans of ‘State Blue’ and ‘Rosso Red’).

In a contemporary exonerative to rival the classic ‘society made me do it’, Halfords claim rubbish drivers are not to blame – it’s all the fault of motor manufacturers for forcing them to buy bigger and bigger cars, or of car park architects for putting the pillars in the wrong places, or something. So don’t feel bad, Folks, carry on pranging, and carry on buying those spray cans and filler.

Halfords probably wouldn’t like us saying this, but if you don’t want to expose your limited ability to point your giant bloated executive sports utility vehicle in an appropriate direction, best steer clear of – sorry, don’t go anywhere near – supermarket car parks (where 38% of scrapes take place), shopping centres (29%), and station car parks (18%).

If this story sounds vaguely familiar, here’s one possible explanation:

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September 16, 2013

The UK’s premier karting event for insurance people, Insurance Endurance, took place on Friday 13th September and was once again a quite unparalleled triumph. The fact that Bankstone News is the main sponsor of this prestigious highlight in the UK motorsports calendar would not, of course, in any way encourage us to report it’s having been a quite unparalleled triumph if it hadn’t. So that’s got that out of the way.

On a perfect early September day, the almost literally numberless hordes of eager contestants had more fun in one day that the average human being can expect to experience in an entire lifetime whilst competing for one of the most coveted sporting prizes in this or any other universe. The strapping young athletes of Sagicor arrived in smartly matching race suits and were every bit good enough to finish a close second to Lamprey & Sons, who, thanks to a superb family effort from Michael Symons and his boys held off all comers to clinch first spot.

Pitching up third were Harrogate-based RescueMyCarp.com, whose sheer dogged perseverance in going round and round the same few loops of tyre-fringed tarmac quite fast for hour upon hour on end under a blazing late summer sun richly deserved a place on the least elevated section of the podium.

It seems hardly worth mentioning Amlin – aside from their having accidentally recorded the fastest lap and somehow – narrowly and doubtless fortuitously – having held Bankstone Racing off the much coveted fourth place.

Lead by the redoubtable and ever-youthful Commander Andrew “CO Jones” Jones, it was in fact Bankstone Racing who were perhaps the true stars and moral victors (in some subtle sense that does not, alas, spring immediately to mind) of the day’s proceedings. We salute you mighty Bankstone Racing! In a just world you would, of course, have carried all before you and not just finished second in the pitslop challenge behind (Oh, the ignominy) Sagicor (yes, them again).

The Bike Insurer – logically enough – finished ahead (in 6th) of their stablemates The Van Insurer, back in 8th, a mere three places ahead of Bankstone News who hung back diplomatically so as not to hog the glory and breezed through in 11th place. The Bike Insurer also deserve recognition for compiling a highly vivid record of the day’s sun-soaked proceedings which you can see here and for promising to provide a video highlights reel which may well be ready by the time Bankstone News goes to press next week (in which case we’ll tell you).

There were lots of other teams, of course, though, frankly, too many to mention. The food was utterly splendid, with many participants opining that it alone would have been well worth the price of admission – especially if someone else was paying.

To cut a long story short: anyone who missed this must-attend insurance hospitality event will, by now, probably be kicking themselves close to or beyond the point of requiring urgent medical attention. Stop, you maniacs! You can come next year and experience the thrill for yourselves. In fact, you positively must.

On a more sombre note, you may have heard that there was some monkeying around with the pit boards at the 2012 event, with various lewd and childish obscenities crudely spelled out, to the utter consternation and deep disgust of all right minded persons present. Fortunately, tough new rules on such things ensured that there was no repetition this year of such unedifying antics.

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No! All of their photos have the logo and arrow in exactly the same place. Wash your mind out.

September 13, 2013

The law is a very high thing, Bankstone News learned this week.

Is it higher than the Queen?, you might wonder. Why, yes. It is. Is it higher than Prime Minister David Cameron, for example, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, or Jesus Christ Our Lord?, you might ask. Most certainly, all of them, and everyone else for that matter. What, is the law even higher than robo-giraffe footballer Peter Croucher?, you might finally demand to know. Yes, even he!

In fact, as no less an authority than Aztec West, top man at Men In Black (MIB) confirmed this week, “No-one is above the law”.

And that means everyone must have motor insurance. No “ifs”, no “buts”, no “I have diplomatic immunity/am the son of God/will have your head removed and fed to corgis for this unforgivable impertinence”. Everyone must have insurance. Full stop. That’s it. Final.

The self-evidence of this truth, however, continues to meet dogged denial in certain disreputable quarters of UK society, with the inevitable consequence that vast numbers of cars must each week be taken from insurance-premium-dodgers and put beyond use (if not redeemed by their contrite fully-insured owners within seven days) by one or other of the following means: crushage or sale at auction.

The aforementioned Ashton Gate of MIB, announced this week that “over a million uninsured vehicles have been taken off the road since police were granted powers to seize in 2005, which sends a clear message to those breaking the law: no insurance, no car.”

This very month, a two-day Met Pol swoop in London reeled in no fewer than 600 premium-dodging motors as part of “Operation Cubo” (thought to stand for Continuous Uninsured B*st*rd Offensive), with 140,000 nabbed each year around the country.

At the current rate, every vehicle now on the UK’s roads will have been seized (and/or long since rusted into oblivion) by the year 4013. And that can only be good news!

Reginald_Lisowski

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