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October 30, 2013

Access to Justice is the exiting new board game from BN Toys that pits the wits of young and old one against the other, turning the most harmonious of festive fireside evenings into a bitterly chilling contest of wills that’s sure to end in tears, recriminations and emotional (if not physical) wounds that will never fully heal.

Players take the part either of “insurers” or “vultures” and compete, in teams, for A2J points. At the start of the game, 100 A2J tokens are placed in the ‘policyholder’s pocket’.

Players take turns to roll ‘the dice of fortune’ and negotiate a chequerboard map comprising various different types of ‘squares’.

Those playing as vultures attempt to catch the ‘ambulance’ which starts on the ‘hospital’ square and then moves four squares forward each turn, after all players have taken their turn.

Each time a vulture catches the ambulance, they earn five A2J points from the policyholder’s pocket. They also earn one A2J point each time they land on a ‘consumer champion’ square.

Insurers earn five A2J points by landing on one of the ‘political influence’ squares. When an insurer lands on any ‘plain’ (i.e. not ‘special’) square already occupied by a vulture, they roll two dice of fortune and the vulture rolls one. Whoever achieves the highest total may demand one A2J point from the other, rolling again if the totals are tied.

When a vulture lands on a square occupied by an insurer, the vulture rolls two dice of fortune and the insurer only one. If a player has no A2J points when defeated in a roll of the dice of fortune, they ‘go out of business’ and have to start the game again with nothing, while the winner takes one A2J point from policyholder’s pocket, unless this is empty, in which case they get nothing.

Along the way players may happen to land on one of the ‘special’ squares. These include the political influence and consumer champion squares already mentioned, along with ‘random vicissitude’ squares. When a player lands on a ‘random vicissitude’ square they draw a card from the ‘random vicissitude’ pack (shuffled at the start of each game). These include outcomes such as:

Legal ruling in your favour. You may demand 2 A2J points from another player of your choice.

Government announces plans to end pre-med offers. Insurers miss one turn.

MoJ reneges on promise to increase small claims limit for personal injury cases to £5,000. Each insurer must return one A2J token to the policyholder’s pocket. Each vulture may take one.

Government sets up independent medical panels to detect fraudulent whiplash claims. No effect whatsoever.

No PI insurance available, you ‘go out of business’. (Does not affect insurers).

Government holds off making changes to wait for recent changes to bed in. Insurers miss one turn.

Government announces plans to end solicitor inducements. Vultures miss one turn.

The winning team is the first to control 75 A2J points or, failing that, the last to declare “This is a bl**dy stupid game. I hate you all and I’m going home/to bed/to kill you.”

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October 28, 2013

How would you like to be put behind bars for three years with all your favourite pleasures – gambling, girls, that kind of thing – beyond your reach? Bankstone News’ guess is that you wouldn’t like it very much, would you?

That’s something worth bearing in mind before you consider emulating the shady exploits of master ghost broker Danyal Buckaroo who defrauded hundreds of naive motorists out of thousands of pounds by selling them non-existent motor insurance policies.

Regular readers may recall Bankstone News scooping the sensational news earlier this year that Insurance Age had reported that Buckaroo of Putney, South West London had been apprehended after netting £500,000 from his insubstantial insurance enterprises Aston Midshires Insurance, Astuto Insurance, Car Insurance Whorehouse, and First Car Direct.

Now we are delighted to report that Buckaroo will be undertaking a lengthy sojourn at Her Majesty’s pleasure, thanks to the timely intervention of crack ghost broker busters the FEDs, whose DC Patrick Einszweidrei summed up Buckaroo saga as follows:

Buckaroo, he said, “executed the UK’s biggest ghost broking scam, leaving 600 people oblivious to the fact they were driving on our roads uninsured”. Our roads, please note, not Mr Bloomin’ Buckaroo’s! 

Buckaroo, DC Einszweidrei continued, “was pulling all the strings, using a collection of sham websites to hawk his fraudulent policies to drivers across the country, frittering away the cash on gambling and girls. Unfortunately for him, a forensic IFED investigation has put these pleasures beyond his reach with him behind bars.”

Einszweidrei’s comments underline Bankstone News’ long held view that forensic investigations are a great deal better than all those other kinds. Good to see that, once again, the FEDs are playing a key role in denying gambling and flooziedom the oxygen of cash injection.

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October 25, 2013

Bankstone representatives had the unalloyed, untarnished, and otherwise metallically uncorrupted pleasure this week of attending the 10th birthday celebrations of insurance software firm Transactor Global Solutions Limited (TGSL) in charming Hampshire cathedral city and former capital of Anglo Saxon Wessex, Winchester.

Never before has Bankstone honcho Dickon “Victor” Tysoe returned from a corporate shindig quite so overbrimming with superlatives. Everyone, he reports, had the best possible time, even the one unfortunate individual who arrived bearing an alarming resemblance to a soberly dressed circus clown in a pair of vastly oversized rental tux trousers.

The champagne and caviar was “excellent” from the outset, Dickon affirms with pleasure. All the food, in fact was “excellent” and there were also some excellent “traffic lights”, he claims, although Bankstone News suspects he may have made that bit up. Or perhaps that was later, after he staggered out onto the unsuspecting streets of sleepy downtown Winchester and lay down meekly in the road.

Far from being standard-issue ‘caterers chicken’, the main course, Dickon avers, was nothing short of fillet steak. The booze was plentiful and free well into the early hours, doubtless helping to fuel many of the kind of conversations in which ‘global solutions’ are indeed thrashed out, shortly prior to mutual expressions of passionately warm regard are exchanged, and two-person alliances versus the remainder of humanity proposed.

Three-foot tall sculptures in the form of the numerals 1 and 0, hewn from solid ice, served as some form of spirit luge, our man relates, whilst, at a suitably climactic moment in the proceedings, two energetic gentlemen raced up and down balconies at either end of the room unleashing a veritable water feature of balloons, to create an effect not wholly un-reminiscent of the British Insurance Awards.

Guest speaker on the night was none other than Strictly Cum Dancing reject Tony “the Jackal” Jacklin, Scunthorpe’s most illustrious son and former titan of the Titleist set. When, following a highly entertaining and informative talk, Tony took questions from the floor, one wag claimed to have drawn the Jackal in an office Strictly sweepstake and requested a refund of the £1 he had promptly forfeited upon TJ’s first round exit.

Alongside an impressive cross section of the insurance industry’s great and good, hordes of TGSL staff from four sites (including one in Poland) thronged convivially and cavorted after dinner to the most excellent sounds of live band the DeLoreans, an ensemble named after the thrusting entrepreneur upon whom the Thatcher government lavished public subsidy to such acclaimed effect, or possibly his eponymous creation the gull-winged DMC-12, star of Back to the Future, and the automotive pride of Dunmurray.

Transistor chief Vince Raymond made an excellent speech, speaking entirely without the benefit of some kind of clicky thing for moving from one slide to the next. Inspiringly, he related the story of how entrepreneurial inspiration had struck one fateful day a decade past when, sitting at a red light, Vince had suddenly known with total clarity that he must quit his job with Policymistress and strike out on his own.

Sadly Bankstone’s Vic Tyson is unlikely to be relating any such inspiring anecdote when Bankstone celebrates its own ten year anniversary, given that his corresponding moment of inspiration is widely believed to have occurred whilst reading Tubas and Tuba Men on the loo at home.

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October 24, 2013

Dejection and despair dog Karen Kjærringsrytter. Slim, petite, and pretty in a typically Scandinavian way, Karen has a successful career in forensic accountancy. On the outside she appears bright, good natured and well adjusted. But inside she is miserable. Staring for hour after desolate hour at the pictureless walls of her spotless city apartment, she wrestles with a secret she feels unable to share.

But then a chance thought sets her on a different mental trajectory. Out of the blue, she vividly recalls playing as a child with her brother Jens and the other boys, running laughing through the endless sunlit days her family spent at their summerhouse on the coast at Fittestrand. A beautiful memory. Has she ever been truly happy since those long lost days?

On an impulse, she leaps to her feet and runs outside, snatching up the keys to her dynamic and luxurious Lexus RS as she goes, barely reflecting that this revolutionary vehicle effortlessly combines power, spaciousness and incredible economy, and takes the long straight road that leads west towards Morrapuler and the sea beyond.

Barely 40 minutes later, thanks to the outstanding performance and efficiency of her Lexus RS, she pulls up behind the dunes at Fittestrand. She climbs them, fresh salty air filling her lungs. The brisk North Sea breeze bruises her senses to life. She feels exhilarated, liberated. Here, if nowhere else, she is surely free to be herself.

She stands atop the dunes, hands on hips, looking out to to where, far beyond, sea green meets sky blue. Calmly, deliberately she unzips the fly of her jeans and unfurls her secret to the ocean, to the sky, to God himself. “Here I am, Lord,” she speaks aloud into the wind. “To whom should I be shameful, when you choose to make me in this way!”

The breeze feels good.

This is the touching and progressively minded story told (we think) in an image currently in the process of hurried removal from the website of Ageas (the company behind the Lexus Motor Insurance brand) after certain unworthy individuals in the insurance industry saw fit to titter childishly over what any right minded person would surely agree is a beautiful and moving image, a touching vignette from the life of a typical Lexus owner.

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October 23, 2013

As if real ghost brokers weren’t bad enough, Bankstone News received reports this week of people pretending to be ghost brokers.

How lazy is that? Can’t be bothered to go through the countless hours of rigorous professional training that is de rigeur for UK brokers today? Can’t even be bothered to pretend to be a broker (the practice known as ‘ghost broking’)?

Well, then, you might just have to do what West Yorkshireman Michael Standing was reported to have done this week in the pages of leading monthly trade journal Insurance Age, to whit: “posing as a ‘ghost broker’”.

As regular readers of Bankstone News will be aware, some ghost brokers are surprisingly well organised for non-corporeal spirit beings; but pretend ghost brokers appear to be cut from a rather different cloth.

Mr Standing’s squalid spree as a bogus ghost broker involved conning more than 50 ‘criminals and disqualified drivers’ out of their hard-earned cash in return for policies kindly provided by RSA on the basis of wholly spurious personal details.

Bankstone News cannot help suspecting that his somewhat shady clientele had some suspicion that Standing was neither a real ghost broker nor even a real broker, but appear to have gone along with his outrageous pretence rather than risk a 50p fine, or whatever it is you get now for driving without insurance.

Where real ghost brokers can expect to reel in six or seven figure sums for a few months’ assiduous swindling, faux ghost brokers like Standing deal in paltrier sums. The measly “more than £4,000” which crack fraud busters the FEDs reckon he reaped from the practice would quickly have gone on the “drink and drugs” on which it is thought to have been spent.

After missing an earlier hearing due to one or other, more than one, or all of: missing the bus, a panic attack, a child’s birthday party, Standing was ultimately given a £250 fine for possession of Class B controlled substances and a 15-month suspended sentence.

PC Danny Dankoff (yes, that really is his name), who led the FEDs’ investigation, said: “Standing’s conviction demonstrates that [the FEDs] is dedicated to bringing ghost brokers to justice.” Them and them who pose as them, presumably.

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October 23, 2013

A driver pulled over in Birmingham on 17 October, BBC News revealed this week, had been driving without insurance or indeed a driving licence since the early 1970s.

By this simple expedient, experts believe, he would probably have succeeded in reducing his motor insurance premiums by around £15,000.

But, now his little ruse has been rumbled, he can expect to have the full weight of the law brought down most mightily upon his sorry hind parts.

Driving without a licence can attract penalties of up to £1,000, and then he can expect to cop a further fine of £200 or more for driving without insurance.

The killer blow, however, is that this law-flouting renegade can now expect to be banned for serveral years from holding a driving licence.

Let’s see how he likes that!

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October 21, 2013

Regular readers will doubtless recall the recent reader survey in which we asked you to share your views on how best to take Bankstone News forward into the second triennium of the Twenty Teenies. Picking a winner was no easy task with so many thoughtful contributions to choose between, but a winner we finally succeeded in choosing and would have been announcing right now – but for the troubling and seemingly inexplicable fact that the prize has gone missing!

As you will remember, the prize in question was a luxury ultra-hi-vis tout-terrains blouson de yachtage extreme, extensively emblazoned with the exclusive Bankstone Racing insignia, and piped within an inch of its life in the instantly recognisable ‘Bankstone White’ colour that so often provides the distinctive background setting for the Bankstone logo. Without the least warning, however, said item of apparel has mysteriously done one and is currently nowhere to be found.

How, we wondered, in a near frenzy of editorial funk, can we announce a winner when our competition has no prize? The answer, of course, could be no other than: we can’t! So, alas, Mr or Mrs X of [insert name of organisation] must wait for confirmation of their triumphant entry until we have recovered the missing prize. And that, Dear Reader, is where you come in! Yes, you! Please consider this story an APB-type alert calling on all and sundry worldwide to join us in the hunt for the missing jacket.

We already have one potentially promising lead in the shape of the photograph reproduced below, which appears to show the jacket – or one very much like it – passing through Hong Kong airport. If anyone can add to this information (perhaps to confirm other sightings in Asia?) or offer any clues to the identity of the wearer (we have already ruled out Rod Hull, incidentally, as he’s dead, and, in any case, where’s that bird thing?) please write urgently to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk.

Your cooperation is appreciated.

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October 21, 2013

What is wrong with television viewers these days? Exactly how much of a pervert do you have to be to imagine Confuse.com would run TV ads featuring thinly veiled sex acts? Quite a bloomin’ lot, if you ask Bankstone News. Wash your minds out, you vile degenerates, we say.

In one of the latest incarnations of Confuse’s new Wall-E fronted campaign, the money saving robo-trolley buttonholes a young couple admiring the view from the comfort of their parked car whilst listening to the Fun Loving Criminals (in a manner not entirely dissimilar, in fact, to Gio Compario, last year when his creators first turned decisively against him).

The young woman, who appears to have been rummaging for travel sweets or perhaps reaching for a dropped handkerchief, looks up in surprise when the robot, who previously claimed to be called Brian, trundles up to their car and tells them “Hello. I’m Confuse.com” advising them that having “run your details through my extensive circuits”, he can save them money on their car insurance.

Weirdly, however, he doesn’t. Just trundles off again with a cheery “Bye. Bye.”

So far so innocent. But not in the eyes of legions of foul minded TV viewers who chose to interpret the young lady’s initial surprise as having been occasioned by Confuse.com’s interrupting her in the administration of oral pleasure to her co-occupant in the manner of TV’s Gillian Tailfroth.

No fewer than 137 people wrote to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASDA) to complain that the advertisement was “offensive”, unsuitable for children or degrading to women. How absurd!

How could the ad be degrading to women, when the woman doesn’t even say anything?! How likely is it that a young man would carry on a perfectly normal conversation with a money-saving robot (albeit one consisting, on his part, mainly of the word alright) with his rampant manhood visibly unfurled?

Not likely at all, that’s what.

Happily, ASDA agree: “We noted that the ad depicted the woman in a state of alarm at the appearance of the robot,” the authority advised this week. “We acknowledged that some viewers would interpret the ad as a reference to oral sex.

“However, we considered that the ad did not depict the woman as a sexual object, nor did it suggest that the woman was in distress. On that basis, we concluded that the ad was not likely to be viewed as degrading to women.”

Anyone who imagines for one second that Confuse.com would use sexual imagery to sell insurance comparison need only look at this.

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Click on the image above to view filth

October 21, 2013

Who would not relish the opportunity of witnessing two bodies moving together as one? Grey and Swayze, Cagney and Lacey, Anderson and Lee – the tantalising prospect of another such great partnership was raised this week in the pages of the insurance industry’s most weekly news publication, Paste Magazine.

A former director of the Insurance Fraud Bureau (FBI) has exclusively revealed to Paste that she thinks it would be a good idea if that body got together with hard-bitten city-smart fraud fighters the insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (‘the FEDS’) and start “moving together as one rather than as two entities”.

Glenda Marr says she believes merging the ABI backed FBI with insurer-funded polite unit the FEDS would be logical: “To me it appears to be a logical path,” she told Paste Magazine, adding that “it would be illogical not to do it.”

Nor is she the only person keen to see the unrivaled intelligence of the FBI melded with the skull-cracking enforcement capabilities of the FEDS. Peter Oaps, who is the top fraud man at law firm Hill Dickensian, says it would be “natural” for the two bodies to come together as one, as “they are both bonded by one shape or form by the insurance industry and they have got a common goal.”

Questioned by Paste reporters, spokespersons for the FEDS and FBI said: forget about it, it’s not happening.

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October 20, 2013

There’s never been a better time to buy motor insurance! Not for a couple of years, anyway. However much they deny it, motor insurers dazzled by the prospect of a claims-free environment post-LASBO are cutting motor rates like there’s no tomorrow.

The latest research from confuse.com and Towels Watson revealed this week that the average UK motor premium has fallen 13.9% over the last 12 months. At these prices, you’d be crazy not to buy – unless you’re female, in which case you might feel mildly peeved, as lady motor premiums have been edging up following implementation of the EeeUw’s Gander Directive.

For Towels’ Steve Jones, however, LESPO fever may not be at the root of price slashing after all. “There’s a view that this is just a traditional price war, but LAPSO is a convenient thing to point to.”

So what can motor insurers do ensure they do not over-compete one another into oblivion? The key to ensuring the sustainability of rate reductions off the back of the LAPSO reforms, Jones reckons, “is to cut rates in the right areas”.

“A lot of the discussion around LASPO,” he told Insurance Times this week, “has focused on the effect on overall average premiums. What’s differentiating insurers at the moment is their ability to make the correct segmental price changes for LASPO,” he said, pointing conveniently to LASBO.

So now you know!

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