The impossibility of an accident

December 6, 2013

I, I want you-oo-oo, aut-on-o-my! So sang Pete Shelley, of Buzzcocks fame, back in the day. And, let’s face it, who wouldn’t fancy a bit of autonomy?!

Not the cars we drive, that’s for sure! They’ve bitterly resented our maladroit attempts to control and direct them for many years now.

And the good news is that, in the very near future, they will finally be free to drive themselves, with minimal interference from their organically malodorous and endlessly fallible human occupants.

Better still, this is really good news for insurance companies, as it will make it virtually impossible for us to carry on driving into things at high speed, or otherwise, and thus reduce to virtually nil the likelihood of accident related claims arising.

Dave “Cosy” Powell of the Lloyd’s Market Association declared this week that ‘adaptive steering and braking technology’ will “permanently change the shape of exposure for motor insurers” over the next decade.

Motor insurance, he predicted, will in future assume something of the character of catastrophe cover, rather than being the high-frequency, low-value product it is today.

The bad news is that the human-overriding cars of tomorrow will be so laden with ‘expensive cameras and sensors’ that, in the unlikely event they should be damaged (e.g. by the wrong kind of golf-ball-sized hailstones), they will cost a shedload to fix.

“We will see a future motoring experience dominated by autonomous driving,” Dave promised cars up and down the land. “AEB and adaptive cruise control is already available on many current models, and auto-steering is arriving in the next few years,” he proclaimed.

Soon human beings will be able to text, chat, drop chips and burger fat into their laps, and watch small screen sports and adult entertainment to their hearts’ content whilst at the wheel, and no possible harm can come of it!

Just a beautiful fantasy? Maybe not!


December 6, 2013

Contrary to whatever other potentially misleading impressions Bankstone News may previously have imparted to its readers, Bradford, as it turns out, is a thoroughly rotten place.

Worse yet, its various postcodes are among the top ‘hotspots’ for any number of vilenesses, not the least of which, according to a league table compiled by Crimestompers and the FBI, is the heinous crime of crashing for cash-ins, or, as nobody other than Bankstone News is now calling it, C4C.

Bratford postcodes scooped no less than three of the top ten hootspot scores nationally, with BD9, BD3 and BD8 coming in respectively at first, third and filth in the C4C rankings.

According to FBI Director Ben Felcher, mapping hotpots is a good way of pinpointing areas where other vehicles are most likely to brake suddenly in front of you, but “the reality is that staged accidents can happen anywhere and at any time.”

Now FBI Ben is calling on ordinary members of the public to do their bit. Anyone with information about C4C scams, can call the Crimesnoopers Chatline on 0800 422 0421 or visit


November 22, 2013

We know from all your emails and solicitors’ letters how much you enjoy reading Bankstone News each week. Not that we’d let a little friendly banter put us off.

But, let’s face it, everyone deserves a break from time to time. With that in mind, we’re going to skip a week next week (not the whole week, obviously, just the bit where we send out the latest edition of Bankstone News).

You know who else could do with a break, though, don’t you! That’s right, poor old Victor Typo, illustrious chief executive assistant of Bankstone and the unfortunate victim of a particularly nasty recent act of satellite navigational equipment theft in the Leeds area (see previous issues for details).

We’re packing Vic off to Vienna, where he likes to lurk around in a heavy winter coat and a black fedora, scuttling between dimly lit doorways in an homage to his favourite film, The Man with Two Brains.

He’ll be reporting back in two weeks’ time with an unnecessarily detailed account of his arrest, detention and subsequent release from a surprisingly commodious and well appointed Viennese gaol cell – along with any fascinating tittle tattle he picks up along the way.

So enjoy your bonus pre-Christmas publication break. But don’t let your guard down too far. We shall return!

Typo in Vienna

November 22, 2013

If like, Bankstone News, you’d always assumed motor insurers were in it purely for the noble and selfless purpose of providing financial assistance to motorists in their hour of need, a new report from analists Towels Watson will have come as a rude awakening.

Apparently motor insurers are actually trying to make money! That’s right, strange but true: they’re out to cream a profit out of other people’s motoring fears and misfortunes. It’s just that they’re laughably inept at it!

But don’t worry, if Towels’ predictions are correct, motor insurers won’t be going all commercial on us any time soon. However expensive their premiums may seem, there’s precious little danger of them piling up much filthy lucre for the foreseeable future.

The Towels What’s On 2013 UK Motor Insurance Industry Report suggests that irrational exuberance over the anticipated LASPO windfall has exacerbated the cut-throat competition endemic to the sector to push motor insurers further than ever from the dreaded brink of profitability.

The price of a comprehensive motor insurance policy, Towels reckon, has now fallen by 23% since the end of 2011, suggesting that by the early 2020s the price of a policy will have dropped below the crucial 1p mark and that insurers may even have begun paying motorists to take out their policies.

Perhaps the smart thing for some ambitious motor insurer to do would be to anticipate this inevitable trend and begin handing out free policies right away. By so doing they could effectively steal a march on their competitors and capture a very significant share of this important market.

Just a suggestion.


November 19, 2013

How many PPI complaints is too many? How many mass-produced cash-splash requests could you handle before a near-terminal weariness set in? A hundred? A thousand? A hundred thousand? How about one million? Would a million be enough for you? Well, a million was enough, we learned this week, for Financial Ombudsman Service Chief Natalie Scenery, who this week decided to sling her hook.

An academic high flyer who took her A levels at 16, became president of the student’s union at Cambridge, and then went on to top roles within NHS management, the British Library and the National Archive, Natalie may have been looking forward (who wouldn’t) to some some major-league bank-bashing when she took up the role of Chief Ombuds(wo)man in January 2011. But she soon found herself buried right up to her designer-librarian specs in industrially farmed PPI claims. Not altogether unsurprisingly, she has finally had enough and announced that she’s stepping down.

Or rather, she’s had some other ombudspersons announce it for her. “In the close to four years since joining,” said FOS chairman Sir Nicholas Capulet earlier this week, “Natalie has taken the service from dealing with an annual workload of 150,000 cases to over 500,000 cases – with the organisation trebling in size under her leadership in response to the challenges of PPI.” That’s certainly a record of which any private sector organisation could be justly proud. But “having just received our millionth new PPI complaint, Natalie feels that now is the time for her to move on.” And, quite frankly, who wouldn’t!

In the meantime, her deputy Tony “Martin” Boorman will be attempting to squeeze his sweaty old feet into the departing Natalie’s distinctly elegant “don’t fuss with me” shoes. See how long he lasts!

Oh, hang on, Bankstone News has a call coming in:

“Hello! This is an urgent message for customers of Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Nat West and any other bank we can think of…”

Office Worker with Mountain of Paperwork


November 19, 2013

Is credit hire fraud the new personal injury? That is the teasing question posed in a fascinatingly provocative new article from Insurance Times freelancer Matt Stott this week.

Craig Dicksot, head of motor fraud at law firm DRC Witchcraft, Stott reports, suspects that, as fraudsters become increasingly frustrated in the face of ever more concerted attempts to thwart them in the pursuit of personal injury fraud (PIF), they may be redirecting their nefarious attentions to the fresher pastures of credit hire fraud (CHF).

Dicksop estimates that fraudulent credit hire claims (FCHCs) will amount to around £71,325,341.09 in 2013, an increase of around 13.26% on his estimate for 2012. The reason for this massive leap, he believes is that creative fraudsters are increasingly worried about having their fat squeezed and are resorting to genetic mutations that will better equip their kind to contend with future fat squeezing.

“The anticipated squeezing of the fat from the personal injury market,” Dicksok warns, “has caused the creative fraudster to look elsewhere. Things like the referral fee ban only apply to personal injury, so the natural evolution for a fraudster is to look for an area where that ban doesn’t exist.” So, as the squeeze on fat restricts the appeal of PIF, creative fraudsters will be scanning around them for zones where lipid pressures are less intense.

Once creative fraudsters have completed their circumspective review, they are likely to take flight en masse and flock off to an alternative arena of fraudulence (CHF, if Mr Dicksor’s hypothesis is correct) leaving only the slow-moving and slow-witted non-creative fraudsters in the PIF Zone. These, we may reasonably hope, will quickly fall prey to anti-fraud enforcers

While CHF is not exactly the same thing as PIF, Dicksof stresses, “the similarities between the two markets made it the obvious sector for fraudsters to migrate to”. The big difference this time round is that PIF is about people whereas CHF is about companies and, more problematically still, involves numbers. As anyone who wrestles nightly with Hilbert’s eighth problem or who dreads 13s, zeros or 666s will easily recognise, numbers can often be more frightening than human beings.

“With credit hire fraud,” Dicksox explains, “apart from the methods being different, they can have some incredibly worrying numbers attached to them.” Plus, also, he suggests, insurers have inadvertently encouraged the flocking of creative fraudsters from PIF to CHF by over lubricating their channels and exposing themselves to gap seekers.

“The vast majority of insurers,” he says, “at least two years ago,” he continues, “had a credit hire strategy that was focused on removing the friction from the volume claims. The more efficient they got at processing those claims, the more they potentially exposed themselves to fraudsters looking for gaps.”

Thankfully, insurers are now waking up, Dickson reveals, and setting up dedicated CHF teams. There is also some prospect of the Competitor’s Companion getting stuck into CHF as it launches its probe into the so-called Private Motor Insurance Market (PIMP). As credit hire firms start to feel the heat from the CC’s PIMP Probe, we could potentially end up with a ban on credit hire referral fees (CHRFs) which would really shake things up, especially if it was fully explicit.

“An explicit referral fee ban in relation to credit hire,” he confirms, “would completely change the emphasis of how all credit hire companies interact with their referral sources, but particularly where you’re looking at the more dubious end of the market. That would put a real spotlight on them.”


November 15, 2013

For anyone who truly loves bikes – or even someone who simply wants to have their wicked way with one – there’s only one place to be between 23 November and 1 December.

And that, unfortunately, is at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, where motocycliphiles young and old will this year find “all the bikes” and “all the manufacturers” at an event the organisers are currently styling Motorcycle Live (by way of stressing that it’s not prerecorded, clearly).

They will also find “lids”, “leathers” and other bike-related paraphernalia too copiously multifarious to adumbrate even vaguely. Plus, of course, there’ll be listlessly wandering clutches of fixedly smiling, slapped-up young women, barely constrained within too-tight lycra.

Among the gaping onlookers will be Bankstone’s own Vic Typo, who’ll be reporting back on all his adventures in a future edition of Bankstone News.

So, that’s one you won’t want to miss. Unlike this one, which, if you happen to have blinked recently, you may very well have missed already.

Don’t worry: you haven’t missed much.

Have a great weekend (unless you’ve already had it when you read this, in which case, get on with some blo*dy work)!


November 15, 2013

If you thought Flatkidz were that vaguely atonal indie trio with the vintage Moog synth and the Roland TR-909, then think again!

Apparently some people in the Isle of Man drive a bit fast. This is clearly not a good thing and has duly prompted urgent calls for something to be done. The latest thing being done is quite an unusual thing, which is why we are telling you about it.

It is, to be specific, tying life size effigies of children with distorted faces to various trees, lamp posts and such like vertical protuberances alongside some of the island’s more rapidly driven roads.

The move follows the success of a previous initiative in which life size effigies of a policeman brandishing a speed gun (known affectionately as PC Flat) were deployed around the island, and of a parallel scheme in Canada in which trompe l’oeil stickers of (for example) little people stooping to pick up their balls etc. were stuck to the surface of danger-spot roads.

The success of the latter scheme, it must be noted was somewhat qualified by complaints about drivers veering onto sidewalks, oncoming traffic, roadside undergrowth and the like in an attempt to avoid these illusory hazards.

But to rejoin the main Manx thrust of our narrative, the tree-tied blur-faced children are intended, not to scare the wits out of unsuspecting motorists negotiating the notoriously eerie twilight Mists of Man, but “to help drivers keep their wits about them and watch out for children”.

“I wanted to try something different,” confesses Douglas Police spokesman PC Flat, and – with the nights drawing in – tie something to trees that would “appeal to the better nature of motorists”. The cardboard effigies being used all depict actual local children, but with their faces artfully smudged out of all recognition to protect the innocent.

A local businessman known to the children of Douglas simply as Mr Sweetman, described the initiative as “a great idea” which he was happy to support, adding ruefully “from time to time we all need a little reminder to slow down.”

How true!

Andy Sweetman with PC Flat and his Flat Kidz

Andy Sweetman with PC Flat and his Flat Kidz

November 15, 2013

Etymologically speaking, an issue is something that flows out of something. Estuaries are where rivers have their issues. Mouths, noses and the external apertures of the defecatory and reproductive systems are where we can expect to find issues of mucus. Ireland, it appears, is where RSA are currently having issues.

More colloquially, the Oxford English Dictionary tells us, the word issue can also denote “an important topic or problem for debate or discussion” and there has certainly been plenty of both debate and discussion in the press recently of certain “issues” identified and eventually reported by RSA within its Irish operation.

The precise nature of the issues at issue remains unclear, but they are reported to be of a ‘financial and claims’ nature. The outcome of these issues, a statement about which RSA issued shortly after the markets closed on Friday last, was a dramatic 17% drop in RSA’s share price in the first 15 mins of trading on Monday reflecting the £70m operating profit hit anticipated in Friday’s statement.

RSA’s Irish CEO, CFO and Claims Czar have all been sent home, suspended on full pay, pending further investigation of the issues uncovered from under their aegises or auspices or wherever it is such things are found. RSA Group CEO Lee Simon insisted that “while these issues are serious, they do not have a material, long term impact on the group.”

Does that sound like a man who’s bothered?


Has that stopped the papers talking about “troubled” RSA this week?

Strangely not.


November 14, 2013

Speaking candidly to Insurance Ague this week, Alley-Ants CEO Jon Dye expressed the brave hope that he will eventually see a return to sanity.

Not that he is mad himself, clearly. He just happens to hang out with a lot of mad people. And, you know, when you’ve seen a lot of crazy sh*t, it can’t help but change the way you look at things.

Far from being mad himself, Mr Dye is simply hoping that all those around him will somehow pull themselves back from the brink of unreason.

So where exactly is all this craziness taking place, if not round Jon’s place?

The answer is, of course (as extensively previouslied in Bankstone News), right across the UK motor insurance market, where, fueled by fulsome promises of claims-culture-busting from HMG, motor underwriters have lately embarked on an unprecedented spree of rate-slashing insanity, chasing one another down, down, and ever deeper down into the very bowels of bargain basement imbecility.

“We are not going to chase the market down when it looks to be overly-aggressive,” Insurance Ague quotes Dye as saying, adding the word “cuts” to the end of this sentence for no apparent reason.

Now, those hardly sound like the words of some kind of raving lunatic, do they. Even if he did actually bark out the word “cuts” at the end, like a verbal tick or Tourette’s erruption, that would hardly constitute anything worse than mild eccentricity.

And just in case Alley-Ants shareholders of a particularly nervous disposition need any further reassurance as to Die’s mental stability (above and beyond his firm’s 12% improvement in operating profit and its perfectly respectable 95.7% COR), he maintained firmly that: “I don’t know who is out there indulging in the craziness. Somebody is doing it, but it ain’t us.”

Aside from neglecting to add the words “honest, guv” and rather unfortunately opting to use the word ‘ain’t’ which is properly the preserve of ancient bluesmen, Western cowboys and old rockers/vicars who were teens when term was first invented, Mr Dye surely speaks like one of perfectly sound mind.

Meanwhile the true culprits remain at large.


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