Caption competition

February 21, 2014

Yes it’s that time again: your long-awaited chance to use your wit and judgement to scoop another top prize in one of our ever-popular caption competitions.

Cynics might suspect we only run these when we haven’t got time or can’t be bothered to write a proper Bankstone story [I’ll be right with you. Mine’s a pint of Dogblaster. Don’t start the skittles without me!]. But, no indeed. We do it for some other much better reason we simply can’t bring to mind at this precise moment.

In any event, all you have to do to win a free meal for one at renowned local eatery Taste of Gandhi (drinks extra) is send an apt or amusing caption to accompany the picture below.

Pictured (L-R) are: a giant cat, Bankstone director Victor “Dicko” Tyson with a rough draft of Bankstone’s annual accounts. Send your suggestions to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk by tuesday pub time and we’ll announce the winner in next week’s issue.

Good luck and TGITBW!

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February 21, 2014

Legendary 70s fashion emporium BIBA this week nailed its coloureds firmly to the personal injury propriety mast, with a no-holes bard statement of purpose from executive director “Golden” Graeme Trudgle.

In a move that can have taken few industry insiders by surprise, Trudgle has made it emphatically clear that, following the bold stance on PI adopted by assorted ABI members last week, BIBA may very well be doing something somewhat similar in due course.

Not since the likes of Run DMC and Neneh Cherry adopted the famous ‘Buffalo Stance’ first struck by Buffalo Bills’ Bruce Smith back in the 80s, has any single stance proved so influential as that adopted last week by the ‘ABI Eight.’

But no sooner had said stance-taking been undertaken, than BIBA were fresh off the old block to regain the moral playground with a counterpunch stance of their own. “We are looking,” Trudgle proclaimed forthrigheously, “to do something similar for our members.”

Will the BIBAPI Code be the same as the ABIPI Code? No, not exactly: “We are not the same as insurers” Trudgle explained (in a manner some may have found eerily reminiscent of Michael “some work” Jackson’s limp “I’m not like other guys” in John Landis’ Thriller video), so “obviously the wordings have to be completely different.”

But, one way or another, it surely won’t be long before BIBA has its PI stance down pat. “We have a lot of groups on the go,” said Trudgle decisively, “but it would be good to get it done in the first six months of the year.

“It’s very early days,” he emphasised in a football-managerly way, adding diplomatically: “it depends on what members want.”

One thing, however, is perfectly clear, the insurance industry is absolutely united in its firm resolve against playing the part of profiteer in the painful but necessary war on whiplash/compensation kulturkampf/anti-claims campaign etc etc.

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February 21, 2014

Huw Edwards, cuddly and avuncular director in general of Associated Brutish Insurers (ABI), proved himself an unsurpassed master in the art of stacking point upon point as he treated a rapt congregation of the converted to one of the most memorable and rousing orations ever directed at the issues of pointyness, criticality, equilibrium and motor insurance at the prestigious Motor Claims Event hosted this week by Posts Magazine.

Disavowing any vestige of counterfeit, withholding, or dissemblance in the exposition of his innermost reflections and beliefs, Huw insisted that “I genuinely think of 2014 as being a critical year, because it’s a tipping point year on lots of crucial points that matter to the industry.”

Huw issued a stark challenge to his insurer audience, warning that in 2014 their “performance will be under scrutiny on claims performance, pricing performance and customer [insert dramatic rhetorical pause] service.”

He stressed that the time has now come for insurers to make their voices heard, and to ’engage openly and honestly with policymakers’ (something to do with lobbying, presumably) in this critical year of crucial-point tipping points.

Identifying the key political issues of 2014 as motor insurance, the cost of living, motor insurance, ‘an increased focus on the consumer’ and motor insurance, Huw pointed out that, as long as insurers keep having to pay out all these claims, the standard of living enjoyed by decent ordinary UK motorists will inevitably remain depressed.

“Unless volumes of claims are reduced,” Huw said, stopping diplomatically short of calling for a complete ban, “it will be more difficult to produce some of the cost savings that we would like to see.”

The sooner politicians start to pick up on this message the better, we say here at Bankstone News!

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Click on image above for explanatory AV presentation.

February 20, 2014

Already hard hit, by Britain’s unusual wetness in recent months (see last week’s Bankstone News for details) motor repair body shops are braced for more bad news, as it emerged this week that plans are afoot to crack down on the so-called staged accidents that currently provide around a third of their business.

An authoritative new estimate published this week reveals that an average 60,000 RTAs were caused deliberately in each of the past five years, equating to more than 1,000 a day. Slam-on scam might sound like something written by Chinn and Chapman for The Sweet, but, in fact, it isn’t.

Along with crash for cash (C4C), flash for cash (F4C), artificial sudden stop (ASS) and full-car krunch (F-CK), Slam-on scams (SOS) and other fake accidents account for an increasingly large proportion of motor repair jobs as well as giving rise to painful and traumatic neck-injuries by the car/MPV/minibusload.

According to insurer L=V< (source of the above scary estimate), as many as 30,000 people have been a victim of an SOS in the past year, while a survey carried out for the insurer also revealed that one in three drivers was involved in an F4C scam in 2013. That might not sound like a particularly large sample, but it’s something to think about next time someone flashes you.

Sickeningly, it seems slammers and flashers are deliberately targeting young women because, according to an inflammatory sexist generalisation from L/V=, they are less likely to make a fuss in a ‘your word against mine’ situation. “Almost two thirds (65%) of victims were female,” the insurer reports, “and 59% were aged 34 or younger.”

News that L(V)’s claims crime prevention team (CCPT) plans to stamp out staged accidents and “make sure fraudsters are brought to justice” will be – like the increasingly restricted availability of automotive girly calendars – welcome news for women everywhere, perhaps less so for motor mechanics.

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February 14, 2014

Scarcely since John Cabot returned with beguiling tales of new found lands has Bristol known such renown. Not, for certain, since the glory days of the tobacco and slave trades has the South West’s premier commercial entrepôt enjoyed such glory in the eyes of all the world.

The rainy city is quite literally awash in glittering prizes these days. Hardly had Arag unveiled their latest international trophy win (see last week’s Bankstone News), than news came in of another Bristolian success story clinching major honours in the world of industry awardage.

Bath Road based bastions of Bristol’s bike bits brotherhood, Fowlers Wholesale romped home to scoop the much-prized national award for Best Spare Pants Service in the British Dealer News awards – for the second time in just three years!

Accepting the award at a ceremony during the Motorcycle Trade Expo event from presenter Steve Porridge and MotoGP racer Scott Bedding (see photograph below), Fowlers Wholesale sales office sales manager Pete Aitkenhead said: “Thanks.”

Fowlers began distributing motorcycle pants in 1959 and, still hasn’t finished! Its current team of 25 pants advisers share 300 years’ experience between, which generally works well, unless someone decides to start hogging it.

Having recently invested in a revolutionary electronic pants system, Fowlers are the official distributor of pants for Yamaha, Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera and Derbi as well as supplying various bits and pieces for Honda, Suzuki, KTM, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia and Triumph.

A well deserved win, says Bankstone News, not a bit abashed at having not the slightest idea what it is talking about.

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February 14, 2014

In common with every other aspect of our national life, Britain’s car repair industry is steadily succumbing to the debilitating effects of the country’s new status as an international foul weather corridor.

Now, don’t get Bankstone News wrong: we’re all in favour of global warming in principle. But a little more variety in our upgraded winter weather package would be somewhat welcome. The prospect of milder summers certainly sounds appealing, but not if we’re drowned or blown away before we ever see one.

Britain’s beleaguered bodyshops are bravely bearing the brunt of the unabated blustery barrage. “We’ve been flooded for around a month,” moaned Marcus Woodsman to in-house funky toiletries publication Bodyshop Magazine this week, with four or five inches entering and leaving the body shop with the tide. “We are very limited in what we can do,” he added.

Rather like Bankstone News after one of the Badger’s two-pints-and-an-extra-hot-chilli-for-a-fiver specials, Roger Addison of Autohaus Paint Technics in Dawlish is facing wind-related productivity challenges. “The floods have been disabling us for the last two months,” he reveals, but “it’s the wind,” he says that’s causing the most trouble. “The canopy can very easily blow over,” he confides, adding: “it’s nearly impossible to work in those conditions.”

Not every repair shop is underwater, of course, but even those on elevated ground are encountering weather related difficulties.

“We’re on a hill,” brags Matthew Polite of P&H Body Reapers in Saffron Waldon, “so we haven’t been directly affected, but the region” (presumably, he means Essex) “was completely flooded overnight. We expect to see many vehicles come through the door today and they’ll all be total write-offs that will have to be sent to the salvages yards, which are filling up and creating a backlog themselves.”

So basically, the best advice is don’t have anything go wrong with your car until the winter has blown over – and if you do, don’t expect to get it back before things dry out a bit.

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How the weather proof car of the future might look

February 13, 2014

OK, so motor insurers behave a little strangely from time to time (see previous stories), but surely no one would accuse them of being mad. Not clinically-insane-type mad. But apparently they would be if they didn’t seize the chance to adopt the new MyLicence online drivers licence checking thingy.

That is the considered opinion of ‘Mad Keith’ Morris, “project chair” (a designation perhaps somehow akin to “class bike”) of the snappily entitled Insurance Industry Access to Driver Data (I˘IADD) project, as well as being a senior Sabre man.

Frustratingly, motor insurers will have to wait until June (probably) for a chance to disprove any sanity cynics. For, that, as you have doubtless already inferred, is when MyLice is due to ‘go live’.

The I˘IADD project (currently in a very exciting testing phase) is the polyparental brainchild of eleven different companies, including brokers, insurers, and soft warehouses, apparently. And, before anyone accuses Bankstone News of unattributed plagiarism, let us be absolutely clear (as, indeed, everyone aspires to be these days): we copied all this slavishly from the illustrious pages of Insurance Times.

It was in those very same pages we learned, with some astonishment, how the widespread adoption of MyLichees will save honest motorists at least 2% a year on their motor insurance – with the obvious implication that the outlook for dishonest motorists (that’s most of us, let’s face it, if we truly scour our souls for lurking disingenuity), may be rather less bright.

“The average price of a premium consists of people who are lying and people who are not,” Keith explains. “So once we start charging the people who are lying the correct price, then, for the people who haven’t been lying, their price will go down.” Bankstone News hopes you are following this carefully. “I can’t predict how much it will be, but it will be a few percent certainly,” Morris predicts.

The prospect of an easy-reference future in which liars pay more to insure, certainly sounds appealing. But will it work – and will it be ready on time?

“We are expecting go live still to be in the second quarter,” Keith avers. “I don’t think it will be April,” he predicts, neatly sidestepping any mention of the unlucky M month by noting that “I hope it will be by June.”

“It rather depends on everyone in the chain adopting it,” he admits, perhaps explaining the vehemence of his universal-adoption advocacy.“All insurers have a choice whether to take it up,” he allows, “or not.”

But ultimately, “it’s a no-brainer to do it,” he says, “because, if you don’t, someone is getting better data from you. If you are getting bad data you are going to lose. That’s the way pricing works.”

That certainly doesn’t sound like much of a brainer to Bankstone News.

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February 12, 2014

Any mean spirited cynics who imagined that insurers might seek to exploit some kind of underhand commercial advantage from the recent referral fees shakeup, will shortly be forced to eat their own unworthy thoughts. The Association of Brutish Insurers (ABI) is confident insurers will soon ‘get behind’ its newly launched Personal Injury Code of Conduct (PICOC), also known – in the manner of Jackass: The Movie – as Customers with Road Traffic Injuries: the ABI Code (CWRTAITABIC).

A select but illustrious band comprising Admiral, Alley Ants, AXA, Co-operative Insurance, Ecclesiastical, L=V<, RSA and Skyfire Insurance have banded together to constitute the metaphorical trickle to precede an anticipated sign-up deluge shortly to follow. As signatories they have all committed themselves to a range of things like treating customers fairly and not taking undue advantage of the altered postLASPO landscape.

Paul Evans warned Posts Magazine this week not to “read too much into” the fact that sign up stands just a tad short of cento per cento at present. “This has had very wide support from a broad range of insurers,” he insisted, “so I am hoping it will receive wide support.”

That way, he declared, insurers could never again be accused of “having our owns mouths in the trough of personal injury,” or “exploiting this new environment to our own purposes in a way that would continue to promote the whiplash culture we have lobbied against.”

L+V= Clams Director Millicent Martin agreed, adding that publishing the names of signatories on the popular ABI website “is good for the consumer because our customers can have that reassurance that best practice and the interests of the consumer are being served by this code”, adding that this would help reassure people that any insurers seeking to treat claims as a revenue generation opportunity would effectively be wearing handcuffs, and so would not be able to use any “backdoor loopholes”.

Meanwhile, Graeme Turgid, exec direc of retro fashion house BIBA, told Posts Magazine that he too was feeling in a code-ish mood. “We are looking overall at our code situation,” he said, and personal injury claims would “go into the mix with that,” to be ladled out again in due course, presumably, along with all the other ingredients in the much anticipated CODE BIBA.

Members of the motoring public who may be contemplating injuring themselves on Britain’s roads – or who may indeed have done so recently – will doubtless sleep a lot easier for knowing that a growing number of British Insurers are washing their manacled hands of the very idea of profiting from their misfortune.

Now perhaps we can finally set aside all thoughts of commercial exploitation and simply enjoy personal injury claims (as nature intended) as the unalloyed “happy ending”, the climactic pay-off “money shot”, if you will, of the whole insurance process.

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February 7, 2014

The increasing strain of maintaining aspirational first world lifestyles in an era of increased resource and energy costs is turning Britain into a nation of criminals. The unsustainable cost of insuring and running a car – for young Brits in particular – has led to an unprecedented outbreak of law floutage encompassing unlicensed driving, driving without insurance, and, most heinous of all: the vile collusive deception that is fronting!

According to hot new research from comparison site GoCampari, “almost one in five young drivers” is at it – aided and abetted, of course, by the shamelessly immoral connivance of their unprincipled parents. Small print obsessives might quibble that 16% looks at least as much like one in seven as it does one in five, but the message is clear. Young drivers are not paying their fair share of the national motor insurance burden.

GoCampari’s research also reveals that “nearly a quarter” of 17-19 year olds “have difficulty in affording to run a car” with 30% not having any particular difficulty on account of their parents are providing financial help and/or aiding and abetting them in the commission of a deeply antisocial act of criminal deception, to whit: fronting.

Three point five per cent of youngsters (what GoCampari would probably call almost one in twenty) avoid dragging their old ‘uns into a sinister web of deceit by the handy expedient of not bothering with insurance at all.

GoCompari’s Kelly Scott stresses that “fronting is fraud” pure and simple. “If you do have to make a claim,” Kelly warns, “the chances are you’ll be found out. Not only will the policy be invalid, but you may find yourself open to prosecution, liable for accident costs and find it hard to get insurance in the future.”

Bankstone News awaits the publication of statistics indicating that “almost one in five” motor insurance claims made by those between 17-19 are being declined by insurers, with the fronters duly brought to book.

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February 7, 2014

Not content with winning everybody else’s awards (see Bankstone News passim), Bankstone’s good friends ARAG have begun giving themselves awards. A three-strong team from the firm’s Bristol offices recently travelled to Germany to pick up the coveted ARAG AWARD in the prestigious International Subsidiaries category.

Pictured below is Udoyon Bhaduri (resplendent in the firm’s distinctive yellow and black corporate glasses, which he got to wear for the night) collecting the award from TV’s Mr Selfridge (yes, him again – see last week’s Bankstone story for details). Udy, as everyone knows him (except when they are knowing him as Udi or UD or, just occasionally, Udoyon), was presented with a miniature ice sculpture in the shape of a Linden Tree bud.

The Linden is, of course, the totemic emblem of the city of Dusseldorf and the ARAG corporate tree, as well as being the famous “tree of lovers” of Germanic folklore, and, notoriously, the tree from which a single leaf attached itself to the hero Siegfried when bathing in dragon’s blood, leaving him, like Achilles in Greek legend, with a single spot on his body in which he was not invulnerable.

How had Udie and his colleagues come to beat off a number of their international colleagues from Austria and U.S.A. to clinch this exulted accolade? Why, merely by dramatically curtailing the need for processing duplication in the interface between ARAG and solicitors via its widely lauded gOATway system. The Bristolians wowed judges with a tongue twistingly entitled entry, Cutting key strokes key to cutting cost.

Hats off to Udee and his colleagues Mike Knight, Ben Clarkson and James Morgan for a cost and key stroke cutting stroke of genius that’s clearly a cut above.

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UDee (left) accepts the coveted ice statuette from TV’s Mr Shellfish

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