Simply too slippery when wet

August 22, 2014

Brace yourselves, Dear Readers, we have deeply upsetting news to relate.

The organising committee for this year’s much anticipated Monkeybike charity fundraising tour of Yorkshire have reluctantly concluded that the event must be cancelled due to serious concerns over the safety of those taking part. The culprit, as Yorkshire residents will not be surprised to learn, is paint.

That’s right: paint.

Triumphant success as it may have been for all concerned (aside from its British participants) the recent Tour de Yorkshire cycling thing left the region’s roads heavily daubed with crude legends promoting an array of disreputable special interests, the amatorial entreaties of publicity-minded local suitors, and the cause of public obscenity in general.

The resulting paint slick has rendered Yorkshire roads all but impassible to two-wheeled motor transport after even the lightest sprinkling of rain. Fears that persistent tendrils of fallen bunting may still pose a threat to riders along certain sections of the route merely confirmed the committee’s view that cancellation was inevitable.

“Under such conditions,” noted committee chief Commander Dickson Tysley, “we simply can’t risk our riders out there. Provided the scrubbers have done their work and the streets have been cleaned up over winter months, Monkey Whatever We Are Calling It This Time will of course be back, bigger, better and less paint threatened, than ever in 2015.”

All those who have already taken advantage of Bankstone’s unmissable discount offer to splash out on a brand new monkey bike in preparation for the event, are advised to consult page 43 of the small print wherein it is stipulated quite clearly that a refund will NOT be available in the event of cancellation for whatever reason.

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August 22, 2014

In a hard-hitting numerically arranged blog in Posts Magazine, much admired Anglo-Irish essayist Jonathan Swift this week outlined exactly why driverless cars spell ruin for the motor insurance industry.

Referencing the findings of a detailed research paper by Señor Risk Manager Raul Gumby, exclusively published in Posts Magazine, Dr Swift, author of such seminal outpourings as The Tail of a Tub and Advice to a Young Pot, explains exactly how so-called robocars are going to kick seven shades of Shinola out of the motor market as we know it over the coming months and years.

1. Insurers, he said, need to adopt a new discipline known as planning “or risk extinction”. No planning = no future. Simple as that.

2. Telematics will have come and gone in no time, so don’t expect salvation from that quarter. Why bother investing in telematics technology, when the days of people driving cars will soon have ended?

3. While you’re busy working out how to do this ‘planning’ thing and then deciding what exactly it is you should be planning, expect to be hammered by massively increased legal costs and claims. Robocars will be on our streets next year and no-one has the faintest idea how the liability bit is supposed to work yet.

4. If you’re not a Lloyd’s operation, you may as well give up now. An inevitable shift in focus from personal lines to commercial is bound to favour people who have some vague idea what they are doing, and they, of course, are all working in the shiny inside-out building in EC3 and already all over the product liability piece, which is where what action remains is sure to congregate.

5. Cyber terorists will quickly work out how to simultaneously hijack entire fleets of cars and ram them into government, military, nuclear and biohazard sites at top speed (stopping off only for loading with high explosives), thus precipitating mass fatalities, societal meltdown, and quite possibly something pretty close to armageddon.

Perhaps there are fresh opportunities for insuring against that…

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August 22, 2014

Imagine a basket.

Maybe you’ll be thinking about some wire or wicker pannier type thing affixed to the front end of your pushbike. Perhaps your mind turns instead to a horizontally wall-mounted metal hoop fringed with dangly white nettage. Perhaps a fancy receptacle for chicken or scampi. Or maybe you’re picturing the infant Moses bobbing about among Nilotic rushes, from which, in turn, you may perhaps reflect, further baskets might potentially be made.

Well kindly stop all that at once. We are not talking about any of those kinds of baskets. The basket we have in mind is no ordinary basket, though at first sight it may seem unremarkable enough. No, this basket is, not to beat about the bush unduly, a magic basket.

That’s right. This basket has the power to track price changes in package and commercial vehicle policies, and its name (not to be invoked in vain or, you know, loosely bandied about) is the SME Basket.

The SME Basket is one of a set of three very special baskets used by watchmakers Accurist and fashion emporium BIBA to divine the secret workings of the insurance market. Don’t ask us how they do it, but apparently the master augurers at Accurist can tell what’s happening with rates and everything simply by contemplating these wondrous receptacles and paying close attention to the secret signs they offer up to those with eyes to see.

So what, you are probably by now impatient to learn, do these mysterious hampers have to say for themselves at this precise present point in time? When, you may indeed be wondering, exactly are we finally going to come to what must, after all, presumably be the point of this seemingly endless preambulation.

A little patience please: we are just about to tell you, if you would only refrain for a moment from such unhelpful interjectory expressions of agogness.

The Accurist-BIBA wickerwork trinity have this week revealed… that commercial vehicle rates increased by a whopping 0.2% in the second quarter of 2014, the first time they’ve gone up since the third quarter of 2012.

One of the Accurist’s diviners, a seer so shrouded in arcanity that he is referred to by Insurance Times (from whom we nicked this story) simply as Accurist Co-CEO, confides that “The small increase to commercial vehicle policies is likely to be the result of some insurers withdrawing from the market, but this is countered by continued intense competition in the property and liability elements of the index.”

One can only assume he knows what he’s talking about, but, if you think you can do better, why not get some baskets of your own and try it for yourself. We would be more than happy to publish any wickerware words of wisdom you come up with.

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August 21, 2014

Bradford East MP Dave Wart has already proved himself a monumental champion in the defence of his much put-upon constituents against the slings and arrows of outrageous motor insurance costs (see previous editions of Bankstone News).

But brave Dave isn’t done yet and this week launched another scathing attack on the somewhat expensive (sky-high to use the technical term) premiums his fellow Bradfordonians are constantly forced to fork out.

What’s got his goat in particular this time round is the latest set of figures from Alcoholics Anonymous, which show motor insurance premiums in Bratford actually rising, when virtually everywhere else has seen them almost literally plummet.

What exactly has the world, and the world, more specifically, of motor insurance, got against Bradfonians?

Whilst the average comprehensive motor insurance premium in Bradford for the three months to June 30 rose to £661.79 (up a staggering £1.37 from the equivalent figure in the previous quarter), those smug bast*rds in Harrogate paid a mere £332.10 (down 1.3% on Q1 2014), Leeds just £425.43, and even blo*dy Halif*x got away with just £586.50 (down 1.1%) and they’ve got nothing to brag about, apart from that stupid drab expanse of colonnaded cobbles they’re so up themselves about.

Dave described the AA’s shock new findings quite simply as “an indication of what we face here.” The good news, he reflected philosophically, is that premiums “are not going up by five or ten per cent every single year” but he warned Braddies that the motor insurance ‘system’ is dysfunctional, insisting that ”It is never reasonable unless it is coming down.”

Hinting that motor insurance rates represent a form of collective punishment of the kind that made people like the Gestapo so unpopular, Dave noted that “It is so unfair on many careful, safe drivers who are suffering as a result of errors, and sometimes the criminal behaviour, of others.”

Fair point there, Dave. If that’s not dysfunctional, then Bankstone News has no idea (as usual) what is!

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August 15, 2014

This week’s Bankstone News has a whole new look and feel. Obviously you’ll have to trust us on the feel bit, unless you’re reading this while hooked up to one of those vibrating internet sex suits, but we think you’ll have to agree that the look has changed pretty dramatically.

There’s a whole new typeface (not just a half or a quarter, mind) and…

Well, that would be giving away our top secret design-tweak strategy, and we’re certainly not about to play into the hands of jealous rivals by doing that! As a matter of fact, hand play of all kinds was recently banned from the Bankstone News offices as part of an initiative designed to improve hygiene and prevent time-wasting. But we digress!

The first reader who can name the visually compelling and dynamic new typeface we are exclusively debuting in this edition will be entered in a special prize draw and immediately pre-qualify to receive a lifetime’s supply of being automatically entered into an endless succession of further rounds, with real (or semi-real) £££ prizes to be won!

Answers, please, to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk. If you have any comments on our new-look format – or suggestions on how we can further update and improve it for your ultimate convenience and reading please – kindly keep them to yourself.

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August 15, 2014

Egged on by pet-foods-to-road-safety conglomerate IAMs, female friendly insurance firm Sheila’s Eels has announced plans to separate gentle vulnerable lady drivers from dangerous aggressive male ones.

In addition to protecting the safety of motoring members of the fair sex (and quite possibly boosting sales of long blonde wigs), this modest proposal for sexual apartheid on wheels should have the added advantage of significantly reducing Sheila’s claims figures and enhancing returns to investors.

Sheila’s plans involve painting individual lanes along selected sections of Britain’s road network in a stomach-charmingly lurid roseate hue, to create so-called PinkZones.

These zones will thereafter be restricted to women, and presumably, given that the PinkZone name is a registered trade mark of the British Gay Alliance, homosexual men. Whether straight males are to be allowed in these lanes as passengers was unclear as Bankstone News went to press (i.e. it was already unclear; we didn’t have to make it that way this time).

Some random statistics quoted in Sheila’s joint press release with IAMs (“Good for today. Good for life”) suggest that men cause more accidents than women, are less likely to be seriously injured in these accidents, and, curiously, are four times more likely than women to be convicted of driving a fence.

Replacing the current blurred lanes with segregated ones would keep lady drivers out of harm’s way, brighten up all those drab grey expanses of tarmac, and perhaps assuage the anxieties of Moslem groups opposed to men and women sharing road space.

What’s not to like?

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August 15, 2014

One in five Brits admits fib telling and/or truth bending when applying for motor insurance.

Sadly, the remaining four fifths, according to a fascinating new piece of research commissioned by Swiss insurance giant Zurg, still brazenly deny contributing to the overwhelming tide of duplicity and deceit that each year tricks insurers into charging too little for motor insurance.

The research also provided a valuable insight into consumers’ sales channel preferences. Of 2,000 adults surveyed, 32% said they would feel more comfortable lying online rather than over the phone.

This clearly underlines the consumer appeal of an industry-wide shift towards internet enabled insurance sale processes. Online interfaces lubricate and disinhibit the induction process, putting customers at ease and removing blockages that might otherwise obstruct the smooth and regular functioning of insurers’ customer on-boarding passageways.

Perhaps consumers’ marked reluctance to fess up to their outrageous and unprincipled mendacity, even when quizzed under an assurance of anonymity, stems from some combination of not wanting to come across like a scumbag and an uncomfortable recollection of the stern, if cautiously worded, warnings repeatedly issued by insurers that, to quote Zurg’s Phil Sot, “the consequences of being found out can be severe and maybe invalidate a policy and potentially result in claims not being paid.”

OK, the grammar’s a bit shaky, but it’s reasonably apparent from such utterances that self-incrimination might not be the wisest policy.

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August 14, 2014

Young(ish) people today have no shame.

That’s according to the latest survey from internationally respected research institute contracthairbandleasing.com, which showed that 7% of those aged 25-34 would drive away without leaving a note including their contact details after driving into someone else’s car, however serious the damage, compared with just 1% of those aged 65 or over, who routinely carry pen and paper for precisely that purpose.

The staunch moral rectitude of the post-war generation has long since gone to pot, this new research confirms, revealing also that poor people and toffs are not to be trusted, with middle-income individuals significantly more likely to come clean than those at either end of the money-earning spectrum.

Glaswegians, whatever you may have heard, turned out to be more scrupulous in owning up than residents of any other city in the UK, whilst residents of Brighton are not to be trusted with a bargepole. They’d probably use it to assault the nearest parked car, then run off cackling maniacally.

Keen to toss some pseudo-scientific theory mongery into the mix, David Timid, MD of combathireandleaping.com, proposed that failure to report post-prang might, like bullying or child abuse, be transitive, noting that regional courtesy variances “may indicate historical trends in those areas, where bad experiences of vehicle damage mean individuals are less likely to report an accident if they in turn damage another vehicle.”

Meanwhile Steve Clarke of The Foodcard People seized on an opportunity to ingratiate himself with any future Labour administration by reminding us that “Ed Balls, The shadow chancellor, has not only been caught speeding on the M62 and jumping red lights in London, but has just been fined £1,000 for hitting another car and driving off without reporting it.’

A good point well made there, Steve.

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There, right there. See what those b*st*rds did!

August 8, 2014

When specialist insurance software provider Transistor Globule Solutions Limited (TGSL) recently announced plans to open a new office in or near Halifax, bar-room piano players the length and breadth of Silicon Dale abruptly left off in the midst of their tunelessly tinkly key-thrumming.

Halifax is SSP territory. How would they feel about a direct rival setting up shop on their very doorstep? Would they take it lying down? Nobody thought so for a minute. Bystanders melted quietly away, abandoning the cobbled streets of the former wool town to wind-wafted fast food wrappers.

With TGSL sending out provocative messages about “immediate employment opportunities arising from the opening of new offices” (for folk including salespersons, project managers, project administrators, business analysts, technical underwriters, and EDI analysts), the potential for a very messy showdown seemed only to obvious.

Spokespeople for SSP and TGSL neither confirmed nor denied that Halifax is big enough for the both of them.

Largely because we didn’t bother asking them.

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August 8, 2014

Oh for heaven’s sake, what is the matter with you people?! Since nobody has correctly guessed the identity of the mystery dirty car driver in the two previous rounds of our exciting “guess the dirty car driver” competition, Bankstone News is obviously going to have to make it a bit easier for you.

What you probably need to nudge you, politely but firmly, a little further down the path to enlightenment is some live-action video footage of the mystery driver doing his thing. Better yet: some video footage posted on a YouTube channel belonging to a user whose name might just prove suggestive to you, Dear Reader, of the correct answer to our competition.

If you can’t get it after watching this, then frankly you don’t deserve to win our unspecified and possibly non-existent prize.

No offence. Not trying to be funny or anything. But you really don’t, though, do you.

Safari - Welsh Hill Rally 2014 incar stage 6 - YouTube copy

Click on the image above to feel mildly nauseous.

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