Wee Joe is Go (ish)

December 8, 2014

Regular readers may recall how, back in September, Bankstone News reported delays to the launch of would-be mould-breaking telematics aggregator Wee Joe.

They may further recall that Wee Joe was threatening to “shake-up” of the world of motor insurance with a revolutionary combination of telematics, price comparison, and lifestyle-based recommendations and offers.

Back then, Wee Joe pushed back its launch date to some unspecified point in the future while it persevered in trying to make the bl**dy thing work, aka: “making sure every element is fine-tuned before we launch to the general public.”

The delays, Wee Joe said, would also allow it to spend some time “exploring some exciting new elements”. One such new element, as it turns out, was back-burnering the whole telematics bit.

Wee Joe is now officially live, proudly offering quotes from around 90 insurers, in much the same way all those other comparison sites do, but with the added benefit of a ‘free’ app (coming soon, according to the Wee Joe website) that allows users to give away all their driving data in return for a somewhat nebulous offer of ‘discounts, offers and freebies’.

Those who download the app will get to find out whether they are driving nicely (though good behaviour won’t get them money off their premiums) and have personalised location-specific advice and sales messages delivered straight to their phones, wherever they go.

“If the consumer doesn’t mind giving us their data,” Wee Joe top man Dick Barlow has said, the Wee Joe app will save users money and try to flog them stuff at special low-low prices.

If, on the other hand, the consumer turns out not to be all that keen on handing over their data, Wee Joe can presumably carry on doing what it’s doing right now: i.e. not much.


December 8, 2014

Mind blowing new research findings unveiled this week by vehicle-to-business technology provider In-Car Cleverness prove conclusively that people are more likely to have high speed collisions (in their cars) at times of day when people tend to drive faster.

As astonishing as it that may sound, the guys at Inca Cleverness have analized one year’s data from almost 900 rental cars to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the average speed of collision peaks at 2am when the roads are clear of traffic.

Exactly how many of the 900 vehicles analised were out burning rubber and crashing into things in the wee small hours, ICC does not reveal. Nor whose fleet it was coming to high speed nocturnal grief on what, we may safely assume, was at least one and possibly several occasions.

ICC reckon the average speed of a 2am prang is 36mph per participating vehicle, compared with a mere 24mph at 8pm when there’s still some traffic about and folks are mostly feeling mellow, or 32mph during the rush hour when the traffic’s heavier, but folks are feeling anything but mellow, and are, in fact, not to put to fine a point on it, rushing.

ICC Commercial Director Timothy Heaves explains why people crash faster after dark: “Motorists are taking more risks when driving at night, when they can take advantage of the light traffic, but when tiredness and the absence of daylight makes conditions more conducive to accidents.”

If people must crash in your fleet vehicles, it is always preferable to have them do so slowly, Timothy advises. “Driving at higher speeds results in a greater impact and, should a collision take place, the consequences for the vehicle occupants and the fleet overheads are inevitably worse.”

Yes, yes, we know it’s all a bit technical, but if you can follow the argument, Bankstone News thinks you will probably agree that it’s amazing the things they can find out these days with science and stuff.

Driving at night

December 2, 2014

Yes, it really is that time of year again. Giant Coke trucks will soon be rolling across our screens as we gawp, swill Baileys, and blindly grope amongst the ever-disappointing contents of a box of heritage-themed Coronation Street chocolates.

Have you got your tree up yet? I know. I know. We’re not bothering with a real one this year either. All those needles! We’re getting the whole lot from Iceland again this year. Brian’s in for his hernia on the 18th, so it’ll just be us at home this year.

While we’re on the subject of Christmas, Bankstone News thought you might appreciate a sneaky peek at this year’s Bankstone Christmas card. Its unique design features a wintry view of renowned local landmark Dolly’s Knob seen from Crotch Lane below Crapper’s Rill.

We hope this snowy vista will put you properly in the mood for all the holiday fun to come. If we like you, or we think we might get some business out of you or something, you’ll probably be getting your own copy in the post sometime soon. If not you could always print this one off and fold it.

In the meantime, may we be amongst the very first to wish you A Very Merry Christmas from everyone at Bankstone News (and almost everyone at Bankstone, while we’re at it).

Preview - 27206BankStoneXmasCard_Layout 1 (page 1 of 3) copy

December 1, 2014

Printed books have well and truly had their day. They’ve had it, worn it out, watched in horror as it finally expired, vainly tried to resurrect it, then carried its limp form around for days, cooing fondly and petting it, like some mad old lady with a lifeless lapdog.

So ‘over’ are books, that Bankstone News’ kids would rather do the washing up than pick one up. Where once a shelf or two of well thumbed books proclaimed your learning, taste and discrimination, today they just scream ‘Weirdo’. Books, comme en dit chez AXA, are terminally vieux chapeau.

Motivated perhaps by something of this contemporary contempt for the bound printed word, or perhaps simply by the realisation that they were never going to get round to looking at them anyway, Southport-based biker-solicitors Fletchers have taken the bold decision to ditch their entire collection.

Rather than binning, burning, recycling, or fobbing them off on a local charity shop, Fetchers have donated their books to Liverpool Edge Hill University, the kind of dusty institution where, allegedly, die-hard bibliophile academics may still be found pawing lovingly at one ancient tome or another.

A press release celebrating this generous bequest explains that the move will boost Feltchers’ drive to becoming entirely paperless, thus reducing their impact on the environment – as well, presumably, as freeing up space for another desk or two.

Edge Hill will doubtless be delighted to get its collective hands on of all those books. Some of which, reportedly, haven’t even been coloured in yet.


December 1, 2014

Many French baby boomers, or bébés explosants as they are of course known in that country, cherish fond memories of a Wild-West fixated childhood in which the Belgium-born spur-heeled white-stetson-sporting righter of wrongs Lucky Luke featured large. Perhaps not altogether coincidentally, garlic tinged insurance giant AXA has latterly taken to doing what the French call ‘portant le chapeau blanc’ i.e. setting an impeccable moral example to the world at large.

The latest, perhaps most controversial, manifestation of which is throwing open its book of excuses for not paying claims to anyone who cares to take a peek. It has long been known, or at least suspected, that every insurance company has one of these. But now AXA has ‘terrorisé les colombes avec un chaton’ by revealing theirs for all to see. Less scrupulous insurers may be tempted to view this as transparency gone mad (l’insanité de l’invisiblité).

According to leading industry journal Insurance Tights, AXA has ‘launched an initiative to help brokers improve their client’s understanding of what is and isn’t covered by a policy,’ a document that will doubtless be welcomed not only by those brokers with but a single client, but also by those with more th>n one. The initiative has been branded Making Claims Clear (or, as they would say in Paris, Faisant Disparaître les Revendications).

The move has the backing of leading fashion house BIBA, whose chief exec Steve Wipe welcomes the clean up, commenting “These new guides from AXA will play a key role in enhancing clarity with customers.” Sounding suspiciously like a politician, AXA’s Martin Assfield adds that “As an insurer, we have a responsibility to be absolutely clear with our customers about what cover they can and cannot expect” and says the guides will help avoid ‘largely needless friction’.

Largely needless, of course, because at the end of the day we all need a bit of friction, don’t we.


November 30, 2014

It’s always nice to read something an insurance salesman has taken the trouble to write all by themselves. Bankstone News had the chance to do exactly that, at least it thinks it did, when the latest issue of forward-looking law mag Legal Futures gave Stevie Rowley of Alley Ants Legal Protection a public platform from which to air his views.

Given that the piece was headed “ATE insurance! What is it good for?” BN jumped to the lazy assumption that Stevie wasn’t a big ATE fan. How wrong that turned out to be! “Unlike the Edwin Starr’s 1970’s song ‘War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing’,” Stevie writes, “I hope you’ll agree that the same cannot be said for ATE insurance, which continues to provide valuable protection for customers and law firms, even post LASPO.”

Stunned at having its expectations so abruptly and comprehensively overturned, BN struggled to take in what had just happened. Edwin Starr’s song asserts categorically that war is good for nothing. What Stevie is about to do, however, (unlike the song) is to suggest that ATE insurance is good for something (i.e. protecting customers and law firms “even post LASBO”).

The rhetorical flourish is quite breathtaking. With his strikingly apt popular culture reference (perhaps it was playing on his stereo system as he wrote?) and his engagingly counterdirectional line of argument, Stevie had Bankstone News hooked right from the off.

Having had this tempting taster, BN feels sure you’ll want to read the piece yourself. So we’ll try not to spoil it for you; but essentially Stevie argues that although it’s possible that “the goal posts may have moved” post LASBO, “the need to ensure the client is aware of their risk exposure when bringing a claim for damages is still prevalent”.

“The question now, however” he suggests like some latter-day Prince of Denmark, going on generously to propose several questions for the price of one, is: “at what point in the legal journey is the client at risk, to what extent is ATE insurance provided, and how much of this risk is the law firm prepared to absorb, or is capable of absorbing.”

Or is capable of absorbing… Aye, there’s the rub! Stevie brings his meaning vividly to life by comparing a law firm to a human foot. “There is no longer a ‘one shoe fits all’ approach to ATE insurance” he affirms reassuringly, like some wise old cobbler. What law firms need to do, he insists, is they “need to understand their own risk exposure, as well as that of their customers.”

Now, when it comes to law firms and insurance, Stevie’s clearly an observant commentator. “I’ve noticed,” he reveals, “that law firms tend to have a number of insurance arrangements, with differing ATE providers for the same case type, which leads to cover being arranged on a standalone basis.”

This, he admonishes gently, is no way to carry on. Stopping diplomatically short of deriding his prospective customers’ judgement, Stevie explains that law firms really need to bundle up all their ATE purchasing requirements and come to Alley Ants Legal Protection with them. That way, he reveals, they can benefit from the manifold advantages of “insuring by portfolio”.

What are those benefits, you may ask. Bankstone News would not deny you the pleasure of finding out for yourself. But we won’t be spoiling your pleasure too much by revealing that they involve elements of flexing, making overarching customer propositions more compelling, and supporting law firms’ “growth strategy and ambition”.

Plus some welcome premium income for Stevie and his team.

A true win-win, you’ll probably conclude.


Edwin Starr performing (possibly) his smash hit single “War, huh, yeah, What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, Woah-woah-woah-woh, War, huh, yeah, What is it good for? Absolutely nothing” back in the 1970’s.


November 24, 2014

Distinguishing between an extra arrow and a magic wand is a vital skill for anyone hoping to distinguish themselves in the legal profession, and one in which DWF partner Simon Denier is clearly not deficient.

Independent legal panels empowered to decide who (if anyone) actually has the fictional affliction whiplash, and other government initiatives designed to turn back the tide of trumped-up claims, Denier claims, collectively constitute “an extra arrow for insurers to use”.

They are not, however, he warns, “a magic wand”, by which he means, presumably, something like a staff of disappearance or baton of banishment, rather than the handy tool in image manipulation software Photoshop that selects pixels based on tone and colour.

Starting to show off just a little, Denier goes on to introduce a secondary distinction between legal reforms (aka an extra arrow) and a ‘silver bullet’.

For the benefit of readers on whom the precise implications of the latter distinction may be lost: simply recall that silver bullets can be used to dispatch werewolves (definitely), zombies (possibly), and whiplash claimants (hopefully).

For now, sadly, insurers are going to have to forget about bullets and wands, and content themselves with the aforementioned extra arrow as they struggle to regain the initiative in the War on Whiplash.

Latest reports from the WoW front line suggest all is not going well. The singing, dancing and slashing of motor insurance premiums that greeted the introduction of HMG’s LASBO reforms in April last year looks more than a trifle premature in hindsight.

Whiplash claims, we learned this week, have snapped back to pre-LASBO levels, with the MoJ’s Total Outstanding Whiplash Entry ledger (TOWEL) flicking upwards by 17% during October to 80,341 (compared with a mere 68,839 for the same period last year), its sixth successive increase, in as many months, obviously.

So, basically, the government had better pull its flaming socks up in pretty damned short order, or one or two insurance companies are going to have some not altogether unharsh words to say about it.

Enough with the arrows (extra or otherwise). What we need now is a howitzer.


November 21, 2014

Accident Exchange, the company that helps motorists (temporarily) exchange their current vehicle for a different one to drive about in when they’ve had a non-fault accident, unveiled an ‘eye watering’ statistic this week, with the revelation that precisely 1,273 parking prangs occur in the UK every day.

Even allowing for the fact that there are around 10,800 accidents daily that don’t involve anyone parking or trying to park, that certainly is a pretty ‘eye watering’ statistic, underlining, as it does, the literally terrifying risks we take each time attempt to park our vehicles or leave them parked somewhere where others might attempt to park adjacently.

Only rear-end shunts (most of which are not real accidents at all but the work of fraudsmen) surpass park-prangs in the CCC (Claims-Causing Collision) incident frequency table rankings compiled each month by the Auto Collision Damage Council (ACDC).

“UK drivers cause nearly three quarters of a billion pounds of damage annually simply by parking their cars,” warns a spokesperson for Accidental Sexchange. But apparently it’s not really the drivers’ fault.

Why? Because cars are getting wider and wider with every passing year, and because motor manufacturers are gradually phasing out car windows in favour distance-sensing parking aids and, ultimately, cars that drive themselves.

The fact that cars are now, on average, approximately one metre wider than the spaces in which we are supposed to park them, and are virtually impossible (as Boxster owners will confirm) to see out of, effectively absolves their drivers of any blame for parking ‘mishaps’.

So perhaps we should all get replacement vehicles following parking accidents, regardless of our status as either pranger or prangee.



November 20, 2014

In the final analysis, there’s really very little difference between people and cars. Sure, people have legs and arms and favour sexual reproduction, whereas cars have wheels and don’t. But, setting aside such quibbling niceties, they’re more or less identical really.

Recognising this fundamental truth, Tory pear Lord Hunt of Weasel this week proposed introducing a new legal requirement that, rather than being given money, accident-damaged human beings should simply have their patch-up paid for.

The solicitor lord reckons insurers should be focusing on ‘getting people better rather than paying them cash that isn’t then used for treatment’ and presumably on the thankless task of trying to scrape an honest crust in the face of a rampant compensation culture.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong (medically) with most motor PI claimants. But, Hunt urged, ‘we should encourage people with genuine minor injuries simply to make a claim to repair their body rather than for cash.’

‘After all,’ he notes pithily ‘we get the car repaired, why not the body as well?’

Why not, indeed!


November 17, 2014

Bankstone News has been almost literally besieged this week by communications of one kind or another from various persons frustrated at what they complained was the unhelpfully small scale at which the nasal portrait accompanying last week’s Name the Nose competition was reproduced.

Never accuse Bankstone News of being slow to bend over backwards to please its readers. Here, in, if not all, then at least a pretty fair proportion of its glory, we bring you the mystery nose as big as we can possibly make it. No it’s not huge. Yes, its a tad pixelated. But this is honestly the best we can do.

If you still can’t guess whose noble proboscis is here depicted, fear not: there’ll be plenty more like it in coming weeks, unless either a) reason prevails or b) we can be bothered to bring you some proper news instead.

Enter now, and that giant luxury cheese sculpture could be yours!

Answers, please, as ever, to editor@bankstone-news.co.uk.

Preview - nose copy

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