FCA II: Search for a Mission

July 25, 2016

Financial services regulator the FCA has admitted that unlike God – an entity from which it has not previously been at any obvious pains to differentiate itself – it lacks the power of omnipresence.

“We cannot be everywhere,” confessed recently appointed FCA top honcho Andrew ‘Andy B’ Baileys. This abandonment of all pretence to ubiquity appears to have convinced Bailey that the body he heads could do with some kind of a mission or something – so everyone knows what it’s trying to do.

Clearly struggling for inspiration, the FCA is inviting what it describes as “intensive public consultation”. So if you feel strongly, for example, that the FCA should be all about making sure bank staff dress appropriately for St Patrick’s Day, Halloween. National Hula Day and Christmas – or that highstreet insurance brokers should be obliged to offer free cream teas to all customers visiting their branches – now is the time to speak out.

The FCA is supposed to regulate 56,000 firms, Baileys complains. Now, clearly, that’s never going to happen, so perhaps it really is best we all just agree a more sensible mission – just narrow it down to a couple of easily achieved objectives and call it a day at that.

Obviously we are not all going to agree on precisely what sort of a mission it would be good for the FCA to have. “I recognise that there will be sharply contrasting views on these issues, but it seems to me that the success of the FCA depends on being able to establish its mission and thus a basis for public accountability,” Baileys accepts.

But perhaps if enough of us consult intensively to the effect that we’d rather the FCA went away and looked exclusively at banks – or maybe pay-day loan outfits and merchant bankers – we could claim a people’s-will type mandate and see the interfering b*ggers off for good.


July 25, 2016

Dirtquake: is it a time, a place, a motion? Is it the way we are feeling? Actually, it’s none of those. Dirtquake, more specifically, Dirtquake V (as in five written the swanky Ancient Roman way) is this event they hold every year at the Adrian Flux Arena in Norfolk metropolis King’s Landing, where loads of people off the street with random bikes charge around a dirt track for the hell of it.

But Dirtquake was very much the way Bankstone top gun Dixie Tombstone was feeling the other week when he attended this top amateur dirting event (as a guest of everybody’s favourite bike insurance provider Bikesure) and there encountered (his fellow guest) the fragrant Selina Lavender, chairwoman of volunteer-led riders’ rights association the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG).

Desperate for any opportunity to spend more time in Ms Lavender’s company, Dix blurted out his newly-formed long-held desire that Bankstone should become a corporate member of the aforementioned MAG. Graciously, Ms L agreed to have her people contact Mr Tombstone about his membership application, before hastening off to talk to former Creedence Clearwater frontman Carl Fogarty who was also there as a guest of Bikesure.

If all goes well with Bankstone’s application, and no-one becomes suspicious of Mr T’s motivations in submitting it, we hope to announce Bankstones’s corporate membership of MAG in the near future. In the meantime, may we just say that anyone who has not previously witnessed the mayhem that is Dirtquake (like an earthquake – but with dirt) really needs to get themselves along to King’s Landing next year.

Where else are you going to see rank amateurs and pros alike racing choppers, Harleys, “inappropriate” road bikes, street scramblers or – apparently – ladies round and round one of the country’s top bits of dirt!

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Guy Martin: what the forks?!

July 24, 2016

Biased and unreliable lawyers’ rag The Legal Gazebo has this weekend stooped well below even its own dismal standards to report trumped up “government statistics” concocted via a Femdom of Infotainment (FOI) request submitted by truth-distorting special interest group the Association of Personal Injury Liars (APIL) purporting to show that whiplash claims are fast becoming an endangered species.

APIL have somehow selectively quoted and ‘massaged’ the FOI figures to suggest there has been a fall of more than 10% over the past year in the number of personal injury claims in relation to which the compensating party applied the term ‘whiplash’.

According to APIL’s surely suspect FOI request there were 335,365 claims with whiplash in the description field in 2015/16, compared with 376,513 in 2014/15 and 488,281 in 2012/13. But clearly there’s been some tampering going on there.

Much as outgoing War on Whiplash commandant the late lamented George ‘Gio’ Osborne (Gee-Gee to older friends who choose to recall his original first, now second, name), would have loved this to be true, it clearly isn’t.

Whiplash is as much a scourge as ever – and if compensators aren’t calling it that anymore it’s probably because they’re taking cervical soft tissue injuries more seriously than ever and carefully avoiding creating the wrong impression by appearing to apply a pejorative term that might seem to belittle or dismiss claimants’ injuries.

In the meantime we can only pray that Gio’s rough ejection, at the hands of former glamour model Tereeza May, will not interfere with the swift introduction of promised WoW initiatives like scrapping general damages for minor “soft tissue” injuries, reducing the small clams limit to £5k for personal injury claims and transporting would-be claimants to the colonies – as soon as we’ve officially reclaimed them.

Any let up in the WoW risks derailing the hugely benign rating environment in which decent honest whiplash-free motor policyholders are seeing their premiums go up only by a perfectly reasonable, affordable and understandable amount.


July 23, 2016

Sometimes as the editor of a news organ brandished in the general direction of the insurance industry, you just know you have something pretty explosive in your hands. That is surely how Insurance Tights editor Norman West must have felt when research firm Consumer Intelligence offered him the exclusive right to publish utterly shocking new research ‘findings’ proving unequivocally that motor insurance customer service is quite literally going to pot.

Yes, that’s right, you read it here second: in the 24 months to June 2016, the motor insurance industry’s claims satisfaction score has fallen by a massive 2%, from 8.3 to just 8.1. “It’s like customer satisfaction has quite literally gone off a cliff,” commented someone we just mentioned this to in the office. And so it is. Maybe even worse than that.

Naturally, Insurance Thighs had a field day with this shocking revelation. Seeking deeper insight, the magazine went straight to the horse’s mouth, quoting Ian Huge of Costumier Intelligence who attributed this massive decline in people being OK with how their claims were handled to mass panic among insurers hell bent on finding their next fix of profit, quite literally, any way they can. The shock decline, Huge said, “is symptomatic of a period of austerity in the motor claims market as insurers search desperately for profitability.”

Penny pinching cash-strapped insurers are frantically stripping out costs wherever they can, as they quite literally wibble and throb with abject terror at the prospect of not making any money, again. “The industry is under an increasing amount of pressure due to costs,” Huge explains. Something had to give, and that something, these damning new figures clearly show, was the poor old customer!

“The other thing,” Huge revealed to Insurance Ties is that the War on Claims is starting to impact claimant satisfaction as many making claims discover to their chagrin that the tide has turned against them. Gone are the cheap and easy “euphoric highs,” Huge confides, “of receiving compensation cheques for injuries in the post.” This, he claims, could also be impacting the overall quantum of satisfaction motorists derive from their interface with motor insurance providers.

Even well-established brands are floundering, Huge points out, with M&S experiencing a massive 0.3 point decline in customer pleasure, a precipitous drop which Huge suggests may be something to do with people generally going off M&S a bit lately.

Be that as it may, there could yet be a glimmer of hope amidst this desolation…

Huge detects an opportunity for far-sighted insurance providers to stand out by offering a superior claims service amidst the prevailing pattern of cavalier contempt and discourtesy. Even something as simple as picking up the phone every now and then – or paying the occasional claim – could soon be enough to mark you out as the provider of choice for all those consumers diligently poring over Consumer Intelligent’s latest research research findings whenever they next come out.

So come on, Insurance Providers: what are you waiting for. Now’s you chance to shine out like a beckoning beacon against the general gloom of consumer despair and disappointment.

Of course, if you really want to improve your claims service, you could always try contacting these people.

gone for lunch

July 15, 2016

If you enjoyed our recent news item on charity receptacles (see Bankstone News Issue 342), you may be interested to learn that the sale of items from the Insurance Charities Awareness Week (ICAW) box prominently displayed in the leading professional outsourced claims provider’s office the other week has raised no less than £[insert wildly exaggerated, but not entirely implausible number here].

That’s a pretty impressive achievement, we feel sure you will agree! Emma Banger of ICAW certainly did. She singled Bankstone out for particular praise, penning a fulsome letter of heatfelt thanks in which she wrote: “Dear <firstname>, we hope you enjoyed the items in this year’s boxes and they gave you and your colleagues a greater understanding of who we are, what we do and how we can potentially help.”

Bankstone News can’t imagine what made the dear girl imagine Bankstone would need help from an insurance charity, but it was a lovely thought all the same!

Her charming letter went on to confide that “this year we sent our display boxes to over 225 insurance offices across the UK and Ireland, reaching potentially over 30,000 insurance and insurance related employees.”

Bankstone News doesn’t know about all those other insurance offices, but she certainly reached us!

Can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

If you would like to know more about ICAW (it only sounds like an electronic raven), click here and thoroughly assuage your curiosity.


July 15, 2016

Which of us has not, every once in a while, taken a long hard look at ourselves and (having perhaps just staggered blearily naked from the shag-piled splendour of our penthouse bachelor love nest boudoir – roused perhaps by an urgent if booze-dulled small-hours urge to void our naggingly distended bladder – into the discretely illuminated underfloor-heated ox-blood marble expanse of the adjoining bathroom, only to catch an unsettling off-guard glimpse, in the full length bronze tinted mirror, of unposed loosely fitting flesh and limp-sinewed corporeal superfluity) concluded that a bit of right-sizing might be in order?

Just as it’s a time honoured truth that nobody likes a fatty, so the world of business and commerce has little time for bloated corporates. With this eternal truth, perhaps, in mind, sinister EU-based insurer Allez-Antz is getting back to total beach-body readiness this summer by trimming fat left right and centre. For fat, read unsightly excess employees.

Having only the other day, publicly congratulated itself on putting 170 jobs at risk, with its plans to kick its self-destructive and degenerate direct home and motor habit, Allez-Antz is now set on at-risking another 80 positions as it right-sizes its operations, technical, and market management functions.

Jon “JD” Die, Allez-Antz’ UK top dog, said the purge would “ensure that our organisation is the right size and right shape to support our future competitiveness” and make it more profitable.

The desire to right-size down to Leni-Riefenstahl-style upright muscular spareness of physique sounds laudable, doesn’t it. Laudable, that is, until you reflect that all that blubber getting trimmed consists of decent hard-working British people, just like you and me. Most of them. Probably.

Not for such people is this so much a laughing matter!


July 15, 2016

You know what really p*sses Bankstone News off? Idiots on pushbikes, that’s what. Not being funny, but wouldn’t the world be a better place without them? Obviously not that Chris Vroom bloke, who sometimes uses a bike on that Tour de France thing, or Chris Boorman who makes the bikes for Halfords, or whoever that one with the sideburns is. But frankly all the others: would anyone seriously miss them!

Bankstone News certainly wouldn’t. Cluttering up the road with their nasty little lycra arses, two or three abreast, bobbing up and down, squirming sweatily from side to side as they pant and heave their snails-pace way up Rosedale Chimney. Get out of our right-thinking way, you ponce-faced petrol dodgers! That’s what Bankstone News thinks. And it seems we’re not alone.

According to a survey of literally thousands of people commissioned by Alcoholics Anonymous, slow-moving groups of cyclists (as if there were any other kind!) are the second most annoying thing on Britain’s summer roads. Weirdly, a lot of folk (more than one in four of them) seem to have their knickers in a twist about people chucking litter out of their windows while out motoring.

But what else are you going to do with your Happy Burger wrappers, cups and straws, fag packs, used nodders etc? It’s not like cars have bins in them! And, frankly, it’s all biodegradable in the end. Sooner or later.

So, yeah, can’t really see that one. What else? The Oasis backlash seems to be continuing, with dodgy parkas coming in at Number 3 in the AA’s pet hates for summer list. There’s caravans, dawdlers, tourists – that sort of thing – see list below. And apparently some people find half-naked drivers a “turn off”. Depends who’s driving, we say here at Bankstone News, if you know what we mean!

1.      Litter louts

2.      Groups of cyclists

3.      Dodgy parkers

4.      Slow caravans

5.      Ghetto blasters

6.      Dawdling drivers

7.      Sightseers

8.      Tractor Boys [People from Norfolk?]

9.      Overloaded cars

10.     Motorcyclists

Commenting on this ridiculous and pointless list he’s just paid some research firm shedloads of money to concoct for him, AA president Edmond Kingobe comes on all po-faced and nannyish, insisting drivers need to “bag it and bin it at home” and “be more patient in the summer on the roads – because anything can happen.”

That’s the sort of b*ll*cks you’d expect from Ellie “I like to put on a little girly voice and yodel while I flash my knick-knacks” Goulding.

Eddie K should know better!


July 14, 2016

The English people have spoken. And we’ve made it abundantly clear we’re not interested in so-called access to justice. What decent hardworking people in this country want is cheaper car insurance. And now that Tereeza May has thrown out David “reason will prevail” Cameron and his Lord Snooty “all in this together” chums and brought together a crack team of all the “talents”, there should be nothing to stop UK.gov from delivering it. Let’s crack on with the War on Claims and give the people what they’re asking for!

There’s clearly work to do, though. Only this week the highly respected Confusing Towels insurance price index pricing indicator revealed that motor insurance premiums rose by almost a fifth in Q2 2016. That’s the biggest annual rise since 2011. Steve Jones, head of P&C at WTW (the new name for Towels What’s On) reckons it all down to car manufacturers having made all their vehicles too complicated since Q1 and them all suddenly being a lot more expensive to repair.

But I think we all know the real reason: it’s because malingering miscreants up and down the land are still being allowed to make motor insurance claims when there’s basically no good reason why they should.

And when claim-makers are hurting British motorists where they especially don’t want to be hurt, on a literally epic scale, it’s no time for splitting hairs over bad claims and so-called good claims. If we tolerate one claim, another will surely follow in its wake and premiums will carry on going up.

The claims question demands a solution that won’t just be temporary. The time to act is now. Before motor insurance become completely unaffordable and we all have to stop driving. And then we’ll all be stuck at home with nothing to do – or reduced to riding around on bicycles or something. Which would probably be worse. At least if you’re at home you could go on the Playstation or build a model horse out of pasta or something.

All of which makes it the mother of all regretabilities that some self-appointed lobby group styling itself the Law Society has teamed up with notorious ambulance chasers the Association of Personal Injury Liars (APIL) and the Motor Accident Scroungers Society (MASS) to argue AGAINST government plans to crack the whip on whiplash.

This bunch reckon newly appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer Phil Hammond should “think again” about his predecessor’s plans to scrap general damages for minor soft-tissue injuries and increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000 (thereby depriving would-be whiplash claimants of the oxygen of legal representation).

Restricting people’s legal rights, they claim, ”will penalise honest claimants who have been genuinely injured and have legitimate claims.” Honest claimants? Are they serious?

Well, all you solicitor types can just suck it up! That’s what we say here at Bankstone News. If you’re so bothered about not having any work to do helping people pretend their necks are all sore, take a course on international trade negotiations. Plenty of work going for lawyers in that particular field right now.


July 1, 2016

Now, don’t get Bankstone News wrong. We’re as patriotic as hell here at BN Towers, with a loathing of outsiders that starts off, somewhere between here and Rastrick, at ‘violent hatred’ , and gathers strength quickly from there.

As such, we yield to no man (nor woman neither) in our loathing of experts. When we spot someone with so-called credentials, we struggle not to puke right there on the spot. But just occasionally it’s worth making an exception – especially if the experts concerned are actually quite entertaining.

On which note, if you’re planning to go to the Edinburgh Festival this year, be sure to find time to check out smash-hit ‘entercation’ sensation “Deal Medicine for Murder”. Please note however that the show involves not one, not two, not three, but four “doctors of medicine” (the kind you get in hospitals, in general practice, on TV etc.) in other words, experts.

The good news is: two of them are dead. The ones that are still alive sit on stools like Dave Allen and talk about the multiple murders committed by the dead ones and why they did what they did. But in a really entertaining way. Honestly. It’s had great reviews. Like this one. And this one, which we did ourselves, as it happens.

So, stepping back a bit, the dead doctors are: Dr Harold Shipman and Dr John “The Bodkin” Adams. The live doctors are: Harry “Doctor Fingers” Brunjes and Dr Andrew Johns. And, basically, what the live ones do is juxtapose, compare, and contrast the respective careers of Shipman and Adams, with particular reference to their background, arrest, trial, legacy and psychopathology, interspersing their hilarious yet erudite reflections and analysis and film footage and accounts from contemporaneous news sources.

If that doesn’t sound right up your street, you must be living in the wrong place!

This unmissable show can not be missed at midday on the 24/25/26th of August at top Festival venue the Gelded Baboon. Click here to purchase your tickets now.

Do it now. Or who knows what might happen. You never really know where you stand with a doctor. Them and their so-called ‘expertise’. It’s a force for evil, I’m telling you.

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July 1, 2016

Scarcely a week goes by here at the Bankstone News Newsroom without fresh tidings of yet another hilariously inept attempt at motor insurance fraud.

This week’s preposterous tale involves Llandeilo burger van baron Kirk William Dickup-Lewis, 61, who contacted insurance provider FU Mutual in August 2013 to lodge a supremely optimistic and somewhat less than entirely truthful claim for £300,000 compensation in respect of damage supposedly caused to two of his vans by a wayward tractor.

At first sight, his story must have seemed entirely plausible. A neighbour, Dickup-Lewis alleged, had been carrying out some work on his fence when he forgot to leave the brakes on as he hopped down from the cab for a fag break or something, thus accidentally allowing said tractor to career backwards down an incline. This turned out to be the dramatic prelude to the farm vehicle’s striking, not one, but two of Lewis’ treasured vans where they stood innocently parked-up in his yard. Upon the neighbour’s wandering down to the scene of the impact and thereafter attempting to drive his tractor back up the hill, Lewis claimed, both vans abruptly burst into flame, with such vigour that the neighbour reluctantly concluded there was nothing to be done but let the conflagration take its course. Net result: two state-of-the-art catering vans utterly destroyed, and all their priceless kit gone with them.

So far so verisimilitudinous, you’re probably thinking. It’s the kind of thing that happens every day in places like South Wales. But what made FU Mutual just the tiniest bit curious were the eye-watering values greedy Lewis attached to his vans. The pair – plus all the top of the range kit with which he said he’d fitted them out – were worth, Lewis contended, not a penny less than £167,000. And then, of course, there was the small but regrettably inescapable matter of the £150,000 loss of earnings Lewis would inevitably incur due to the out-of-action-ness of the incinerated vehicles.

Hullo Bryn,” some FU Mutual bloke, will probably have said down a phone line some time after the claim came in, “We’ve got a chap in Llandeilo we’d like you to pop down and have a little chat with…

Upon arrival at Lewis’ Carmarthenshire compound, Bryn, or whatever the claims inspector’s name really was, was told “Oh, yes, those vans have been, um, sold,” or some such nonsense. When asked if he could provide details of said transaction and/or supply their respective Vehicle Identification Numbers, Lewis was evasive on the first point and confessed, with a heavy heart, that the VINs had, alas, been utterly consumed in the raging inferno in which the vans had been so tragically immolated.

When FU Mutual subsequently asked Lewis to provide evidence of the purchase values of the vehicles for which he was claiming (or at least evidence of their having existed in the first place), he was initially unable to produce any kind of documentation. Shortly thereafter, however, Lewis reported that invoices for both vehicles had happily come to light. Regrettably, upon closer inspection these invoices turned out to be but artless forgeries, leaving FU Mutual with little choice but to call in the FEDs (a crack team of fraud-busting superheroes based in faraway London).

No, wait, pleaded Lewis, I’ve just remembered, I bought those vans from some travellers. Those invoices I sent you were for some other vans that someone else must have bought and left the invoices lying around where I found them. If those weren’t boner fido invoices, it’s nothing to do with me. In fact, the people I bought those vans from might have been the same travellers I sold them to after they’d been torched. You never know with travellers. That’s why I couldn’t show you any paperwork, you see. It’s like those hippies up in Tipi Valley. They’re a queer lot and no mistake. There was this one time…”

But even as Lewis twisted pitifully in the onrushing winds of justice and truth, the sound of sirens howled and echoed around the western outcrops of the Brecon Beacons and the net was finally closing around this would-be über-fraudster.

On 17 June this year Lewis was duly sentenced to be suspended for two years and ordered to pay £37,464 in costs to FU Mutual, £2,800 in court costs and – perhaps most dauntingly – a victim surcharge of £100.

DC Amen Taylor of the FEDs said Lewis was nothing but a dirty rotten liar and that his actions “should serve as a warning to anyone to think twice before making false insurance claims.” Thinking even once might have given Lewis a better chance of success with his ill-fated fraudulousness. But second thoughts, one feels we may safely assume, would have been way beyond his intellectual capabilities.

FU Mutual fraud manager Rob Spiegelhalter said: “The court’s decision sends a strong message to those who might be tempted to commit insurance fraud.” That message, presumably, is get your story straight and your paperwork in order before you go claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds from your neighbour’s insurer.


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