Small print aversion shock

August 30, 2016

It’s a well established fact that people responding to surveys – even when doing so with the absolute assurance of anonymity – will tailor their answers to conform with whatever they believe their questioners want or expect to hear, and to mask any anticipated falling short from what they imagine an acceptable norm might be.

With that in mind, insurers SumLife are doubtless being wildly optimistic when they report – as they have this week – that 85% of the policy information insurers send out goes unread, or as Insurance Tides’ charmingly eccentric subeditors would have it: “people only read 15% of insurance policies”. Presumably they just read the good ones.

The average insurance policy contains around 25,000 words, which SunLite reckon ought to take the average policyholder around three hours to read over briskly. In reality, the insurer complains, the average person (even allowing for arse-covering overstatement) commits less than half an hour to the act of perusal.

The study looked at general as well as life insurance policies, concluding that the former may require as little as a couple of hours to plough through, while the latter can often take between three and four hours. But however you look at it, that’s a fair amount of time to spend skimming impenetrable jargon.

“Over three hours’ worth of reading – often written in complex language – feels like a big commitment to have to make every time you buy an insurance product,” concedes SubLife Head of Bran, Ian Atkinson, but “it’s important to have a good idea of what you are and aren’t covered for.”

The implication appears to be that scanning each and every curiously repurposed word contained within the average policy will equip the holder of that policy with the aforementioned “good idea”. Bankstone News’ strong contention would be that it will not.

Bankstone News likes to consider itself a tolerably well educated electronically distributed news organ, but frankly half this stuff make b*gger all sense to us.

No, what we always do is get our solicitor to have a look and translate for us as best they can. We did try asking our broker (lovely old chap – we have a perfectly charming lunch in Harrogate every year – his son and heir’s a frightful bore though: married some permatanned tart of a former model, drives a ‘Cayenne’ for God’s sake!), but we couldn’t get any sense out of him either.

And the curious thing is: SinLife’s two or three hours’ reading mysteriously transmutes into 10 or 12 hours, billed at their usual eye-watering rate, when James Welkinslop at Mardsons runs his practiced legal eagle eye over it. Even then, you’re never really sure, are you! We had a hell of wrangle over that Bugatti the other year.

Frankly, it’s all a bit of gamble, isn’t it!

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August 26, 2016

Essex man Calvin Lumbago thought he could could save himself a few bob by driving without insurance. He was wrong!

For anyone who’s still in doubt as to how seriously the forces of law and order take the issue of driving without motor insurance, his story offers a sternly instructive example.

In future, let us be absolutely clear, uninsured drivers will have quite literally nowhere to hide. Zero tolerance is the name of the game now, with rapid response choppers summarily scrambled to track down suspected insurance dodgers wherever they may be.

The many thousands whose livelihoods quite literally depend on healthy sales of motor insurance will have derived considerable satisfaction from reading a story in this week’s edition of leading industry journal Insurance Types entitled “Police helicopter catches insurance fraudster.”

Because, let’s be absolutely clear, again, not having valid insurance is fraud, the very worst and vilest kind of fraud there is!

Under the heading “How the police tracked down insurance dodger”, Insurance Tights explained exactly how the bust went down. It was a misty monday morning early doors when Cheatin’ Calvin and an accomplice were out crusin’ in their non-legit whip.

Before they knew what had hit them, Po-Po’s Fed-Tech ANPR cams had clocked them riding bareback. Cue: flashing lights, siren, and high-speed chase through the notorious badlands of North Kent. If Lumbago thought he could circumvent capture by fleeing on foot, he could quite literally not have been wronger.

Quick-thinking officers immediately called up a cop-chopper, whose heat-seeking cameras rapidly zoned in on the dodger’s fugitive body flare, tracking the blighter’s flight to a nearby copse, where they soon had him safely restrained and detained.

Now he’s been slapped with a rap of driving a motor vehicle without insurance and will soon be hauled up before the dreaded Medway Magistrates, who’ll probably sentence him to something pretty darned salutary.

Let that be a lesson!

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August 26, 2016

The highlight of any rational person’s stage-based entertainment of a vaguely lighthearted character calendar must surely be that famous Edinbrugggghhh Festival Fringe thing.

And the highlight of that highlight, for a second glorious year running, has surely been hit-show Dial Medicine for Murder, the two-man stool-based spectacular in which contemporary medical professionals Dr Harry Brunjes and Dr Andrew Johns dissect the egregious acts of medical malpractice perpetrated by (less contemporary) physicians Dr Harold Shipman and Dr John Bodkin Adams. For further details click here (for something broadly factual) or here (if you’d rather have it told the Bankstone News way).

Also for a second year running, Bankstone’s honcho in chief Dearstalk Tirestain  went along to see Dial  Metastatins for Murder, and claims it was even better this time than the first time he saw it. In the intervening 12 months, it seems, the show has acquired something of a cult renown and now attracts an ultra-hip audience composed almost exclusively of medical professionals looking for tips on how to murder large numbers of their patients and get away with it – and of senior Scottish PI lawyers.

The latter, Ditton Tiresome reports, were delighted at how well the various law-persons involved in the Shipman and Adams saga emerge from the account offered by Docs B and J. He claims the legal crowd particularly enjoying the bit where barrister Horace Rumpole utterly demolishes the prosecution case to get his client Dr John “The Bodkin” Adams acquitted of all charges.

But what’s all this about Dismal Typos going to the theatre, you may ask. If you, like Bankstone News, previously knew Tilestone primarily as a hell-raising born-again biker type, known for terrorising the local populace as he roars up dale and down hill on his mighty chopper, clad head-to-toe in skin-tight leather, it might seem hard to credit, but old Dixon is in fact a regular man of culture on the quiet.

He reads books, visits museums, plays a dozen instruments (not all at the same time, obviously) to a standard of proficiency rated ‘fair’ by the British Union of Musicians, and is especially partial to the odd bit of theatre.

Indeed, speaking of odd bits of theatre, fans of amateur drama in the Wartdale Area may recall his memorable turn as Bertie Whoopsie in the Brighouse Players’ Carry on Jives, a hilarious updating (to somewhere around 1970) of some of P. G. Wodehouse’s much-loved comic novels, sadly pulled after its ill-fated first night, due to what was (perhaps harshly) adjudged by the local authorities to be inappropriate nudity.

But these days Dimsum mostly visits theatres to watch other people doing ‘acting’ and related things. And when it comes live entertainment of a broadly theatrical nature, his appetite is essentially insatiable. This year he offered fellow festival ‘goers’ a one-man masterclass in the art of ‘packing it in’ by sampling not only the aforementioned Dial Murdercine for Medicide, but also no fewer than two other shows in a single day.

These were, if you really must know, some TV thing solipsistically billed as The One Show (in which he appeared as himself, alongside Kevin Bishop and Nicola Sturgeon), and some bloke called Joe Stiglitz (and his orchestra) who played some film music in the ‘club style’ popularised by Jeeves and John Mortimer.

But the highlight of all highlights, he insists, was the twice-aforementioned Dial Maddison for Murdersite. Maybe you should catch the show yourself, if you ever get the chance – which you might, if rumours of a forthcoming national tour prove well-founded.

You’re sure to be disappointed, if you don’t.


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Spot Bankstone’s Dixon Trysoap and win a prize, not necessarily in that order.

August 26, 2016

Philip Not-Hard of automotive data mongers Caphpi takes a dim view of Britons’ standards of personal hygiene. According to a press release recently issued by his firm, “consumers change their car more often than they change their bedding.”

Even if – as the Caphpi press release claims – some people now change their car every 18 months, that’s still a pretty skanky thought. At Bankstone news we make a point of changing our sheets and pillowcases at least three or four times a year, whether they need it or not. And so, we’d like to think, do you, Dear Reader.

But impugning our commitment to cleanliness, it turns out, is not the main point of Mr Not-Hard’s press release. This, it seems, is to argue that people nowadays treat their cars a bit like mobile phones. “What we are seeing is the ‘iphonification’ of the car industry,” Phil claims.

Which is not to say, that people try to use their cars (or indeed the car industry as a whole) to make phone calls, snapchat, play Clash of Glans or whatever, but that they change them all the time (especially if they’ve dropped them in water or smashed the screen or something) and are quite happy paying to use them rather than owning them outright.

The whole bedding-iPhone thing appears to stem from advice given by “experts” [cue: hawk-n-spit sound effect] who say that – because adults secrete around 300ml of ‘fluid’ every night and half a kilo of dead skin every year – you should change, not just your bedding, but your actual mattress once every seven years – which, Phil reckons, used to be how long people kept their cars for – but now they don’t – now they keep them for 18 months or so – which is how long people keep their phones – some of which may be iPhones. So, you see, it all makes perfect sense.

Or at least it does in the addled brain of Philip “Phrasemaker” Not-Hard. Never mind that he’s put his name to a press release from self-proclaimed specialists in data that contains not a single scrap of data – unless you count the stuff about fluids and skin flakes, and the observation that “hpi estimates that around 80 per cent of new car sales are on finance” – just a load of extra-broad-brush generalisations.

It’s none too clear either why Phil has decided to discard the conventional understanding of iPhone-ification (i.e. to render the user experience or functionality of something more similar to that of an iPhone or to recreate a game or application for use on iPhones) or, as may have been his intention for all Bankstone News knows, to invent a new word “iphonification” (no ‘e’) meaning to use something under a contract of similar duration to that applicable to an iPhone or other mobile telephone.

Seriously, Phil: assuming charitably that data really is your strong suit, it might be best to stick what you’re good at and lay off the rambling nonsense. You can leave that to people like Bankstone News, who positively excel in this demanding discipline.


August 19, 2016

Bankstone News readers will doubtless be totally stoked to learn that we have some proper news about Bankstone and associated commercial enterprises for a change in this week’s edition. “What news is that, Bankstone News?”, we hear you ask. Why, it’s this news:

Deal sees various things happen

A deal (hereinafter knows as “The Deal”) has been sealed that sees Sue Carnwell and Mark Bellfield, respectively Financial Director and Head of Catastrophic Injury/ Large Loss of TS Group Ltd, take shares in TS Group Ltd.

Not content with seeing that alone, The Deal also sees TS Group Ltd CEO Rachel Stow increase her shareholding in TS Group Ltd.

Yes, but what is TS Group Ltd?

TS Group Ltd was set up last year when Thorneycroft Solicitors became an Alternative Business Suture (ABS), allowing it to be owned by people who are not lawyers.

Along with comprising Thorneycroft Solicitors Ltd, TS Group also has a majority share in full-service accident management company Bankstone (Yay!), and specialist PI brands Claimant Law and Cycle Assist, as well as funding provider OnClaims and rehabilitation facilitator CMS.

Rachel: diversity spearheader

Over the past two years, spearheaded by solicitor Rachel Stow, TS Group Ltd has diversified into other areas beyond its motorcycle injury heritage, by growing practice areas in private client, commercial, conveyancing, family, lasting powers of attorney, wills and probate, and employment.

Evolving towards cohesion and complementarity

Rachel Stow says the changes reflect the latest stage in the evolution of Thorneycroft Solicitors: “We’ve come a long way from that of a north-west motorcycle injury specialist into a cohesive group of complementary national businesses.

Destiny masters

“We’ve made no secret of the fact that we intended to change and grow in response to the market and, ultimately to become masters of own destiny,” says Rachel.

Fresh dimension

“Adding Sue Carnwell,” Rachel says, “an experienced finance director from outside the sector, brings a fresh dimension to our board.”


“Mark Belfield,” she also says, “has been instrumental in the success of our business for over 17 years,” and has helped create “a strong structure for the future.”

Real appetite

“We have a real appetite for growth,” Rachel says. The Deal shows that all five owners of TS Group Ltd have confidence in the continued growth of the group of businesses, paving the ways for more innovation, more growth, more diversification, and more of all the kinds of things it’s good to have more of, basically.

All good

All of which, Bankstone News can only assume, is extremely positive news for full-service accident management company Bankstone, who are now in a stronger than ever position to play their own unique part in the ongoing process of innovation, growth, diversification and so on, just as you would expect.

Watch this space!


August 17, 2016

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. We’re tapping away happily on our mobile when we happen to glance up and notice we’re a tad the wrong side of the MOR with a van-load of nuns approaching at speed.

“Ngnryurghhh,” our half-mastered terror makes us blurt out as we yank the wheel sharply to the left and the phone slides off into the footwell.

How many times have we asked the wife not to text us when we’re driving? One of these days we’re just not going to text back!

Yup, we’ve all been there. Kind of thing that happens every day.

But now apparently texting at the wheel is bad – not just when kids and young adults do it – but also when parents do it! Yes, that’s right, some bunch of busybodies at an outfit rejoicing in the superbly resonant brand name of OSV Ltd – a bunch of busybodies who have clearly never heard of the one-rule-from-them-another-rule-for-us clause in the parent’s handbook – are banging on about how parents who text while driving are setting their offspring a “terrible example”.

Based on some trumped-up survey purporting to show that more than one parent in five admits to texting or calling while driving “even when their children are in the car”, OSV Ltd, a vehicle leashing company, claim that “parents are setting a terrible example to their children.”

Sorry, OSV Ltd, but since when did it become a parent’s role to go round setting an example?! Under the above mentioned clause, the parent’s handbook quite clearly and unequivocally upholds the parent’s prerogative of “do as I say, not as I do.”

Imagine what kind of a world we’d be living in if our children went round behaving like we do! The idea that parental example in any way influences what children do is frankly ludicrous. Whenever this old chestnut crops up, parents need only remind those levelling such allegations that the so-called evidence of this effect is speculative, circumstantial and highly selective. How many children, after all, do you see reading a map, writing a letter, or plucking rogue hairs from their earholes!

No, the parent’s role is to chide and chastise – not to go round pretending to be a good boy or girl. And, in any case, when youngsters tap the screens of their mobile devices, you can be sure they’re the pathetic victims of a life-wasting addiction to some trivial “social”, “gaming”, or “entertainment” “application”. Whereas, when parents do the same thing, it’s bound to be something serious, grown-up and necessary. The sort of thing that free-riding fresh-faced young know-nowts simply wouldn’t understand.

Now, hang on to your hats, kids: I’m doubling back for another run at that Charizard!


August 17, 2016

Imagine, if you will, being gently woken by something that sounds a bit like Mystic Nose-Flutes of Katmandu Vol 4 – only a thousand times more lovely and ethereal. Imagine coming slowly to your senses enshrouded by swirling fragrant mists, your supine body cushioned on an aromatic sward of fleece-moss and dander-grass. You yawn and stretch, and wonder if this is still a dream. But, no: this is something far more vivid, far more real. More real than anything you’ve ever known before. You sense at once that you must rise and pad bare-foot across the verdant pasture that surrounds the tranquil glade in which you’ve woken. Passing between twin curtains of bamboo and tall exotic grasses, you reach a further clearing. Here, you somehow know, you’ll find the most sagacious ancient sage of all the ages, a master who’ll reveal the very essence of enlightenment. There, cross legged upon a smoothly rounded slab of rock, sits the sage himself. His eyes rise slowly to meet yours. A beatific smile flickers upon his luminous countenance. Then he begins to speak. You hang on every syllable as, one by one, he strips away the layers of unreality and delusion that held you back from true perception.

Now you’ll have some idea of how Bankstone News felt when stumbling, in the pages of well-known insurance-focused news publication Insurance Types, upon the revelatory utterances of Kevin “Master Kev” Hamcock of broking firm YouTree. Now admittedly, it wasn’t exactly the secret of life, the universe and everything that we learned from Master Kev. But, near enough, it was the key to understanding something we’ve been almost equally puzzled by of late: the dreaded Insurance Act. If you’re wondering what an insurance act is and how one performs one, you’re clearly even more confused than we were. You see, it isn’t the kind of act you can commit. No, it’s some kind of law or something that’s just come in, which means that everything we thought we understood about how insurance contracts get contracted may very well not be as we thought it was. It’s all terribly complicated and has forced legal types to speculate at endless length about what it might actually mean in practice. The short answer seems to be that we won’t really know until people start suing each other. Or at least it would be, if there was a short answer. But – not least because legally trained people have a vested interest in keeping things complicated – there is, of course, no short answer.

Or so we thought – until we heard the words of Master Kev. Then, quite suddenly, everything fell into place. All the fear and uncertainty of Ins Act 2015 instantly fell away and we saw with perfect clarity exactly what the whole thing really means. Believe us, it was beautiful! We mean, really beautiful. It was extreme beauty! E_X_T_R_E_M_E beauty! Yes, yes, alright, but what did Master Kev say, you’re probably demanding to know by now. Settle yourselves down, Folks. Bankstone News was just about to tell you.

Like that gang of keep-fit pensioners who were on the telly news carrying-on with their ambitiously vigorous outdoor workout, utterly oblivious to the detonation, just few hundred yards upwind, of the derelict Lardhouse Stacks back in ’97, brokers, Master Kev reveals, will feel both “pain and gain” from the Insurance Act “as the dust settles”. The pain – as we understand it – will take the form of some initial “upheaval” (presumably a polite and sagely way of alluding to chundering, up-chucking, or whatever) and then maybe some dental discomfort owing to “teething troubles”. There will then ensue an era of “legal battles” in which the forces of good and evil contest the right to decide what the Insurance Act means. Followed by a blissful era of certainty and common understanding, where legal weapons are set aside and we all bask in the serenity of mutual consent and understanding.

The big issue for brokers, Master Kev distills from all the lawyer-generated noise and confusion, is that you will have to know something about your clients. This is because of something called the duty of fair presentation in the Insurance Act which means people applying for insurance (and their advisors) have to give insurers the sort of information they need to work out whether insuring the person(s) or thing(s) they are insuring is likely to be a tolerably safe and/or sane thing to do. This means brokers will in future need to have a rough idea of who their clients are and what they’re up to in order comply with their new FPDs (fair presentation duties). And that’s basically it: the Insurance Act in a nutshell. So really not all that confusing after all!

“We all now have clarity,” pronounced a rival sage Richie McKenzie of Rymans Direct Group, perhaps just a tad prematurely. All it really is, he warned, is that “the onus is now on the insurer and the broker to ensure that all questions are asked, and all answers are satisfactory.”

There you are, you see: it’s nothing more complex than that.

Maybe we won’t even need those legal battles!


August 17, 2016

Fears have emerged that UK motorists may be at risk from a new strain of mutant potholes (so called “superholes”) capable of inflicting EXXXTREME damage on tyres, wheels, other bits of cars dependent on tyres and wheels for their safe operation, and even on the drivers of those cars themselves.

According to deeply worrying reports in this week’s Bodyshot Magazine, these aggressive new superholes are wreaking havoc up and down the land, with all types of holes “damaging twice as many cars today as they were 10 years ago, according to a new study conducted by the RAC.”

The suggestion is that a continued failure to invest in bringing old-school holes under control has allowed this vicious new generation of superholes to emerge. Some publications, Bankstone News for example, have reported sitings of superholes as deep as 40-50 million metres deep (see previous story)

The Royal Automobile Association study found that the chaps who drive their vans spent almost 1% of their time helping drivers who’d found themselves assailed by holes or superholes in the year to June, compared with less than a half of one per cent during the previous 12-month period.

Dave Busily of RAC hypothesised that “worsening economic times” might be an underlying cause of the neglect that has allowed superholes to emerge,. That and a persistent failure to spend money on “tackling the underlying problem” and “addressing the underlying deficiencies in local roads.”

It is in rural areas, it seems, that superholes have found the most fertile breeding conditions. Whilst the UK’s motorways and dual carriageways often remain passable for several hours at a time, rural roads today are little better than cart-tracks. In some places up to 110% of the road surface is comprised, in whole or in part, of holes.

During periods of EXXXTREME weather, local authorities have sometimes attempted to infill the worst holes with ‘short-term funding’, but gangs of travellers are suspected of chiselling the funding out by night and spending it on ornate glass ornaments, gaudy fabrics and carriage lamps.

If pothole damage continues at the current rate, experts calculate, there will be more holes than road nationwide by the year 2132. Bold and imaginative action is now required,” Busily claims.

Boldness and imagination are always welcome. Or we could just spend more money filling in all those holes and superholes properly with long-term road-surfacing materials of an appropriate specification.


August 9, 2016

Never let is be said that Bankstone is an all-expenses-spared employer. Oh, Deary Me, no. You’d be amazed at all the wonderful and generous perks and benefits the enlightened dictators at its helm extend to its undeserving minions.

Why only this very month, benevolent autocrat in chief Dixon Tripeslough agreed to send at least three members of staff (maybe more) on a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help them cope with the stresses of…

No, that’s not it, apparently. Why is this job so HARD???!!!

Let’s try again:

Only this very month, benevolent autocrat in chief Dixon Tripeslough agreed to fork out for Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for at least three members of staff (maybe more), which will enable them to undertake the 43rd most dangerous activity known to man by taking a two-wheeled motor vehicle out on the road.

If it’s possible to say fairer, than that, Bankstone News, for one, is at an utter loss to understand exactly how.

The lucky three to have expressed an interest so far are Maxine, Tom and Adam – all of whom will soon acquire not only a valuable basic proficiency in the art of motorcyclage, but also a priceless additional layer of insight into the issues faced by motorcycling persons whose claim making requirements they may happen to be handling.

How will Max, Ian and Tom Adams get on? Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to keep you posted in future editions of Bankstone News.


August 9, 2016

Tinder, as younger readers may already know, is an app that enables users to geo-locate other users, engage with them in a bit of lighthearted social interaction, and then possibly sh*g them.

Imagine Bankstone News’ consternation, then, on learning, from that unimpeachable source of sector-specific truth Insurance Aitch, that insurer Agean is planning to launch an app that does something similar – only with insurance.

Having identified through customer research that so-called Milliners (people born sometime between the 80s and the 00s) are only able to interface with the world via the medium of the mobile phone, Agean knew they needed to package their offer as an app and, you know, gameify it a bit.

The result is Back Me Up, an app which backs up users data and… no wait it doesn’t do that… hang on… just scanning the story again quickly… It lets young people pick any three things they own (technically any three ‘stuffs’) and ‘insure them’ for just £15 a month. It certainly sounds like fun!

“Tell your mates,” advises the official www.backmeup website. And kids are sure to want to do exactly that after they learn that you can “swipe” your stuffs or take pictures of them on your phone or something and then your insurance needs will be magically taken care of in the same way Tinder takes care of your ‘social’ needs.

It should prove a big hit with Milliners because there are apparently no penalties, no contract, and you can do as much swiping as you like. There are also exciting additional benefits. Like this: Don’t “freak out”, the site advises, if your mobile screen breaks, because Ageas will replace it free of charge once a year – even if the mobile isn’t one of your three stuffs.

Plus if you lose stuffs while on holiday (or rather on a ‘travel experience’), or if you get sick while you’re away, or you have your holiday cancelled, Ageas will foot the bill for that. And… they’ll spend £1,500 a month on getting you back into your flat each time you lose your keys.

Plus, plus, plus: you can bolt things on for just a few pounds a month, like having Ageas back you up if you get in a fight with your landlord, or you find yourself having a dangerous adventure, or you want to have someone come out and help whenever you’re in a vehicle breakdown scenario.

Basically it’s brilliant, and it makes young people want to buy insurance even if they don’t know what it is! Just because they can!

Back-Up man Paul Lymes explains: “Until now, Millennials have had to engage with the insurance industry on its terms.” No wonder they didn’t want anything to do with it! Now, with insurance that could easily be mistaken for a harmless game or dating app or whatever, “all that is set to change.”

So that’s great, really.

By the way, don’t bother trying to use the Back Me Up app if you’re old. A. You wouldn’t understand it. B. It’s only for those under 50. So if you’re eligible for Saga, just do one, alright, Grandpa/Grandma.


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