Fat Cat Friday

January 30, 2017

Bankstone’s Chief Excess Officer Dylan Thigh-Stoat has thrown his not inconsiderable weight behind an exciting regional charity initiative branded Flat Cap Friday.

The event, to be held on one or more of any of the Fridays falling in March this year, aims to raise money for charity Brian Tumour Research and Support (BTRS) by requiring participants to sport traditional Yorkshire headgear.

BTRS fundraising tsarina Sorrell Coulson says that Fat Cap Friday celebrates “the amazing brain tumour research” that is going on in Yorkshire. “If we all wear our caps on together,” she says, “we can make a huge difference.”

To support this inspiring initiative, Dylan has decreed that all Bankstone staff shall wear flat cats at all times throughout March, just to make sure they’ll have them in place whenever the relevant Friday happens to fall.

In so doing, he hopes to raise “a fair few bob” for “a thoroughly deserving cause” and also, hopefully, to reduce staff absences due to head colds, whilst at the same time enabling the heating to be turned down a couple of notches, thus reducing overheads.

Further details will be revealed in a future edition of Bankstone News.

In the meantime, we leave you with this artist’s impression of Mr T sporting his charity flat camp.

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January 30, 2017

Reports in oddly coloured newspaper the Financial Ties reports that shares in insurance companies haves slumped on fears that the forthcoming announcement of the findings of a review into something called the Ogden Rate will force insurers to pay MORE money in compensation to those claiming on insurance policies protecting them from injury or ill-health.

‘The What Rate?’, you may bellow moronically in abject and pitiful ignorance. Allow us to explain: Nathaniel Ogden was a Nineteenth Century naturalist, physician, tobacco baron and parliamentarian who pioneered the concept of inventing arbitrary formulas with which to alter things from time to time.

In the field of medical endoscopy, for instance, he was responsible for the now defunct Ogden’s Probe Randomisation Asymmetricality Hypothecator. In the sporting world, he invented a formula for varying the size of cricket wickets from over to over (also now fallen into disuse, sadly), and in the field of catering and hospitality he vainly championed a logarithmic variance engine designed for the periodic adjustment of measures for wines, ales and spirits.

His most enduring legacy, however was the methodology we know and love simply as the Ogden Formula, still in use to this very day as a means of assigning the Ogden Rate (see above), which in turn is used to calculate whether insurance claimants should be paid a bit more or a bit less than they would otherwise have been paid.

In a stroke of genius (occurring shortly before a stroke of a rather more sinister kind finally and tragically curtailed the output of his endlessly prolific brain) Old Nathaniel hit upon the idea of linking his formula to the current rate of interest.

Basically it works like this: if the Ogden rate is set at, say, 5% it means that insurers can pretend they’re paying injured persons 5% more than they really are because these persons, or whoever is looking after them if they’re not up to it themselves, can invest the money at something vaguely approximating to 5% and therefore they don’t actually need as much money as they would otherwise.

The precise way in which the Ogden Formula converts interest rates into Ogden Rates remains shrouded in mystery, but those who’ve experienced it first hand have long maintained that the simple act of running the Ogden calculations can be both wildly entertaining and spiritually enlightening, although Bankstone News wouldn’t know about that.

Perhaps for this reason, at the height of its popularity, the Ogden Rate would be calculated as frequently as three or four times a week, and, on one famous occasion in 1873, six times in a single afternoon! Nowadays, sadly, the Ogden Formula spends most of its time in a dusty old cupboard somewhere in the damp and asbestos infested bowels of the Houses of Parliament.

In 2013, having remained undisturbed for the past 13 years, the formula was fetched up, dusted down and set before the long-suffering but uncomplaining staff of the Lord Chancellor’s office, who’ve spent the past three years trying to fathom exactly how to make the damned thing work. The word is, however, that current Lady Chancellor Lizzy Truss will soon be announcing a freshly generated Ogden rate, which could potentially see the rate reduced from the current 2.5% to a mere 1 or 1.5%.

This would be bad for insurers and bad for the decent ordinary policyholders who have to reimburse them for anything that stops them paying as much as they’d like to their shareholders. It would mean, for example, that motor insurance policyholders would have to pay between 1 and 1.5% more for their car insurance because personal injury claimants would get paid more compensation.

In an attempt to forestall this clearly undesirable outcome, the Association of Brutish Insurers launched an unsuccessful legal challenge asking to have the formula returned to its resting place for a bit while we wait to see what happens next over the coming years. “The Lord Chancellor seems to want to rush out a new discount rate,” moaned Jimmy “Duellin” Dalton, at what he described as “a time of significant global financial uncertainty.”

Failed legal challenge notwithstanding, many in the industry continue to argue that the formula should be put back where it came from until further notice. In private some have even hinted at the enticing prospect that it should stay there unless and until interest rates hit 2% at which point it should probably be whacked up a bit to create a ‘margin of error’.

Amen to that, says Bankstone News. And so, no doubt, would every decent honest motor insurance policyholder who’s in no hurry to pay more for their car insurance just so that some sick person or accident victim has to work a bit less hard to secure an attractive return on the vast sums of cash they’ll be investing following whatever bumper pay-out their crafty legal representatives finagle on their behalf.

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January 28, 2017

One of the few popular music ensembles to have play-figures created in their image, Canadian band Crash Test Dummies are perhaps best remembered today for their plodding durge-like 1993 hit Unghgh, Uhrrr, Uhhrh, Eurgh.

Less well known is the fact that the anatomically accurate mannequins that are used to work out exactly how horrendously human bodies will be lacerated, crushed and punctured in RTAs are actually named after the CTDs, as they are fondly known by their loyal legion of sadly misguided fans (loyal even after they released an album whose instrumentation consisted exclusively of a cacophonous sounds wrung from a Ptarmigan).

Like the rest of us, the various members of this particular musical ensemble haven’t remained entirely immune since their heyday to piling on the odd pound here and there; whereas the mutilation mannequins to whom they’ve lent their name have remained as svelte as the day their use was first introduced. But that’s not necessarily such a good thing, as it turns out, as it sounds.

No indeed! Experts in America have suddenly realised that using healthy-weight dummies to test what happens to average Americans in high-speed vehicle impacts (and basing car safety standards thereupon) makes about as much sense as using Twiggy as the template for Little Mix’s fetish gear.

Americans, it seems (and, to an increasing extent, Brits, who traditionally follow wherever our wayward Transatlantic cousins lead), have been chubbing up quite spectacularly for several decades now – to the point where concerned hockey moms now openly worry on social media whether Steve ‘Dreamboat’ Bannon has been taking the time to eat proper meals while he’s busy running the country through a dummy of his own named Donald J Trump.

The point being that a blubbery mountain of unsavoury alt-right lard like Bannon will be crumpled, torn and pulped in radically different ways to, say, ever youthful icon James Dean. Now Michigan University trauma surgeon Stewie Wang, who heads the influential International Center of Automotive Medicines, argues that potentially fatal flaws in contemporary car design result from the use of the ‘wrong kind of dummies’.

Overweight or obese people, Wang claims, are “no longer the exception” but the rulers in America today. Based on this insight Wang has worked with dummy manufacturers Humanetic’s to create new dummies weighing 273 pounds (well over 19 stone in UK money) with a body mass index of 35.

This is great, because safety scientists can now see what happens when really fat people are in car accidents, and watch how organs pushed out of their normal position by vast quantities of surplus food stored as fat will perform in situations of extreme trauma.

Hopefully this will lead to bigger safer cars, with sticky out bits in different places, and perhaps with lateral ‘bulge zones’ to accommodate the fuller figure.

Even if it doesn’t, it will add some welcome variety to the tedious lives of crash simulation technicians.

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January 27, 2017

In recent years we have all had to get used to sky high motor insurance premiums, but lately they’ve been even higher than that. So high in fact that even words like stratospheric, translunar and ultragalactic struggle to do them justice. So high are UK motor insurance premiums right now that they are at something technically known as a four-year high, which means, we think, that if you wanted to get that high yourself it would basically take you four years.

According to hot new data from Alcoholics Anonymous, the average ‘sleeparound’ quote for comprehensive car insurance rose by almost £35 over the past three months, and by £66 in the past year, to reach the staggering sum of £633.06, a figure so close to infinity that mere numerals are barely adequate even to hint at its massive size.

And if you wanted third, party fire, or theft insurance (assuming you and your vehicle were utterly average in every respect) you’d be looking at the best part of a grand, which is almost 10% more than a year ago.

How could this be happening in a decent civilised society like ours?, you may be asking yourself. Is it perchance that greedy faking fakers pretending to have neck injuries are stealing all the money we give to motor insurers, so that they have to ask us for more? Well yes, of course it is that. But luckily that problem will soon be a thing of the past – just as soon as HMG finally gets round to banning personal injury claims, as it has promised on several occasions to do.

But there’s also something pretty sinister going on in drafty shedlike buildings up and down the country where – even as you read this – oily handed men in dirty blue overalls are doing something very bad indeed. The bad thing of which we speak is nothing other than fixing cars that don’t even need fixing – or at least don’t need as much of a fixing as these overeager overall blokes are giving them.

There’s basically a very sinister conspiracy operating here, where bodyshoppers keen to make some extra dollar collude with damaged-vehicle owners who are all too happy to have their motors repaired way beyond all possible need and leave decent ordinary motor insurers and their customers to foot the outlandishly vast parts and labour charges.

According to Dave Brown of personal services company KpM/g the inflated cost of often needless accidental damage repair is “becoming a much bigger threat to motor policy price inflation than whiplash.” That’s right: you did hear that right. Too much fixing, the AA reckons “is currently adding around £25 per year to the average quoted price”.

Fortunately there is an answer to this problem – and, unlike the abolition of personal injury claims, it won’t put tens of thousands of decent hardworking labourers in the claims farming sector out of business. The solution is that all post-accident motor insurance repairs should be carried out by ‘smart repairers’.

Who are these smart repairers?, you may wonder. Bankstone News has no idea whatsoever, but we imagine they are repairers who are smart enough to realise that if they’re costing insurers and their customers money they will soon be declared illegal, so they’re only repairing the bits of damaged cars that absolutely need to be repaired i.e. the bits you can see or that mean the car won’t go or whatever.

According to Mark Llewellewellyn of Smart Repair Network, traditional ‘not smart’ repairers are doing crazy things like using sledgehammers to crush nuts and making cars as good as new when all they really need is a lick of paint. One day soon, Mark says, all motor repairing will be done this way.

Let’s just hope that day comes soon and we can all have our £25 back. That, plus the £40 we’re due from the abolition of claims, will almost completely wipe out the past 12 months’ premiums rises.

Now that’s what Bankstone News calls quite a nice thing to look forward to.

If it ever happens.

Let’s hope it does.

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January 23, 2017

For a long time British Prime Minister Terry May would say only that Brexit meant Brexit. Eventually she bowed to pressure and revealed that Brexit meant Brexit meant Brexit. Now she’s gone even further, publicly stating that Brexit means whatever it turns out to mean once she’s exhausted all the optimism and ambition she and her crack team can muster in securing the best possible meaning for Brexit that the 27 other EU member countries are prepared to allow us. Either that or we’re going to become some sort of cold water Cayman Islands.

Insurers couldn’t be more delighted to have the government’s plans laid out in such exhaustive detail – especially as she’s made it pretty clear the best possible Brexit is very unlikely to include membership of the European Single Market, of the European Free Trade Area, the European Customs Union or the European anything else for that matter. “The Prime Minister’s speech,” noted Huey Evans of the Association of Brutish Insurers, “has provided greater clarity on her Brexit aims as we head toward the triggering of Article 50.”

This allows British Insurers (most of whom are not actually British Insurers but French, German, Swiss, American etc.) to start putting together their plans to protect themselves against the impact of the best possible red white and bluexit that now seems inevitable. All they now require, they have confirmed, is a little more clarity Ms May’s timetable and a bit of extra time in which to stage an orderly withdrawal. That and any hints she can drop on whether there’s any chance at all they might retain the so-called piss-potting rights that currently allow them trade freely throughout the EU – or something like them.

From a broker perspective, Graeme Truncheon of fashion house BIBA has said he’s glad the prime minister has indicated she’s not planning to drive the UK off a cliff edge (unless it’s the one with the aforementioned cold water Cayman Islands at the bottom of it) and says he and his members would like “a period of five years” – like in that song by the late great David Bowie.

Speaking of the great and good of the pop and rock world, Keith Richards CII said he’d been visited an ominous vision of “a widening wall of nervousness” over Brexit in the insurance world (see artist’s impression below). “Economic confidence across the insurance profession is at its lowest level since 2011,” he said, and “nearly half of those working in insurance expect the economy to deteriorate in 2017.” But what does he know!

In entirely unrelated news, leading British insurer Zurich is planning to shed 240 jobs in the UK as it does a bit of routine integration that will see the firm “remove some roles from the UK business.”

Meanwhile historic institution Lloyd’s of London (or just Lloyd’s as it prefers to be known these days) has denied it has any immediate plans to change its name to Lloyd’s of Frankfurt or anywhere else continental – although it might be getting a flat over there somewhere – for when it has to go away on business – doesn’t mean its relationship with the UK is in trouble or anything.

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January 20, 2017

In the latest attempted affront to the will of the people, a bunch of unelected judges are trying to stop decent honest motorists from getting the £40 insurers have promised them if they stop making claims.

Some bunch styling themselves the Civil Executive Team (CET) led by some chancer styling himeslf Lord Justice Briggs, Deputy Head of Civil Justice have started bleating on about how increasing the gauge of the track on which small claims run from 1k to 5k will result in an explosion of Litigants In Person or LIPS.

In a response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the abolition of personal injury claims, this cabal of so-called judges claim the courts will be overrun by self-representing claimants looking to claim all kinds of stuff without a legal type to hold their hand.

This will add untold amounts of cost and delay into the small claims court, the “judges” say, a prospect, they note, that causes them “serious dismay”. The net result will be less income from court fees and a massive demand for extra resources while the LIPS flail about haplessly in their vain attempts to press their cases.

The burden of all this additional expense will fall on the public purse rather than insurers, they say. Which is the one shred of good news in all this, holding out the possibility that motorists could still be eligible for that £40 off your motor insurance deal.

“There are serious access to justice issues for those with genuine but modest personal injury claims” the judges say, because 90% of them will switch from a fast track to a small claims track. The anticipated LIPS explosion will mean cases take at least twice “but probably three or four” times as long to sort out, they insist.

Yes, some claimants, will give up and b*gger off, the judges agree. But, they say, “the reduction in case volume will come nowhere near cancelling out the consequential increase in the demands upon court and judicial resources.”

Net result (according to CET): the court service will have to “fund increased resources at the same time as experiencing a reduction in fee income” because “if insurers are to be relieved from bearing the burden of the preparation of cases for meritorious claimants (because the claimants will no longer recover fixed costs), then the claimants will need the additional and expensive assistance of the courts and the judges to be able to prepare and present their cases. There is no sign in the impact statement that this likely consequence has been addressed.”

Plus also, they reckon, the RTA might collapse because 90% of its caseload has been removed.

They don’t half bang on, these unelected judges.

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January 20, 2017

While some of us are hard at work performing endlessly tedious and repetitive desk-based duties in return for a pitiful handful of meagre crust, the likes of Bankstone Top Dog Dickoff Tygro are off livin’ la vida de Riley at the 777th Motor Claims Needleworking Lunch (aka I Heart Clams).

That’s right, this Friday lunchtime, DT is (or probably was by the time you read this) hobnobbing his heart out with the great and the good of the glamorous world of motor insurance claims. Alright for some!

What’s more, they’re probably feeding him (as if he needed feeding – some of us are starving here – so starving we might have to have another go at that pizza that fell face down last week – assuming it’s still under the desk somewhere).

But they’ll be no dust dappled deep pan pepperonis for Tysore. Oh no! He’ll be merrily filling his four-eyed face with all manner of sweetmeats and mouth amusers, all freshly fresh from the food preparation facilities of top London hospitality venue Gran’s Connaught Dining Rooms, rubbing shoulders (and other non-intimate body parts) all the while with a veritable galaxy of stellar luminaries including famous footballer and dolphin waxer Paul Immersion.

Paul helped Arsenal win the League Cup, Effay Cup and Cup Dinners Cup, the programme tells us (and not in a dubious and reprehensible way like how Putin helped Trump win the U.S. presidential election – but by scoring an amazing 99 goals). Merton also played for Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Portsmouth and Walsall, the programme says. So he must have been a busy boy.

A somewhat garbled text message just in from Dixon “Thumbs” Typo has revealed exclusively that The Consumer Intelligence Best Claims awards were won by Uvavu, L(V)%, Saga and Direct Lie. Mr T also informs us that he is sandwiched between “the hard working David Simonize of Cop Art fame and the hard work Dave Bamford of Entire Logic”, resulting in a complete absence of dull moments. Mr Bamford, DT confides cryptically is “a legend in his own fitted kitchen”. What on earth can he mean?

Topics such as #brexit and the inauguration of Donald Jay Tramp (also being celebrated today) are sure to (have) come up at some point in the guests’ increasingly booze soaked and incoherent conversation as a grotesquely protracted luncheon staggers on interminably, with smoggy dusk descending all the while upon the capital’s streets outside. But mostly they’ll just be talking about claims.

Even so – think of all that free food and wine.

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Merson: “Just happy to have made it out alive. Off down to William Hill now. Laters, Insurance Dudes. Let’s do it again some time.”

 

January 19, 2017

Have you ever noticed how often you’ll see groups of bad drivers hanging around menacingly on petrol station forecourts?

Clustered around the hose docks, they jostle and heckle innocent passers by, occasionally nipping inside the kiosk to purchase additional Red Bull, Nice ’n’ Spicy Nik Naks or Handy Travel Wipes, or getting behind the wheel to rev their noisy engines.

Well, this isn’t just a random pattern of congregation, Readers. Far from it. The terrifying fact is that bad drivers simply cannot afford to stray too far from the forecourt. It’s like bees or macaws or sharks or something.

New research has revealed that bad drivers must return again and again to the pumps – or they will quite literally run out of fuel.

According to insurance merchants Direct Lime, this is because bad drivers compete for territory and status by driving aggressively, and the vast amounts of energy this requires makes huge demands on their fuel reserves.

Sensible drivers, Direct Lice insist, need to visit a petrol station as rarely as once a month. Being a bad driver, on the other hand, adds roughly £50 to your monthly fuel bill and requires massively more frequent fuel station stop-offs.

With fuel prices rising, Direct Lie warn, bad drivers (with their notoriously heavy right feet) pay an additional penalty for their aggressive behaviour through wear and tear to components such as tyres, rakes, clunges and in-car entertainment systems.

Direct Lite telematician Paul “Young Offenders” Felton says “This new research really brings home” what a bad idea it is to espouse the lifestyle of a bad driver.

“When you add the fuel savings,” Paul says, and the fact that “wearable components” like brakes and stuff keep needing to be replaced, it’s clear that bad drivers should do us all a favour and abandon their aggressive and economically unsustainable ways.

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January 13, 2017

What will people find to complain about next?!

Cyclists and pedestrians have long been a thorn in the side of decent ordinary motorists everywhere, and we’re all utterly weary of their constant whingeing. But now it seems they’re at the heart of some kind of conspiracy to stop us getting the £40 a year premium saving we’ve been promised following the Government’s eminently sensible and proportionate 500% increase in the small claims limit.

Egged on by some elitist pressure group calling itself Cycling UK, around 6,000 cyclists have written to Justice Secretary Elizabeth “Lizzy” Truss moaning on about how they won’t be able to claim back the cost of employing expensive lawyers to argue their (probably made-up) personal injury claims for things like broken collarbones, wrists, ankles and the like.

It’s like that Justice Minister Oliver Heals said the other day: Are we seriously going to sacrifice the chance of getting £40 off our insurance simply to uphold a small claims threshold that hasn’t been put up since 1991 – just to please a few solicitors (and by extension cyclists and pedestrians etc. etc.)?

How dare cyclists and their kind – people who probably don’t even have a car and don’t have to worry about the fact that premiums are just going to carry on up and up as long as people are allowed to make claims – how dare they stand between us and our £40! Representing themselves in court is precisely the kind of thing that sort like doing!

Now is not the time for Government to go soft on personal injury claims. If we start making exceptions for pedestrians, cyclists and “other road users” who knows where it will end!

Next thing you know, some idiot is going to start saying the new limit should only apply to people who aren’t really injured, people like whiplash claimants, and then before you know it our £40 will become £30 or £20 or £10.

One size will fit all very nicely, thank you very much! Insurers don’t have time to mess around sorting the fake claims from the real ones – and we don’t have time to wait forever for that blessed £40. Let’s focus on the real issue here, for goodness sake and stop sacrificing the pockets of the many for the so-called rights of the few.

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January 13, 2017

From our South East correspondent Fidel Givenchy.

Another week brings news of another criminal mastermind striking at the very heart of the motor insurance industry. Jabba Choudhary must have thought he’d come up with the perfect crime when he changed his name by deed poll before staging an ‘accident’ with a car owned by his father, Zorba Choudhary.

If so, he was sadly mistaken. On Wednesday 4 January in the year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen Jabba C was taken to London Inner Crown Court, there to be sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment and to be suspended for two years for the hideous and unnatural crimes of a) committing fraud by false representation and b) failing to reveal stuff that he should have revealed.

Cunning Choudhary changed his name to Carlos Dior before embarking on a spree of C4C crime that saw him involved in no fewer than three highly suspect collisions and claiming bigly for no end of non-existent neck pain.

If Choudhary imagined he’d soon be living the sweetly scented good life, decked top to toe in couture, he’d reckoned without the many and all-seeing eyes of top anti-fraud squad the iFEDs.

The name change proved woefully insufficient to put the FEDs off so-called Dior’s scent, due to the fact that Jabba still lived at home with his dad. Two parties to the same RTA claim cohabiting is exactly the kind of thing to set alarm bells ringing round FED Central.

And, sure enough, as soon as children’s insurer Geoffrey reported the address coincidence to the FEDs they were on him in a flash. “Choudhary not only committed fraud by false representation,” notes Sgt Steve Netherlands of the FEDs, “but also failed to disclose that he was related to the person he was claiming against.”

Which is probably why they done him.

Additional reporting by Raul Chanel and Pepe Vuitton.

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