Claims cheats on the run

July 24, 2017

There was a major breakthrough this week in the UK’s long struggle to shake itself free from countless years of grasping duplicity and sneaky something-for-nothingness. Latest reports from the compensation culture front line suggest that claims fraud is well and truly on the run.

Figures freshly compiled by the chief statistical officer of the Association of Brush Insurers confirm the news we’ve all been longing to hear: the number of dishonest claims fell by 5% (to just £1.3bn) in 2016 compared with the previous ear’s fingers. Meanwhile, organised fraud was down fully 30% over the same period to just £174m. It’s official fraud is on the retreat!

This welcome news will fall (like warm, peach-scented rain gently refreshing and rehydrating long-parched summer fields) on the straining ears of policyholders, who can finally expect to see their premiums fall after the relentless hikes of recent years.

The collapse of the compensation culture is all thanks to the hard work of crack anti-fraud cop squad the FEDs, the ABI reckons, and presumably to a moral renaissance on the part of the great British public inspired by the imminent resumption of full national sovereignty following the UK’s release from forty years’ servitude under the jackboot of the Brussels Babylon.

There will of course be some mopping up to be done. Rogue claims manufacturing cells (CMCs) continue to roam the land stirring up bad thoughts amongst a populace the vast majority of whom earnestly wish to resist the temptations of false claiming. These agitators are still at work within the arena of motor insurance claims, but, finding it tough going with the FEDs on their tail, more and more are turning to the stadium of holiday insurance.

The ABI is reporting “an epidemic in false food poisoning claims made against overseas hotels and tour operators”.

Although it could just be that greasy foreign food no longer sits well with decent patriotic UK bellies.

July 21, 2017

Yay, schools out, you and your family may be thinking this weekend, let’s jump in the car and head off somewhere holiday-ish.

Bad idea! Very, VERY bad idea!

Because this Saturday is not like other Saturdays (especially not like those ones who used to wear skimpy outfits, gyrate lasciviously, and sing a bit).

No, this Saturday is Black Saturday, the single most dangerous day of the year on Britain’s roads. That’s according to CCTV firm Vision Truck who warn that the roads will be literally littered with stressed and distracted drivers.

So, if you do one thing this Saturday make it not getting in your car and driving anywhere in it. Make it staying at home and being thankful you had to good sense to do so.

If you like, you could send us a letter or an email here at Bankstone News to thank us for warning you not to drive anywhere on Black Saturday.

But you won’t do that, will you. We know what you’re like. You’ll get in that ruddy car of yours and drive it just to spite us. Well, more fool you!

That’s your prerogative, of course. Your choice at the end of the day. But if you really must drive then, please don’t be out on the roads at 2pm, because that’s when the blackness of Black Saturday is at its blackest.

It’s the single most dangerous hour of the most dangerous day. You’d honestly better better off playing with water and mains electricity than driving at 2pm tomorrow – although we would strongly recommend you don’t do that either.

July is the top month for serious and/or fatal RTAs with an average total of 2,300 compared with just 1,500 in the depths of winter. And right now is the worst bit of July, because everyone tries to go on holiday at the same time, which is obviously not going to work!

Added to which, Saturday’s are really bad days for getting distracted while driving anyway (1.7 times worse than other days). This is partly because pedestrians dress more provocatively on Saturdays, partly because you’re more likely to have kids and/or animals and/or spouses in the car with you, and partly because you’ve probably been out on the lash on Friday and are still a bit bleary from that.

So, basically, if you know what’s good for you and your family, just stay home tomorrow.

If it means cancelling a holiday, so be it.

Better that than exposing yourself to the menace of so-called Black Saturday.

July 21, 2017

If you’re anything like Bankstone News (and God help you if you are), you’re probably a big fan of the occasional movie. There’s nothing we like better than to have a few close friends over for a session of what we believe young folks today call Netflix ’n’ Chill.

Of course there’s more than one place you can catch a movie, and one of Bankstone News’ favourites is something called YouTub, which is where we found ourselves the other day, catching up on old favourites like Atom Egoyan’s The Adjuster, The Incredibles, Double Indemnity, and of course Kevin Watneys in The Broker’s Man.

And then, whilst furiously rootling around for further insurance-related audiovisual delights, we chanced upon something really rather special. The title of the piece is A Decade of Growth – 2016 Results. It’s a brief but highly impressive work by the acclaimed ARAG Illegal Services, and stars the endlessly watchable Tony Boss.

The essential premise of the film is that Boss is a man seated in an ostensibly bland office setting, looking back at the ten year period that has seen an organisation he refers to simply as ARAG go from being a small group of people barely scraping by to a large group of people making shedloads of money.

But that bare summary hardly begins to do justice to what is never less than a riveting watch. As Boss chunters on, the camera angle shifts from left to right and back again with bewildering rapidity, leaving the viewer simultaneously bewildered and beguiled.

Live action footage of the seated Boss, speaking first slightly to the left of the viewer then slightly to the right, is interspersed with animated sequences that bring vividly to life the extraordinary trajectory of ARAG’s meteoric rise to something approaching global dominance.

The longer we spend in Boss’ company, the more we notice subtle visual clues hidden in the seemingly innocuous corporate environment behind him.

The fronds of potted plants and dense foliage seen through white-framed windows, for instance, remind us that it’s ‘a jungle’ out there – and that ARAG’s seemingly irresistible rise has not perhaps been quite the walk in the park the urbane Boss’ nonchalance suggests.

Motivational posters on the wall, meanwhile, carry subtly disorienting messages: Drive – don’t run on the beach, Farsi classes located here, and Opinions count for nothing if your scarf is underwhelming, inviting the viewer to speculate on the manifold complexities of life in the illegal services market.

There’s a great deal more to it than that, of course, including one unforgettable scene in which we see an array of trophies housed in mysterious yellow niches. The best we can suggest is that you watch it for yourself. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you like this kind of thing!

A vivid representation of how ARAG has changed colour over the years.

July 19, 2017

The top hotspot for opportunistic insurance fraud crown is among the UK’s most fiercely contested items of metal headgear.

It’s like the national heats of Jeux Sans Frontieres (a Brussels-sponsored pan-European mind-control project, rebranded It’s a Knockout for unsuspecting UK audiences), only without the funny costumes and guffawing sex pests.

Each year, official adjudicators Keyholes Solicitors tally up the dodgy claims, guess which ones were opportunistic, and award the ultimate accolade to the relevant town, city or locality. Latest results, just in, highlight a strong showing for places beginning with B, with Birmingham in top spot, closely followed by so-called Bradford.

Yes, Good Old Brum, England and Wales’ most centrally located major city, home to more canals than Venus, spawning ground for popular culture stalwarts such as Slate, Blank Sabbath and PLO, has been identified by Keyholes as “the number one place in the country for tricksters looking to pull the wool over insurers’ eyes.”

Opportunism is all the rage right now, and it’s all the fault, the law firm is reported saying in top insurance news mouthpiece Insurance Tiles of “professional fraudsters – such as solicitors, doctors, claims managers.”

This year Keyholes has decided that more insurance claims fraud was ‘opportunistic’ than ever before, with the proportion almost doubling from 21% in 2014 to 41% last year.

That means that Keyholes now sees 4 out of every 10 dodgy insurance claims as ‘opportunistic’.

The opportunity suspected of most relevance in this context is the so-called Window of Opportunity (WOP) due to slam shut shortly with the implementation of the Civil Liability Bill.

Yes, yes, you are no doubt tutting, but where does my city stand in the hotspot top ten?

Are you dense or something? There’s a list right underneath this paragraph. Look:

1) Birmingham (a city beginning with B somewhere near the middle of England and Wales)

2) Bradford (a city beginning with B with a high incidence of opportunism)

3) Leeds (a perfectly good city with some top curry houses, sadly over-run with students)

4) Liverpool (them again!)

5) Enfield (never heard of it)

6) Newham (see above)

7) Manchester (so much to answer for)

8) Harrow (an agricultural implement of some kind, we believe)

9) Bolton (WSOTP)

10) Redbridge (see Enfield and Newham above)

If you don’t see you favourite in the list above, simply be on the look out for that call asking whether you realised there was a vast stash of notes on a pallet in a storage facility somewhere, just waiting for you to claim as soon as you’re ready to pretend you really hurt your neck or whatever.

As a wise man once said, you’ve got to be in it to win it!

July 17, 2017

Fever Pitch would be one way of describing the levels of excitement gathering around the forthcoming release of Bankstone’s new corporate brochure. Except that it’s also the name of a ploddingly competent novel by and for the type of person who enjoys making top-ten type lists of things.

So let’s just say everyone is quite excited. Yes, Bankstone’s new brochure is going to be really nice. It has words (not too many) and pictures (just the right amount) and, at one point towards the middle somewhere, even something that looks a bit like a diagram.

Without giving too much away and spoiling the surprise, Bankstone News can reveal that the new brochure is very much in line with the UK’s favourite professional claims handling provider’s new retro colour-block hillscapes visual theme and includes words like motor, claims and team.

In anticipation of its forthcoming release, we talked Bankstone supremo Diptych Typhoo into signing a dozen copies which we are making exclusively available to the first dozen readers to correctly answer the following question:

What’s the difference between a duck?

Answers please to and remember your life could be forfeit if you answer incorrectly.

Best of British luck!

July 17, 2017

Remember the good old days when Britain’s roads were the exclusive preserve of a handful of better-off types ready to splurge the price of a house on a thundering open-top motor chariot?

Remember the fun of watching the lower orders scatter in ill-disguised terror as one whizzed and zoomed around bustling towns and tranquil countryside? Well, fondly reminisce no more. Those days are coming back!

Young proles are being priced off Britain’s roads by a combination of sky high insurance premiums, rocketing tuition costs, and having no money.

Soon a young person driving a car of any kind will be a sure sign (as with top o’ the range Chelsea Tractors now) that they’re the pampered offspring of the moneyed elite or a criminal of some kind.

Some geezer trading under the too-much-protesting moniker Honest John says the number of 17 year olds taking the practical driving test each year has fallen by more than 100,000 since 2007, with the total of under-25s learning to drive down 20%.

In some parts of the country, young drivers are effectively an endangered species, with test-takers down more than 60% in East Sussex and 45% in the Environs of Bristol. In the former county, some youngsters are actually resorting to riding horses!

It’s a trend that can only gather speed, with car insurance premiums for young ‘uns rising rapidly (up 8% in Q1 2007), fuelled by hikes in Insidious Purloinment Tax (IPT) and the Ogden Flake.

And just as young motorists are being hit repeatedly in their pockets, the sense of fun and freedom that owning a car once brought is succumbing to the sustained onslaught of black boxes, surveillance cameras, traffic restrictions, and intrusively ‘smart’ cars that don’t trust you to drive them.

Now, if we can just ban all those acid-spraying scooterists, and put Amazon deliveries on drones, the road will be truly open once more.

Happy days, chaps!

July 17, 2017

This time they’ve gone too far! Mail Online, a digital newspaper in which ladies in bikinis frolic on beaches while tittle-tattle is traded and foreigners deplored, has branded insurers greedy.

“Insurers raise their prics [sic] at up to FIVE times the rate of inflation”, the Mail wailed in a singularly irresponsible headline (see below). That’s right, the Mail insists, a motor policy today costs 120% more than it did a decade back.

Based on nothing more substantial than the findings of a report by something called the Office for National Statistics, the Mail Online has now seen fit to tar insurers with the same brush as charlatans like energy firms, universities and private schools.

But insurance firms haven’t put their prices up by five times the rate of inflation. Policyholders have, by making claims. And claimant lawyers have, by aiding and abetting them. And the government has, by raising IPT and messing with the Ogden rate. And motor manufacturers have by making cars too complicated.

All insurers have tried to do is keep their much belaboured and calumnified heads above water, to carry on providing a priceless public good, while all around them sponging leeches clamour for something for nothing.

OK, insurance may be a bit pricey. But what else, short of opiates, delivers peace of mind like an insurance policy? And it’s still better value than school fees which have gone up by 159% since 2006 and Gas (up 125%). Let’s face it, food (up 37%) and booze (up 62%) aren’t even that much cheaper.

“Millions of people are paying the price for apathy by allowing big corporations to take them for a ride,” claims Guy Ankle of Moneysavingsuperexpert, quoted in the Mail. Are they really, though?

Those millions of people should be grateful they’re even doing any riding. Sure, motor insurance may have gone up by 120% while the cost of flat screen TVs has dropped by 60%. But, without the motor insurance that motor insurers remain selflessly committed to providing – even though none of them has ever made any money doing it, and it will all soon be taken over by robots anyway (see recent story) – nobody would even be allowed to drive their cars!

So maybe the Mail and its skinflint readers, with their so-called spiralling bills, should just stop whinging and cough up for the good of a vital national industry.

July 16, 2017

When Bankstone News heard that the FCA had rapped a fashion fashion firm over insurance miss selling, we naturally assumed they were talking about BIBA. But, no, in fact it was some other fashion firm. One called N Brown. The one, as it turns out, behind fat-size brands Jack Amo and Simple Bee.

But what on earth, you might be wondering, could a fashion retailer have done to incur the wrath of the FCA? What it had been doing was selling people ‘add-on’ insurance policies they were highly unlikely ever to have the need or opportunity to claim on. Credit insurance policies to be precise.

Products that nobody (or hardly anybody) ever claims on are deemed ‘flawed’ by the FCA, on the basis that although people pay money for them, those people are very unlikely to derive any benefit from having done so. And N Brown had been shifting loads of them.

So many, it seems, that they’ve now set aside between £35m and £45m to cover compensation to customers they’ve inveigled into paying for these flawed credit insurance products. N Brown shareholders have been unimpressed to the tune of an 8% reduction in the firm’s share price.

The FCA appears to have got a bit of a bee in its bonnet about so-called ‘flawed’ insurance products. But what it clearly fails to appreciate that it is only by selling products that nobody’s going to claim on that the insurance industry can afford to sell products that people might want – and crucially be able – to claim on.

It’s like how people whose innate stupidity, laziness and apathy leads them to remain loyal to their insurers from year to year subsidise loss-leader offers for those who dutifully shop around with every annual renewal.

If the FCA insists on seeing people not claiming on a insurance policy as a bad thing, then the outlook for our sector looks bleak indeed.

A version of capitalism where stupid lazy people get protected is like a version of evolution where the least fit get lavish survival support.

It’s a business not a charity, you know!

July 10, 2017

A female known simply as The Woman has been sentenced to be suspended for two whole years for stealing people’s details and selling them to a dodgy claims firm. The Woman was also fined a massive £4.5k and ordered to think about what she had done and never do it again.

That, of course, will come as scant consolation to the people who have had their details stolen and will now be condemned to endure the perpetual desolation of a generic and non-specific life. What on earth motivated The Woman to commit such a horrendous act of detail theft?

Venality, that’s what. Sorry to put it so crudely. But what else is there to say?

For every Eve (aka The Woman), however, there is a serpent (aka The Snake). And this story is no different from that biblical tale of yore. Except for the fact that it’s true. Just kidding, Jehovains! Its theme is that one thing that poncey poet Oskar Wildling could not resist: to whit temptation.

More attentive readers may recall that, back in April this year, Bankstone News warned about the activities of blokes in raincoats hanging around outside people’s offices waiting for a chance to tempt them into detail-theft with tantalising offers of cash, drugs, soft-core sexual favours, chocolate and/or money-off coupons valid (for a limited period only) at major UK supermarket chains.

Well that, near enough, is what happened to The Woman (real name Tracey Miller). While working for big yellow insurance company Uvavu, The Woman was approached after work by ‘a man she didn’t know’  who then proceeded to offer her a bunch of money in return for the details of people who’d had cars and had been involved in accidents involving those cars (and sometimes other cars).

The Woman must have thought she’d be living the life of Riley on the £4,500 she’d netted flogging people’s details between May and August 2013. Think again, The Woman aka Tracey! How could someone who lives on Cop Road, Oldham have been so foolish as to imagine herself beyond the long reach of the arm of the law?

As it was, Uvavu smelled a rat. Tracey followed the path of preventative discretion and left the firm in December 2013. A subsequent investigation by crack fraud-busters the FEDs looked into the suspicious activities of dodgy looking men in macs floating around outside claims offices looking for potential data leakers.

It didn’t take long for the FEDs to bust the case wide open. Before you could say Tommy Robinson they were round at some dodgy claims geezer’s gaffe cracking open his data files to find a bunch of Uvavu-sourced data on recent crash victims, all of which led back to one person and one person only: The Woman.

Just three years after her concupiscent criminal doings, The Woman was up in court, convicted and condemned to two years of not having to go to prison subject to no further naughtiness.

The FEDs Matt Horsey summed up succinctly in suggesting that The Woman had abused her position of trust within her organisation. “Instead of doing the right thing and alerting her employer about being approached by a fraudster,” Matt said, “she instead greedily decided to set-up a deal with him.

The moral of the story being, that insurers should maybe offer some fraudster-shopping bonuses to people like The Woman so they can satisfy their desire to do the right thing and their equally compelling desire to make some extra cash, at one and the same time.

Just a crazy idea!

July 9, 2017

‘Why do we even have claims?’ insurers must be wondering.

A damning new study released by the Association of Brutish Insurers (AIB) has revealed that claims these days are still mostly b*llocks.

That’s right: according to the ABI, there are no fewer than 2,400 fraudulent claims made every single week of the UK year. That’s the equivalent of a whopping 1.3 BILLION GBPs every single year until the end of time and/or you die, whichever takes longer.

Yes, these are pretty scary figures. But, don’t worry, the ABI has a handle on it. Dodgy claims are already coming down, and now the Abes have a cunning plan. Or if not a plan exactly, then at least a slogan. The slogan – and you may want to sit down for this – is… Are you ready? OK, just checking. The slogan is: “The con is not on.”

You’ve got to admit, that’s really quite a slogan. Especially if you repeat it several times. The con is not on. The con is not on. You can experiment with the emphasis, but the essential point is never less than absolutely clear.

Not since British Rail’s “Let the train take the strain” (or possibly the British Potato Marketing Board’s “Our spuds are not duds”) has such a splendid slogan been seen or heard within the bounds of these here scepter’d isles.

So now, armed with its trusty (albeit new-forged) slogan, the ABI intends to sally forth against the hordes of fraud and lay into these unscrupulous ruffians pell mell, willy nilly, and above all sans merci! In fact they’re already doing it.

“We’ve achieved real success in tackling organised fraud in the last year,” says the ABI’s Sir James ‘Duelling’ Dalton. For which the Association must surely be congratulated, if only on the basis that achieving real success is better than achieving unreal, notional or hypothetical success in tackling organised fraud.

Motor fraud claims are down in both numerical and monetary terms, by 5% or thereabouts, totalling 69,000 in the former respect and £780m in the latter. Organised C4C fraud is significantly down, but there’s been a little bit of an uptick in so-called ‘spur-a-da-moment’ fraudulent claims, with the number of unpremeditated ‘just fancied it’ type claims rising from 53,000 in 2015 to 57,000 last year.

According to Jimmy D, this is why, even thought motor fraud is falling, it remains 100% imperative that HMG cracks on with the War on Whiplash and bans PI claims once and for all, and all and for once. ASAPly.

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