Paul Upton – Head of Claims – ARAG PLC

Back in 2007 ARAG was looking for an experienced specialist motor insurance claims handling service with the flexibility to meet the full needs of our diverse customer base, and somebody who really understood our specific needs; something we had struggled to find in previous providers. We found exactly that in Bankstone. Partnering with them adds value and reassurance when we tender for business, and we know we can rely on them to consistently deliver a professional and tailored service.

Throughout the six years we’ve been working with Bankstone, they have provided a truly exceptional level of service. They have helped us achieve consistently outstanding customer satisfaction scores across all aspects of claims handling. Above and beyond that, they’ve shown an in-depth understanding of our business, supporting the excellent reputation we enjoy with our insurer partners.

September 25, 2017

With winter on its way, with lately-fallen leaf litter thick upon the damp cold tarmac, now’s the perfect time to pull on your fur-lined leathers and to get out on the highway on your iron horse of choice.

And when you do, you’ll have the added inner glow that comes from knowing you’re doing ‘your bit’ to ease congestion. The Motor Cycle Industry Association MCIA recently revealed (not necessarily for the first time) that research shows that, if just 10% of all motorists switched from four wheels to two, congestion on our roads would fall by 40%.

If a quarter of all motorists switched to bikes, there would be no congestion at all. Anywhere.

If half of all motorists switched to bikes, the roads would feel weirdly forlorn and deserted. To the point where, some experts predict, we would have to start paying people drive cars around – or (for reasons of fuel economy, the environment, and extending the potential labour pool beyond those qualified for or capable of driving) simply to sit in stationary vehicles by the side of the road to make things feel more normal again.

Those are all actual facts. They’re from Belgium, but they’re still facts. And now, as if to prove exactly this point, motor cyclists are to be employed for the very first time ever to deliver fuel to four-wheel motorists who’ve been stuck on the M5 West Midlands Oldbury Contraflow for so long they’ve emptied their tanks just trying to keep warm and listen to Radio 2.

It’s all to do with this framework thingy that the MCIA has constructed, called the Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework, Realising the Motorcycle Opportunity (MSTPFRMO). The framework has been ‘partnered’ by the National Police Chiefs Council (Nat-Po-Chi-Co) and by Highways England (HE), the body responsible for the UK’s network of strategic roads.

As the name hints, the MSTPFRMO framework is geared to realising the opportunity of the motor cycle. The Oldbury fuel ferrying thing is just one example of how the motor cycle can play a vital role in things like safety and strategy and roads, because it is the natural enemy of congestion and can weave in an out of stationary or semi-stationary traffic (a manoeuvre technically known as filtering or filleting or something) with relative impunity.

Highways man Alastair Worms says of the MCIA’s bike-back jerry-can service, which has helped out with 17 ‘fuel-related incidents’ since the beginning of August, ‘By offering this type of assistance we are able to minimise disruption’, and the MCIA says ‘We’re pleased to be of service. Now do you believe bikes are great?!’ or something.

September 24, 2017

Insurers paid out a staggering 2 billion quid (that’s around 2% of the entire cost of the Apollo moon landings project reckoned in today’s money) in the second quarter of 2017.

That means we’re running at close to one Apollo per decade. Which is a fair old deal of money, if you think about it.

With an average value of £2,839.00, there were 13,000 claims in 2Q 2017, the highest quarterly number since 2013 – partly fuelled by special new keyless technology that makes child-splay of nicking fancy motors.

And when it comes to accident and damage claims, the average cost of patching up a policyholder’s pride and joy has risen to a whacking £1,777.00. That’s 33% more than what it cost just four short years ago. Which is quite a fair old bit, and no mistake.

Why is it so expensive fixing a couple of messed up motors, you’re probably wondering in your usual clueless way. Well, for one thing, it’s because motor manufacturers keep making their cars more and more complicated and less and less easy to fix when they get mashed up.

For another, however, in contradistinction, it’s because loads of cars nowadays are either made in foreign countries or have bits in them that made in foreign countries. And what with jolly old Brexit and the plummeting value of ££s Sterling, they all cost a fair bit more than what they used to cost before we started turbocharging British exports.

On which basis, Bankstone News has a modest proposal to make. British people need to start buying British cars again and end this senseless obsession with cheap foreign imitations.

That’ll cut the repair bill considerably. And what, after all, is wrong with ACs, Astons, Bentleys, Caterhams, Jags, Lotuses, Morgans, Rollers and the like?

Let’s face it, you wouldn’t keep a foreigner in your garage, so why would you keep a foreign car there?!

Do the decent thing and just say no to foreign cars.

And everything else foreign.

September 24, 2017

Older readers may recall how a bloke called Marty Butch used to contribute road test reviews to the ‘pages’ of Bankstone News.

Sadly, Butch passed away in a tragic accident of his own devising when his attempt to electrify Dixon Tilsley’s VW Up went horribly wrong back in the Spring of 2013.

Or… did he?

That’s what everyone thought for the past four and a half years. But was it really true? Bankstone News investigates…

Doubts first emerged when someone bearing an uncanny resemblance to the late lamented Butch was spotted playing Rugby League in a Halifax jersey.

And then, when we started asking questions around the West Yorx region, more and more people reported having caught fleeting glimpses of someone suspiciously Butch-like.

Months of patient investigation, culminating in calling his mobile number, revealed that… Butch lives!

Apparently we’re not supposed to tell anyone – because he’s assumed a new identity as Martin B Utch and is trying to make a fresh start, but our former motoring correspondent is in fact alive and… well…

When we quizzed him as to why he’d staged the elaborate garage-incinerating ‘accident’ in which Tilsley’s Up and (as everyone assumed at the time) Mr Butch himself were totalled, he confessed that he’d run up crippling debts to the Butch family swear jar and felt he had no alternative but to stage his own death and start afresh in Penistone.

But offers of a role as ‘loose forward’ with the Fax and a semi-regular stand-up spot at Bojangles in Wakefield lured him back into the spotlight where ultimately we found him (in the latter capacity one wednesday night) leaning on a mic stand like a foul-mouthed guitar-less David Gedge, boozin’ and faggin’, and rambling incoherently to general and lively acclaim.

To cut a long story short, he’s agreed to do some more road test reviews for us – but only so long as we use his pseudonym and don’t tell Mrs Butch, who – as far as he knows – may still be totting up the interest on his unpaid swear-jar debt.

So, as the clocking-off astronomy shift-worker says to his clocking-on colleague, watch this space!

That tantalising first glimpse

September 24, 2017

Life is full of disappointments, isn’t it.

Jacob Rees-Mogg never wrote back to thank us for getting that tattoo. Neither of those lycra leaflet ladies ever called. And – no matter how long Bankstone News spends lolling on it -there’s never any spare change down the back of the office settee when it’s pub time.

But it wasn’t just Bankstone News that was disappointed this week. Bremoaners were disappointed that we might not be shot of the EU ’til 2021. Remoaners were disappointed we might still be leaving at some point. And big yellow insurer Uvavu was disappointed, it announced, because its crazy-driving-stunts TV ad has been banned by jumped-up so-called regulator the Advertisers’ Standing Authority (ASA).

The ad (inspired by a very similar bit of film produced by Spanish car magazine Autopistas (Drunk Drivers) in which Formula 1 bloke Sebastian ‘Bastibas’ Vettel (disguised by means of ludicrous stick-on facial hair) subjects unsuspecting vehicle owners (probably actors) to a terrifying stunt drive round an industrial estate), features former F1 driver Davey Coolturd (disguised by means of ludicrous stick-on facial hair) subjecting unsuspecting taxi passengers (probably actors) to a terrifying stunt drive on The Queen’s highway.

Despite Uvavu plastering the opening frames of their 60-second ad with ‘Don’t try this at home, Kids’ type advisories, the ASS (who received in excess of 57 complaints) failed to see the funny side and deemed the ad reckless, irresponsible and likely to encourage reckless and irresponsible driving – and possibly the wearing of disguises characterised by ludicrous stick-on facial hair. So they’ve banned it.

Anyone now wishing to witness the lantern-jawed Scot burring rubber with a faceful of stick-on whisker-fluff, will now have to search for something like ‘Coolturd Uvavu’ on You-Tub – or simply click on the image below. Because if you did watch it on TV you’d probably rush out to sign up with Uber and then proceed to terrify the living carp out of some unsuspecting would-be fares.

“We’re disappointed,” Uvavu said, insisting that ‘road safety is hugely important to us and we have done a lot of work, particularly over the last two years, to help promote safer driving.” The yellow insurer said it sympathised with viewers who might have felt that the “advert may have sent out the wrong message”.

The right message, apparently, and Bankstone News would never have guessed this if Uvavu hadn’t explained it to us, is that everyone should get telematics installed in their cars so that people like Davey C would be punished with punitive premiums, and people who drove around nicely (even if they weren’t driving taxis) would be rewarded with things like vaguely affordable motor insurance and not having handfuls of bigfoot pubes glued to their faces.

“We wanted to produce an advert which presented this idea” (i.e. the idea that it’s best to drive safely and responsibly and maybe get a black box fitted) “in a completely different way,” Uvavu explained.

Mission accomplished, there, Lads.

Is it Coolturd? Is it Vettel? Who knows with that beard!

September 15, 2017

You know us at Bankstone News: why we would bother writing something ourselves when we can borrow something much better that someone else has written already.

It was in precisely this spirit that we spent all of ten seconds deciding to bring you the letter reproduced (largely un-mangled) below, which recently featured in esteemed industry organ British Dealer News.

The epistle in question sprang originally from the pen of esteemed dealer Pete Aitkenhead. It has important points to make about an issue of real concern in the market today: the scourge of violent crimes involving motorcycles currently raging in London and other towns and cities up and down the UK.

Frankly it’s a tad light on jokes, but then moped enabled crime is hardly a laughing matter and it’s well worth reading just the same.

We need to address the despicable double act of theft and thuggery

I’ve been in the bike trade long enough to see history repeating itself, and I fear we may be heading there again.

In around 1994, Norwich Union was paying out £2 in claims for every pound it took in premiums. So it discontinued its much-loved Rider policy, which allowed you to own, insure and ride several bikes for one reasonable premium.

Back then, Norwich Union enjoyed two-thirds of the market, around 400,000 riders, but stepped back because of the problem of spiralling thefts. In came a new Premier policy, with 17 bands instead of the previous seven. No-one under 28 was accepted. No-claims bonuses were not offered. Premiums rocketed.

Several other companies bailed out of bike insurance altogether.

That same year, Fowlers took on the parts distribution for Piaggio, whose vehicle sales grew steadily under the excellent stewardship of Giuseppe Tranchina. He took a different approach to sales and marketing, and built a strong network of good dealer relations. But he was being held back, particularly where youngsters were concerned, by high insurance costs.

In conjunction with Lexham Insurance, Piaggio began offering a flat premium of £125, which made their machines accessible to a much wider audience. Sales went through the roof, doubling over several successive years.

Insurance companies are constantly analysing the market. Which vehicles incur most costs? Where are they located? But actuaries don’t live in a bubble. They also watch the TV news.

In recent years, PTWs have had a generally positive press: low fuel consumption, allowed in bus lanes, no congestion charge, widely used in fast (and fast food) deliveries in London and across the UK.

But now they are starting to be seen as theft liabilities, ridden by acid or hammer wielding thugs. We urgently need to do something to address this.

I have been somewhat appalled at the casual attitude of the government to the recent acid attacks. They can say only that they are going to “review” the situation. In general discussion with staff here, I said I couldn’t see the difference between carrying a loaded gun or a knife and a container of acid. One of the staff spun round in his chair and said “I’d rather be shot.”

There are laws for dealing with Burglar Bill wandering the streets at night with a bag of screwdrivers and a jemmy (it’s called going equipped). If the Plod pull a scooter rider over, and a search reveals a mobile phone, some keys, and a container of acid, the conclusion is inevitable.

One MP said on the radio that the problem is that substances like bleach and drain cleaner can be found under everyone’s kitchen sink. Sir, I rest my case! Because under the sink is where they should be. Anywhere else, and someone should be getting their collar felt.

If machine thefts don’t stop, bike sales will dry up. Then you have no-one left to sell to – whether you’re talking about, helmets, locks, insurance or whatever.

Secondly, I’d be willing to bet these acid attacks aren’t being committed using legitimately owned vehicles. So, if we can slow up the thefts, we can help remove the tools these thugs need to carry out their despicable acts.

Lastly, I have heard police won’t pursue stolen scooters or fail-to-stops when the riders aren’t wearing crash helmets – just the ubiquitous hoodie – in case the Dear Little Things get injured.

I have an opinion on that, and I expect most others will as well!

– Pete Aitkenhead, Fowlers of Bristol


September 15, 2017

When you’ve been around the block as many times as Bankstone News has, it’s a safe bet you’re someone who knows their onions. Either that or your satnav’s on the blink.

But when you have got a bit of experience under your belt, or wherever you choose to store it (we’ve actually had to move ours due to a major build up of unsightly pie-derived portliness, maybe you have too), you come to recognise that there are really only two main kinds of concern in this life.

There’s real concerns (the stuff you feel somewhat justified about losing sleep over) and there’s unreal concerns, where you just go meh, or whatever, or do I look bothered? or something, and you probably shrug or blow some air sideways and downwards out of one corner of your mouth.

Leaping insurance industry publication Insurance Ache this week stressed that the Impending General Data Protection Regulations (IGDPR) are very much a cause for the former type of concern, at least as far as UK insurance brokers are concerned (and concerned they certainly should be!)

In a news item helpfully entitled ‘GDPR a real concern for brokers’ the paper quoted Ian Huge of the Consumer Inteligenzia urging brokers to ‘implement change’, ‘set up a task force’, and ‘get an education’.

They should probably also stop chucking people’s data around like confetti at a confetti factory wedding, although he didn’t actually say that.

“Any wrong-doing,” Huge warns sternly, “could be disastrous.” By way of exemplification, he reveals that “if they do not get explicit permission from historic customers to store their information, home and motor insurers could face a £100m bill.”

Worrying that ‘disastrous’ may not, perhaps, have captured the full attention of Insurance Aids readers, Huge says “GDPR could be cataclysmic for brokers.” This is because any data that brokers ‘hold’ on customers, past or present, now needs to be held ‘with consent or with a legitimate purpose’

Sadly, Huge believes the scope of ‘legitimate purpose’ does not extend to things like ‘keeping them on file just in case’. If brokers do feel there’s a legitimate reason for hanging on to data without the customer’s explicit say-so, then apparently they have to write down somewhere what they think that reason is.

As of 25 May 2018, Huge says, GDPR fines will start raining down on non-compliant brokers like [see what we’ve got left in the metaphor cupboard]. That means brokers need to do a lot of looking at what they’re doing with data now, and make sure they’ve finished that looking, and ideally done something about it, by the aforementioned date.

If you go tapping up ‘lapsed’ customers for business after 25 May you’ll probably be putting yourself in the way of ‘stiff’ fines, Huge cautions.

Insurance H also spoke, briefly, to Dave Sparks of retro fashion house BIBA who was happy to confirm that BIBA has been looking at GDPR for quite a while now and ‘will continue to follow the progress of the Data Protection Bill and engage with Government.’

If you’d like to know more about GDPR and how your business could be affected, that might actually be quite a good idea by the sound of it. Otherwise you could find yourself caught up in a cataclysmic disaster or something.

September 13, 2017

To the Thompson submachine gun, the Dymond-Glyde patent glass cutter, the sack, and the classic mask-and-stripy-jersey combo, must now be added a fearsome new weapon in the criminal’s arsenal hall of fame.

That item, sad to relate, is the dear old motor scooter, or moped, as folks mostly choose to denote it these days. In London alone, shockingly, there have been no fewer than 19,385 moped enabled crimes in a single year.

According to London Mayor Zadoc Khan, that’s 19,385 too many. So now the dapper, diminutive civic leader (did you know he’s a Muslim, by the way!) has declared War on Moped Enabled Crime (WoMEC).

‘And about time too!’, we say here at Bankstone News.

MEC will no longer be tolerated on the Streets of London, Khan has declared. And to make that intolerance a clear and present reality he’s ‘brought together’ London’s police, local authorities, and the Motorcycle Crime Prevent Community (MCPC) to enforce total zero tolerance, capital-wide.

“Moped crime is reckless, frightening, intimidating and completely unacceptable,” Khan says, adding that “it is essential we all work together to do everything possible to stamp it out.”

Along with our illustrious sponsors, leading professional outsourced claims handling specialists Bankstone, we here at Bankstone News would like to hereby pitch in our own oar in earnest token of our sworn intent to do all we can to assist Khan with has WoMEC offensive. And we don’t even live in London!

In the meantime, Mayor Khan has urged Londoners (although this could equally apply to anyone anywhere else for that matter) to:

  • Remain vigilant (Short of actually becoming a vigilante, obviously)
  • Be aware of your surroundings (Where are you? Who else is there? What are they up to? Is it no good?)
  • Take care of your personal items such as mobile phones (for a change)
  • Consider using hands-free ‘on the street’ (so scooter thugs can’t grab your goodies)

Above all, you should report suspicious activity to the Police on 101 or Crimesteppers on 0800 555 111.

Together, we can put a stop to all the nasty, vicious, solvent-toting scooter-related crime and delinquency that is giving a bad name to that most affordable and (formerly) endearing form of transport, the Motobicyclette.

The proper use of motor scooters (N.B.)

September 12, 2017

There’s nothing like winning an award to boost a chap’s confidence. Even being shirtlifted presumably gives quite a fillip. Sadly, the closest Bankstone News has ever come to winning an award was when one mean-spirited reader wrote in to tell us that our report on customer satisfaction in the motor insurance sector was quite possibly the stupidest thing they’d ever read.

So it was with helpless envy that we learned the other day that the UK’s leaning motorcycle hire, repair and clams management specialists (to the insurance and accident management industry), Plantec, have been shortlisted in the ‘Claims Party of the Year (Motor)’ category in the Insurance Tides Awards 2017.

Odds are, they’ll probably win it too. They have form, you see, having but recently scooped the Out Sauced Partner of the Year award at the prestige-connoting Brash Insurance Awards held at London’s Albert Hole earlier this year.

If they do, they’ll get to collect it at a galah awards ceremony on December 7th at top capital-based hospitality hub the InterContinence London, a venue described in Plantec’s own press release as ‘classy’.

But what, you’re probably wondering, have Planted done to put themselves in the way of further awardage? Putting aside our increasing amazement and frustration at just how little you actually know about the motor insurance industry and associated sectors, we would hazard that it’s something to do with outstanding customer service, and claims, and stuff.

Here’s what Plantec had to say on the subject themselves. The shortlisting, their press release suggests, comes as “recognition for Plantec Assist’s superb service levels” and is a “real testament to the quality of our service provision”.

One key aspect of this could be Plantec’s Bike Safe Policy, a product which is saving lives, reducing costs, and winning praise from Flantec’s broker partners.

All we can say at Bankstone News is: they must be doing something right! Even if it’s just being good at putting award entries together. Although, we’re pretty sure there’s more to it than that!

So, well done Plantec! Let’s hope you’ll be celebrating in style come 9 December, and if you happen to have a place spare on your table…

There’ll be free food and drink, right?


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What our clients say about us

After the problems I had with my previous insurer when I was knocked off my bike, it was very refreshing to talk to someone who didn't automatically assume that I was at fault simply because I ride a motorbike. I received a call back very quickly from someone who knew what I was talking about and dealt with my call in a friendly yet very professional manner. Thank you.
Mr. L - Westcliff on Sea