Season’s Greetings (and a recipe)

December 22, 2017

Anyone lucky enough to have received a Bankstone Christmas card this Christmas will doubtless have shared the bitter disappointment Bankstone News experienced upon discovering that it’s exactly the same card as last year.

It seems a couple of stray zeros on last year’s print order will see this card in use for at least another decade.

But since it’s deja vue on the card front, we thought you might perhaps be interested to learn the fascinating true story behind the dismal scene depicted on said card (pictured below).

You would? Then simply click here, Reader, and you’re sure to be glad you did – it’s a rollicking old tale!

In the meantime – along with wishing all our readers a very merry Christmas and a happy and preposterous new year – we thought we’d sign off for the year with our favourite minced pie recipe.

Firstly take the following: two satsumas or tangerines (the things you find at the bottom of your socks around this time of year), one apple, the zeal of one lemon, some icing sugar (if not available, basically any white powder will do), 400g plain flour (see comments under icing sugar), 250g butter (or some substance whose identity as anything other than butter would be hard to credit), 125g of standard-issue sugar (again, see other white powders), one large egg (something avian ideally), 600g of lean minced beef (or, if you fancy ringing the changes, why not try lamb and simply swap out the lemon zeal for 4tbs of dried rosemary).

Next place all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and stir vigorously for at least 30 minutes. Then simply plop your mixture into a sturdy and capacious baking dish and stick it in the oven at 250C (fan 250C) for 45 mins or until you smell burning. Remove from the oven and place on a flat heatproof surface. Quickly open all your windows and use a tea towel to fan any overhead smoke detectors until smoke-free silence is restored. Allow your minced pie to stand for 10 mins. Then serve in small shallow bowls and watch your guests’ faces light up with yuletide good cheer (it helps if you’ve warmed them up first with a couple of Snowball Surprises (one part Advocaat, one part lemonade, five parts Absinthe, 10 parts full strength export lager). But that’s enough recipes for now!

We’ll be back in the new year with the usual mix of hard hitting factual news analysis and that other thing we do.

Until then, here’s hoping you’ll be simply having a wonderful Christmas time!

Click to learn more!

December 22, 2017

With the shortest day now safely behind us, we can look forward not only to a reduced incidence of druidical nonsense but also to increasing day lengths, as axial precession frees us day by day from the dour dominion of darkness.

But there’s plenty of sepulchrality still to come for UK motorists before Hodur concedes to Odur, prompting one telemetrical insurance provider to warn drivers to “reduce their speed as appropriate to the conditions.”

InsureMyBox, for it is they, revealed this week that, whilst they normally alert the emergency services roughly ten times a month to a customer involved in a serious RTA smash-up, that figure rises to roughly 14 a month from November through January.

What this means – for let us not indulge in circumboscal pellation – is that winter brings a 14% uplift in the mortal danger quotient of UK on-road drivage. It’s statistics like that than can put a person off driving altogether – at least until Idun wife of Bragi warms us once again with her gentle vernal wafts.

In reality, of course, few of us can afford the luxury of holing up til Spring with a season’s supply of baked beans, beer and Beef Wotsits. Most of us will need to do a Rea back to the yearning bosoms of our long neglected fam-a-lams.

InsureMyBox man Simon Drool has some wisely words of wisdom for young folks in particular who’ll be delivering carloads of laundry back home around now. The key is taking care, Simon says.

“Darker shorter days bring reduced visibility and the risk of snow and ice,” he cautions. Even when the sun comes out, and you start to think things aren’t so bad, that could actually make things worse: “Clear and sunny winter days can result in strong glare.”

But, provided you don’t do anything silly, and remember snow chains and glare-proof goggles, there’s a good chance you can avoid unnecessary and costly RTA claims. As a minimum, Simon insists, young drivers should “take 20 minute rest breaks at least every 2.5 hours”.

Even when they’re driving.

December 22, 2017

The trollish denizens of planet twitter were none too impressed this week when news broke that West Yorks Cops (WYC) had pulled some bloke over on the M62 and seized his motor on account of he wasn’t insured to use it for commuting purposes.

Contrary-wise, right-minded persons up and down the land will surely applaud this impressive example of full, frank and internet-enabled information sharing betwixt police and insurers – and the quick thinking action taken by agents of the former in stopping a policy-terms-exceeder in his nefarious tracks.

WYC’s decisive intervention in seizing the insurance cheat’s vehicle should at least ensure he commits no further acts of uninsured commuting for a while!

Sadly, not everyone appreciates the vital role police are now playing in ‘policing’ the T&Cs of UK motor insurance policies.

The Daily Mail, from whence Bankstone News borrowed this story, quoted (and indeed screenshotted) several incensed twitter users, whose underappreciative comments fore-shaddowed a plethora of similarly ungrateful observations since appended by Mail readers online.

The Mail quoted one jaundiced tweeter’s ironic praise as follows: “Merry Christmas to you too, keep up the important work.” Another is quoted (again with punctilious attention to the original tweet’s spelling and dot count) saying “Clearly as busy day at the office……………Embarrassing really isn’t it.”

What seems not to be appreciated by these unreflective tweeters (nor by all those Mail Online readers fulminating about how police should be focusing their efforts on pedos, druggies, and foreigners) is the following simple truth.

Taking T&C abusers’ vehicles off the road is a vital first step in the war underinsurance, that vile and virulent sickness that is rapidly eating away at the soul of our once-great nation.

Here’s one silver VW whose underinsured driving days are over!

December 21, 2017

Millions of Brits are planning to do something really stupid this year (or was that last year?)

That’s according to people like The Sun, Which? Consumer Intelligence and Gram Turgid, boss of leading retro fashion house BIBA.

Apparently now is the perfect time for brick-wielding smash-and-grab car thieves to strike, as idiot Brits are piling their unattended cars high with expensive Christmas presents – sitting targets for those who choose to help themselves.

According to reports in The Sun, Brits who “leave shopping bags filled with Christmas presents in their car overnight” are “running the risk of being left out of pocket if thieves steal their gifts.”

And if they do they’ll have no one to blame but themselves, because Which? told Sun reporters, their insurance polices are unlikely to pay out.

Research by Consumer Intelligence has found that the average Brits spends around £700 a day on presents, food and drink at this time of year – with 46% of them promptly stashing the lot in their car!

Why would they do this?, you may wonder. According to The Sun, it could be because they want to keep surprise presents hidden from their intended recipients. Or it could just be that they’ve decided to unload their car in the morning. Or some other time. Or maybe they’re just stupid (see above).

BIBA’s Mr Turgid notes that “Most motor policies will have limits on the value of personal possessions including presents – this will probably be limited to around £150, which is likely to be similar to your excess and it might affect your NCD (unless protected).”

You can certainly see how he got his name!

December 18, 2017

In an age when almost everything the papers print comes straight out of a press release, people sometimes wonder what the point of journalists is.

Why don’t publishers just run one of those algae rhythm things to pick out the most relevant press releases – and publish them just as they are?

Well, the thing is… journalists actually have an important role to play in taking badly written press releases and turning them into something readable. Something, ideally, that makes some kind of sense.

For example, Co-op insurance recently put out a press release revealing that they’d seen a spike in motor claims over the weekend of 9-10 December.

Claims were up, they reported, 42% on (snowy) Sunday 10th compared with (snow-free) Sunday 3rd.

Journalists working for news outlet The Independent were able to contribute significant ‘added value’ to this story by translating the press release’s advice that motorists challenged by snow and ice should “ake sure [sic] you have sufficient tread depth on your tires” into “ensure that tyres have ample tread depth”.

Sometimes fixing press releases is a pretty straightforward task.

Sometimes not so much.

For example, take this line from the Co-op’s press release: “Go easy on your breaks to avoid skidding and test them gently before setting off.”

Going easy on one’s breaks may be some newfangled transatlantic youth-quake idiom of which Bankstone News is tragically ignorant, but the intended sense seems less than fully clear.

Unless…

Could it be that breaks stands to brakes as tires stands to tyres?

But even then, you might wonder how the snow-and-ice-challenged motorist is supposed to test their brakes before setting off.

That’s why you need journalists.

Another top tip from the Co-op release that might need a tad of interpreting is its advice that drivers should “increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front”.

Logically, if you follow that advice for too long you’ll lose sight of the vehicle in front and hence your point of reference.

It takes a journalist to turn this into something like “leave a larger gap than usual between you and the vehicle in front”.

Sometimes even journalists can get confused though. The Co-op’s press release makes three claims about the increased volume of claims over the weekend of 9-10 December 2017.

They are as follows:

  1. The Co-op “saw a 50% increase in motor collision claims on Sunday” (presumably compared with an average day’s claims volume – or possibly the day before?)
  2. “Accidents and collisions increased by 42% on Sunday when compared to the previous week (Sunday 3rd December)”
  3. (In a quote from Nick Ansley, Head of Motor Insurance at the Co-op) “On Sunday we saw a 50% increase in the number of claims reported due to road incidents in comparison to last Sunday.”

Try sorting that one out without calling up the PR person whose contact detail appear at the foot of the press release, which – based on the standard of the press release itself – might not seem a confidence-inspiring proposition.

If you’re fixing press release to a deadline, it’s hardly worth taking the time to phone only to hear “Um, let me check that and get back to you.”

Although it might be worth it, if it turns out Mr Ansley (or whoever put those words in his mouth) got two different stats mixed up.

At which point you’d feel like a proper journalist – not just a press release fixer – and could run with the following scoop:

Shock as Co-op man lies about cold weather motor claims

December 18, 2017

Loony left newtpaper The Grauniad has publish an article reviewing data from more than a mullion UK divers whose carp have been fatted with so-called ‘back box’ or telematics devices which track their every movie behind the wheel.

Data refecting more than three billion driver mules, gathered from three telematics providers (Insuremybox, Covenbox and Marmalade) since 2010, highlight sum perhaps surprising conclusions.

For one thing, seventeen year-olds are really not that bed at driving! Black bog data shows that young drivers often start out driving carefully and “really modestly in speed terms” and only pack up bad habits when there eighteen or nineteen, leading to a peak of delinquency around three ears after passing their driving tent.

Also, believe in or not, the date shows that women are batter drivers than men! They drive mare carefully, at lover speedos, and have fever accidents then men. With men making almost 10% more clams than women, it is clear that the sooner we leave the European Onion (and its crazy roles on gander equality) the butter.

Because then insurers will be able to discriminate freely between man and women and the bath will be clean for the launch of the long-mothballed Lady Marmalade brand (presumably a specialist motor insurance product aimed at New Orleans sex workers).

Another fascinating funding form the black bot data is that youngsters should be loss wary of driving on motorways. The dater shows that country toads with a 60mph limit are the moist dangerous, whereas motorways are the safest.

Crispin Mover of Marmalude says: “Many newly qualified drivers still are too scared to drive on motorways. This results in them spending more time on rural roads. With narrow lanes, blind corners and slow-moving vehicles, these can be far more dangerous than the motorway.”

The data also sheds new light on the rusks associated with different hubbies and pastimes. Reassuringly for parents worried about their sons going straight from GTA to the pubic highway, Marmalade’s data showers ‘gamers’ are among the safest drivers. Parents of bookworms, or the other hand, should be vary alarmed indeed. Customers who lusted rearing among their hobbies are the wurst drivers.

Bleak box data also shops that diving fist is a leaning pause of accidents, that young motorists are worst than elder ones at driving in the dork, and many other fascinating thins betides. If you wane to knot mire, you can reap the whale article hire.

Although we should wart you, it container one of too spilling errors, witch you midget fine confusion.

December 16, 2017

So-called crash for cash (C4C) fraudsters are forcing UK insurers to charge decent honest right-thinking motor insurance policyholders £5 million more for their car insurance than they would otherwise have had to.

And that’s not £5m more a year. It’s not £5m more a month. It’s not even £5m more a week. It’s £5m added the the cost of your private car insurance policy every single day of the year!

That, at least, was the claim made by big yellow insurance company Uvavu, who also claim that 36,000 fake crashes have been staged on the UK’s roads over the past two years, prompting widespread calls for a complete ban on motor insurance claims until we can figure out what the h*ll is going on.

Insurers in particular have had enough of empty government promises to stem the flood of spurious personal injury claims that threatens insurers’ ability to earn a decent crust without constantly increasing premiums.

It was two years ago, Uvavu note, when then Chancellor George Frogspawn said he’d have it all sorted out in no time by cutting compensation for trifling harms and banning lawyers from recovering costs on low-value claims.

Since then, there have been another 1.5 million payouts made for minor injuries (totalling £2.7bn in claims costs, £1m in lawyers’ fees and thus £5m a day added to your motor insurance costs and ours, Dear Reader). When, Oh when, will a halt be finally called to all this costly nonsense?!

Uvavu says it has thrown out one in every seven third-party whiplash claims it’s received over the past year on the basis that they might have been dodgy (i.e. the claims might have been dodgy).

The company also said it had fought 1,200 cases in which it thought its policyholders had been wrongly accused of causing injury, winning around three quarters of them, and securing 250 findings of fundamental dishonesty.

Uvavu employs 5,000 people in desolate provincial backwater Norwich and – provided something gets done soon to staunch the flow of ‘personal injury’ pay-outs that is bleeding its decent ordinary claims-free customers dry – hopes to continue so doing.

December 15, 2017

Here’s a topical question for this time of year: what do you give the man or woman who has everything?

Ha, trick question!

You can’t give them anything, because they’ve got everything. And you, consequently, have nothing. Maybe they should give you something instead.

And speaking of presents, why not get yourself and/or your favourite colleagues and/or business partners the perfect early Christmas present (or alternative mid-winter seasonal festivity of your choice present) by signing them up for Insurance Endurance 2018, the UK’s premier insurance themed karting type event!

Granted, you and/or they will have a little while to wait before enjoying this present, as IE18 doesn’t take place until 26 June next year. But if you don’t sign up now, you and/or they could miss out altogether, as spaces are limited.

Plus, if you get the thing booked now, you can while away those lazy Yuletide hours dreaming happily – as you rinse mince pie crumbs from betwixt your claggy teeth with a hearty slug of Louis Frotteur Premium Cognac – of tearing round Grantham’s PFI Kart Track in an absurdly pokey kart-type thing in the balmy haze of far off British Summertime.

As you may recall from last year, the event involves teams of up to eight drivers competing in a six-hour ‘endurance’ race.

Everyone involved works in or around the insurance industry, making this the ideal opportunity, as the website stresses, to go head to head against ‘the cream of the sector’ or simply do some shameless networking. Or both, even. Probably both.

You can read about the 2016 event here. If you insist.

Oh, and you might like to know that, for 2018, the event has new very high quality (VHQ) catering contractors on board – virtually guaranteeing a complete and welcome absence of beige pork.

What, as they say, is not to like!

To book or find out more, click here without delay.

December 11, 2017

You can say what you like about Bankstone, and believe me a lot of people do, but those guys certainly know how to have a good time. Take their Christmas party for example.

When Bankstone News learned that our illustrious sponsors were off to Malaga for their Christmas party, we naturally assumed they meant the sought-after Huddersfield nightspot of that name.

But, no. They actually meant Malaga, Spain’s sixth most populous urban centre and Europe’s furthest-south city of significant size, located, as it is, just 80 miles short of Africa. Birthplace of Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas. That Malaga.

According to Bankstone managing director Ding-Dong Timebomb (pictured bottom right below), he and his ‘team’ enjoyed temperatures in the region of 24 degrees and a decent spot of proper sunshine as they sauntered on the playas and slurped exotic cocktails in the southerly city’s seafront bars.

Highlights included a round or four of ‘cocktail roulette’ at an establishment euphemistically referred to as the Nina Love Bar (where what was ordered corresponded not one whit with that was served), sharing a snapper for four (don’t ask us – we’re just telling you what Dugong told us), securing a 70% discount, by way of hagglage, on a leather jacket while “not getting physically molested” (the smack, perhaps, of excessive protestation here), green parrots (again, no idea) and accidentally turning up in evening wear almost exactly matching the attire of hotel cabaret artistes.

For anyone acquainted with Mr T’s flamboyant sartorial style, that last bit actually does sound quite plausible.

Oh wait.. there’s more… further highlights just in: inventing a cocktail dubbed the Lynchburg Nail, discovering that every song heard in Malaga sounds more or less the same (like Walking on Sunshine, in case you’re curious), “having your oversized deodorant confiscated twice” (we’re back in the realms of the unfathomably obscure here, sadly), and, finally, the superschadenfreude of sashaying effortlessly onto an exactly punctual return-trip flight whilst hordes of gloomy Midlanders faced 8-hour delays for reassignment to Greater Birmingham, EMA Catchment, or whatever benighted (and currently snowbound) realms they hailed from.

Hopefully that should give you a general flavour.

Not a flavour to savour, perhaps.

But, hey, we don’t make the news, we just report it.

December 11, 2017

Leading retro fashion label BIBA has issued a stark warning to Theresa May’s so-called Government.

Unimpressed. That’s probably the best way of describing how BIBA tough-guy Greyman Trudgehill feels about politicians latest pronouncements on the vexed question of the so-called Ogden rate (see previous editions of BS News).

The insurance community – insurers and brokers alike – have made it abundantly clear that what is needed on the Rate of Ogden front (following former Justice Secretary Lizzy Truss’ unhinged decision to move it from +2.5% to -0.75%) is prompt remedial action, not a lot of useless chat.

But – guess what – rather than fix the rate, the government, in its wisdom, has decided to waste a load more precious time ‘looking into’ things.

Some jumped-up mini-junta styling itself the Justice Committee, was the first body entrusted with time wasting on Ogden. Having already squandered any amount of days, weeks and months poring – in what David Davis would doubtless describe as excruciating detail – over proposed new legislation, the Justice Committee has decided – guess what again – to waste more time!

Its report – just issued – flies in the face of common sense by decreeing that insurer’s profits should continue to be put at risk (and decent ordinary policyholders required to compensate them against this risk through higher premiums) while further evidence is gathered about how life-changingly injured people and/or their carers invest their winnings in the ‘real world’.

Well, if politicians only lived in the real world, they’d understand the urgent need for what the late lamented J B Priestley was wont to refer to a little less conversation a little more action! If severely injured people don’t know how to invest their bumper payouts for a handsome return, that’s hardly insurers’ fault (or that of decent honest claims-free policyholders)!

Some numpty called Bob Neill, the so-called chair of this ridiculous talking shop, claims outlandishly that “Setting the discount rate is much more than a technical decision. It involves balancing the interests of claimants with defendants and the social costs of increased clinical negligence payouts and increased insurance premiums with protecting the interests of vulnerable claimants. If the Government remains convinced that it must change the assumptions it makes about how damages will be invested, to adjust the balance between the interests of different groups in society, it should say so. It is vitally important that we get this right, and that changes are evidence-based.”

See! I told you they love to talk. Wordy b*stards.

Anyway, Trudgehill’s having none of it. Quite rightly pointing out that increasing the cost of insurance is about the worst ill you can inflict on any society, GT demands immediate action. “Any further delay.” he states plainly, “would exacerbate the wider social impacts that a change to a negative rate value has already had.”

Well said, Grey, we say here at Bankstone News!

Enough of this fannying about, please, HMG.

Pull your bloomin’ finger out and get that blasted rate fixed!

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