Interesting times – 2020 in review

December 23, 2020

What a year it’s been! Who could have guessed when we first staggered blearily into January 2020 that a nasty little virus bred of bats by way of pangolins would turn our whole world upside down. 

City centres emptied. People wore masks. Entire aisles of tinned food and loo roll mysteriously vanished from the supermarket shelves. Working from home was the interim normal. We all forgot what cash had been. Planes vanished from our skies. Tachometers had little to do. Birds sang. People clapped, cheered, sang and banged cans. Deer, boar and goats roamed our roads at random. Stuff like that, basically.

Meanwhile, the world of insurance braced, like everyone else, for the shuddering impact of hazily defined Brexit opportunities. There was much talk of blue passports and green cards. There was a deal of fuss over whether businesses should be compensated by their insurers for having been interrupted by the pandemic – as all too many of them this year most certainly were.

The chronic uncertainty that’s so much a feature of life in the twenty-first century was massively amplified on multiple fronts by the BrexCovid syndrome, while Donald J Trump’s de facto abolition of the broad grouping of conventions, norms and expectations previously united under the banner of reality, somehow seeped over here, where one person’s truth became ever less distinguishable from another person’s fiction.

Humans joined soups, shoddy paint jobs, and sunburned skin in acquiring the ability to bubble (verb, intransitive). Furlough was another word that everyone starting using a lot. But furloughing wasn’t for everyone. Many, sadly, just lost their jobs. Insurance people duly girded their loins against the inevitable tide of excess risk associated with such times: more theft, more fraud, more dubious claims – all trends that tend to fuel claims inflation and with it the prospect of premium hikes – a not altogether unwelcome one for a motor insurance market in which rates have fallen markedly this year.

It’s been a year of expectations first raised then dashed, over and over again. If not yet fully stoical, we’re mostly resigned in a weary way to keeping in check our natural exuberance and patiently holding out of better times to come. Which surely they will. On which happy note, can we simply say: have as merry a Christmas as you possibly can, and the happiest new year achievable under the circumstances. Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay home if you can.

December 23, 2020

One of the undoubted highlights of next year (2020) is certain to be the long awaited culmination of HMG’s plans to prove once and for all that there’s no such thing as whiplash by removing any possible financial incentive for private citizens and their aiders and abetters in the so-called legal community to carry on pretending that there is.

Five years after reforms were first proposed, and a year on from the original implementation date, the Civil Liability Act will finally (almost certainly) come into force in April 2020. Its effect will be to slash the cash that those claiming whiplash can claim by as much as 90%. 

Naturally, there will be whingers. Only the other day, for instance, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society described the sensibly derisory tariffs adopted in the legislation as ‘fundamentally flawed, arbitrary and wholly unjust, contrived without any objectivity, logic or scrutiny.’ But what would you expect a bunch of lawyers to say!

In reality, of course, the tariffs are positively generous. Even supposing whiplash were a real thing and not a sham put up by malingering freeloaders, there’s a general recognition in UK society today that far too much fuss gets made about pain. We Brits didn’t get to be the masters of the world we are today (or was it yesterday?) by moaning on about a bit of neck gip – far less expecting a handout on the back of it.

Shaving a tad off the compensation potentially on offer for injuries lasting up to three months to slim it down from £2,250 to an altogether more proportionate £225 tempers prudence with charitable leniency. Nudging the potential award for injuries lasting up to six months down by just 85% to a perfectly adequate £450 looks equally sound. Such adjustments are surely both timely and equitable.

The numbers of those trying it on with trumped up neck-ache bellyaching are already plummeting as cervical injury bleaters recognise the ultimate futility of their pretence. Implementing the CLA should finally put these Moaning Minnies out of business – along with what’s left of all those legions of shameless solicitors who’ve wilfully egged them along into claiming so-called compensation.

Whiplash: faking it is literally this easy following a motor accident

December 23, 2020

There’s certainly been plenty to endure in 2020. But one notable absence on the endurance front, sadly, has been everyone’s favourite kart-related insurance networking event Insurance Endurance. 

But fear not! All being well on the Covid front – and how could it not be now that Boris Johnson is reported to be actively considering taking personal charge of the crisis – unless he steps down in January – which could also work – Insurance Endurance will be back on 17 June next year.

What an absolute unalloyed joy it will be when insurance men and women from across the land come together, masked or unmasked as the case may be, to pit their karting skills one against the other in a mercilessly interminable bout of screaming round the super-sinuous 1382m PFI kart-track in glamorous Grantham, Lincs in high-performance autokarts.

But you’d better hurry if you want to be sure of securing your participation in this exclusively luxury prestige event. Places are strictly limited and they’re sure to be selling like the proverbial hot cakes or the non-proverbial bacon rolls with lashings of ketchup and/or brown sauce, which most people frankly prefer.

Entry is open to any organisation or individual from across the insurance industry (or related ancillary sector) who fancies a bit of premium networking and/or the chance to submit their driving skills to the ultimate challenge that is the Public Finance Initiative kart track with it’s hair-raising bends (no fewer than 10 of them, all told) and remorselessly undeviating straights.

Click here to reserve your team places before that opportunity alludes you.

December 22, 2020

Farewell, then, Badger Baiters Arms. Farewell Taste of Gandhi. Farewell, also, round the back of Sainsbury’s, scene of many a happy half hour whiled away by your occasional correspondent Bankstone News in solemn contemplation of the inscrutably turbid waters of the Calder whilst knocking back a four-pack or two of Special Brew.

Hard to imagine, really, that after all this time – 16 years, to be precise – our esteemed sponsors, celebrated professional claims handlers Bankstone Limited, are decamping dear old Brighouse and making tracks for pastures new. 

Where are you off to then, Bankstone News inquired with feigned nonchalance after stumbling unexpectedly upon a clipboard-wielding Dixon Tickson (Bankstone’s fur-faced MD) looking on as a gang of masked men humped furniture in the back of a van.

For some reason he seemed reluctant to divulge an address, muttering something about there not really being a desk spare for the Bankstone News team at the new offices (news of our relocation to which, strangely, no-one had seen fit to mention previously). 

But he was no match in the end for our dogged probing, and confessed the offices are in a plush new conversion of an historic engine house in Halifax that once served a mill just up the hill. Holroyds Mill, he said its name was. ‘No, HOL-royds,’ he clarified testily, brutally truncating your correspondent’s unworthy sniggers.

That was all a few days back. The entire Bankstone Team are now happily ensconced in their enviable new quarters. Or they would be if they weren’t mostly working from home – which Tixon says they can seamlessly do now, as the whole show takes place in The Clouds these days in any case. 

You’ll probably know what that means. If not, there’s no point asking Bankstone News. But DT says it ‘delivers improved resilience, security and business continuity for Bankstone’s clients and partners’ and has meant they could switch locations with ‘zero disruption to customer service.’ Which, Bankstone News assumes, is a good thing.

As for those hi-spec new offices – we’re hoping to see them ourselves sometime soon, and we’ll tell you all about them when we have. Although, apparently, it would just be more convenient if we stayed away for a bit, just while they’re settling in, and they’ll definitely be in touch as and when.

January 8, 2020

There’s a common misapprehension among the twittering classes that ordinary working folk are as obsessed as they are with something called ‘access to justice.’ Sorry if this comes as a shock to bleeding-heart metropolitan liberals, but accessing justice is just about the last thing on the minds of decent ordinary Brits.

How dispiriting then to hear Daryl Gordon, self-styled president of Ambulance Pursuit Iniquity Lawyers (APIL) moaning on about how activation of the so-called Porthole (a key part of HMG’s War on Whiplash) should be delayed – because ‘it raises real issues in terms of access to justice.’

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, the ‘Porthole’ is a special kind of digital thingamajig into which people can put whiplash claims and, if they’re lucky, get some money out the other end. 

Time and again the British people have made it clear that it’s cheap car insurance they’re interested in – not this nebulous ‘access to justice’ that self-serving lawyers are so worked up about. But greedy legal types like Gordon just aren’t getting the message.

“If the reforms are going ahead,” he says (note that treacherous kicking-and-screaming ‘if’), “it has to be in a proper and considered manner’. Presumably the ‘proper and considered’ thing to do would be to stroke our chins indefinitely while every jumped-up nobody with a soft-tissue injury gets to fill their boots at the expense of decent ordinary motorists.

Taking system-playing lawyers out of the equation and forcing would-be whiplash weaponisers to post any claims they want to make though the Porthole will cut costs, deter casual chancers, and frighten off the faint-hearted.

Gordon questions patronisingly whether ‘lay people’ will be able to operate the Porthole’s ‘complex software’ and insists they’ll need advice. That’ll be advice his members would get paid to provide, presumably! If dozy punters don’t know how to work the Porthole – so much the better. That’s cheaper premiums for the rest of us!

So put a sock in it, you Whingeing Windbag! That’s what we say here at Bankstone News. No-one’s going to miss your unaffordable legal-advice-for-all socialist utopia. So sling your nasty hook and, frankly, do one Dearie! 

January 7, 2020

Every Friday in the UK 90 people are killed or injured in road accidents taking place between 4pm and 6pm. That’s twice the paltry 45 people killed or injured between 4pm and 6pm on Mondays. Friday night drive time is the deadliest time of the week. And Friday mornings aren’t much better. The moral of the story maybe being: five-day weeks do not suit drivers.

But, wait, you’re probably thinking, did you just make up those stats? How dare you! Bankstone News is a bona fide upstanding news organ. Would we just make things up?! We know about the Friday evening peak death period because some highly reputable PR types have scooped up a slew of black box data accessible to some outfit called IBS Telematics Solutions and done some extrapolation. 

Plus they’ve nicked that figure about about 4-6 RTAs from the Department for Transportmentation. According to IBS’ BB data, the very most dangerous time is precisely 4pm on Fridays. So it’s those nipping off early you should shun above all others. Unless, of course, it’s not commuters after all but yummy mummies frazzled from a week of solo-childcare and/or a weekly lunch date with the girls.

Far be it from Bankstone News, however, to indulge any protracted bout of casual sexism. Ours simply to rework someone else’s press release, to stretch it out to three or four paragraphs and then to sign off with some apparently pithy but ultimately meaningless summation like: it only goes to show, really, doesn’t it!

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