120 go karting crazy in Grantham

August 28, 2019

The UK’s premier insurance themed endurance karting event Insurance Endurance took place this year on Tuesday June 25. And what a day it was!

There were thrills, spills, and more insurance industry networking than any right-minded person either could or would wish to shake a stick at. You can get a fleeting impression by watching our mercifully brief YouTub video of the event by clicking here.

While the various members of 15 eight-man teams (or thereabouts) took turns to tear round the 1382m ‘A Grade’ track for six solid hours in Soddy GT5 karts, whose 390cc engines endow them with the ability to attain speeds up to 60mph, team hosts had their unsuspecting guests (potential business partners and prospects) exactly where they wanted them… trackside in Grantham!

The eventual winners of a hotly-fought contest hotly fought out on the UK’s largest outdoor karting circuit were the misleadingly named Not Fast But Furious team fielded by Take That Car Hire Ltd. 

Hosts (and last year’s most unsporting winners) Team Bunkstain were hard on their heels, mind, finishing less than a minute behind Take That, with rescuemycar.com‘s wittily named team, Rescuemykart, coming in a very creditable third.

The team from resucemycarp.com also scooped the pit stop challenge by changing some tyres on a retired race car faster than anyone else. AND they recorded the fastest lap time (1:29:38) – twice! That’s a literally staggering average speed of 34.5mph – even with all those wiggly bends.

As well as being a great day out, Insurance Endurance also raised more than £500 for richly deserving charity The Insurance Charities. And it’s happening all over again next year, when the event returns to the Public Finance Initiative Kart Track on Thursday 18 June 2020.

Registration is already open. So be sure to book your team place soon or flirt with the desolation and misery of missing out. Visit www.insuranceendurance.co.uk for further deats. 

Beware of tiny creatures

August 27, 2019

Hit wild animal. That’s not a suggestion or an instruction. Because hitting wild animals can be dangerous, as Bankstone News has found out to its cost on more than one occasion.

No, ‘hit wild animal’ is the ‘scientific’ term for the kind of motor insurance claim that arises when someone drives into a wild creature of some kind, resulting in damage to their vehicle.

According to Alcoholics Anonymous Insurance (AA), there’s a lot of it about these days. Hit wild animal motor insurance claims, that is.

Obviously colliding with wildlife whilst driving can be tiresome for the humans involved. But spare a thought also for the wild animals getting hit.

Britain’s woodland creatures have a lot to put up with. There’s being crudely caricatured in human children’s fiction. There’s having to move 500m north each year to allow for climate change. There’s plague-level tick and flea infestations thanks for warmer winters. There’s being gassed, shot at, and chased by dogs, and having your home dug up. Then – on top of all that – the poor little varmints now face the most life-threateningly challenging road-crossing conditions ever recorded, since records began.

If AA are to be believed (and naturally we’re making no judgements here), the number of hit wild animal claims has risen by 15% in the past three years. The negative effects of these incidents – aside, clearly, from the likely demise of any wild animals so hit – include an average £2,300 worth of damage caused to the vehicles involved.

That’s all well and good, you’re probably thinking (perhaps a little callously), but ‘wild animal’ sounds a bit generic. Precisely which animals are we talking about (and/or running down)? Bankstone News couldn’t be gladder you asked that question. Because we’re just about to tell you.

According to AA’s somewhat confusing statistics (as reported by Claims Mag, from whom we pinched this story), badgers and foxes top the RTI (Roadkill Traffic Incident) tables, at 51% and 48% respectively.

We say confusing, because if you think that leaves just 1% left for all the other wild animals, you honestly couldn’t be wronger. Pheasants come in next with 38%. Then you’ve got squirrels, and hedgehogs and boars.

Cows and sheep also get a look in – although, in Bankstone News’ experience, wild cows and sheep are none too common these days.

By now you’re probably feeling a little anxious about extra-urban driving. Reassurance could well be what you need. Well, here it is! The Department for Transport (Dep4Tra) has apparently addressed growing concern over animal incidents by unveiling ‘a new road sign advising drivers to look out for smaller animals’. As far as we can tell from the write-up in Claims Mag, AA don’t say where this sign is, but hopefully it will be a big help.

But why, you may ask, is this sign warning only about small animals? Another excellent question! It seems to be because large animals are easier to see than small ones (unless, as once memorably explained in popular clerical reality show Father Ted, they are ‘far away’). The smallness and lesser visibility of small creatures by no means nullifies the threat they could pose to your bodywork. A well-fed adult squirrel struck mid-leap can punch a pretty hole in any standard civilian vehicle doing 90 down some sylvan byway.

As AA’s Janet Connor explains, ‘Britain is blessed to have a variety of wild and wonderful animals, but while most drivers will be on the lookout for larger animals like deer and badgers, smaller animals like rabbits, hedgehogs and squirrels can cause damage too.’

And, you know what, Readers, she’s probably right about that.

Brits neglect to shop around shock

August 24, 2019

Bankstone News was fascinated to read within the pages of noted industry journal Insurance Rage about some intriguing new research from comparison site GoCompario.

According to the aforementioned comparison site – a competitor of sites like Compare the Monkey Supermeerkat and Confusing.com – more than 40% of Brits (4.1 million of them, all told) meekly allow their motor insurance policies to roll over when renewal time comes around. A staggering 13% don’t even bother shopping around for better deals before meekly rolling over!

This failure to shop around – or to shop around sufficiently – the comparison site claims, costs affected customers £982m a year. Not each, obviously, but collectively. Because if they don’t shop around and switch insurer every twelve months, they’re likely to be paying the UK’s notorious Motor Insurance Loyalty Fee surcharge. So probably, it would be best if they shopped around, and shopped around plenty – possibly by using a trusted comparison site.

So, what excuses did these lazy motorists who don’t shop around enough come up with to justify their self-punishing indolence? They’re mostly pretty risible, Bankstone News doesn’t mind telling you. According to the comparison site who commissioned this disturbing research, their excuses break down as follows.

Improbably, 22% of them have clearly never heard of MILF and naively assume that their current insurer will continue offering them the most competitive premium.

Meanwhile, 21% brazenly admitted that they couldn’t be bothered to shop around because ‘switching is a lot of hassle’.

Tragically, 19% failed to shop around and switch insurer out of pathetic loyalty to their current insurer – the same insurer who’ll now be milking them like a good ‘un to make up for all the cut-price deals it’s knocking out to get new customers on board.

Ten percent didn’t have the confidence to change (sad!); another 10% couldn’t face the hassle of cancelling a monthly direct debit (also sad!), and 7% (very, very sad!) just found ‘the thought of switching insurer difficult’!

The moral of this story couldn’t be clearer. Loyalty is for losers. Everyone must switch insurer every year. Otherwise their current insurer will probably apply MILF and put their premiums up.

They can do this because, according to the comparison site’s research, only 37% of customers bother to check their new premium against what they paid last year.

Instead of putting premiums up, sneakier insurers will simply trim the cover offered for the same price or add in higher excesses until there’s no way they’ll ever have to pay a penny out. Again, it’s easy to get away with because only 20% of customers check for changes to their cover.

So probably the best thing to do is shop around and switch insurer every year. Did we mention that already?

 

From keyless to carless in just 20 seconds

May 29, 2019

All the latest evidence suggests the UK may be moving into a new golden age for car theft.

Government figures recently revealed that total car thefts (TCF) were up almost 10% YoY. Cars with no keys have played a key role in this dramatic car-nick uptick.

Models

Back in the bad old days when cars mostly had the keys of the kind that have teeth – and with which things can be locked – TCF had dropped as low as the 70,000 mark (2013/4). But now, with more and more models dispensing with old-fashioned analogue keys, around 115,000 motors go missing each year.

Back in those days, only Range Rovers and other such ‘premium’ vehicles came keyless, but now, when even Ford Fiestas have outgrown the humble key, there’s a vast array of models from which bleeping criminals can take their pick.

Sensational

Now insurer body ABI claims car theft insurance payouts have risen by more than 20%, thus soaring to a sensational seven-year high.

And paying insurance claims doesn’t come cheap. Forking out for all those missing motors cost insurers a whopping £1.2bn in the first quarter of 2019, the ABI claims.

Body

Today’s tech-wielding vehicle thieves, the insurer body reckons, can get into your car in as little as 20 seconds. That’s almost eight minutes fewer than it takes to soft-boil a standard hen’s egg – which, coincidentally, is the same as the average time that elapses between one motor insurance theft claim getting paid and the one after it.

Exciting

Not only is exciting new technology making cars easier to pinch, it’s also making them more expensive to patch up post prang. No wonder motor insurers spend so much time railing bitterly about how cars just aren’t the classic key-operated thin-skinned death-trap tins they used to be and ‘why must it all be so complicated?’

They probably don’t do that really. But Bankstone News senses this story has probably achieved an adequate length now, and wonders absent-mindedly who could possibly blame it for lapsing into contrafactual incoherence. Surely no one reads these things right down to the final line, do they?

Karting time is here again (almost)

May 29, 2019

If you only attend one insurance-themed kart racing event this year, you’d better make PD sure that insurance-themed kart racing event is Insurance Endurance.

Just twelve months on from last year’s similarly titled Insurance Endurance 2018 event, Insurance Endurance 2019 takes place at the globally renowned PFI Kart Track near Grantham, Lincolnshire, on Tuesday June 25. And, as the more calendrically literate of our readers will not be slow to appreciate, that’s less than a month away now!!!

This hugely popular motor karting endurance event is open to firms from across the insurance industry looking to network with and/or test themselves against the absolute cream of this exciting and dynamic industry sector. There are just a few prized places still up for last minute grabs, so unless you want to miss out, you’d best accelerate your digital withdrawal plans.

With last year’s surprise winners Bankstone Racing having promised not to repeat this freakishly improbably, suspicious and, frankly, unhostly feat, the field, as they say, is wide open.

Although, don’t imagine you can just rock up with your broadly adequate basic driving skills and blow off the competition. If you and your seven friends/acquaintances fancy your chances of getting your filthy paws on the coveted IE crown, you’ll first have to endure a truly gruelling kart ordeal.

The winning team will need to have completed the impressive 1382-metre track (with its 10 hair-raising bends and several challengingly linear straights) a very large number of times – and to have done so pretty briskly.

The reek of burning rubber, the weirdly persistent metallic aftertaste of some kind of sausage sandwich type affair, the high-pitched whine of those bloody karts: could there be a better way to spend your Tuesday morning?

We’d suggest not.

So what are you waiting for?!?! Get yourself along immediately to the Insurance Endurance website and click on the little button that says register. You won’t be sorry you did!*

There, look, that thing with the wheels. That, my friend, is a kart!

*Prediction not guarantee.

Tailgatin’

May 28, 2019

Tailgating can mean many things. Not all of those things are the kind of thing you’d catch us talking about in a nice, clean, family-oriented e-Zine like Bankstone News. And none of them are the kind of thing anyone in their right mind would want to be caught doing.

Not unless you’re the kind of hooligan who considers it perfectly respectable to fire up a barbie in the back of your station wagon whilst slurping your way through a six-pack. But that’s another story. Something perhaps for a future issue.

The particular kind of tailgating we’re concerned with here is tailgating by vans on the UK’s roads. This kind of tailgating involves driving too close to the vehicle in front – which may or may not, whatever the publicity tries to tell you, be a Toyota (although, curiously, Fact Fans, if it is indeed a Toyota, it’s statistically more likely to have a tailgate).

Unlike covered wagons or the aforementioned station wagons, vans tend not to have gates in their tails these days. More often it would be a couple of bi-fold doors or one of those roller-shutter thingies, if it was made in Luton. 

Nor, for that matter, do most of the vehicles up whose arses they’ve recently been accused of driving. But if they did have tailgates and their drivers could press a button on their dashboards marked ‘Activate Tailgate’  as they bowled along whichever highway or byway they happened to be on – and those tailgates then swung down, there’s a good chance they’d hit the bonnet of a van in close pursuit.

That’s because according to important new research carried out by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, UK vans are forever driving into other vehicles from behind. 

According to figures from HMG D4T, tailgating (by all types of vehicle) causes more crashes than speeding, drink driving and poor weather conditions, which, you’re bound to admit, certainly sounds like a potent combination.

Almost 10% of an average annual tally of six-thousand-odd tailgate prangs involved what are euphemistically termed ‘light commercial vehicles’. Unhelpfully for the premise of this story, the figures don’t specify whether the LCV’s role was as perpetrators or as victims. Although, to be fair, as comedians like to say, when it comes to white van man, guilty until proved innocent seems a reasonable assumption.

Neil Greig, who insists ‘I AM RoadSmart’ claims tailgating is a bugbear – and a pretty sizeable example of that mythical species at that. “Tailgating is the biggest single bugbear that motorway users in particular report,” he says. “Drivers feel scared and get angry about it,” Neil claims. As indeed a growing number of them appear to feel about most things in contemporary Britain.

Something must be done! 

That’s what we say here at Bankstone News. 

End of the road for shopping around?

December 20, 2018

Unsure whether or not it should take a dim view of insurance providers charging loyal customers more than disloyal ones, regulator the Fanatical Crackdown Authority (FCA) decided to ask the audience.

Exploitation

An exhaustive survey of sentiment among purchasers of insurance products has now revealed that roughly half such persons consider the practice (jewel pricing, as it is known, for some obscure reason) ‘exploitative’.

Indeed, almost four out of five insurance buying persons (so not just the ones who think jewel pricing is exploitative) believe the practice should be outlawed.

But a ban might not please everyone. Slightly worryingly, 38% of survey respondents said they actually ‘enjoy’ shopping around for their insurance – while fewer than one in five said they couldn’t be arsed comparing prices.

Sneaking admiration

But it’s a devious and cynical world we live in these days, Readers. Around 40% of respondents said that, whilst it might be ‘sneaky’ ripping off loyal customers, they view it with a certain grudging respect.

Maybe ‘ripping off’ is the wrong way of looking at it. Ian Huge, CEO of survey-mongers Consumer Intelligence, believes that – far from being the villains of the piece – insurers deserve our sympathy.

Vicious circle

Jewel pricing, he suggests, is “not a deliberate and calculated attempt to rip off loyal customers.” It’s more of a technical thing – what you might call “a by-product of having introductory rates in a market with high customer turnover.”

Insurers, Mr Huge argues, are stuck on a sort of a “merry-go-round”. They’d love to get off, he says. But if they started charging everyone the same price, they’d lose business to insurers who had yet to dismount from the merry-go-round.

Uvavu the disruptor

December 20, 2018

Disruption is all the rage these days. Trump does it. Putin does it. We’re even dipping a hesitant toe in it ourselves here in Blighty, with this Brexit thingy we’re supposed to be doing at some point.

Not to be left out, big yellow insurance firm Uvavu is planning to disrupt the insurance market. Its chosen methodology is the offering of ‘subscription-style’ insurance products.

Uvavu claims its disruptive new insurance product UvavuPlus anticipates the forthcoming crack-down on so-called duel pricing (see separate story) with some kind of promise not to put the price up when you renew your subscription.

It also banishes other soon-to-be-stamped out shenanigans like charging people shedloads to cancel or amend their policy. Miraculously, UvavuPlus is also reportedly immune from Insane Punishment Tax (IPT). It can even jumble up your home and motor insurance in one convenient parcel.

But if you, like Bankstone News, were thinking something like ‘Golly, that sounds great. I think I’ll pop along and ask my friendly insurance broker about hooking me up with some UvavuPlus!’, I’m afraid there’s bad news.

You see, UvavuPlus is what’s known as a ‘direct’ product (the kind pioneered by legendary disruptor of yore Pete Wood). That means it’s great for people who don’t like buying annual insurance policies or being ripped off in any of the ways noted above. Rather less so for insurance brokers, who for some reason have always seemed to quite like being involved in the buying and selling of such annual insurance policies.

With the best will in the world, Uvavu man Phil Boils admits reluctantly, it’s going to be awfully hard to find a way of involving his friends in the broking community in the sale of UvavuPlus. Obviously, they’re happy to give it a go and everything. But, the thing is, what with it being a bit complicated and, you know, having to work with software houses and everything, it’s hard to see how middlemen, or brokers as we prefer to call them, wouldn’t just get in the way.

And, let’s be honest, finding some way of cutting brokers in on the deal is one challenge UvavuPlus can probably do without. Seeing as Uvavu are planning to sell it to new and old customers at the same price (whilst still, presumably, competing with products more inclined to the old loss-leading-in-year-one approach) and seeing also as they won’t be making money every time this intentionally flexible policy gets updated or unsubscribed from, it’s hard to see how they’ll make any money at all.

Or maybe they’re aiming for market share.

In any case, as far as Bankstone News is concerned, you can simply never have too much disruption.

Because, let’s face it, things have been the same way basically for ever. Nobody likes the old way. Old ways are bad ways! We want a new and better way. And, if it turns out there are problems with the new way, then at least the old ways have been well and truly cleared away and there’s plenty of room for more new ways, one of which is bound, eventually, to be better than the old one. It can hardly be worse, really, can it!

Things… can only get better, as that weird little grinning chap with the sweaty ears used to say.

Nanny State meddlers on the rampage

December 20, 2018

The insurance industry’s hopes of earning so much as the meagrest of crusts from all its diligent endeavours receded still further this week as grim tidings broke that do-gooders’ whinge-forum The Competitors and Meerkats Authority (CMA) is egging on regulatory body the Final Countdown Authority (FCA) to ‘consider pricing intervention’ to prevent a variety of supposed injustices meted out to ‘poor long-suffering’ customers by ‘evil, scheming’ insurance firms.

You’re right, of course, Dear Reader: it’s snowflakey salty-teared political correctness gone mad in spades to the nth degree. Companies have the right to treat their customers any goddam way they choose. Customers have the right to take their business elsewhere. That’s as far as consumer rights have any right going. Anyone who tries to tell you different is no better than a rotten stinking communist.

It’s all the EU’s fault, if you ask Bankstone News. If it wasn’t for unelected Brussels bureaucrats (bureau-rats, we call them!), people like so-called Citizens Advice would soon be driven back into the fetid depths of whatever filthy liberal cave-world they crawled out off. It was their so-called Super Complaint about insurance providers (quite rightly) penalising customers too stupid to switch (see separate story) that got the CMA – and hence the FCA – involved in the first place. Now the whole thing’s gotten completely out of hand.

Doubtless you’ll recall, the horrible hand-wringing fuss Citizens Advice made recently about twelve million supposedly vulnerable non-switching policyholders getting stung by ‘shady’ practices like YoY price cranking, over-rolling and egress-fleecing. Basically, it’s a whole lot of fuss about nothing.

And of course, no sooner had Citizens Advice kicked off and set the ball rolling than, in a scene reminiscent of that famously ludigenerative incident on the playing fields of Rugby College back in days of yore, the CMA picked up that ball and began running, with both it and alacrity. CMA chief exec Andrex Cushelley claims to have “uncovered a range of problems which leave people feeling ripped off, let down and frustrated.”

Awww, it’s enough to make a faint-heart bleed!

Andrex thinks people shouldn’t have to be “constantly on guard” or spend hours “searching for a good deal”.

So, what, they should have some super-competitive zero-profit-margin bargain handed to them on a gilded platter every year? Insurers are supposed to get behind some busybodied crusade aimed at stopping them ‘exploiting’ their own customers? Never going to happen. And never should it, for that matter!

If the FCA has any sense at all, it will take a stand against such pernicious and corrosive nonsense.

Much more of this anti-competitive intervention from on high and we’ll be driven back to the bad old days of mutual societies and communal risk pooling.

Ugh.

Going down

July 24, 2018

Let’s face it, the world is full of manipulative greedy and arrogant men who tell lies to enrich themselves. Normally, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Greedy manipulative and arrogant men can typically operate with complete impunity.

But, every once in a while, some busybody comes along and makes a great big unnecessary fuss. Such was the unfortunate experience of recently comeuppanced former DAS UK top dog Paul Aspirin.

As regular readers will readily recall, Aspirin was the arrogant, greedy and manipulative man who conspired to defraud his German employers of vast sums of money by bunging work the way of a business in which he and his wife (latterly ex-wife) were secretly shareholders.

Earlier this month, Judge Marty Pellow (sitting in Southwark) sentenced Aspirin to seven years detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure and disqualified him from serving as a company director for 12 whole years, describing him as “a manipulative, arrogant and greedy man”.

Now, you might think being disqualified as a director for twelve years is a pretty harsh punishment. You might also think a seven-year HMP stint sounds a trifle inconvenient. You might even think the prospect of a ‘confiscation and compensation hearing’ later this year that could leave a person penniless would be a bit of a bummer.

But a sanction worse, far, far worse, than any of these potentially awaits the unfortunate (if manipulative, greedy and arrogant) Aspirin.

Not content with locking him away for a couple of years, denying him the right to helm a limited liability company, and stripping him bare of everything he owns, the world has one far crueller blow still in store for poor Paul Aspirin.

To wit: the loss of his prized and privileged status as member of the Chartered Insurance Institute (102).

That’s right, leading insurance industry news organ Insurance Ache this week revealed that word of Mr Aspirin’s antics has reached the collective ears of the CII hierarchy and made therein a less than entirely favourable impression.

Now the institute plans to open a formal process to review whether or not Aspirin’s shenanigans are in line with the CII’s discipline guidelines, which stipulate that members should “observe the principles of best practice”.

Should it be found that defrauding one’s employers whilst referring to them as “idiots” conflicts with the aforementioned Ps of Best P, it is not inconceivable that the institute might move to strip Mr Aspirin of his privileges as a member of the CII (e.g use of library, discounts on CII qualifications, savings on Thomas Cook package holidays etc.)

The CII was quick to stress that no sanctions would be applied until a thorough investigation has been carried out – and that Mr Aspirin would “have the opportunity to offer evidence or mitigation before a decision was reached” (although, of course, his imprisonment could yet limit his availability for appearing at any tribunals convened).

Let’s hope it never comes to that. Surely the CII could see its way clear to giving the poor man a break. Surely he’s suffered enough without having this final indignity inflicted upon him. After all, manipulative greedy and arrogant though he may be, his only real crime was getting caught. There but for the grace, etc…

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