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.

Relief at last for all those plagued by pain-in-the-neck whiplash claimants

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

Next summer sees the welcome return of the UK’s premier insurkarting event

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.

Do not obstruct the Porthole, please

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! 

Black Box Friday

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!

You’re not from round here, are you

December 23, 2019

It’s time we talked about the Equality Act.

Odds are you’ve never really given much thought to the (so-called) Equality Act. That’s probably because you’re a decent upstanding normal citizen who’s perfectly equal already. Never for one second would someone like you go begging to the Nanny State to make you any equaler.

Sadly, there are some still resident in this increasingly great country of ours who are hell bent on doing exactly that. A prime example of this phenomenon recently came to Bankstone News’ attention after lefty rag the Telegraph pointed out that ‘big brand’ motor insurers are charging people who were (ahem) ‘born abroad’ up to £850 more for their motor insurance.

Those of us not born yesterday know perfectly well that, nine times out of ten, ‘people born abroad’ is just a polite way of saying ‘foreigners’. And what exactly is wrong with making Johnny Foreigner pay a bit more for his motor insurance – especially if it keeps prices down for the rest of us?!

But, inevitably, trouble-making lawyers have wasted no time trying to make out that ‘PBA weighting’ is some kind of crime. John Halfords of Blindman’s Solicitors claims that slapping price-comparing overseasers with a modest premium uplift amounts to a breach of equality laws.

The aforementioned Equality Act supposedly makes it unlawful to ‘discriminate’ against someone – even a foreigner – because of their nationality or national origins, which are (get this!) ‘among the legally-defined protected characteristics of race.’

This is PC gone mad. This is Sheila’s Wheels all over again. If underwriters can’t discriminate – then what on earth’s the point of having them! Can it really be right, in this day and age, to hedge insurers in with soul-destroying thickets of unproductive, frankly antidemocratic, legal quibbling?

Sorry, but if PBAs don’t want to pay what they’re quoted, they can go drive somewhere else.

FCA declares war on loyal customer abuse

October 10, 2019

Ripping off policyholders who neglect to change insurer every year is a bit like smoking crack cocaine. That’s the view of Ian Huge, CEO of data analytics company Consumer Intelligence. And you’d assume he knows what he’s talking about.

The problem with crack cocaine, it seems, is that, once you’ve developed a taste for the crystalline off-white powder, it’s hard to kick the habit. Huge reckons quoting low to switchers while fleecing loyal customers has a lot in common with use of the infamous rock candy.

Or maybe so-called ‘dual pricing’ is more like taking performance-enhancing drugs. Athletes know they shouldn’t really dabble, but they look around, see everyone else doing it, and conclude – not unreasonably – that they’ll never compete and win if they’re the first to go clean.

It’s been going on for years, of course. Price comparison sites like Compario the Monkey Super Meerkat have been urging punters to shop around more or less since time began. But we can’t blame them entirely for our tendency to focus on price. That’s natural enough in a world where money doesn’t grow on trees.

It has recently come to the notice of regulatory ‘body’ the FCA that the interests of motor and household policyholders are perhaps not being best served by the industry as it is currently constituted. Penalising loyalty, the FCA has now suspects, might be a bad thing.

Naturally enough, the regulator’s plans to grasp and neutralise the dual pricing nettle again tend to focus on price. Cold turkey type solutions like outlawing dual pricing altogether or banning automatic policy renewals have startled and alarmed insurance folk.

But if insurance providers now urge caution on the regulator’s part, it’s not just because they’re pathetic sweaty addicts, quaking at the proposed denial of their latest fix. It’s partly, at least, because they’re starry-eyed idealists dreaming of a world where insurance isn’t all about price.

An unnamed broker, quoted in industry journal Insurance Rage this week, warned against anything that might ‘encourage people to shop around based only on price without taking account of value and service’. Presumably the fear is that the FCA’s well-meaning attempts to stop less fickle policyholders paying more might simply exacerbate our obsessive preoccupation with paying as little as possible.

‘Just moving for the sake of saving a few pounds without looking at the other elements of the offer,’ the anonymous broker warned starkly, ‘may be counterproductive.’ And, let’s face it, counterproduction is the last thing the insurance sector needs right now.

Insurers too are gravely concerned that the denial of their drug of choice might have unintended consequences. Banning automatic renewal might prompt customers to save themselves from loyalty abuse, but according to one insurer spokesperson, it could also result in the loss the ‘vital and often legal protection’ their policies provide, should they fail to replace lapsing cover.

Similarly, taking action against dual pricing could accidentally ‘stifle competition and innovation’ which would surely be akin to jettisoning a particularly precious baby along with some not especially dirty, and actually still quite warm, bathwater. Also, another insurer has queried, what chance would there be for new entrants in a market where they couldn’t dangle cut-price premiums in front of future fleecees.

It’s a fair point, Bankstone News feels sure you’ll agree, and one the regulator will hopefully bear in mind when it decides it’s all too complicated and leaves a grateful industry in peace.

Churchie says chill

October 10, 2019

Bromley-based Direct Lime offshoot Churchill has done something a bit weird. Its nodding-dog avatar has been reincarnated as what appears to be a living, breathing, skateboarding bulldog, but is in fact a CGI facsimile.

If you haven’t already had the pleasure, you can catch the old dog up to its new tricks here.

Gone is the relentlessly positive affirmation of the canine’s previous persona. In comes something suspiciously reminiscent of the (real) skateboarding bulldog who was such a sensation on social media a while back.

But why throw out a popular and widely recognised brand mascot in favour of a non-speaking dog on a board? Why abandon the former version’s sturdily traditional British demeanour, for something suspiciously millennial and metropolitan?

Paul Jordan of Engine Creative explains. ‘Churchill is one of the nation’s most loved brands, but brand love can slip into overfamiliarity.’ Unforgivably, ‘Churchie’ had been allowed to stand still (if you overlook the nodding).

Where previously Churchie had been content to sit around bantering with minor celebrities, now he must be set to work evincing the spirit of ‘chill’ as in ‘relax’ rather, presumably, than Netflix and chill.

Clearly the new-look Churchie character has legs. Short, stubby legs. But legs just the same. Imagine for yourself the many and varied ways in which the now mute mutt can be deployed to suggest how relaxed you too could feel if you only insured with Churchill.

Got anything yet? No? Never mind. Bankstone News feels sure those resourceful chaps at Angina Creative will think of something sooner or later. Or perhaps he could just carry on skateboarding. Maybe get one of those motorised ones though – so chilling doesn’t seem too strenuous.

It seems Britain’s best-loved insurance avatar had come to be seen as merely ‘dependable and reliable.’ But Churchill marketing person Lucy Brooksbank felt customers’ brand relationship was only ‘skin deep’ and ‘heavily reliant on love of the dog.’ The new look decisively breaks that dependency, cutting Churchill loose to leg-paddle itself around an anonymous urban environment for no apparent reason.

The ‘supercharged’ skateboarding dog, Brookspank claims, will ‘deliver greater substance to the brand by reigniting customers’ emotional connection’ and ‘radically changing how people see Churchill.’

Here at Bankstone News we say: uh-huh.

Click on the link to see WikiHow’s extremely helpful step by step guide to creating your own skateboarding dog.

White cliffs, blue passport, green card

October 8, 2019

Out go burgundy passports. In come green cards.

With just days to go until we may or may not be making a clean break from the European Union. insurance provider Admiral has warned motorists that even a pure, final-solution Brexit may not entirely deliver us from the scourge of non-blue travel-related documents.

That’s because anyone planning to drive, in a UK-registered motor, on the Continent (or indeed in the Republic of Ireland) from Halloween onwards will need one. A green card, that is.

But what is this ‘green card’ (and is there any good reason why it couldn’t be blue), you’re probably wondering. That’s an excellent question (and an equally excellent sub-question). Perhaps we’ll come back to that, if we may.

Any Brexit worth of the name will surely rid us of the much resented burden of so-called freedom of movement. No longer will we have to make do without the bureaucratic niceties that mark Brits out as special and different.

If you want to drive au continent (or head south of the no-hard border, if you’re starting from somewhere in Norn Ireland) you’ll now have the chance to apply to your insurance provider (two weeks in advance of your trip) for a special green card (see above) that proves – assuming that’s the case – that your UK motor insurance provides the minimum level of cover required by whatever countries you’re planning to drive in or through.

And if you have a trailer or a caravan or whatever, you’ll now be able to apply for a separate (compulsory) green card for that!

And if your existing insurance policy is likely to expire while you’re driving outside the UK, you can (in fact, you’ll have to) get a separate green card for the new policy.

Ditto the trailer or caravan or whatever.

Depending on which parts of Euroland you plan to pass swiftly through, you could also now qualify for an international driving permit

As a Brit abroad, you could also be eligible for ‘additional checks.’

And of course you’ll get to decorate your shiny new Aston Martin with a lovely acrylic GB sticker free from any of that loathsome federalist yellow-on-blue nonsense.

All in all, we’re well on the way to making Continental journeys special again.

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. 

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