October 20, 2011

In the week when the Daily Mail exclusively revealed that would-be referral-fee criminaliser Jack Straw’s own party nets £350,000 a year from referral fees, when Justice Minister Jonathan Djanolgy had but one day in which to revel publicly in the delicious irony of this revelation, before noticing – or having others politely notice on his behalf – that his extensive (undisclosed) family interests in insurance and claims management ill fitted him to regulate claims management firms (enter able substitute Ken Clarke), when The West tragically lost a valued commercial partner and loyal ally in the struggle against Islamist extremism when the good Colonel was cruelly assassinated by some yet to be unravelled combination of the Armée de l’Air and kalashnikov wielding Islamic fighters, and when Paris Hilton visited Disneyland Paris, it’s been hard to think of much to write about.

But then we spotted a blog penned by Bankstone News’ old friend Barbara Bradshaw which included the surprise revelations a) that BB has idle moments, and b) that she recently spent one of these watching a “not quite classic sports car” being restored and somewhat suped-up on popular children’s television programme Top Gear.

This provoked alarm. In the same way that the show’s presenters have previously neglected to mention that pretending to be your parent when requesting a motor insurance quote is not strictly legal, they now failed to stress the obligation borne by owners of vehicles whose ECU has been tuned-up to advise their insurers of said modifications.

As a noted connoisseur of the more recherché and convoluted examples of abundantly self-evidenced assertion, Bradshaw is well placed to observe, as she most eloquently does, that “It is a truism that with face-to-face conversations – over a broker’s counter or even knowing a locale as is the insurance broker’s modus operandi – there is a better chance of establishing fact from fiction than the ubiquitous website purchase where a dozen or so questions secure the cheap rate in a matter of (if we believe the adverts) seconds.”

Yes, indeed! How emphatically and quintessentially truistic that particular truism is – and what a telling vindication of the value brokers add by helping their clients remember to keep insurers posted on all the many reasons why no one would want to insure them.

“I am not trying to stop people having fun,” Bradshaw insists, or to stop them “being individuals” (God forbid anyone should be cut in pieces). She only wants to ensure that fun-having individuals “pay their fair whack so that another young person (particularly the young) can get a reasonable premium for his or her plain vanilla vehicle.”

All of which neatly illustrates exactly why nobody should ever use a comparison site and why brokers remain as essential as ever to the insurance purchase process. Doesn’t it?

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