Direct AXAion commands respect


The French are famously passionate. Sometimes they can be passionate about some rather odd things: ideas, cheese, Johnny Hallyday.

The latest manifestation of these erratically-directed enthusiasms is AXA’s professed passion for ‘respect on the road.’

A new website of that name invites visitors to “share our passion and help to bring courtesy and respect back to British roads.” Alarmingly it notes that “inexperienced drivers all too often give themselves away behind the wheel of a car” – which certainly sounds like a dangerous thing to do, particularly if the car is moving at the time.

It’s all part of the multi-million-pound launch of AXA’s first direct assault on the car insurance buying public. With the slogan “Experienced Drivers Wanted” and the alluring promise of 90% discounts for those not in the habit of making claims, AXA has sensible drivers squarely in its sights.

Visitors to the company’s new Respect on the Road website will literally marvel at its vast array of content aimed at the “more experienced” driver. For example:

Item 1: Charley Boorman kicks off the Respect campaign by checking out who has the most annoying horn.

Item 2: Download the aptly named AxaDent iPhone app, which talks you through what to do if you want to make a motor insurance claim, and even allows you to capture photos of any vehicle damage following an accident.

Item 3: Watch power-dressed people barge, assault and shout at one another on a crowded sidewalk as the YouTube version of the latest AXA TV ad shows what it would be like if pedestrians were as disrespectful as car drivers – until finally a smug man in an executive saloon cruises blithely past them through a red light, and the ‘regular geezer’ voice-over tells us:

With AXA, experience can bring its own rewards,” – as opposed, presumably, to the rewards more properly pertaining to some other quality or attribute – “Up to 90% no claims discount on your car insurance. Experienced drivers wanted. AXA: redefining standards.”

Redefining standards, incidentally sounds like a great idea. That old thing about “rules by which to measure quality or quantity” is really starting to sound a bit old hat.

Item 4: Blogger The Respecter fumes, with throbbing temples, about how his tranquil enjoyment of Radio 4’s Play for Today has been rudely interrupted at a roundabout when “some imbecile coming the other way suddenly lurches in front of me, as he idiotically exits right without indicating his intentions.”

Perhaps The Respecter’s tag is intended ironically. Channeling Victor Meldrew certainly seems an odd way of promoting respect for fellow road-users.

His supposed middle-aged credentials look slightly shaky too. Shouldn’t he know his Afternoon Play from his Play for Today. Would-be deft-touch details like being told by his doctor to give up Battenberg cake for the sake of his heart are surely laying it on a little thick. Stand by for references to cardigans and slippers in future postings.

Items 5, 6, 7 &c.: Much, much, more….

So what about that crazy TV ad?

“Who needs another car insurance company?” ask WMO, the advertising agency responsible for the TV ads, on their website. “When AXA launched into this market they needed a campaign that would be talked about, while attracting the right kind of customer. By contrasting how ridiculously some people behave on the road with the value of experience, AXA has a campaign idea that not only communicates the benefits for experienced drivers but can also stimulate a genuine social debate.”

That debate looks set to run and run, with occasional breaks for a nice cuppa and a spot of sudoku, or when the grandchildren come round.


Insurers are bracing themselves for a regular tsunami of claims from women driving well (or possibly not so well) into retirement. So claims lefty rag The Guardian, at any rate.

Whilst the usually quoted stats paint a fairly damning picture of male drivers and their prang propensity, old dears could soon be causing carnage up and down the land.

The Grauniad claims to have laid its hands on top-secret insurer data which exclusively reveals that, from somewhere between the ages of 50 and 60, women are more of a problem than men.

As all that testosterone ebbs away, men calm down nicely. But as for older women… Let’s just quote The Gaurdain and claim boldly that “Some insurers are now demanding that women from the age of 75 pay 50% more for their car insurance than men, and, from 80, 100% more.”

Just changing the applicant’s name from Mrs to Mr apparently saves 53% on a 75-year-old’s motor insurance quote – although this may not work if you do it half-way through getting a phone quote.

AA director Douglas Simon told the paper that “women in their 70s and 80s are proportionately much more likely to be involved in a collision than men of the same age.”

Should we be afraid? Well, the number of women still driving over the age of 70 has risen from just 4% in 1976 to 36% today. So, yes, we probably should.

The most dangerous time is dusk ‘til dawn, when optically challenged older females are prone to pilot their Micras without the aid of viable visual data.

Aside from undiagnosed blind-as-bat-ness, another problem, AA Simon claims, is that elderly women let their husbands do the driving for years and then get back behind the wheel when hubby dies or becomes incapable.

Esher’s Adrian Webb is unSure what’s going on: “It could be that cognitive ability deteriorates faster [in women], or that they’re simply more nervous. But in truth we don’t really know.”

Disturbingly, Aviva claim to receive frequent calls from sons and daughters saying things like “Please don’t renew her insurance – she’s going to kill someone.” But the insurer claims it cannot act on such tip offs.


As if distractions like sat navs, cell phones and MP3/CD players were not enough, prepare to enter the brave new world of the Internet automobile.

Why would anyone want to forsake the wonderful worldwide web world for boring old steering and road watching? Fear not: soon you need never unplug from the online experience. Within the next 18 months, according to record organ The Times, new cars being developed by Ford and Audi will be fully web-enabled, allowing users (formerly known as drivers) to surf the net, email, Skype (“John, you seem a little distracted.”), and call up sites like Google Maps or Comparethemeerkat behind the wheel.

Carmakers apparently claim this “will transform cars from tools used to get from A to B into mobile offices, complete with all the conveniences of the digital age.” We always knew that A to B stuff was over-rated. Why hare around the country when you can pull over in a lay-by with a Big Mac and Beyoncé bouncing on your YouTube.

“MyFord Touch” will be “a state-of-the-art in-car computer that brings the internet direct to the dashboards of a mass-produced vehicle for the first time” allowing users to “access the web via a built-in browser, developed in conjunction with Microsoft, and an 8in LCD touchscreen

What could possibly be wrong with that?

Killjoys point out that “in-car distraction” was a contributory factor in 84 fatalities, 429 serious injuries and 4,255 slight injuries in the UK in 2008, while in the US the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes 6,000 people were killed by distracted drivers in 2008.

Good news, though, for all those people who really like to touch their cars.


Earlier this week The Sun reported the tragic tale of Angry Derek Lyon whose treasured Honda Civic was crushed in a case of mistaken identity.

ADL intends to sue police after he was mistaken for a banned drink-driver, arrested, held in a police cell for four hours, and subsequently told his car had been crushed when he could not afford to pay for its release.

ADL, who lost his job and contact with his children as a result of having no car, told Sun reporters: “It doesn’t sound much, but the car was mine, I owned it for three years and now I’m left with nothing.”

The incident occurred in July and it was not until this week that Dundee Sheriff Court accepted his plea of not guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance and the authorities agreed that he had been confused with an Aberdeen driver of the same name.

Sadly, drink driving seems increasingly prevalent these days to the extent that one law firm now brazenly advertises its predilection for this vile vice and offers assistance to fellow law-breakers. The following advertisement appeared alongside the Angry Derek Lyon story in the Sun’s digital edition (see item 2):


A judge has praised the six members of a West Yorks car cloning cartel who were recently jailed by Leeds Crown Court for providing new identities to stolen cars worth nearly half a million pounds.

Judge Scott Wolstenholme described them as intelligent and industrious young men, able to make a positive contribution to society. Their conspiracy, he noted, was well organised, professional and motivated by a real passion for high-value motor vehicles.

He nevertheless felt impelled to sentence the sextet to a total of 16 years for this “serious professional crime.”

Scotty said the slick sixsome, had taken advantage of the fact that the DVLA did not carry out physical checks on vehicles imported by private individuals. “The public is sick,” he said, “of car crime, resulting in the loss of cherished and valuable property.”

Chief conspirator Padala Satti Reddy, 26, got three years and seven months. His brother Padala Somi Reddy, 24, Reuben Browne, 24, and Naveed Akhtar, 31, each got three. Sundeep Matharu, 24, and Tahir Mahmood, 24, got just 21 months.

The close-knit group, all from the same small area of Bradford, obtained details of new cars sold to overseas buyers, then forged documents for stolen cars of similar make, model and colour suggesting they had been imported. The clones were registered with the DVLA and then sold on, used in insurance scams, or simply driven by members of the gang.

Seventeen vehicles including a BMW and two Range Rover Sports models had been cloned, while the gang had ten further identities read to use. Mark Pronger, the detective whose investigation nailed the gang, said the sentences reflected the professional nature and high value of the conspiracy.


How serious are insurers about deterring the one form of vehicle theft still rampantly on the rise? Not serious enough, opines Retainagroup, the organisation dedicated to helping people retain the vehicles of which villains would rather relieve them.

It is surely a scandal that cloning remains such as scourge when the practice would be eminently thwartable if more insurers supported the International Security Register (ISR) and gave due credit to the owners of marked and registered vehicles. Here’s what you need to know:

It all begins with etching. “Come up and see my etchings” is an offer no gamine ingénue can apparently resist. But to your average cloning criminal the phrase is anathematical. Etching is precisely the thing such villains most fear.

On buses and trains around the UK, window etching is an increasingly popular pastime, particularly among the younger members of our society (sadly, the standard of their handiwork is often crude, the import of their scrawled impressions scarcely legible). But even this vast army of engravers would surely baulk at the challenge of etching 60 million vehicle windows.

Not so Retainagroup. Upon the transparent vitreous sections of this barely imaginable profusion of motor vehicles, Retainagroup has chemically etched the manufacturer’s logo, a unique seven-digit code and the telephone number of the ISR neatly, visibly and permanently.

Yes, the Retainagroup security marking and registration system has been protecting vehicles against theft for 27 years. It is a highly effective means of both deterring and detecting cloning. The ISR stores details of each etched vehicle, available for verification for the price of a standard phone call by anyone, at any time, either day or night. If the code on a vehicle’s windows doesn’t match the plates and the VIN, then that clone alarm claxon should be sounding full-blast.

Picture the scene: a sun-bleached tar-stained quayside in Dubai. Two human hawks in Ray Bans languidly survey a suspect container with an automotive payload. Suddenly they swoop. The practiced eye of the harbour police has picked out a batch of suspected stolen vehicles.

But how do they check? Interpol has no record of any matching vehicles. Wait – what about the ISR? That’s more like it! A quick call to the ISR confirms the harbour hawks’ hunch. “Without the secondary marking system, these vehicles would not have been recovered and valuable intelligence would have been lost,” they confirm before strolling off for a very interesting chat with the importer’s local agent.

No surprise then that the Retainagroup marking process and the ISR are accredited by the Loss Prevention Council and by Thatcham. The police use the system daily – and if you want to check a suspected clone, you too can call the ISR at any time for an immediate response.

So get behind the ISR, you car insurers, and we’ll soon have the cloners on the run!


Motor cover is falling out of fashion with today’s young people – a group who allegedly account for four times as many RTAs as anyone else.

According to a new report from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB), one in five motorists aged between 17 and 20 (18 and 19 year olds, then?) is driving (illegally) without insurance.

What’s more the Mibsters found that one in ten of these tearaway tyro tykes has the effrontery to claim “What, it’s illegal to drive without insurance?!” Or words to that effect.

The insurer-funded body claims that 250,000 17 to 20 year olds (we think that’s what they mean) drive without any kind of motor cover. The two-to-three-grand-per-annum cost of insuring the motoring antics of a 17-year old male cited in the report may perhaps offer a clue to the root cause of this problem – that and a flagrant disregard for the law of the land, obviously.

MIB man Ashton West (just outside Bristol we think) says: “Young people make up a significant number of uninsured drivers, and with one in five newly qualified drivers having an accident in the first year of driving they need to make choices based on the consequences of driving without insurance and not just on price alone.”

How does he mean, exactly? How about having their vehicles seized, being fined and receiving up to eight penalty points on their license for starters?

Quoted in The Guardian, Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance is not surprised but shocked: “I’m not surprised at these figures,” he says, “even though it is shocking to see this statistic confirmed.

“Young drivers are 10 times more likely to be involved in a collision than more experienced drivers,” he continues, offering a shocking statistic of his own. “If they have no insurance, any claim has to be met by the MIB, which in turn is funded by honest insurers.” Honest insurers as opposed to anyone in particular? Maybe he meant honest insureds.

The Guardian’s report offers some salutary comparisons between UKland and its continental neighbours: “The UK has one of the highest proportions of uninsured drivers in Europe,” it claims, “with around 5% of motorists not having a policy in place compared with 0.1% in Sweden and 0.2% in Germany. According to [the] latest government statistics, a third of drivers killed or seriously injured on the road were under 25.”

Bankstone News blames the parents.


Don’t come at the Admiral from astern! The nautical but nice car insurer is not amused by the rising tide of rear-end collisions on the UK’s roads‚ nor by the suspicious tide of whiplash injuries in their wake.

The 420,000 head to tail collisions on our roads each year account for a quarter of all RTAs, costing the insurance industry half a billion pounds in the process. And with the trend heading only one way, 2009 looks set to be another bumper Year of the Rear.

Commenting on the fact that rear-end collisions have failed to follow the UK’s overall declining trend in accident frequencies, Admiral ventures the suggestion that drivers may be paying insufficient attention to the road ahead.

One in ten of these rear-end accidents results in whiplash claims from vehicle occupants, Admiral says. Whiplash claims alone‚ many of which the insurer suspects may be fraudulent, cost the industry £1.9 billion a year and account for 75 per cent of all personal injury claims.

“Pull up to my bumper, baby,” urged scary popstress Grace Jones in her 1981 hit of that name, “in your long black limousine.”

Wonder if she ever got whiplash.


Traditionally seen as unlucky and accident prone, green cars are suddenly in vogue – though not necessarily green coloured ones.

Cars of that hue are the equal-second-most-likely to have accidents‚ tied with black, just behind brown – according to research carried out by the University of Auckland in New Zealand in the early Noughties, which also found silver and white the least likely to crash‚ but we digress!

No indeed, the green cars in question are the environmentally friendly ones currently being promoted by politicians, transport activists and municipal authorities up and down the land‚ and specifically the electric and hybrid ones., that reliable stand-by source when trumped-up car insurance stories are hard to find elsewhere, has proven beyond all statistical doubt that 39% of motorists would buy a hybrid or electric vehicle, if buying one they were.

More startling still is the accompanying revelation that the motor insurance premium for a green car is typically “similar to a standard car” or, to put it more precisely, similar to the insurance premium for a standard car. Can it really be only October last year when the same were telling us “eco-friendly car insurance can cost over 105% more than standard cover”?

Thirty-three of the 39% green-leaners cited above would opt for the hybrid, and just 6% for a full-on plug-in. Meanwhile 36% of UK motorists would not even consider purchasing either, with the remaining 21% not knowing, not caring, or both.

Insurance for an eco-friendly vehicle is similar in price to a standard petrol car, claims, but “eco-friendly Brits can make savings elsewhere as hybrid and electric cars qualify for reduced or even zero road tax.”

Sweeney Steve, their head of motor insurance says: ” Aside from the obvious environmental benefits, [green cars] are also incredibly cost effective for the owner. Those driving a car such as the Honda Insight Hybrid would only pay £35 in road tax per year due to its low emissions [compared with] around £120 for standard petrol cars. The G-Wizz would not even qualify for road tax as it does not emit any harmful CO2 pollutants.”

The survey found Londoners and South Westerners most receptive to verdure, with 48 and 49 per cent respectively saying they’d opt for a hybrid or electric car.

This may not be altogether unrelated to green cars’ exemption from the congestion charging scheme in force in London, where Major Bozzer Jozzer recently outlined plans to set up thousands of vehicle charging points across the city and‚ perhaps revealing wider political ambitions‚ to make Britain the “electric car capital of Europe”.

London currently has 100 electric vehicle charging points in roads and car parks‚ a figure expected to rise to 250 by the end of 2010.

Bo Jo now plans to have 25,000 charging points by 2015, serving 100,000 vehicles. There will be both “slow charging points” allowing cars to be refuelled overnight and industrial-strength “rapid charging points” at petrol stations. also found younger people far more eco-car-inclined that older ones ‚ with almost half of 20-somethings saying they would go green. Young uns are more evangelistic on the subject too, suggesting that running your car on petrol could soon be about as socially acceptable as drink driving.

For previous coverage on electric vehicles in Bankstone News – and a lovely picture of a crouching BJ – we dare you to click here.


With just four days to go until Bankstone’s charity epic Monkey Monopoly hits the roads of Yorkshire (see here and other previous Bankstone news stories), specialist vehicle hire company Car Crash Line has kindly volunteered the use of two seven-seater vehicles to ferry riders and support staff between change-over points along the 420-mile round Yorkshire route.

Support vehicles donated

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Friendly staff who first was concerned about me (the policy holder)following an accident prior to taking vehicle details, which was nice
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