Portholes in road ahead


Bankstone News seems to recall it was renowned Scots philosopher and economist Adam Smith who once famously observed that ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’. And speaking of passing things through implausibly restrictive apertures, there have lately been developments in the unfolding story of HMG’s whiplash porthole – see previous coverage.

You’ll no doubt recall that whip-hurt punters were finding it way too easy to claim significant sums of cash in compensation for quite-possibly-trumped-up cervical injuries, and that the government had decided to make it harder and less lucrative for them so to do. And that’s just what they’ve done.

Part One of the Curtailment of Legal Access (CLA) Act finally came into force on 31 May this year, putting a price on people’s pain with a fixed tariff of damages for various grades of whiplashedness, putting all claims worth £5k or less on a small ‘claims track’ passing (or possibly not passing) through the aforementioned porthole, and largely relieving insurers of the burdensome necessity of covering claimant lawyers’ costs.

Having effectively severed the link between claimants and claimant lawyers, the government has clearly set a premium on user-freindliness in designing its claims porthole, with the result that it really couldn’t be simpler for injured people to give up and go away. Not only must they pass through the porthole itself, they must also jump through a variety of associated hoops including a requirement to provide medical evidence of hurtness. 

Businesses like Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) insurers may be interested to know that Bankstone Limited Ltd is one of just 24 FCA-regulated firms with the required permissions (not to mention the dark-arts type skills) to pass claims safely through the porthole. So if you are associated with such a business, and you’d like some value-added professional assistance with your porthole passage needs, please don’t hesitate to contact the aforementioned Bankstone Limited Ltd. They’re really very good!



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 always get a better class of speaker at the Insurance Ache Broker Summit. The very word summit, of course, implies something than which it is possible to get no higher. And so it was with this year’s BS (generously sponsored by Actoress, Ages, Axer, Cover’ya, MUM, NIGE and Bompo Falopious).

A rare public appearance by reclusive semi-legendary former cabinet maker Dave Plunkett, one of the leading lights in the now notorious Blair Rich Project had delegates quite literally on the edges of their seats.

We should all take more risks, DP told a rapped audience. “Instead of being averse to risk,” he continued sotto voce, leaving a long dramatic pause, then barking out (like the Sheffield backstreet hard man he once was): “We’ve got to manage it!” Cue: thrilled gasps quickly followed by rapturous applause.

Now truly hitting his stride, rhetorically speaking, as the cheers died down, Plunkett pressed on remorselessly, rousing his audience to still more elevated peaks of enthusiasm, reassuring them that risk is nothing to be scared of.

In fact, he suggested daringly, taking on risk – and helping others to face up to it – could even create business opportunities for brokers! By now, the crowd was well and truly caught up in a frenzy of risk-tackling ardour.

Taking what was clearly intended as a deal-clinching imaginative leap to stand, metaphorically, shoulder to shoulder within the massed ranks of brokers, Plunkett declared of risk:

“We’ve got to encourage people to be able to analyse it, to be sensible about it, and then to be able to reinforce taking the necessary steps to make that possible.”

But now, it quickly became clear, he’d gone too far. Where seconds before the cheering mass of brokers would have followed Plunkett to the ends of the earth, they suddenly fell silent. Ominously silent.

The Plunk’s normally flawless feel for audience sentiment had abruptly and inexplicably deserted him. He’d lost the room and he knew it. But where had it all gone wrong?

Was it that all that technical talk about encouraging, analysing and reinforcing that confused and baffled his simple-minded broker audience? Was it that his garbled syntax and rambling incoherence had carelessly broken the spell so painstakingly created with all those beguiling promises of turning risk into money?

Who knows, certainly not Bankstone News. But broken the spell most certainly was. He gamely struggled to continue. What about Europe, that’s always a crowd pleaser.

Don’t get me wrong, “I’m a Eurosceptic,” he declared, branding Brussels bureaucracy “extremely frustrating.” Polite silence, just about. But, he continued ill-advisedly, “it would be insane to withdraw from the European Union.” Angry mutterings. The first few seats are vacated.

What about that Donald Trump?, he proposed, against a rising tide of cold indifference and disaffection. It was “ironic”, he ventured, that Trump looks set to lead the Republicans while Jeremy Corby leads the Labour party. It was plain at this point in the proceedings that no-one either knew or cared what on earth he was on about.

Er… Cyber security’s really bad, isn’t it, he suggested, as the hall cleared quietly, but with increasingly urgency. “Economic disruption, espionage – in terms of stealing intellectual property – disruption of activity… the risk of actually being able to take down absolutely essential public as well private services is… simply the threat of tomorrow.”

The Plunkster soldiered on bravely, but by now, if he only knew it, he was talking to no-one but himself and a handful of visibly mortified Insurance Ache people silently wondering among themselves, with gestures and glances, at what point they should step in and say something.

Which just goes to show: you should never use big fancy words when talking to a room full of insurance people. Or, if you must, at least try to use some that actually make some kind of sense when you string them all together sequentially.



It has long been understood that there is virtually no end to the amount of abuse consumers will put up with from their banks before switching. The same, unfortunately, does not apply to insurance. Bankstone News blames the scourge of the annually renewable policy.

That and comparison sites, obviously. For it is they who have done more than anyone to create a culture in which anyone who doesn’t change insurer every year is looked upon as some kind of numpty.

And – according to  a press release put out by ‘call centre technology provider’ Aspic this week – if the constant search for lower premiums isn’t enough to convince consumers to dump their incumbent insurance providers, the merest hint of the tiniest failing on the customer service front is sure to do the trick!

Aspic’s latest Consumer Satisfaction Benchmarking Report indicates that consumers are more likely to change their insurer than any other service provider. Bizarrely, this non-revelation has received widespread coverage in the insurance press this week.

The fact that consumers are also (marginally) more likely to switch their insurance provider than any other provider after “one bad experience” is – if anything – even less of a revelation.

Given that consumers were probably going to switch insurer anyway before too long, the fact that only 33% said they would dump a “one bad experience’ insurer could be seen as comparing pretty favourably with the 30% who said they’d drop their credit card provider or the 27% who said they’d change internet service provider, faced with equivalent provocation.

Marginally more interesting was Aspic’s finding that, when asked which of a range of service providers gave them the best service, only 3% cited their insurance provider – compared, worryingly, with banks (equal top position along with mobile phone providers) on 13%.

Should insurance firms be worried at this unflattering comparison with bankers? Probably. But, luckily, Aspic’s press release offers some invaluable advice for insurance providers keen to boost their customer service satisfaction levels.

Aside from buying or renewing a policy, Aspic notes, “the main reason that people need to interact with [insurance providers] is to claim, which is often a period of stress and worry. Emotions are heightened, and customer service should be handled carefully.”

So there you go. Simple really!



Further evidence of the general dishonesty and untrustworthiness of the Great British public emerged this week as market research firm Consumer Intelligence revealed that one in twelve motorists is a self-confessed liar and a cheat when it comes to filling in their motor insurance application form.

It’s a wonder insurers can bring themselves to deal with this nation of liars at all.

On the plus side: Britain’s drivers may be dishonest, but at least they’re disarmingly open about it. Fully 8% of those interviewed by Consumer Intelligence blithely confessed to lying about where they lived (9%), where they parked their cars at night (16%), how many points they had on their licence, and – alarmingly – how far they drove each year (10%).*

The disturbing possibility remains, however, that, if one in twelve happily admit they lie to their insurers, the other eleven may be lying too – but are so shockingly dishonest (brace yourselves) that they even lie to market researchers!


* Things are no better on the household insurance front, incidentally, where one in three consumers admitted to the heinous crime of “guessing the value of their contents” and a further 20% thought that they were “only accurate to within £5,000”.

Don’t expect to get any of those claims paid!


Following a winter in which the ABI’s motor insurance claims counters have passed the quarter million mark (cash value: £400 million), a Middlesex broker has issued a statement that finally puts things in their proper perspective.

Dave Stoneageman of Flint Insurance explains exactly what went so badly wrong with motor claims this year:

“Over the winter months, Britain has experienced an unprecedented amount of snow and ice, which has created hazardous conditions for many motorists. This has led to many motor accidents, which have been caused by drivers losing control of their vehicles and also due to damage which has occurred as a result of pot holes, due to poorly maintained roads.”

At Bankstone News we just knew potholes had something to do with it! (A pot hole is the same thing as a pothole, isn’t it?)

But who are these experts in the science of cold-weather motor accident causation? Well, Flint Insurance are an independent insurance broker, based in Harrow, Middlesex. With over 30 years’ experience in the trade, they can offer a range of cover for businesses as well as personal insurance including specialist lady driver insurance for clients throughout the UK. By using a panel of over 35 insurers, they can provide the most appropriate and cost-effective cover for their clients.

Don’t say Bankstone News doesn’t do in-depth!


The current issue of that estimable insurance organ Insurance Age takes an in-depth look at claims. Well worth reading, if you haven’t already.

It also features (did we mention this?) a round-table discussion involving Bankstone’s own Dickon Tysoe.

Edited highlights follow:

David Bonehill (Ecclesiastical): “It’s not us that define good or bad [claims] service.”

Chris Murray (Halliwells): “If you go bargain basement, you’ve got to be a bit wary.”

DB: “Service from the composites may not be so good.”

Stephen Walker (Provident): “Often a broker only gets involved when things start to go wrong.”

DB: “It’s an interesting point.”

Chris Hall (Questgates): “They are not going to send someone out on a claim.”

DB (again): “Take insurance exams.”

SW: “If I look at our claims, 90-95% will go down a particular process.”

DB: “You won’t get empathy for the customer.”

Owen Gorman (Delta Claims): “It’s about allowing people in the claims environment to do what they need to do.”

Dickon Tysoe (finally someone who’ll talk some sense): “I have experience of working in a call centre environment.”

CH: “It’s interesting.”

DB: “But do you think by doing that you create different claims handling philosophies?”

CM: “Could you include a caveat, if you want to go off-piste, as it were?”

DT: “I’m also wondering.”

CM: “I can give you a good example of that.”

CH: “Motor is the only sector where you can do that.”

Chris Barnett (Heath Lambert): “That’s an area where complaints can occur.”

DB: “There are different models for brokers as well.”

CB: “I work in corporate commercial now.”

DT: “Is it not the broker’s responsibility to make sure that business is placed in the right market that can deliver the value-added stuff when claims arise?”

DB: “Oh yes, all the time.”

CH: “Nowadays people have cars, mobile phones, Blackberries, web-based IT systems.”

DB: “You could approach the claim blindly.”

To read the full text of this fascinating discussion click here.


The latest revelation spewed out by the ever-churning motor insurance fact engine over at moneysupermerkin.com is that making a claim after five claim-free years will increase your motor insurance premium by 73%. Whereas… if you’ve got a protected no claims bonus it will rise a mere 18%.

The average cost of protecting a no claims bonus, the monkeysoapermarket people reckon, is £62. So the longer you go without making a claim, the more it can seem like a waste of money.

Supermarket honcho Sweeney Steve warns motorists will suffer if they don’t get round to making a claim: “If you protect your policy but don’t make a claim for a number of years,” he admonishes, “you could find that you are eroding any potential savings.”

According to the figures quoted by moneysupermeerkat, claiming after five years will increase the average motor insurance premium from £528 to £911 (i.e. by £383). With a protected no claim bonus, your premium would rise just £104, from £590 (including cost of protecting NCB) to £694.

So it has cost you £310 (£62 x 5) to save yourself £279. Not great business in year one, but then you are saving another £217 in each subsequent claim-free year, which is kind of the point of the whole exercise, isn’t it?

But just when you think these inconclusive statistical factoids can’t get any more soporific, Supermarket Steve hits us with a killer twist. The average cost of protecting a no claims bonus may be £62, but – would you believe it – “this figure varies considerably from one car insurance provider to another” from as much as £90 to as little as £8. The solution? Why, comparing car insurance deals online, of course. Genius!


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.


Badgers, monkeys, swans, horses, cows: such are the hazards awaiting the unwary on Britain’s roads. Evilly inclined walls and malign lamp posts lurk with ill intent. But most fearsome of all are Lincoln’s killer trees.

That’s if you’re willing to indulge the bizarre hallucinatory psychosis of the singularly unhinged PR team at Elephant.co.uk.

Their latest press release warns motorists that “Lincoln has Britain’s most dangerous trees.” Not since the dark days of Robin Hood have comfortably-off local residents lived in such abject terror of their arboreal neighbours.

Other killer-tree hotspots are apparently Shrewsbury and Taunton. Watch out for the lethal lamp posts of Durham and Blackpool, the Elephant.co.ck crew warn, and steer well clear of Halifax and Huddersfield’s walls of death.

Scots are most likely to hit animals, the press release claims. With the above-mentioned menagerie all on offer as targets during the past five years. And do not disdain the humble rabbit. “Despite its small size” one bunny allegedly wrote off a policyholder’s car. This does sound somewhat improbable to Bankstone News, but perhaps the rabbit in question simply works in an insurer’s claims department.

Commenting on the results of his firm’s five-year survey, Elephant.co.ck managing director Brian Martin said: “It was unclear why we would see more collisions with lamp posts, trees and walls in the other areas. It’s difficult to see why these towns in particular would top the list for these types of accidents.”

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