Quick buck syndrome strikes again

29/01/2010

The so-called Tumulus Culture dominated in Europe in the wake of the Early Bronze Age Beaker and Unitice Cultures. It flourished from around 2400 to 1800 BC before giving way to the Urnfield Culture of the Late Bronze Age.

The origins of the Compensation Culture that arose in late 20th Century Britain are thought to derive from the so-called ‘Land of Free’ peoples who colonised the North American landmass between the 16th and 20th Centuries.

Whatever its origins, the Compensation Culture (CC) has been cited by leading authority AA as a key factor in the dramatic rise in car insurance premiums recorded during 2009. A voracious enthusiasm for personal injury claims has become “increasingly embedded in British culture,” AA claims.

Spurred on by television advertising saying things like “Need some cash? Sue someone,” and “Fancy a new telly? Make a claim,” the people of Britain have taken CC to their hearts.

AA has gathered evidence suggesting that the typical annual comprehensive car insurance premium rose 18.7% in 2009 to top the thousand-pound mark, the largest jump since records began.

Research firm Consumer Intelligence agrees – kind of – reckoning that the average motor premium is now £564.19, up around 20% on last year, with the biggest rise among 17-24-year-olds, whose average premiums are up 25% to £1,489.

AA Douglas Simon claimed that insurers are struggling to meet rising settlement costs and personal injury claims with dwindling reserves. “Many people seem willing,” he said, “to pursue claims for even minor injuries, such as mild whiplash pain that in the past they would not have bothered claiming for.” Cue cries of “Bring back apathy” and “Show a bit of fortitude, you pathetic specimens!”

“This is encouraged,” AA Douglas continues, “by personal injury claims lawyers whose marketing urges people to make claims, and whose costs, as well as compensation for the claim, are met by the third party insurer,” adding, he suggested, an estimated £2bn to premiums.

Maybe someone should look into this!


29/01/2010

Is there no depth to which comparison sites will not sink in their quest for PR coverage? One such organisation this week claimed to have coated ‘Britain’s most dangerous street’ in bubble wrap to highlight “the need to be careful when behind the wheel.”

An accompanying photograph duly attests that some at least of Somerville Road, Worcester (highest incidence of motor insurance claims in the UK, supposedly) has indeed been draped in said packaging material. Claims for asphyxiated cats and trampled azaleas will doubtless ensue.

The insurance comparison site in question – we’re denying them the oxygen of publicity – claims somewhat complacently that their curtain of plastic creates “the ultimate safety blanket for motorists.”

Whatever the justice of this claim, residents frustrated at the obstruction of their front doors can at least relieve their stress by popping the bubbles.

One such resident, David Draper, 70, appeared a little confused. “It’s certainly quite unusual,” he observed ruminatively. “I had no idea our road was so dangerous. As long as I can get my motor home in and out, I don’t mind what they do.”

No idea the road was dangerous? Poor fool! Hopefully the whole bubble wrap thing will have put the wind right up him and he’ll now consider doing the decent thing by surrendering his licence.

Will Thomas, head of motor insurance at the stunt-happy comparison site said: “It would have been great fun to do this to every street in the UK, but sadly we ran out of bubble wrap.” Who needs a nanny state to cloak us in cotton wool when we’ve got maniacs like Thomas on the loose!


08/10/2009

Personal lines broker Shene Insurance has signed up outsourced claims specialists Bankstone to provide a full-service external claims handling service for its motor, household and business customers.

Shene Insurance MD Philip Alexander comments: “Our first priority is always to deliver the best possible service to our customers. Having looked at a number of potential outsourced providers, we believe Bankstone have the right resources and the right philosophy to take our claims handing service to the next level. They have the systems, the people, and the quality control to ensure our clients get the personal attention and support they are looking for when they need to make a claim. One of the benefits of outsourcing our claims function to Bankstone will be extending the hours during which we can offer a personal claims service to our customers.”

Bankstone director Dickon Tysoe adds: “I am delighted Shene have chosen Bankstone, as their claims handling partner. We look forward to working with them to maximise customer satisfaction and client retention whilst reducing operational costs. Shene and its customers will benefit from our market-leading technology platform, our state of the art online claims facilities, and the exceptional knowledge and experience of our team, many of whom are former brokers themselves.”

Keep yourself posted – sign up to Bankstone News by clicking here.

30/09/2009

A quarter of UK motorists deny ever having been distracted while driving.

The other three quarters may be perpetually gawping at attractive pedestrians, billboards, nice views and low-flying aircraft – but at least they’re not filthy rotten liars.

The most common distractions, according to a press release put out by the AA are attractive people in other cars, attractive pedestrians, and a “nice view”.

Men are three times more likely than women to be distracted by attractiveness (70% compared with 25%). So presumably – to keep the average distraction figures up around 75% – women must be much more distracted by scenery of the non-euphemistic variety.

“We do notice an increase in the number of minor shunts during August,” said the AA’s Douglas Simon, when “attractive members of the opposite sex are perhaps showing off a lot of their suntan!”

Such distractions, he argues, “are likely to be a factor in the accident statistics, although most people are unlikely to admit it on a claim form!”

But think before you ogle, he urges: “A collision would ruin your journey.” Did you ever consider that? “Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel,” he admonishes. Hands on the wheel? What kind of perverts does he take us for?

“Our best advice is to stop in a safe place,” he concludes, to appreciate views or “other roadside features.”

If that’s really their best advice, Bankstone News is in no great hurry to sample further specimens of the AA’s wit and wisdom.


18/09/2009

People are people, so why should it be (pause) you and I should get along so awfully? So pondered vaguely-pervy Essex electro-dweebs Depeche Mode back in 1984.

As clumsy as this earnest rhetoricism may seem, it’s as relevant as ever today as two tribes (lawyers and insurers) go to war over the supposed sharp practice that is… third party capture (aka third party intervention).

“Don’t, don’t you want me,” your typical PI lawyer is apt to sputter, when a potential-client-accident-victim falls for the cheap allure of an insurer’s quickie payout and forsakes the righteous path of law.

Some insurers in Northern Ireland are “deliberately settling accident claims before victims get a chance to contact a solicitor,” the Law Society gasps in consternation. (Sorry, no 80s pop reference in this paragraph.)

Not only, the soliciting professionals suggest, do such fast-tracking shenanigans risk short-changing claimants, they recklessly bypass the invaluable professional input of lawpersons and med bods.

The Law Society has gone so far as to suggest that “Victims are being actively discouraged from seeking legal advice.” This sounds only slightly less bad than being passively discouraged.

Legitimate cause for concern, then?

Nonsense, nonsense, soothes the ABI with suave plausibility: “Insurers want to help innocent victims of road accidents get their vehicle repaired, and get the care and compensation they need, as soon as possible.” Quite so, and girls just wanna have fun. Allegedly.

Surely if we could just put aside such petty squabbling and recognise our common humanity the world would be a better place for victims and non-victims alike.


11/09/2009

Given the widely reported trouble under-25s are having finding jobs in the current economic climate, it’s good to be able to report that three of them at least have started work as Bankstone claims handlers in the last couple of months.

Louise Hilder joined in June, fresh from achieving a First in Economics from the University of Lancaster. Cara Lutz started in August, and Charlotte Gilchrist joined this month.

Bankstone Director Dickon Tysoe comments: “It’s great to welcome three such capable and enthusiastic new recruits on board. We’ll soon knock that out of them.”


10/09/2009

Nodding dog Churchill has been chewing over the claims form facts and this week spat out the somewhat drool-bespattered revelation that men in short-sleeved shirts (let’s call them computer engineers) make more claims than any other type of worker. Farmers file the fewest.

The Churchillian study looked at all named professions of which they had more than 1000 clients on their books and found “ a significant correlation between certain professions and the likelihood of having a car accident.”

Top-dog Tony Chilcott said: “The poorer claims experience associated with computer engineers, sales managers, chefs and doctors most likely reflects the long hours they work in a very stressful job.”

For what it’s worth, here are the two top tens in full (worst first):

1 Computer Engineer

2 Sales Manager

3 Chef

4 Student

5 Doctor

6 Estate Agent

7 Surveyor

8 Customer Advisor

9 Hairdresser

10 Social Worker

1 Farmer

2 Aircraft Fitter

3 Stores Personnel

4 Ambulance Driver

5 Laboratory Technician

6 Pilot

7 Caretaker

8 Agricultural Engineer

9 Green Keeper

10 Mechanical Engineer


10/09/2009

It is Bankstone News’ sober duty to report yet more evidence just in of rocketing levels of motor claims fraud.

Ordnance Survey – the UK body charged with working out the best places from which to fire cannons – have apparently interviewed exactly 74% of the UK’s leading Insurance Fraud Investigators – no idea why – and heard that fraudulent claims are showing not the slightest sign of leveling out following last year’s record levels.

Eighty per cent of investigators believe the situation will continue to get worse. Almost half report an increase in both the volume and in the monetary value of claims made.

Meanwhile 57% have seen a rise in the number of completely bogus claims made, and 54% an increase in inflated claims.

Corresponding percentages for increased reporting of other scam types were as follows:

Serial claimants 47%
Criminal gangs targeting insurers 42%
Criminal gangs targeting insurance policy holders 35%
Lying or withholding information on application forms 33%


02/09/2009

Bwaa-ha-ha! Drivers, ever feel the hairs stiffen on the back of your neck, an icy frisson cursing down your spine, an inexplicable sense of dread? Any of these, basically, and it could mean you’re unwittingly playing host to the latest scourge of the insurance claims universe.

Could it be there’s a “ghost passenger” haunting your back seat?

According to legal beagles Keoghs, Insurance claims involving such “ghost passengers” are – like the ‘bad moon’ so affectingly immortalised in song by popular music ensembles Creedence Clearwater, Sonic Youth et al – on the rise. As if their mere presence weren’t sinister enough in itself, it seems these ghouls are somehow implicated in the business of fraudulent insurance claims making.

Never ones to voice an original opinion where there’s an authority to be cited, the lawyers quote Adrian Webb, Corporate Communications Manager at esure. Commenting in “the Scotland on Sunday” Webb says tens of millions of pounds were paid out in cases involving such phantoms during 2009. Presumably this estimate includes monies paid out to spirit fraudsters in the England and the Wales as well as the Scotland, and possibly even in the top-right corner of a largish island to the west.

With less than startling originality, Webb blames the recession.

Notwithstanding their non-corporeal status, these unscrupulous wraiths, it seems, are strongly actuated by the allure of filthy lucre. Enticed by the “financial opportunities of a burgeoning compensation culture,” he says, they know “that if they work hard enough at a lie, they stand a chance of receiving a large cheque from companies who don’t investigate claims hard enough.”

Based on this eloquent and doubtless definitive testimony, Keoghs conclude that “The number of people committing insurance claims fraud by alleging that a passenger in a vehicle was injured in a crash when in fact they were not present at the scene of the accident” may be rising.

Since “injuries” to spirit beings are not generally covered by motor insurance policies, neglecting to mention the fact that a passenger is no longer in the land of the living (and therefore presumably has only a limited capacity for being demonstrably present anywhere in anything other than an eerily numinous kind of way) might perhaps be considered a graver omission.

With so few psychic claims investigators currently working, the big question for anxious motor insurers, presumably, is “Who you gonna call?”


01/09/2009

In a move which it claims will surprise no-one – what with credit hire costs indirectly adding an alleged 10% to the cost of the average motor policy – Axa Insurance has decided to “withdraw its support from” the ABI’s General Trading Agreement (GTA) for credit hire, with immediate effect.

Axa told Post Magazine this week that it has “developed a new operating model, which puts greater emphasis on claims ownership and the drive to take proactive and pragmatic actions to settle claims more quickly and effectively,” adding that it will “work closely with companies in a more collaborative engagement” and “is in discussions with a number of parties who have shown interest in its approach.”

Aside from the unsurprising bombshell at their kernel, these statements – replete as they may be with all the right words – tell us next to nothing about the Axa’s next move. Fear not: Axa claims honcho David Williams is on hand with timely clarification.

“We have been looking at a number of options for dealing with the growing number and cost of credit hire claims,” he explains. “Our new operating model means that an opportunity arises for us to work more closely with a number of CHOs who share our desire to take the frictional costs out of managing what should be straightforward claims. This has not been an easy decision but we believe it is the right one for our business and our customers. Credit hire comes in for regular and sometimes well deserved criticism but we believe that rather than wait for a solution to arise, we should drive our own agenda.”

When there’s talk of both ‘driving’ and ‘agendas,’ who needs details? Just supposing, however, you might happen to know more about Axa’s new operating model and the mysterious ‘number of parties’ with whom it plans to collaborate so closely and productively, we’re sure Post Magazine would be only too happy to hear.


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