w@ dz cmplsry mean?

27/08/2009

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.


20/08/2009

A war of words – or of subtle nuances at least – seems in danger of breaking out between brokers and insurers over claims.

In the wake of new research suggesting that his members are spending a lot more time these days negotiating fairer pay-outs for their clients, BIBA guy Eric Gallbreath has come perilously close to suggesting the unsuggestible.

Research among 350 BIBA members showed that two thirds of brokers think insurers are increasingly trying to wriggle out of paying claims. Brokers reckon they are having to fight harder than ever for their clients. Twenty per cent improvements on original claims offers are said to be commonplace, while 94% of brokers say they have overturned outright claims rejections.

BIBA’s Gallbreath has words to spare: “These statistics seem to suggest a too frequent reduction in the amount offered in claims settlements – a position that could ultimately lead to more customers believing they need to inflate claims in order to respond to what they expect will be the insurer’s initial offer.”

An ABI spokesperson responds: “Insurers believe that fraud rises in a recession and will certainly, in the interests of honest customers, be extra vigilant for suspected fraudulent claims. Being tempted to inflate a genuine claim is fraud, and runs the risk of harder to obtain and more expensive future insurances and credit.”

On a technical note, Bankstone News suspects that being tempted per se (whatever the source of temptation) is highly unlikely to be construed as constituting an act of fraud by any reputable legal authority. The ABI’s legal fact-checkers were probably busy that day.

Allianz claims bloke Roy Hebburn meanwhile is diplomatically firm but fair: “The fraud threat is a very real one that increases during recession, but it is vitally important that our counter fraud activity does not impact upon the service delivery to our honest customers, who are far and away in the majority. We will happily engage in any subsequent debates.”

Let the debating commence!

Could global warming get worse?!

13/08/2009

Interviewed in the Financial Times after his company reported a 24 per cent downturn in interim pre-tax profits, RSA’s Andy Haste denied the insurer was experiencing any “broad-based” upturn in claims volumes due to the recession.

For Haste, the pivotal issues in running an insurance company appear to revolve around which direction one faces in. Lady Thatcher may famously have set herself against it, but turning makes the world go round in Haste’s book.

“We are tightly managing claims and costs,” he told the pink paper, with stately echoes of Queen Victoria in her pomp, “but we have not turned away from growth.” He did note however that “we have turned away from markets where it is too bloody to compete” citing mid-market commercial by way of illustration.

RSA is also apparently turning its back on PI cover for UK law firms with “fewer than three” partners because these turn out to be more claim-prone in a downturn.

Suddenly sounding less like Queen Victoria and more like a single male en route for South East Asia, Mr Haste bragged about still having a strong pipeline, telling the FT “because of the dislocation that’s gone on, there are good opportunities out there, mainly in emerging markets.”


13/08/2009

The ABI is on the warpath. This summer it has travel insurance cheats in its sights.

False claims for the theft of high value personal items have funded many a foreign jaunt and wasted countless hours of police time in holiday destinations around the globe.

But that was then, say the ABI. Now the industry is cracking down on holiday claims cheats – and cracking down hard!

If anyone thinks they’ll get away with this kind of stunt nowadays, they’d better think again. Insurers and overseas police forces are more clued-up and vigilant today than ever before.

Impossibly sophisticated industry-wide databases whir and click around the clock, and a giant techno-forensic net is closing fast on would-be claims cheats.

Last year alone travel insurers uncovered 4,300 dishonest claims with a total value of around £5 million. Think about it: that’s over 80 cases cracked each week. Wanna try your luck now, Punk?

ABI goes on to alert potential claims cheats that particular attention will be paid to claims where “items are reported lost or stolen to the insurer very shortly before returning home, with no time to report the loss to the police.”

Would-be fraudsters reading the ABI’s advice may well conclude that perhaps it’s worth the hassle of a trip to the local police station after all. They should also remember to check their friends’ bags for incriminating evidence (see below)!

“The vast majority of claimants are honest,” the ABI’s Nick Starling proposes generously, “but the dishonest few are in for a nasty and expensive shock this summer.”

Those who get caught, he notes, will have trouble getting other kinds of insurance and have to pay more – thanks to all those databases. Their credit ratings may be dented, and they could face prosecution.

To round off this cautionary tale in agreeably tabular form, the ABI has some examples for us:

• A photographer was jailed for three months after making a false claim for £8,000 worth of camera equipment allegedly damaged on holiday.

• A holidaymaker in Cyprus reporting an alleged theft was caught out when the resort police discovered the ‘stolen’ items in her friend’s handbag.

• The ‘recovery expenses’ claimed by a traveller following a bout of malaria contracted in West Africa were in fact for services provided by the local brothel.

• A doctor was given a custodial sentence and barred by the BMA after making multiple baggage claims.


16/07/2009

Defaqto’s newly published report  Motor Insurance 2009: Another Bumpy Ride’ predicts another bumpy ride for motor insurers in 2009.

Whatever else it may portend, the fact-finding firm warns motor underwriters, that faint light ahead does not indicate the end of the tunnel.

Despite evidence that rates have moved upwards, there will be no underwriting profits from UK motor business in 2009, Defaqto bluntly states.

Defaqto ‚ whose name, fact fans, is a corruption of a Latin term de facto meaning roughly  in fact’ or  actually’ (legalistically opposed to de jure meaning  by right’ or literally  of law’)‚ believes the 8.7% rise in average premiums falls pitifully short of the 20% rise required to restore motor underwriting to profitability.

Mike Powell, Principal Consultant for General Insurance, has some advice for motor insurers: “Motor insurers are going to need to think carefully about choosing to write for profit or market share,” he claims. “They are not going to be able to do both.

“Even in the commercial motor market,” he continues, “where there has been consistent profitability for the past few years, profitability is on a knife edge.”

A bumpy ride on a knife edge certainly doesn’t sound good.

15/07/2009

Just months after being deemed surplus to requirements at beleaguered fleet owner Helphire, Chris Chatterton has been drafted back as group sales director.

The return of Chatterton, who was previously managing director of Helphire UK and Angel Assistance, has prompted a rash of speculation.

Sadly, Bankstone News has nothing in the way of fact with which to anoint said rash and thereby soothe the irritation. Some things never change.

According to the official blurb, Chatterton will be responsible for sales and business development within all of Helphire Group’s entities including, Helphire UK, Albany Assistance, Helphire Automotive Division, Total Accident Management, Cab Aid, E-claim and Fleet Legal.

Martin Ward, Group Managing Director, said: I very much look forward to working closely with Chris as we forge ahead with our programme of recovery. Chris’ appointment to Group Sales Director is designed to maximise the Group’s presence in all of its markets and ensure that there is no conflict between channels.”

Perhaps amidst all that right-sizing, they’d forgotten the need to do some selling. Maybe it’s a knowing where the bodies are buried’ thing. Maybe they just missed having him around. Fruitless‚ and indeed potentially libellous‚ to speculate. So we won’t.


14/07/2009

Over the weekend (11-12 July 2009) Bankstone led a flotilla of 15 monkey bikes 250 miles round famous film locations in Yorkshire, raising money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service (YAA). At each of 10 stops along the way they donned costumes appropriate to the famous films in question.

Leaving Bankstone’s Brighouse offices at 9am on Saturday 11 July, the convoy first rode to Halifax’s Piece hall to re-enact the  Floral Dance’ scenes from Brassed Off dressed as bandsmen and miners.

The YAA’s mascot, a seven-foot bear called Bernie, came along for the ride, and posed with riders at each of the ten stops. This involved a naked lady (suit) at Ilkley’s Cow and Calf rocks, Robin Hood and merry men at beauty spot Aysgarth falls, WWII pilots at Northallerton, vets in Thirsk and so on (see list of locations below, shown with approximate actual times of arrival).

The convoy reached overnight-stop Scarborough around 6pm‚ a mere three hours behind the original schedule‚ not that bad given that guiding 15 rugged individualists round the UK’s largest county on monkey bikes is a bit like herding cats‚ then made four further stops‚ including Whitby for Dracula and Goathland for Harry Potter‚ before finishing up pitch side at Elland Road for The Damned United and arriving back at Bankstone’s Brighouse headquarters in time for Sunday tea.

A somewhat saddle-sore Bankstone Director Dickon Tysoe commented: “What a weekend!
We’ve made good progress towards our target of raising £10,000 for the YAA and donations are coming in fast. In the process we rode through some of the best scenery Yorkshire has to offer under almost perfect weather conditions. We passed through gritty mill towns, over cobbles, up hill, down dale, crossing and re-crossing rivers, over bleak moorland, past rocky crags, dodging loose sheep and winos, slowing for horses and cyclists, getting lost, getting found, and generally riding over 250 miles on motorbikes small enough to fit in the boot of most cars.

“We saw monumental reminders of the area’s industrial past, ruined abbeys, beaches, fishing ports, picture postcard villages, stately homes, market towns, and even the inside of a football stadium (“Don’t touch the turf!”). Highlights included one rider left standing as his bike set off without him, the struggle up Sutton Bank, the lady at Goathland station who paid a pound for a bear hug, fresh strawberries at the Piece Hall, and horns worn out from tooting at pedestrians! As we did last year, we will be posting a video on You Tube as soon as we’ve finished editing it and there will be a gallery on Flickr. We will continue to accept donations for the rest of the year, so please dig deep and help us keep the air ambulance flying.”

The Piece Hall, Halifax Brassed Off Sat 9.30 am
Cow & Calf, Ilkley Calendar Girls Sat 11.00 am
Aysgarth Falls, Aysgarth Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Sat 12.30 pm
The Golden Lion, Northallerton The Way to the Stars Sat 3.00 pm
Herriot Museum, Thirsk All Creatures Great and Small Sat 4.00 pm
Coffee Bean Cafè, Scarborough Little Voice Sun 9.00 am
Whitby Abbey, Whitby Dracula Sun 10.00 am
Goathland Station, Goathland Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Sun 11.00 am
Castle Howard, Brideshead Revisited Sun 12.00 pm
Leeds United, Elland Road The Damned United Sun 2.00 pm

Taking part along with Bankstone were motorcycle hire and repair firm BLD, Premier Medical Group, Car Crash Line, Copart, Easy Rider and The Davy Group.

Anyone who would like to support this unique charity fundraising exercise can visit charity donations website Just Giving (see www.justgiving.com/monkeymoviestars).

Paul Gowland, fundraising director of YAA, comments “It costs us £7,200 per day to keep our helicopters and highly trained paramedics in the air. Monkey Moviestars is certainly one of the more unusual fund raising initiatives we have seen! Our sincere thanks go to Dickon and his team for their continued support of our life-saving charity”

For more on Yorkshire Air Ambulance click here.

08/07/2009

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.


25/06/2009

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.

Monkeysupermarket.com, 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 moneysupermarket.com 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, moneysupermeerkat.com 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.

Moneysuppermarket.com 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.


25/06/2009

Latest statistics from the ABI show fraudulent insurance claims on the rise as the recession starts to bite.

An estimated 107,000 false claims last year (worth £730 million) constituted a 30% increase on 2007.

Household insurance fraud was most prevalent by volume, with 50,000 false claims during 2008, but motor insurance claims came out top by value ‚ totalling £360 million.

But the ABI has a warning for anyone thinking of topping up their spending money with a dodgy claim. “Insurers,” their representative body claims “are intensifying their crackdown on insurance cheats and the fraud that adds an extra £40 a year to the average premium.”

All right, we wrote this in a hurry! To read a previous, much longer and more entertaining story on the same topic, you could always try clicking here.


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