What did you do in the Ice Age, Dad?


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!


A survey conducted by Which? magazine has found that insurance brands sailing under the Admiral’s ensign are quoting higher car insurance premiums for people who have not lived in the UK since birth.

The Which? survey established that, by Admiral criteria, people born outside Britain should expect to pay almost 20% more for their car insurance than those who were born in the UK. No other insurer appeared to have a similar policy on non-native motorists.

Accused of discrimination on the basis of national origin, the Admiral quickly broke down and confessed to being a residencist. A spokesman told Post Magazine this week “We do rate on the age someone first comes to the UK. This is not an origin question, but a residency question. We do not ask any questions on where a person is from.”

Very tactful.

Of course there will always be those who argue that underwriting is inherently discriminatory and should be outlawed at once. Fair enough, takes all sorts and that, but isn’t it time the voice of common sense got a hearing?

Now – don’t get me wrong, no offence, with all due respect – Bankstone News isn’t a residencist or anything, but surely all right-minded people know in their hearts that it’s high time somebody took a stand against all these people coming over here and taking our affordable motor insurance quotes.

Tricorns off to Admiral we say!

White Admiral, Photo Credit: Bugman50/BradSmith


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!


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!


Along with things like gnomes and unmarked bank accounts, Zurich is virtually a byword for financial probity. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the insurer of that name has led the way in doing what most personal lines motor insurers have long been saying they could not afford not to do but haven’t actually done much: hiking up their rates.

“You do it.” “No, you do it.” “No you.” Insurers have been saying for longer than anyone can be bothered to remember. Now finally, one has shown steely resolve by insisting on a 20% increase across the board.

The increase is unavoidable, Zurich told its broker partners, due to a massive rise in third party claimant costs, PI claims in particular, driven by claims farming and referral fees.

Steve Lewis, chief executive, UK general insurance, said: “We have seen a 30% increase in bodily injury frequency with a worsening trend throughout 2009. This, combined with high inflation, has resulted in a 50% increase in the cost of covering bodily injury losses in the last few years.” If the trend continues, he warned, even 20% may not be enough.

“Indications that the PL motor market is running at a combined operating ratio of over 120%,” he said, “mean the pressure is on all insurers to bring about an improvement in the market performance.”

“So come on,” he didn’t say. “Last one in’s a sissy.”


“Yo, something’s wrong here. No, not again!” rapped psychedelically inclined hip hoppers De La Soul disconsolately back in 1989.

What was the cause of their displeasure?

Potholes. That’s what.

And now the self-same spatial vacancies are causing consternation among the good folks down at AA headquarters.

The twelve-step self-help group is calling for emergency government funds to help councils combat crumbling road surfaces brought on by uncommonly inclement winter weather.

Like Mr Gullit’s happily slumbering wife, phonetically speaking at least, drivers who think they are out of trouble now the snow has started to melt may be in for a rude awakening.

Last February’s heavy snow, the AA warns, pushed up insurance claims for pothole damage by more than 250%. Now, if this year’s crop of potholes go untreated, motorists, local authorities, insurers and the NHS could all be caught up in a viscous circle of calamity.

Cash-strapped councils can’t be left to fund repairs from their own meagre resources, the AA suggests. They’ll probably be too busy –logging compensation claims from disgruntled motorists and slip-trip pedestrians anyway.

Dangerous for anyone on four wheels, potholes can be fatal for those on two wheels. So they’re certainly something to be taken seriously.

Just as well, then, that the AA has handy hints on where to look out for pothole problems, e.g. places where previous repairs haven’t been carried out very well, places where the utility people have had the roads up, places where it’s been snowy for a long time, and “stretches of road that have not been salted as salt tends to melt the snow before it turns to ice.”

King Edmund of AA said: “The pothole season has come early this year. Drivers will be relieved when the snow has gone, but shouldn’t be complacent. Due to the severe winter, it could be a record year for potholes.

“Over time,” he explains, “cracks appear in the road surface, so when water seeps in, it freezes and expands, widening the crack. We are concerned that, with local authorities already stretched due to the drain of the winter, there will not be enough in the purse to heal our ravaged roads. We believe that emergency funding is required to stop the vicious circle of crumbling roads costing more in compensation, accident claims and hospital admissions.”

If anyone sees a pothole they should not approach it, but should call the AA potholeshotline on a number Bankstone News does not appear to have to hand.

Be sure to remain alert, however, or your own driving experience could be ravaged by the vicious drain of severe winter holes.


QBE has confirmed that its personal lines motor account is no more. The Qubies will be focusing on their commercial lines motor portfolio, while up to a dozen of their “non-core” personal lines team will be reunited with former leader Steve Stone under the Marketsturdy banner (see previous story).


A cabal of science people pooling the psychologistical talents of Royal Holloway London and Lancaster Universities is set to investigate the possible role of satnav in distracting drivers’ attention and thereby causing accidents.

“If we see any worsening of attention or memory performance while people are carrying out our navigation task,” a science person told The Telegraph, “this might indicate that the navigation system imposes demands on the participant which could be dangerously distracting.”

“By the end of these experiments, we will be able to provide clear measurements of the ways in which the use of in-car navigation systems might interfere with attention and memory performance.”

As soon as the psychologists have established whether or not doing two things simultaneously might in some way involve concentrating less on one or other of these things, Bankstone news will be sure to report back.

Unless a more interesting story comes along and we get distracted.


Most people find the process of getting one motor insurance quote quite tedious enough. But not the AA; they’ve just got a thousand of them from no fewer than 90 different “providers.” The irony is they’re not planning to take up a single one of them. Talk about time wasters!

And would you believe they go through this whole bizarre ritual four times a year? This time round, however, they’ve actually discovered something mildly interesting. Since their last night of a thousand quotes, three months back, it seems average premiums have gone up 5.6%.

The last quarter’s increase, AA stats men claim, is the steepest three-month rise since time itself began – or at least since they started compiling their giant quote basket 15 years ago.

According to their press release, average fully comp renewal premiums are up at £821.00. But people who shop around can get away with an average £522.

Hardest hit by these increases are younger drivers whose TPFT premiums increased by almost 10% in the last quarter.

Why are motor insurers ramping up rates? According to AA man Douglas Simon, it’s because of “rising costs, depleted reserves and lower investment income,” with the slump-fuelled fraud-fest and increased personal injury claims also playing a part.

Is anybody making a profit yet? Someone else’s survey shall doubtless show us soon.


In previous editions of Bankstone News we may inadvertently have suggested that crash for cash fraudsters were subtly devious schemers with a sublime genius for artful deception – or something like that. Anyway – sorry – turns out they’re not.

Not, at least if the latest high-profile perpetrator nabbed by the law is anything to go by. So subtle was fraudster Mohammed Patel that he staged the exact same accident (braking suddenly to provoke rear-end shunt) over and over again on the exact same roundabout (Stockport’s Eden Point on the A34) until workers in the office over the road grew suspicious and photographed Patel on the day he crashed twice inside an hour.

In 93 known incidents Patel conned £1.6m out of insurers – spending it on expensive cars and girlfriend – charging £500 a time to crash other people’s cars enabling them to claim for whiplash and other fictitious injuries. For every monkey Patel netted, insurers paid out an average £17,000 without apparently spotting Eden Point as a bit of a black spot.

Patel was handed a four and a half year sentence in a Manchester court this week and banned from driving for three and a half years. So no practicing your handbrake turns in the exercise for you, Mr Patel.

The Guardian reported one of his victims’ suspicions were aroused when he asked Mr Patel why he stopped so suddenly. Patel, clutching a piece of paper on which the “driver’s” details were neatly copied down, responded: “Didn’t you see the motorbike?”

“It was a bit comical,” his co-collisionist noted, “because the passenger and driver both got out of the car holding their necks and saying they were in pain. Most people know whiplash is not instantaneous.”

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