S.O.B. campaign to save our biking


With the motorized bicycle industry teetering on the very brink of oblivion, grey men in the capital – with hammers in hands and coffin nails clenched between teeth – are set to sound the sector’s death knell.

Bike sales are 27% down year on year, as the credit crunch bites and the weak pound pushes up prices. And now the Government wants to increase vehicle excise duty on two-wheelers by 4-6%!

But moral support for the sector has arrived from an unexpected source. The Black Mafia Family is a multi-million dollar drug trafficking organization out of Detroit with major hubs in Atlanta and LA and direct links to Mexican drug cartels.

The BMF has now come out in support of Britain’s beleaguered bike industry. “This is all wrong,” a BMF spokesman said. Bikers need to show the strength of their feelings, he continued, urging bike people to go straight to the top and tell Prime Minister Gordy Brown just what they think.

“The motorcycle industry is struggling to stay solvent,” the spokesman said, “and motorcyclists are being treated unfairly.” The Government should freeze VED and look at other ways of stimulating demand for bikes. Seen!

Any Bankstone News readers who’d like to add their voices to those of our cousins from across the pond can sign up to the BMF’s petition by clicking here.


More from those freewheelin’ funsters at the Motor Cycle Industry Association, who, in their latest press release, bent over backwards to hollow themselves out into a veritable mine of information on matters bikes and biking:

“Why do bikers bike?” the Associates asked themselves rhetorically. This calls for a survey, somebody inevitably decided. And, lo, there was a survey. So what is it people like about riding a Motor Cycle?

Is it because they want to go fast?

Not really (4%).

Because they are looking for thrills?

Not so much (4%).

Er, for the adventure?

Not really (4%).

I know: it’s because they want to save money and/or can’t afford a proper vehicle with the standard number of wheels!

You are still pitifully wide of the mark (9%).

Look, this is all getting pretty tedious.

This is Bankstone News, remember!

Could you maybe just tell me?

Well, since you ask, the top three things bikers like about biking are, number one: Freedom (26%), number two: practicality (23%), number three: it’s a friendly form of transport (18%). Others like it because it is fun (11%).

Thank you for those startling revelations. Got anything else?

Well, the same You Gov survey from which the above gems were excavated reveals that one third of 24-34 year olds are jealous of motorcycles passing freely though stationary traffic, as are one fifth of all Southerners (stop whingeing and buy a bike, we say without even being sponsored by the MCIA or Devitt). Car drivers and bus passenger are the most jealous of motorcycles passing freely though.

Enough with the jealousy already!

OK, how about this nugget: One-third of commuters are ‘sometimes’ late for work because of traffic and congestion, whereas 67% of bikers are “never” late for work!

Correct me if I am wrong, but 100 minus 67 leaves 33, making bikers precisely average in their late-for-work propensity.

You may have a point. But I bet they could get there on time if they wanted! Oh, hang on, here’s some solid gold statistics to get your teeth into:

FACT: The active UK rider population is 1.5 million and an estimated 3.8 million people in the UK have a driving licence with a moped/motorcycle entitlement.

FACT: 14% of the people who took their test in 2007/08 were women: 12,061 of them in all, compared with 75,884 men.

FACT: 17% more people passed their test in 2007/08 than in 2006/07 and
20% more people passed their test in 2008/09 than in 2007/08.

FACT: Motorcycle commuters can cut their journeys by 12% compared with car drivers – up to 34% in London (Source: Regional Transport Statistics 2008).

FACT: A typical scooter consumes between 55% and 81% less fuel than a car on the same journey.

FAT: The motorcycle industry in the UK employs more than 15,000 people and turns over in excess of £3 billion a year.

So we should all get out there on 15th July for the MCIA-sponsored National Ride to Work Day.


Leading specialist outsourced claims provider Bankstone has made a significant investment in a major IT development project to become the first claims firm in the UK to introduce an instant online validation system for its claims handling call centre in Brighouse, West Yorks.

Now when Bankstone’s front-line claims handling staff take a call, the system‚ bespoke designed for Bankstone by software house SSP‚ automatically populates Bankstone’s claims-handling system with client data from SSP brokers’ systems over the Internet. Without ever having to leave their screen, the call handler therefore knows exactly who they are talking to‚ avoiding the need to ask callers for information already known to their broker (for example whether they have legal expenses cover).

Previously claims handling firms’ broker integrations systems have at best, relied on physical links with the broker’s back office systems. According to Bankstone director Dickon Tysoe, the new approach is “slicker, quicker and far more powerful. Because it is fully automated and online it can, for example, poll half a dozen (or more) of the broker’s local offices around the country to access the relevant data. This gives us a significant advantage over other claims handling operations and should make us a very attractive partner to any broking firm using SSP as their systems provider.”

Fellow Bankstone director Andrew Jones adds: “We have been very impressed with the efficient professional involvement of SSP in this groundbreaking project. We are always looking for ways to operate more efficiently and more productively, and together with SSP we have succeeded in moving the whole process of outsourced claims handling another step forward.”

Since it began trading in November 2004 specialist outsourced claims provider Bankstone has established itself as a leading specialist provider of complete claims management solutions to brokers, insurance companies and other claims management companies. Set up by founder directors Dickon Tysoe and Andrew Jones to realise their shared vision for a better way of handling motorcycle claims, the company has the expertise and the resources to offer a full menu of competitively-priced expert services including: claims management, ULR, bike replacement schemes and breakdown and accident policies.


Handling motorcycle insurance claims requires a completely different set of skills to four-wheeled motor claims. Although there are only around 1.2 million motorcycles in the UK, compared with perhaps 28 million cars, adopting a specialist approach to motorcycle claims still makes compelling sense for brokers and insurers active in the sector.

What makes motorcycle claims so different? One key difference is owners’ attitude to their machines. More than 80 per cent of motorcycles are second vehicles. They are a hobby, often a passion ‚ not a primary mode of transport. Car owners are often largely indifferent to the inner workings of their vehicles. Not so motorcycle owners. They typically have a much deeper level of knowledge and understanding of their machines.

Motorcycle claims arise in fundamentally different ways to standard motor claims. Bikes behave differently on the road ‚ leading to different types of accidents and collisions which claims people need to understand if they are to handle claims effectively. Motorcycles are also subject to radically different damage and theft claims profiles to other road vehicles.

Motorcycle repair is a highly specialised business, requiring expert knowledge, specialist skills and equipment. Getting motorcycle repairs right is far more critical than other motor repairs. If there is a problem with a car repair, the owner can usually simply drive it back ‚ or at worst pull over and wait for recovery. A faulty bike repair can lead to serious injury or death.

The vast majority of staff in motor claims front-end environments have little or no detailed understanding of motorcycles. They will not know a lever from a peg, a swinging arm from a hero blob ‚ let alone the typical damage patterns if a Honda Fireblade lands on one side rather than the other. This lack of specialist understanding represents a missed opportunity to gather data efficiently, to handle claims effectively, and to build rapport with the client. If in-house staff do not have the necessary specialisation, it will often make sense to outsource to a white-labelled third-party service provider that does.

When it comes to repair, again, there is a huge difference between the standard motor claims approach and one appropriate to motorcycles. It is not uncommon for motor insurers to have panels of several hundred repairers and body shops around the UK. Some of these will have ‚ or profess to have ‚ specific experience in repairing bikes. In reality, there are not many more than a dozen independent repairers in the country with an outright specialisation in motorcycles who have the expertise and who have invested in the specialist machinery and equipment (e.g. for straightening or jigging frames, realigning the headstock, plastic welding, paint matching, or X-raying critical parts) to offer a genuinely bike-specific service. The logistics of routing all motorcycle repairs through such specialists require some management ‚ but there are very strong arguments for doing so.

Whilst the instinct of non-specialist repairers (or repairers linked to bike dealerships) is often to replace any damaged part, a specialist will quickly recognise what can be repaired more cost-effectively. Often this can cut repair costs by as much as 25 per cent and dramatically compress timescales. Through an expertly managed specialist motorcycle claims infrastructure, it is possible to arrange expanded recovery radiuses five to six times over the industry norm. Dedicated motorcycle repairers also have the specialist recovery and delivery equipment to ensure safe collection and delivery ‚ avoiding the all-too-common scenario where a bike that was repairable at the scene of an accident is a write-off by the time it arrives at a motor body shop after a roller-coaster ride in the back of a truck.

Again, when it comes to the engineers who inspect the damage on the carrier’s behalf, specialisation is the key. Understandably motor insurers do not tend to have the volume to establish a nationwide network of dedicated bike engineers ‚ but working with a third-party specialist can achieve the same benefits. The average motor engineer is unlikely to have the knowledge to challenge any bike repair estimate with which the body shop presents them, whereas a competent and educated motorcycle engineer can protect the account considerably. In terms of fraud prevention and non-disclosure, they will also be able to identify non-standard parts such as racing suspension, wheels and bodywork that other engineers would miss. This gives the carrier the option of re-rating or repudiating, either of which puts money back in the pot.

Working with closely managed and trusted repairer partners it is perfectly possible today to operate an effective remote engineering function. Half a dozen digital images supplied by the repairer including plates, clock and main areas of damage from a variety of angles can enable expert bike engineers to carry out desktop engineering ‚ cutting costs by 50 per cent or more and cutting timescales by up to 48 hours.

Another key component in the motorcycle claims process is replacement. Working with a partner who can source any type of bike at a cost well below retail prices allows the insurance provider to offer a replacement that will be acceptable to the policyholder (assuming their expectations have been expertly managed further up the chain) thereby retaining a satisfied customer for renewal. Where a stolen or written-off bike elicits only a disappointingly small settlement cheque, the odds are it won’t go to fund another bike ‚ and yet another customer will be lost forever (one more set of leathers left to languish in the loft). Statistics suggest that the lost customer would not have had another claim for an average 4-5 years ‚ even before taking account of their greater security and safety consciousness following an incident. Consequently the opportunity to recover some of the claims cost in premiums is missed to both the insurer and broker.

Across all these stages in the claims process ‚ and many others too numerous or detailed to set out here ‚ specialisation is the key to operating profitably in the motorcycle insurance market. If considerations of scale prevent brokers or insurers establishing their own specialist infrastructures, it is well worth considering working with specialist providers who can offer the relevant specialist services on an outsourced basis.

– Andy Jones, Director, Bankstone Limited

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