Nanny State meddlers on the rampage


The insurance industry’s hopes of earning so much as the meagrest of crusts from all its diligent endeavours receded still further this week as grim tidings broke that do-gooders’ whinge-forum The Competitors and Meerkats Authority (CMA) is egging on regulatory body the Final Countdown Authority (FCA) to ‘consider pricing intervention’ to prevent a variety of supposed injustices meted out to ‘poor long-suffering’ customers by ‘evil, scheming’ insurance firms.

You’re right, of course, Dear Reader: it’s snowflakey salty-teared political correctness gone mad in spades to the nth degree. Companies have the right to treat their customers any goddam way they choose. Customers have the right to take their business elsewhere. That’s as far as consumer rights have any right going. Anyone who tries to tell you different is no better than a rotten stinking communist.

It’s all the EU’s fault, if you ask Bankstone News. If it wasn’t for unelected Brussels bureaucrats (bureau-rats, we call them!), people like so-called Citizens Advice would soon be driven back into the fetid depths of whatever filthy liberal cave-world they crawled out off. It was their so-called Super Complaint about insurance providers (quite rightly) penalising customers too stupid to switch (see separate story) that got the CMA – and hence the FCA – involved in the first place. Now the whole thing’s gotten completely out of hand.

Doubtless you’ll recall, the horrible hand-wringing fuss Citizens Advice made recently about twelve million supposedly vulnerable non-switching policyholders getting stung by ‘shady’ practices like YoY price cranking, over-rolling and egress-fleecing. Basically, it’s a whole lot of fuss about nothing.

And of course, no sooner had Citizens Advice kicked off and set the ball rolling than, in a scene reminiscent of that famously ludigenerative incident on the playing fields of Rugby College back in days of yore, the CMA picked up that ball and began running, with both it and alacrity. CMA chief exec Andrex Cushelley claims to have “uncovered a range of problems which leave people feeling ripped off, let down and frustrated.”

Awww, it’s enough to make a faint-heart bleed!

Andrex thinks people shouldn’t have to be “constantly on guard” or spend hours “searching for a good deal”.

So, what, they should have some super-competitive zero-profit-margin bargain handed to them on a gilded platter every year? Insurers are supposed to get behind some busybodied crusade aimed at stopping them ‘exploiting’ their own customers? Never going to happen. And never should it, for that matter!

If the FCA has any sense at all, it will take a stand against such pernicious and corrosive nonsense.

Much more of this anti-competitive intervention from on high and we’ll be driven back to the bad old days of mutual societies and communal risk pooling.



News of Welsh Rugby international Andy Powell’s having been apprehended in a state of advanced inebriation at the helm of a stolen luxury golf buggy at a service station on the M4 in the early hours of Sunday morning following the team’s dramatic win against Scotland was broken with barely suppressed mirth during TV coverage of England-Italy later that day.

Since then the world has been busy reminding itself to take a suitably grave view of a serious driving offence – one whose gravity can only be compounded if we are to believe claims in the Daily Mail (who recently featured an arresting photographic image of a trouserless and disheveled Mr Powell draped cocquettishly across a leather banquette at a Cardiff club on Saturday night) that a pair of black underpants belonging to Mr Powell were later found aboard the buggy – now impounded by local police.

Acting in an appropriately censorious fashion clearly comes easier to some than others. Road safety charity Brake had no problem keeping a straight face in declaring: “Brake applauds the Wales management team for removing Powell from the team and sending a clear message to supporters of Welsh rugby, many of whom will have seen Powell as a role model.”

Welsh Rugby Union said Powell’s behavior was “contrary to the squad’s code of conduct” – clearly quite a detailed document.

Powell (aka Keith Lemon) is now due to appear at Cardiff Magistrates on March 2 charged with driving a mechanically propelled vehicle whilst unfit through drink. The identity of Powell’s passenger at the time of the incident remains a mystery.

The BBC has published a helpful guide to possible legal loopholes his defence team may wish to explore and a facebook group severely censoring Powell’s actions had attracted more than 100,000 fans when Bankstone News went to press.


Getting a career in insurance recognised as a profession may be a distant dream, but insurance people can still do what real professionals do and patronise Britain’s most upwardly mobile mainstream spectator sport, rugby union. And so they often do.

An astute move, then, for QBE to sign a four-year deal with the RFU to act as England Rugby’s official insurance partner (do they have an official pet food partner or an official sanitary products partner?)

QBE’s Helena Christensen said the deal “complements our existing portfolio within rugby union.” They already sponsor the Guinness premiership, which means logos on shirts (lots of shirts) and, as those Mancunian injury-time goal specialists well know, three letters look great on a shirt. Sorry to lower the tone by referring to the round-ball game.

Anyway, to celebrate this exciting opportunity to spend vast sums on brand awareness and hospitality, QBE projected a giant picture of Steve Borthwick, Lewis Moody and Jonny Wilkinson (the latter in his trademark prayer/paternity posture) on to the old flat bit (not the complicated tubular bit) of Richard Rogers’ landmark Lloyd’s Building, along with those words of encouragement so often and so tenderly no doubt mouthed by French model and actress Vanessa Perroncel over the last couple of years: “Stand Tall England.”

Helena Christensen said being the first “to project onto a building in the City is a real coup.” Without wishing to rain on anyone’s parade, Bankstone News feels obliged to note – as anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of finding themselves near Fenchurch Street Station late on a Friday night will surely attest – that projecting onto the side of City buildings is a lot more commonplace than she appears to suppose.

At any event, the sponsorship is clearly just what QBE needs at this point in its development. ”Despite QBE being one of the UK’s largest insurers of business risk,’ commented Steven Burns, chief executive of QBE European Operations, “we are not a recognisable brand.”

Good news too for all friends of QBE with a penchant for spending time with the Barbour-clad hoards as they traduce the memory of African American slaves’ historical aspiration to an eventual release from earthly suffering in a version of one of the few songs slow and simple enough to be mastered by English public schoolboys, complete with hilarious masturbatory hand gestures.

Any chance of a couple of tickets for England v France in Paris on March 20th?

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