Archive for September, 2010
There’s always a dilemma when it comes to keeping your car clean. Do you spend an hour or two doing it yourself, making sure that your pride and joy is absolutely spotless.
Or do you drive down to your local service station and put a few quid into the autowash to get a quick, but basic clean.
Why not combine the best of both? Why not let the carwash do its thing, and touch up yourself any bits that it misses?
If you think this sounds like a good idea, I insist that you watch this video to find out why not…
There have been some bizarre reasons for road closures in this country. The time I was held up by a lorry-load of escaped pigs on the M11 sticks in the mind.
But a recent incident in Japan has added a brand new reason for your late arrival – the mayonnaise slick. It seems that a truck carrying the mayo managed to shed its load on the carriageway, causing a five hour closure of a 3.5km stretch of the motorway.
Several vehicles lost control on the puddles of oily salad condiment, and three drivers sustained minor injuries, but thankfully no serious incidents resulted. You can see the resulting carnage in the news report below:
Thankfully there is no suggestion that van drivers in the UK will need hazardous goods insurance for their next consignment of Hellmans.
Blow me if this isn’t the least inspiring commercial I’ve seen in a long time. Having plumped for a name surely designed to trade off their stateside namesake’s electricitised Volt (which will become the Ampera when Vauxhall get to punt it to us), Chevrolet UK (or Daewoo, as they used to be known) have seemingly decided to leave out any pizzazz.
The scene opens with a romantic clinch (why do we care) pulls back to reveal the lurid Chevy Spark, in an urban setting, along with a much more interesting car in the foreground (this is Daewoo, remember), and then the girl gets in the boring car.
Over this we have a narration so leaden and ponderous in its delivery, that you have to wonder whether someone was sat in a corner mouthing the words at her. The offer being pitched is a warranty that, at face value, is less valuable that that offered by South East Asian competitors Kia and Hyundai, or indeed GM stablemate Vauxhall, which offers an allegedly infinite warranty (on condition that you don’t actually drive the car).
Not once do they mention how cheap the Chevrolet Spark is, which must surely be the principal reason for anyone considering the purchase of a car which is, incidentally being marketed in South Korea as the Daewoo Matiz. Other good reasons for buying it might be its practicality, and the prospect of relatively cheap insurance for young drivers.
This car may not be great, but it is, at least, better than its advert…
By the way, they call this car a Holden in Australia.
Sarah Bennett Baggs received her first podium of the year at Oulton park, in round 6 of the GT Cup Championship!
This time, the Championship officials were happy with the specification of Sarah’s Adrian Flux sponsored BMW M3, and it was confirmed as the correct power to weight for a move to Group 3!
The race started at 9am on Saturday morning revealing a wet track, but a lovely sunny day. The track was split down the middle with the decision on tyres, some going with slicks, some going with wet. Everyone knew they would be difficult to get warm though! Sarah opted for slicks, which meant that she didn’t have to change when the track dried up a bit and half the track disappeared into the pits! Sarah used this to her advantage, and built more heat in the tyres while being led round by the safety car. As a result she put in two fliers at the end to qualify 2nd in class and 20th out of 26 runners.
In the first race Sarah got off to a brilliant start, and managed to narrowly miss a car which spun due to the still damp track. In a risky move she took to the grass so she didn’t lose position! The track started to spread out, and Sarah managed to keep up with the lead pack. Unfortunately, her luck ran out and she slid on a patch of oil which two Porches had already fallen victim to. She lost control, and ended up in the gravel alongside the two ill-fated Porshes. The oil took out 5 cars in total!
After clearing the gravel from the car, Sarah and the M3 were ready to start race 2. She started in the same position, and made good headway. Halfway through the race she was only 3.5seconds behind the leader, who had qualified 6 places in front of her on the grid! There was one car between her and the leader, but an overtaking opportunity didn’t come close.
Sarah finished 2nd in class her 1st podium on the season, 17th out of 25 starters.
Well done Sarah!
The Lincolnshire Police force have welcomed a new member into its fleet of vehicles; a 5 ton John Deere tractor. With a top speed of 25mph, the tractor may not be suitable for high-speed road pursuits, but it will be in its element if the criminals decide to take to the Lincolnshire fields! With a custom police paint-job and the mandatory flashing blue lights, the John Deere 6630 may look like a bit of fun, but the Police force are taking it seriously and hoping it will win the battle against rural crime.
With a price tag of £50,000 (not including the eye-catching decor) the force are lucky to have borrowed it from the manufacturer for 6 weeks. Although it may not be used on a day to day basis, in the event of a flood or an environmental disaster, senior officers think it would come in more than handy.
Its main job is to show up to agricultural shows and encourage farmers to protect their vehicles, as if they go missing, their livelihood takes a battering! Last year over £42million worth of tractors were stolen, up by a third on 2008. The officers hope that being at the agricultural shows will make farmers more aware of this, and protect their vehicles with a special liquid which shows up under UV light, naming the owner.
The tractor isn’t operational, but a spokeswoman for the police force has assured us that if it does drive past a crime then it won’t ingnore the situation.
If you think this is strange…check out some other vehicles the police have recruited;
A Sussex Officer was seen riding a three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder Roadster touring trike, with a max speed of 125mph, and can reach 0-60 in the same time as a Porsche 911 Carrera – 4.5 seconds.
And last but not least, officers in Kensington were protecting the parks on Roller Blades.
Have you seen any more interesting modes of transport used by the police force?
This is probably one of the most common FAQs that we are asked by our customers. Why is it that we sometimes require copies of your documentation when we issue a new policy?
The answer is that it makes your policy significantly cheaper. Here’s why.
It may seem as though it is just a requirement of some nitpicking administrator, and it is certainly a minor inconvenience, to have to send copies of driving licenses and, occasionally, other paperwork to us. After all, you’ve already given us all the information printed on your license.
But, of course, you told us the truth. You have no reason to lie to us, because you have a driving license, and even if you have a few penalty points, you told us about them, because you know we have very competitive prices for drivers with motoring convictions, and you’re an honest sort of person.
Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t, and recent research by the the Association of British Insurers and the DVLA, which Philippa has already posted about, has found that 17% of currently insured drivers in the UK have supplied incorrect details to their current insurer. That is one in six. The research involved an anonymized sample of many thousands of records comparing the details held by insurers with those held by the DVLA. And it found that a good number of the policyholders were liars.
What are they lying about?
Some are giving incorrect address details to the insurance companies to get cheaper insurance. By claiming they live at an address in a low risk postcode, such as gran’s retirement property in the Devon countryside, when in fact the car spends most of its time in Peckham, they pay less money. This doesn’t just cheat the insurance companies – it cheats their customers too, because everybody else’s price goes up to cover the increased expenditure on claims.
Others are lying about the points or convictions on their license. You may think it’s sort-of-understandable to omit details of the SP30 you picked up from a speed camera. It doesn’t make you a higher risk than you were before, does it? As it happens we agree, although others may not, and if you have picked up several in a relatively low mileage, that may have more of a bearing.
But these are not the kind of convictions that would cause us particular concern. If you are hiding some other convictions – drink driving convictions, dangerous driving and so on – well perhaps it’s understandable you might be ashamed, but it isn’t the end of the world, and we can sort you out a fair rate if you tell us. But I think most people with a clean driving history, or even a few minor convictions would agree that someone with a really serious conviction, or a huge string of convictions represents a higher risk, as indeed the claims statistics show.
Even this, though, isn’t the worst thing people are trying to hide. Because, shockingly, many will lie about their license. They may claim they have a full UK licence, when in fact their entitlement is provisional. They may claim their license is valid when it has been revoked by the courts. They may be driving in defiance of a medical restriction. Amazingly 1% of customers in the ABI’s sample did not have a license at all.
Unsurprisingly the folk who are witholding this kind of information have significantly more accidents than those who don’t. You may think that these folk would be caught out when it comes to a claim, and you would be quite right – many are. But even if they are caught out, and their claim is invalid, the insurer is still liable for any third party losses under the Road Traffic Act. And since third party personal injury tends to make up the lions share of claim costs, this doesn’t mean as much as it might.
A Hidden Problem
While the insurers have been picking up the tab for these claims (and passing costs on to legitimate customers), the press has not had much reason to make a fuss about these as they have with the uninsured drivers, who make up, on average, 5% of all cars on the road – nearer 10% if you live in a big city. And according to the Motor Insurers Bureau, 6% of drivers are fronting, putting a child as a named driver on a parent’s policy when, in fact, they do the majority of the driving. And when you add these to the uninsured and the insurance liars, you find that an astonishing 26% of drivers on the road have something to hide, that is one in four, giving you all the more reason to take extra care.*
All of which vindicates our stance. We ask for copies of your documents, because it saves you money. Our policies are more competitive because you share your driving documents with us. Those who have something to hide won’t send them in, and they will have to go elsewhere to get insurance. If you’ve forgotten to tell us something, this isn’t usually a problem, but This means our policyholders make fewer claims. When they do claim there are fewer issues with invalid policies and non-disclosure, which means lower costs for the insurers. And all of this means cheaper rates for our customers.
If you take a look at the graph, I think you’ll agree that the inconvenience of filling in some forms or photocopying your license is a small price to pay for a big saving. And if you do have a chequered history, remember that the price of honesty may be a lot less than you might think.
*This may be invalid as the fronters may also be lying about other things, but assuming that the insurers checked the main driver with the DVLA, I think there is sufficient justification for treating the data this way in an informal blog post and bearing in mind the reported data is approximate anyway.
NASA have been running a competition, “The X-Hab Challenge,” between engineers to find a suitable flexible dwelling-cum-vehicle for the Martian surface. The NASA guidelines for the competition(pdf) lay down a number of criteria which basically simplify to the following requirements:
- hard-shell prototype habitat
- inflatable loft to deploy from hard shell
- room enough to sleep four
- reconfigurable as a “crew gathering” or “group meeting” area
The winning design will be put into extensive testing by NASA and might just wind up on its way to the Moon or Mars one day.
I have already submitted a prototype entry:
It is pretty foolproof really. The design has proved itself useful, rugged and versatile over many years, and, although the air-cooled engine may require some tinkering if it is to work properly in the thin Martian atmosphere, I think it should serve as a comfortable base from which to conduct a mission.
Flux Make National Press Again
Insuring your car can be a total nightmare, if, for any reason your car doesn’t have a registration number. Although this sounds like a rare occurence, there are a huge range of scenarios that can see your car left without a UK registration, for example, if your car or bike has been imported, custom or kit-built cars needing an SVA, etc..
This is where many people hit a catch 22. To get a car registered with the DVLA, you need to prove that the vehicle is insured. Which is a big problem, because most mainstream insurers will only offer cover if you can provide them with the vehicle’s registration mark.
That’s the situation that John and Sue Knutton found themselves in, according to the Daily Mail. They have returned from living in France, and brought their cars back with them, but because they were on French plates, they were having trouble finding cover, which they needed to obtain their UK plates.
Fortunately they phoned the BIBA helpline, and the good folks at BIBA, the British Insurance Brokers Association, sent them on to us.
BIBA operate the helpline to assist motorists and homeowners who are having trouble finding quotes, by pointing their customers in the direction of specialist brokers. The DVLA refer customers there, as does the Environment Agency, where property owners in flood areas have run into insurance grief.
So if you find yourself in a quandary, with insurance companies unable to offer the cover you need, you should consider a specialist broker, such as Flux, where we have been helping to protect the things no-one else will for over 35 years, including chassis number insurance, flood risk insurance, and many other extraordinary and specialist situations.