AN EXPENSIVE PAIN IN THE NECK
“WHIPLASH!” bellowed James Hetfield, singer and rhythm guitarist of popular beat combo Metallica in their 1983 hit 'Whiplash'.
Why Hetfield and his merry band of minstrels saw fit to celebrate the notoriously-difficult-to-diagnose orthopaedic complaint - which according to the Association of British Insurers, adds nearly £100 to the annual cost of an annual car insurance policy in Britain - is anyone’s guess. Each to their own.
Britain, lest we forget has become ‘the Whiplash capital of Europe’. With around 1,500 whiplash claims being made every day, it’s safe to say that we’re probably in ‘out of control’ territory. So, this week, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, invited the insurance industry’s great and good to Downing Street to thrash out a way to halt what he refers to as “trivial claims” and compensation culture.
While The Law Society dismissed the meeting as “tea and cakes with one partisan set of stakeholders,” the meeting might well have a positive impact for us drivers. The industry bigwigs who attended the do promised to pass on any savings made from any whiplash-curbing measures (which include imposing a 6.25mph minimum collision threshold for claims, and requiring a second medical opinion, similar to the law in Germany) on to the consumer.
This might not be good news to personal injury lawyers, or indeed, the neckbrace manufacturing industry, but if it means cheaper car insurance for the rest of us, then we’re all for it. Let’s just hope Dave and the gang in Westminster can drag the measures through Parliament.
Quote of the week
“What’s happened here, and it’s probably true for quite a lot of people, is when the money was coming in… life was being lived to the full and a very good life indeed, But when that’s no longer the case, when there’s no longer money coming in, you have to evaluate whether you are going to be able to get back to the good life or not. In which case, you are going to have to think about maybe declaring yourselves bankrupt.”
Edwina Currie, former cabinet minister, author and media rent-a-gob demonstrated that her grasp of tact and sensitivity isn’t much greater than her prowess on the dancefloor, by reducing a struggling mother-of-two from Derbyshire to tears on Radio 5 Live with her unique line in advice. We’re all for saving for a rainy day, but this one can definitely be filed under ‘crushingly misjudged.’
Think of ‘rebellion’ and what comes to mind? Wat Tyler and the peasant’s revolt? The luddite riots? Spartacus, resplendent in loincloth and sandals, leading the slave’s uprising in 71BC? Luke Skywalker fearlessly piloting his X-Wing down the Death Star trench and proceeding to blow the vast imperial base to smithereens? Well, an altogether more polite rebellion is currently underway, but it’s no less indignant in its outrage.
Allow us to elaborate… Last year, the ‘Big Six’ energy companies (comprised of British Gas, EDF, Npower, SSE, ScottishPower, E.on and SSE) announced record profits of £15bn between them. Yes, you read that right. With 5.5 million British consumers apparently living in fuel poverty, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this all seems a bit rum.
As such, consumers are joining up 'energy collectives' in swathes. These collectives are aiming to help them get customers better deals on their energy by bargaining en masse. Think about it – customers departing in droves from a company would have got much greater repercussions for it than a few people leaving bit by bit. The Big Switch campaign, run by consumer organisation Which? and pressure group 38 Degrees claims its receiving up to 10,000 new members a day.
Richard Lloyd, the executive director of Which? roared: "We want people to get their friends and family involved. The greater the numbers, the stronger our bargaining power will be in our negotiations with the energy companies," possibly whilst raising a clenched fist to the sky giving a look which seemed to say “no surrender.”
Meanwhile, a campaign to ‘End The Big Six Energy Fix’ is already underway. Nearly 8,000 people have signed it already, and like any modern popular protest movement, it’s got it’s own Twitter ‘hashtag’. (It’s #endtheenergyfix, in case you’re wondering, social media fans). If you fancy switching your energy supplier, then here is a good a place as any to start. Who knows what you might save?
News in brief
The humble cheque, beloved of old-school payment fans, may soldier on even longer, in hi-tech form.
The mortgage market has had a Bunsen burner stuck under it and is ‘heating up’, if the Post Office’s trimming of it’s fixed rates is anything to go by.
Inflated’ home insurance claims (particularly prevalent in the houses of balloon animal construction specialists, we hear) are getting more prevalent. This, of course, makes it more expensive for the rest of us.
Bah! Popular exaggerated claims were said to befor big tellies (conveniently before big sporting events), jewellery which didn’t actually exist, and freezers chock full of juicy steaks and lobsters.
Spare a thought for Charlie the springer spaniel from Greater Manchester. The sensitive pooch is no great admirer of this very website’s advertising campaign, and has taken to howling along at it whenever it pops up on telly. You can watch a video of said dog here.