Side-facing seats constitute "an unacceptable risk"
The UK’s biggest motor insurers will no longer offer cover for older models of one of Britain’s most iconic vehicles: the Land Rover Defender.
Direct Line and Churchill, both owned by RBS, are refusing to insure both 90 and 110 Defenders when they have side-facing seats. This will affect all Station Wagon models built before 2007 — the bulk of Defender production.
“We are currently unable to insure Defenders fitted with sideways-mounted bench seats as we believe these present an unacceptable risk of bodily injury,” said a spokesman.
The clarity of this advice is not reflected by the websites of the two insurers, which continue to provide quotes and methods of paying for policies for the six-seat 90 and nine-seat 110 models that came as standard with bench seats.
An Autocar investigation discovered this anomaly, which only came to light when the underwriters themselves were contacted in connection with an online quotation.
In response, both Direct Line and Churchill have promised to update their websites. The companies have pledged to honour any policies — which individually could easily stretch to £2000 — already sold for Defenders with bench seats.
The insurers refuse to say how many drivers this will affect because the number is “commercially sensitive”.
Other insurers, such as Land Rover-friendly company NFU Mutual, will cover Defenders equipped with bench seats. But more mainstream underwriters could yet follow the market leaders.
In response, Land Rover said: “All Land Rover series production vehicles past and present are manufactured in compliance with the European whole vehicle type approval. This is the European standard.”
In 2007 the Defender had a significant upgrade, including the introduction of a pair of forward-facing seats in the rear to comply with changed type approval requirements.