Insuring Yachts and Their High-Tech Toys

ArgoGlobal insures yachts that come in all kinds of cool shapes and sizes with loads of bells and whistles.

From the Cote d’Azur to Biscayne Bay, yachts are a pretty common sight in the summer. Maybe you’ve spent time daydreaming about being at the helm or sipping a drink while relaxing on deck. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to own one and are living the dream.

There’s something about yachts that has an enduring appeal for a lot of people during the summer months. As someone who insures yachts, Mike Thompson sees this firsthand.

Thompson, a hull and yacht–class underwriter at ArgoGlobal, a worldwide specialty insurer, says one cool thing about insuring yachts is learning about all the high-tech gadgets and equipment. Some of it is mind-boggling.

“These yachts have all kinds of luxury features you would expect from a hotel, such as a Jacuzzi and a helicopter landing pad,” Thompson says.

Not your typical water toy

ArgoGlobal generally insures accessories on a yacht, which run the gamut from mini-subs to inflatable slides.

But one unusual toy that stands out in Thompson’s mind is something nicknamed the “air chair.” It’s a type of water ski with a hydrofoil mounted underneath that lets you get airborne.

The Octopus

One of Thompson’s favorite yachts is the Octopus, a 414-foot beauty owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The world’s largest yacht when it launched in 2003, the Octopus includes two helicopters, a 10-person submarine, a recording studio and movie theater. The private owners’ lounge boasts a large study, walk-in closet and outside bar with whirlpool.

In the hot seat

Thompson recalls a bizarre incident involving yacht seat cushions.

“A surveyor told me a story once about a yacht that had lots of heated cushions on the outer decks to keep guests comfortably warm while sitting outside at night,” Thompson says.

But they soon began smoldering because they overheated. Deemed a fire risk, the cushions were taken off the yacht.

Yachts on the big screen

Yachts can serve as a backdrop in music videos and movies. TV as well.

ArgoGlobal was recently asked to insure a yacht in Spain that appeared in a popular British TV dating show.

“Yachts are obviously a popular background for entertainment shoots,” Thompson says.

Whatever the reason, people love yachts. Maybe it’s the fantasy of living the pampered life on the high seas. Or getting to play with high-tech toys only the rich and famous can afford. As you gaze out into the water on a lazy summer day, chances are there’s a yacht out there that is calling your name.