Insurers in the Lloyds of London market say they have seen a spike in fraudulent claims for yachts worth around €2m. Most of the claims originate from the Mediterranean, according to a story in Britian's Telegraph newspaper.
A loss adjuster at Charles Taylor explains that his company has dealt with 14 superyacht claims under "suspicious circumstances" in the last six months.
"Yacht insurance fraud is a common problem in any country when bad times arrive," adjuster Nick Smith told the paper. "It happened to a significant degree in Britain from 2009 as yacht owners lumbered with marine mortgages they could no longer afford tried to get rid of them and make insurance claims."
Taxes on yachts can reach €256,000 per year, Smith says. Owners who fail to pay the taxes are liable to penalties up to 300 per cent.
Greece charges yacht owners arbitrary fees if tax authorities believe the owner's declared income does not match the value of their yachts.
"It has been a problem in Italy for several years but I expect the situation in Greece to escalate before long, and in any other country that faces a sudden burst of austerity," Smith told the paper. "It's not that superyacht owners are any more dishonest than the rest of us, but they are human, and many of them are not nearly as rich as they thought they were."
An Italian police raid in one port recently found about a third of the yacht owners declared zero or very little income. The paper also named Piraeus in Greece as another fraud hotspot.