Oh Yes!!, the things we do for the love of wine.
In 2008, the nose of leading European winemaker and taster Ilja Gort was insured for $8 million, Lloyd’s of London took out the policy after hearing about a man who lost his sense of smell in a car accident.
“I thought it must be a horror to lose your smell,” Gort said. “It would mean that you cannot taste wine anymore. Tasting wine is something you do with your nose, not your mouth.”
Gort, 47, said his nose is essential for him to produce top quality wines at his Chateau de la Garde vineyard in the famous Bordeaux region of France, so he got it insured.
The custom-made policy covers Gort for the loss of either his nose or his sense of smell and has some unusual conditions. The insurance contract includes a list of what Gort considers “old-fashioned rules” to protect his nose. The Dutchman is not allowed to ride a motorcycle or be a boxer, knife thrower’s assistant or a fire-breather.
“I may not fight against Mike Tyson,” Gort said.
Jonathan Thomas, the lead underwriter at Lloyd’s Watkins Syndicate, took Gort’s long, curly beard into account when drafting the policy and added a clause about Gort only going to experienced barbers who will keep their razors steady near his nose.
“These insurance policies, they’re not all dry,” Thomas said. “There’s a bit of fun we can add with them as well.”
This is one of many Lloyd’s body part insurance policies. Lloyd’s reported entertainment icon Marlene Dietrich had her legs insured and that Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards was paid when he injured his finger on tour in the 1990s.
America Ferrara, star of the ABC television show “Ugly Betty,” has her smile insured for $10 million, Lloyd’s said.
“Let’s face it, it’s a Lloyd’s specialty,” Thomas said. “Lloyd’s specializes in unusual risks.”
Thomas insured the senses of taste and smell of wine taster Angela Mount for 10 million pounds ($20.1 million) in 2003 for her bosses at British supermarket chain Somerfield.
Gort said his sense of smell is his wine taster asset because although the tongue has five areas of taste, the nose can distinguish millions of different scents. When getting a physical examination for the policy, his nose was judged “better than normal.”
Gort’s friends have teased him for his newly appraised nose, even jesting to punch him in the nose so they can split the money.
“Every time I look in the mirror, I see €5 million,” Gort said, “but I think I’ll get used to it.”