The Case of the Sunk Float Tank

By Ryan Paveza | November 13, 2019

Floatation tanks, also known as isolation tanks, flotation tanks and sensory deprivation units are therapeutic devices used to create a “restricted environmental stimulation therapy”, also known as REST. The technique was researched early in the 1950’s as a means of exploring consciousness by isolating the brain from any external stimuli. In 1953-1954, John Lilly, an American neuropsychiatrist (among other professions) created the first isolation tank — and 20 years later, the devices were offered commercially. The novel Altered States by Sidney Aaron “Paddy” Chayefsky, as well as the adapted 1980 Ken Russell film was based on Lilly’s isolation tank research while under the influence of psychedelic drugs. Flotation tanks are typically dark, soundproof and fully enclosed units, filled with approximately 10 inches of water and dissolved Epsom Salt to create a specific gravity of approximately 1.275. This gravity unit allows an individual to float weightless atop the water with ease. The goal of this type of therapy is to create complete sensory deprivation in order to aid healing as well as improve focus and concentration – leading to clearer and more precise thinking.

Today, flotation tank “spas” are gaining popularity and are fairly widespread, offering an alternative to traditional medicine for ailments from sports injury and recuperation, meditative states, anxiety issues, and a number of other claimed benefits. Users of flotation tanks include professional athletes, novelists, as well as anyone interested in alternative techniques of achieving wellness and mindfulness. Athletes have found that using float-therapy in conjunction with their training program has improved their athletic performance. Various studies have concluded that using flotation devices is shown to be effective in treating tension headaches, muscle tension, and pain; can reduce general anxiety disorder symptoms, such as depression, sleep difficulties, irritability, and fatigue; is shown to be effective in treating tension headaches, muscle tension, and pain as well as may improve cardiovascular health by inducing deep relaxation that reduces stress levels and improves sleep.

The Situation

We were recently called in to handle a claim for a flotation tank that had failed to operate after a lightning strike in the vicinity of their location. The insured stated the claimed item was a Dreampod model V1 float tank. The insured made an effort to have the device repaired, and had 2 different local electricians inspect the float tank. Both were unable to assist, stating it was beyond their respective levels of expertise. The manufacturer of the item was also contacted, but was unable to assist the policyholder. The Dreampod model V1, offered approximately three years ago, had an original sale price of $22,000 is a discontinued model.

Cracking the Case

The insured was able to provide us with all necessary information regarding establishing a replacement value for the tank. Based on the information provided, we valued the claimed item as a Dreampod model V1 float tank. We find new comparable float tanks of like kind and quality (LKQ) in the Dreampod Flagship V2 float tank available in the current market retailing for $19,900.00. The Select specialist contacted the manufacturer Dreampod in order to assist the insured in diagnosing the problem.

The Result

Working with the policyholder, as well as a local electronics restoration specialist, we were able to arrange a physical inspection of the unit by an expert in the field of repairing such devices. The professional found no physical evidence of lightning damage, but did determine an internal circuit breaker had been shorted. The unit was restored to original condition by the specialists, and the policyholder’s device was once again ready for use. In this case, we were able to create a sense of well-being for a total service fee of approximately $550 – a bit less than the $19,000 anticipated replacement cost.

About Ryan Paveza

Ryan Paveza is an antiques and collectibles specialist for Enservio, a provider of contents claim management software, payments solutions, inventory and valuation services for property insurers. Paveza worked at the Art Institute of Chicago as a collection manager and research assistant. He is certified by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and has passed the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). Contact him at

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