With hurricane season just 60 days away, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet got welcome news this week.
The state's insurance catastrophe fund is essentially "fully funded' for hurricane season and could cover the state even if it were hit with a powerful storm, the state's chief investments strategist told Scott and the Cabinet at a meeting earlier this week.
Ash Williams, the executive director of the State Board of Administration, said the state has $13.8 billion in cash and another $2.7 billion in bonds for the cat fund. That gives the state nearly $17 billion to handle the damage from a hurricane even if all of the state's private insurers were maxed out.
"We're in the strongest financial position we've ever been in," Williams said.
Williams said in present day dollars, when Hurricane Andrew hit the state in 1992, it cost the state over $26 billion. He said between what the insurance industry has in reserves - $7 billion - and what the Cat Fund has access to, Florida could easily cover the damage.
"We could literally write a check from where we are," Williams said.
Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater remarked that it's been a long road for Florida to get to this point. After busy storm seasons in 2004 and 2005, all Florida homeowners were hit with a special assessment in 2007 to help recover from the financial losses created by the storms.
"I'm just glad to say we're getting to this point," Atwater said.