Fla. state catastrophe fund looking healthy

Fund has best cash reserve in 20 years since it was created

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A state catastrophe fund has the best cash reserve in the 20 years since it was created. However, it only takes one massive storm to deplete the savings.

A hurricane season -– forecasted to be busier than recent years -– has so far turned out to be another quiet season.

"Thus far we've not had a land-falling hurricane and that's good news for the State of Florida," said Bryan Koon, of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

There is still more than a month to go until the end of hurricane season, but several years with few tropical events has allowed the state-created catastrophe fund to build the largest reserve ever in its 20-year life. The fund provides cash to insurers when there are big losses.

"This is probably the best year we've ever had in terms of liquidity and our cash balance," said Jack Nicholson of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

The fund can be looked at as a "rainy day" account. The account currently has around $10 billion available, although if more is needed, it could borrow several billion more.

But, one big storm could possibly deplete the fund.

"Two back-to-back storms, very large storms could cause us problems," said Nicholson. "So they're very events, but we take that seriously."

This season, just three tropical systems affected the state. If this season matches history, the likeliness of a strong tropical system to hit Florida this late in the season is low.

Although, Hurricane Kate hit the Florida Panhandle the week before Thanksgiving in 1985, prompting hurricane experts to remind people to stay prepared.

"Things you do to prepare for hurricane season are the things you prepare for hazards in the State of Florida; for flooding, for wildfire, for tornadoes and other severe weather," said Koon.

Hurricane or not, hurricane experts and those overseeing the catastrophe fund said they'll be prepared for the next big storm.

Hurricane Wilma was the last time a hurricane had a direct impact on the state in October 2005.

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