TALLAHASSEE — After nine straight years without a major hurricane, Florida’s catastrophic insurance fund is flush with cash to pay claims and the cost of backup reinsurance is cheaper than ever.
“Reinsurers are hungry for new business,” said Ash Williams, director of the state Board of Administration, which oversees the so-called CAT Fund. “We’ve never had the stars line up in this way.”
Williams’ pitch to transfer up to $2.2 billion in hurricane risk to private reinsurers enjoys broad support from a diverse coalition of pro-business and pro-consumer groups such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Consumer Action Network, James Madison Institute and Florida Wildlife Federation.
But when Williams sought approval Tuesday of a plan he said would protect Florida taxpayers, Gov. Rick Scott and two Cabinet members balked and said they want to approve any refinancing deal in advance.
Their hesitancy reflects not just the amount of money that’s at stake, but the hyper-self consciousness of Cabinet members after the forced ouster of a top state police official with no public discussion.