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Coverage Collapse: A WPTV Town Hall

Concerned homeowners, lawmakers, experts gather to discuss problems, provide hope for future
WPTV Coverage Collapse
Posted at 2:21 PM, Sep 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-06 08:52:06-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Concerned homeowners throughout Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast came together Tuesday night at WPTV for a town hall conversation about Florida's home insurance crisis.

WPTV's Shannon Cake and Matt Sczesny hosted the discussion.

WPTV heard from homeowners on a range of related topics, including leaving Florida because of rising insurance premiums, why Floridians who have never had any claims are seeing rate increases, the impact of hurricanes and Citizens Property Insurance.

The panelists for WPTV's town hall were Holly Meyer Lucas, president of the Meyer Lucas Real Estate team; state. Rep. Toby Overdorf, R-Palm City; state Sen. Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton; and Robert Norberg, president of Arden Insurance Associates.

Watch the complete special, "Coverage Collapse: A WPTV Town Hall," in the video player above.

Lucas said she's helped at least 20 families sell their homes in South Florida, either to downsize or leave the state entirely because of the cost of insurance.

Cake recently spoke with some Kings Point residents who are still waiting for their insurance providers to come through after a tornado tore through the retirement community near Delray Beach last September.

She also spoke with state Rep. Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach, who outlined the causes and possible remedies to Florida's insurance crisis.

As well, Sczesny spoke with Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who explained how the state's business model "was upside down." Patronis remains hopeful that new legislation will counter the problem.

But not everybody has the same optimism.

Rae Whitley, who is a pastor and Palm Beach Organizer for Faith in Florida, told WPTV reporter Ethan Stein that he has "no hope" the problem will get fixed. He said he consistently sees seniors, who are on fixed incomes, choosing between paying for a higher insurance premium or food.

"The frustrating part about it is as inflation goes up, people are losing hope," Whitley said. "And I can't share hope every Sunday morning in a hopeless society."

Debra Tendrich, who runs a nonprofit involved in food insecurity called Eat Better Live Better, said her group is seeing an increase in seniors using their services. She said these people haven't sought help before but are now facing a dramatic increase in their housing insurance premiums.