Tips for Avoiding Weather-Related Home Insurance Claims

By Nancy B
February 17, 2023

Blog cover photo credit: Flickr, Virginia Department of Transportation

We pledge to provide straight talk from our NNINS Virginia insurance experts. Read the Northern Neck Insurance INTEGRITY PROMISE.

Severe Weather in Virginia

Virginia is susceptible to severe weather, such as torrential rain, flooding, tornados, hail, lightning, and strong winds. According to the EPA, the rising global average temperature is associated with widespread changes in weather patterns including more severe weather. Since 1980, severe storms and tropical cyclones have been responsible for most of the billion-dollar weather events in Virginia.  It's important for Virginia home and property owners to learn how to prevent and reduce damage and assess their severe weather preparedness regularly. 

How to Prepare the Outside of Your Home for Severe Weather

Prepare these exterior areas of your home for severe weather:

  • Roof — Have your roof inspected for loose shingles, cracked tiles, and moss that holds moisture. After each storm, even in new houses, check for new leaks. A professional inspector will check your attic for water stains, light coming through the roof, and animal activity.  When researching roof replacement, consider shingles rated Good or Excellent by the IBHS. Install a grounding rod if your roof is the highest point on your property to help prevent power surges and outages from lightning strikes. Power surges can damage sensitive electronic devices like TVs, computers, and phones. 
  • Trees Clear your property of trees that may fall and trim dead branches and those that extend close to your home.  
  • Exterior HVAC Units — If your home is in a hail-prone region, install screens around your home’s air conditioning unit to help reduce the chance of hail damage to coils and fins.
  • Gutters and downspouts Ensure your gutters are clear and undamaged, downspouts are firmly attached to the house and check for leaks in gutter seams. Downspouts should be connected and unbroken, and runoff should be directed at least 6 feet away from the home’s foundation to minimize the risk of basement or foundation flooding. If you're considering gutter replacement, consider upgrading to steel products, which are more durable against hail impacts and less likely to leak. 
  • Garage door When you're in the market to replace your garage door consider a wind-rated door. High winds can push a garage door inward, allowing pressure to push up on the roof and surrounding walls and damage your home. Wind-rated garage doors have been tested to withstand these pressures and can help protect your home. 
  • Painting, sealing, and caulking Check and ensure any cracked or missing caulking is replaced. Stain or paint structures regularly to help maintain a moisture barrier. Fill any cracks in the masonry or stucco with a mortar repair or crack sealant. Check all exterior doors, windows, and trim to determine whether the gaskets and seals are sound. 
  • Yard Declutter the area outside your home to prevent damage from flying debris including toys, patio furniture, hanging baskets, building materials, and anything that could damage your home or be damaged by severe weather. Keep your yard, porch, and patio ready as high winds and tornadoes can arrive with little warning.  

TappahannokTornado DamageCleanupVDOT Photo credit: Flickr, Virginia Department of Transportation

How to Prepare the Inside of Your Home for Severe Weather

Prepare these interior areas of your home for severe weather:

Electronics and appliances — Unplug expensive electronics and appliances when severe thunderstorms are imminent. You can also install grounded outlets or a whole-house lightning surge protector to help keep electrical equipment safe from power surges. 

Doors and windows — Close and lock all exterior doors and windows and your garage door all the way. Closing all interior doors can also protect your roof in high winds. If flying debris breaks a window or an exterior door blows open, your house will rapidly fill with air. This causes a dangerous increase in the forces pushing on your roof like a balloon inflating inside your house.

Garage — Keep your garage organized and ready to park your car when severe weather is forecasted to protect it, especially from hail.

Safe Space — Designate a safe space such as an interior room with no windows on the lowest floor of your home, such as a basement, storm cellar, bathroom, or closet.  Keep it clean, organized, and accessible for your entire family, including pets.

Home inventory and home insurance coverage — Having a home inventory is the best way to account for your belongings in case you need to file an insurance claim. Review your insurance policy and store your insurance agent’s contact information in your phone.

Does NNINS Home Insurance Protect Against Home Damage from Weather?

Northern Neck Home Insurance can protect you from all kinds of damage from severe weather including tornados, hail, wind, lightning, hurricanes, and even earthquake damage. We also have an add-on coverage for inland flood insurance, which can protect homes that are not covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

If your home is damaged, your Northern Neck Insurance policy may also cover your living expenses if you need to find alternate lodging while your home is rebuilt. You may also obtain liability coverage which can  reimburse you for medical expenses and legal fees if people that are not living in your home are injured on your property.

Marty with homeowner at house

How to File a Home Insurance Claim for Storm Damage

If you do need to file a claim due to storm damage, your local agent is one of your best resources for sound advice. We are right here for you too. Here are some handy tips on understanding home insurance claims and what to expect. And these severe weather claim questions may help answer some of your questions. We appreciate your patience.

File a Northern Neck Home Insurance claim one of three ways:

To file a home insurance claim, start with the following steps:

  • Make safety your top priority people first, property second.
  • Shut off your home's main power or shut off your main water supply if needed or safety is in doubt. If you smell natural gas, leave the area immediately and call 911.  Have an electrician check the house before turning the power back on.
  • Take wide and close-up photos and videos before making minimal temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
  • Report your claim.
  • Document interactions and save emails.
  • Document damage to your property using a home inventory.
  • If your home is unlivable, find safe shelter with a friend, family member, or hotel.
  • Hold off on major repairs until they are approved by your claims adjuster.
  • We recommend hiring repair reputable Virginia-licensed and certified home contractors.
  • Ask for a detailed invoice from your contractor distinguishing labor charges and materials.
  • Use a credit card or check for any payments you make.
  • Keep all receipts for lodging, food, clothing, gas, and other necessities.
  • Discuss specific claim questions with your agent and claims adjuster. 
  • Stay in contact with your adjuster and keep up with requested documentation, deadlines, and any other requirements.
Tree on Car_Cropped

Do NNINS Policies Cover Weather-Related Car Accidents?

Most severe weather damages to your car are typically covered by comprehensive car coverage. This coverage includes flooding for cars.


Preparing your home for potential severe weather in Virginia can save you money and the stress of a claim. If you do have a claim, rest assured we will work to make your experience as seamless as possible. 

For more tips, check out our blog article on what to do if you have damage from severe weather.


Learn more about homeowners insurance in Virginia >

THE NORTHERN NECK INSURANCE INTEGRITY PROMISE We pledge to provide straight talk and good counsel from our NNINS Virginia insurance experts through our blog. While we hope you find this to be a helpful source of information, it does not replace the guidance of a licensed insurance professional, nor does it modify the terms of your Northern Neck Insurance policy in any way. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy.