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Tornado and Severe Storm Preparedness

tornado forming in sky

Severe storms are one thing that homeowners everywhere should prepare for at all times. While these severe storms are hard to predict, the most common time for tornadoes begins in the spring and extends into July, depending on your location. One thing that they have in common is that most tornadoes occur between 4 pm and 9 pm, right during evening commutes, sports activities, and family dinners.

In 2018, the insured losses totaled $14.1 billion for tornadoes and thunderstorms. Tornadoes and severe storms can cause secondary damage, like flooding, which can add to the problem. But preparation for severe storms can pay off big time.


If you have notice of a severe storm, you can take some steps beforehand. However, since tornadoes are highly unpredictable, performing these steps once a year would be a great idea.

  • Conduct a yearly insurance review – Talk to your AFI representative and go over any upgrades, completed renovations, or new items that could impact the coverage you need.
  • Take a home inventory – Create or update the inventor lists of your possessions. You may already have this ready from a recent move but give it a once-over and make sure everything is there.
  • Understand your coverage – Make sure you understand what your coverage includes. Your AFI representative can walk you through how your coverage works will help so you are not caught unprepared. You may have valuables that require a special endorsement to the policy, or you may want to add sewer back up or other coverages for added protection.


Your reaction and response to a tornado will depend on your location when the storm hits. Practicing some of these responses and discussing them with your family is the best way to make sure everyone knows what steps to take.

If you are outside or in a mobile home:

  • Seek shelter inside a sturdy building, preferably with a basement. 
  • If you cannot seek shelter in a building, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area.
  • Cover your head and neck with your arms.

If you are driving:

  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car. If it is safe to do so, drive to a sturdy structure or building where you can seek shelter inside.
  • If you cannot seek shelter in a building, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area.
  • Do not seek shelter under an overpass.

If you are in a house:

  • Seek shelter in an interior part of the basement.
  • If there is no basement, go inside to a windowless room on the first floor. Areas like a center hallway, bathroom, or closet are great options.
  • Protect yourself from flying debris with pillows, blankets, cushions, etc.


After the storm has safely passed, venture out to survey your property, or drive home. Be cautious as you walk or drive around as things may have shifted and may be unstable.

  • Secure your property from further damage or theft.
  • Contact your AFI representative as soon as possible to report the damage.
  • Inventory any losses and photograph any damage to supplement your report, and be sure to save all repair receipts.
  • If your home is uninhabitable due to damage, make sure you talk with your representative regarding living expenses. Reimbursement may be a part of your policy coverage.
  • Be alert of contractor fraud following a natural disaster. Do your research and ask for referrals from friends and family and check the Better Business Bureau for references on potential contractors. Only use professional and certified contractors with certificated of liability and workers' compensation.

If you have a business, keep detailed records of business activity that is negatively affected due to the tornado or storm and keep a list of extra expenses during the interruption.

As you can see, there are quite a few things to do before, during, and after tornadoes and other severe storms. By preparing your home and property just like you would for flooding, you can save a lot of time, effort, and money. Preparation is key.

Source: ©2017 Property Casualty Insurers Association of America