Catastrophe Center

If you've never been through a tornado, you may not know what to expect. We can help.

With gusting winds that can reach 300 miles per hour, there's nothing you or anyone can do to stop a tornado in its tracks. But there are measures you can take to protect yourself, your family and your home from its damaging effects.

How to Prepare Before a Tornado

Tornadoes can come quickly, without warning. That's why it's important to prepare ahead of time if there are warnings or you are in an area prone to tornadoes. Follow these guidelines:

  • Stay informed about approaching storms by monitoring NOAA Weather Radio or local television and radio stations for updates and evacuation instructions.
  • Keep all important documents, such as legal papers, birth certificates, marriage license, financial papers and insurance policy information in a safety deposit box or in a bolted safe in an interior closet in your home.
  • Maintain an emergency supply kit that will sustain you and your family for a 72-hour period. This kit should include flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, non-perishable food, bottle water, cash, blankets, clothing, prescription medications and toiletries. Store your kit in a place commonly known to all family members. Replace and/or refresh items in your kit every six months.
  • Decide in advance where you will take shelter. It could be a local community shelter, your own underground storm cellar or in-residence "safe" room. Make sure your family knows this location.
  • Become familiar with your community's severe weather warning system and ensure that every family member knows what to do when a storm "watch" or "warning" sounds. Select a common meeting place and single point of contact for all family members in case you are separated. If you have pets, create a plan for them as well.
  • Put as many walls between your family and the outside as possible. A "safe" room is the best form of protection for your family and valuables. It can be added to an existing home or incorporated into a new home design. If you do not have a "safe" room, a room in the basement or small interior room without windows is recommended.
  • Secure the property by installing dual glazed windows, hurricane-rated exterior doors and windows, a sturdy garage door, extra nails to roof coverings and straps to the roof assembly.
  • Replace rock/gravel landscaping material with shredded bark, and keep trees and shrubs trimmed.

What to Do During a Tornado

Try to remain calm during a tornado. The more you plan ahead, the easier it is to stay focused and stay safe during the storm. If possible, monitor NOAA Weather Radio or local television and radio stations for updates and evacuation instructions. Follow these other steps to protect yourself, your family and your home during a tornado:

  • Be sure you have plenty of bottled water, any medicines you need to take, non-perishable foods and a manual can opener, batteries for your radio and flashlights and gas for your generator, if you have one.
  • Be alert to changing conditions. Look for the following danger signs: a dark, greenish sky; large hail; large, dark, low-lying clouds (particularly if rotating); a loud roar similar to a freight train.
  • If a storm is approaching, take shelter immediately. Go to your designated room or location and cover family members with mattresses or get under a desk or table.
  • Keep exterior doors and windows closed.

Close interior doors to provide more barriers between you and the storm.

What to Do after a Tornado

Once the tornado is over, stay out of damaged structures, whether it's your home, office or another building, until authorities indicate it's safe to go inside. If you are trapped, try to make noise, scream or whistle to get the attention of rescue workers. These additional tips can help you and your family stay safe and minimize injuries or damage:

  • Continue to monitor your NOAA Radio for emergency information.
  • Wear sturdy boots, long sleeves and gloves when near debris. Be aware of hazards from exposed nails and broken glass.
  • If you suspect damage to your home, if it’s safe to do so, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks.
  • Never use generators, grills or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices inside your home or garage.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • If you’re a Chubb policyholder and you've suffered damage from a tornado, click here to begin the claims process.

This information is advisory in nature. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.

Common Personal Insurance Coverages

Following a Tornado
Because most of Chubb's homeowner policies provide "all risk" coverage, physical damage to your home or other structure on the property caused by a tornado may be a covered loss. However, in some circumstances a special deductible may apply in lieu of your standard deductible.

Chubb only covers damage caused by flood, surface water or ground water if you have purchased a Chubb Personal or Excess Flood Insurance policy.

We may also pay the following extra coverages (the base deductible or a special deductible may apply):

Additional Living Expenses: If a covered loss to your house, other permanent structure or contents makes the dwelling(s) uninhabitable, we may provide coverage for any reasonable increase in your normal living expenses, which could include:

  • Temporary residence
  • Hotels, meals, transportation, etc.
  • Pet kenneling
  • Replacing lost fair rental value
  • Other increases to normal living expenses, as described in the policy

However, power outages that do not result from a covered loss to your property will not trigger Additional Living Expenses.

Temporary Precautionary Repairs: After a covered loss, we may provide coverage for temporary precautionary repairs to protect the home, contents or other structures from further damage.

Debris Removal: We may pay for the cost to demolish damaged property and remove debris.

Forced Evacuation: If you are forced to evacuate your home or other permanent structure as a direct result of a covered loss or a reasonable threat of a loss covered under the policy, we may cover the reasonable increase in normal living expenses for up to 30 days. This might include hotel and meal expenses or kenneling for pets.

Tree Removal: Unless covered elsewhere under the policy, we may pay the reasonable expenses you incur to remove trees felled by to wind or hail. Special coverage limits will apply.

Food Spoilage: If you have coverage for Contents, we may cover the cost of spoiled food and wine caused by power interruption. Special coverage limits and deductibles apply in most states.

Please review your policy for complete details of the coverage contained in your policy.

Chubb Group of Insurance Companies ("Chubb") is the marketing name used to refer to the insurance subsidiaries of The Chubb Corporation. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at www.chubb.com. Chubb Personal Insurance (CPI) is the personal lines property and casualty strategic business unit of Chubb & Son, a division of Federal Insurance Company, as manager and/or agent for the insurers of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. This literature is descriptive only. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.