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Falling Trees, Flying Branches Kick Start Damage During Tornadoes

March 05, 2013

Nationwide Insurance stats show tree damage means major trouble

Columbus, Ohio - Temperatures are slowly starting to warm up and spring weather is right around the corner. While it may bring out the birds, tree buds and daffodils, it also can bring severe weather that can cause major damage to your home or car. 

“Tornadoes happen any time of the day and year,” said Pete Lore, Nationwide’s associate vice president of Claims. “Don’t wait until a storm is on the horizon. You can do simple things right now to try to mitigate damage to your home or car, saving you a headache and mess later.” 

Nationwide Insurance reviewed claims data related to tornadoes from 2008 to 2012 and found that, other than a direct hit from a tornado, tree debris or trees fallen by wind generally cause the majority of the tornado-related damage to autos and homes. The danger zone for homes and autos in a tornado is as much as two miles from the eye of the storm. 

Information for tornado-related damage to autos:

  • The most common insurance claims for automobiles are fallen tree branches.
  • Larger losses are from broken windows and windshields, which allow rain water into the automobile, resulting in more damage.
  • The historical average auto claim for tornado damage is $4,000. 

Information for tornado-related damage to homes:

  • A majority of the insurance claims for homes come from damage to roofs, siding and personal property.
  • Larger losses are mainly due to the home being in the direct path of the tornado.
  • Other large losses come from fallen trees and their branches, which can punch holes in the roof or walls, allowing large amounts of rain water into the home.
  • The historical average home claim for tornado damage is $24,000. 

While only two percent of the tornadoes achieve the most violent and damaging classifications, 25 percent of tornadoes have proved to be powerful enough to cause 90 percent of the damage and 66 percent of deaths in the United States, according the Insurance Institute of Building and Home Safety

According to the National Weather Services’ Storm Prediction Center, there were 1,119 tornadoes in 2012. Kansas had the most with 145, followed by Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky. There have been 103 tornadoes in 2013 as of Feb. 19. 

A Few Helpful Tips for you to Consider to Prepare for a Tornado

Your family's safety is your first priority. Have an emergency plan in place and know what to do because tornadoes strike quickly with little warning. You can also take action now to try to mitigate damage to your home or auto. 

Long before the storm:

  • Replace landscaping materials such as gravel and rock with mulch such as shredded bark.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed, paying particular attention to weak branches that could fall on your home or your neighbor’s.
  • Make sure that both your roof covering and the sheathing it attaches to will resist high winds.
  • Make certain your doors have at least three hinges and a deadbolt security lock with a bolt at least 1 inch long.
  • Install permanent wood or metal stiffeners on your garage door, or contact the door manufacturer for information on temporary supports you can attach and remove easily when severe weather threatens.
  • Install impact-resistant window systems. 

Right before the storm:

  • If weather forecasters are predicting severe weather in the coming days, move anything in your yard that may become flying debris inside your house or garage.
  • While under a tornado watch, move your car into a garage or away from any trees. Do not attempt to do this if conditions are unsafe or if you are under a tornado warning.
  • Ensure the windows in your home or auto are closed. Keep the wind and rain outside. 

Learn more with Nationwide’s tornado preparedness tips, video and infographics

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is March 3-9, 2013 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) are highlighting the importance of planning and practicing for this weather. 

About Nationwide

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides customers a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, pet, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and specialty health services. For more information, visit