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In the first installment of our winter weather home preparation guide, we discussed frozen pipes, an insidious problem that can wreak havoc to the interior of a home. However, the exterior of residential properties also presents challenges and opportunities to file claims through the coldest months of the year, when fitful storms weather your curb appeal.

A common problem among homeowners during the cold season is hail damage, as winter blizzards can rain golf ball-sized hail on properties: breaking windows, damaging siding and roof work. One of the best tips for managing hail damage is to catch it early, according to insurance provider The Hartford.

"Claims for hail damage are often filed late because the damage isn't always easy to see," says the company. "After large hail storm, a homeowner may want to consider hiring a professional to examine the roof if they're not able to safely inspect it. Filing an insurance claim as soon as damage is noticed allows the insurance company to start working with the homeowner sooner to minimize the damage."

There are also steps property owners can take to protect their homes from hail from the outset of winter. The Weather Channel advises readers to always hire a professional roofer to replace and maintain your roof, as the common do-it-yourselfer lacks the technique and precision to install really top-notch tiles or shingles. The meteorology source also advises consumers to research materials to see their homes comply with a Class 4 Underwriters Laboratories' 2218 standard. This gives a strong indication of impact resistance and could save you money in the long run.

Maintaining a healthy roof and exterior through the milder months can ensure that your property isn't caught off guard by an inclement winter assault.