It is axiomatic that homeowners' insurance policies only cover negligence. Generally, when a person is sued for an intentional act, the insurance company will want to defend "under a reservation of right". That means they want to be able to come in and defend the insurance company's interests under the guise of "helping" the insured. (I've never seen the insured not get screwed in this process - if it happens to you, hire your own lawyer.)
A negligence action requires proof of 1) duty; 2) negligent breach of duty; 3) actual damages; and 4) the negligent breach of duty was the proximate cause of the damages. Without proof of all four, there's no case.
There is never a situation in which a person might have an occasion to defend himself negligently. Self defense is always intentional. If there is any basis for a suit at all, it will be for assault, battery, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, or some other intentionally wrongful act. And it is not possible to turn an intentionally wrongful act into negligence.
The thing is, that "pleading in the alternative" is allowed in Virginia, so one might have a count for battery, along with a count for negigence, in the same complaint for the same acts, on the theory that if he can't prove the one, maybe he can prove the other. If that happens, and the magic word, "negligence" appears in the complaint, then the insurance co. will step in and defend under a reservation of right. And the homeowner who fails to supply a copy of the complaint to the insurance co. right quick runs the risk of losing the coverage he's paying for.
But what that means is that the insurance co. will not commit to covering the loss if there is one. And they don't have to if the act complained of is, in their opinion, intentional.
I hope that's clearer than mud.