The U.S. has been hit by an unusual number of severe thunderstorms this summer. For example, on Aug. 11, a hailstorm tore through Billings, Montana, shattering windows and punching holes in roofs. This sort of damage can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair, forcing many homeowners to file an insurance claim to recover their losses. Fortunately, there are several things they can do to make the claims process go more smoothly.

According to experts, the first thing homeowners should do is remain calm and avoid making costly mistakes, such as failing to get a full assessment of their property damage or paying a random contractor to make quick repairs. Instead, it is better for homeowners to take their time and ask their insurance agent plenty of questions before making any big decisions. Second, it’s important for homeowners to take pictures of all property damage before starting to clean up or make any repairs. Next, they should cover any broken windows or holes in the roof to prevent more damage from the elements.

Finally, homeowners should ask several contractors to conduct damage assessments and provide repair estimates. They can then forward this information to their insurance agent to see if it’s worth filing a claim. This will largely depend on the cost of their deductible. If the repair cost is less than the deductible, it may be better for homeowners to pay for the repair themselves. It is also important for homeowners to ask how much a claim may impact their future insurance premiums before making any final decisions.

Homeowners who have trouble collecting an insurance settlement for storm, hail, wind or rain damage might want to seek assistance from a law firm. An attorney may review the claim and push for full compensation on a homeowner’s behalf.