Late for an early morning business meeting, you grab a cup a coffee and rush out the door—only to discover your car’s windshield has been smashed to bits. Your heart immediately plummets and your hands begin to shake with anger. Now what? Although you may be tempted to burst into tears or launch into a fit of rage, it’s important to take a few deep breaths and focus.

Fortunately, if you have comprehensive coverage, your auto insurance should cover the damage to your car. However, to ensure you receive the money you need for repairs, you will need to follow a few specific steps:

Notify the police

If your car has been vandalized, you should contact the police within 24 hours of the vandalism. It’s important to file a police report so that you have an official record of the incident. This record will help your auto insurance company resolve your claim.

Call your insurance company

You should also contact your auto insurance company to file a claim. Don’t delay—most insurance companies say you must file your claim as soon as possible in order to receive benefits.

Your insurance company may request a police report, personal statements and other documentation. Additionally, if any items that are protected under comprehensive coverage were stolen from your car (such as an aftermarket car stereo), they may ask for receipts for these items. Try to provide your insurance company with as much documentation as possible because this will help them resolve your claim more quickly.

Prevent further damage

Some insurance policies require you to take measures to protect your car from additional damage after vandalism. For example, if your window has been broken, you will need to cover it with plastic or another protective material as soon possible. This will ensure that the interior of your car is not further damaged by rain, snow, wind or other elements. Your insurance company may reimburse you for the materials you buy to protect your car, as long as the expenses are within reason.

If you knowingly leave a broken car window uncovered, and your car interior or electrical systems are damaged by weather, your insurance company will not cover this damage. This is why it’s so important to take measures to protect your car as quickly as possible.

Generally, once the police have taken any evidence they may need from your car and say you can move your vehicle, you should immediately take steps to protect your car from further damage. You do not need to wait for your claims adjuster to assess the damage before taking these steps.

Let your insurance company resolve the claim

Once your insurance company assesses the damage to your car, they will tell you whether or not the damage will be covered. If it is covered, they will give you a few options for repairing your car to its pre-vandalism condition. If your window was broken and your dashboard was damaged, they will be repaired. If your car stereo was stolen, the insurance company will give you a new one comparable to the one you had.

If you have any questions or concerns about your claim, do not hesitate to contact your insurance company. They understand having your car vandalized is an invasion of privacy, and they want to help you through this difficult time.