What goes up must come down (through my roof, apparently)
January 7, 2014 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Apparently on New Year's Eve some unknown moron shot his gun into the air. The bullet came down through our roof, punching a hole through the roofing itself (picture 1, picture 2) and then throught he ceiling of our guest room and into the exterior wall (picture 3). The bullet itself is lodged somewhere inside the wall, buried in the insulation, and I am not inclined to tear open the wall just to find it. The police have been out to take a bunch of pictures and create a report, but obviously there is no way to track down the person responsible. Nobody was injured, thank goodness. The roofing inspector was just out, and it is going to cost about $500 to repair the roof damage. That work will be done tomorrow, so that any additional damage is mitigated before it rains. The repair inside is minor, just patch the two holes and touch up the paint.

My question is this: Should I be calling the homeowner's insurance to notify them about this? The total repair cost is almost certainly either below or very close to our deductible, so I don't see any point in making a claim. On the other hand, I don't want to potentially have us in a bad position down the road if anything else comes up. I am paranoid about calling and asking directly, because I am afraid they will jack up our rates just for raising the issue. We are in Florida, if that makes any difference, and we have owned the house for eight years with no previous insurance claims.

Do I just repair the damage and chalk it up to the joys of home ownership, or am I missing something?
posted by Lokheed to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm struggling to think of an instance in which not telling the insurance company could come back to bite you - which is really the only reason to notify them of an issue that costs less than your deductible. I mean, maaaaaaaybe the bullet PASSED THROUGH A PERSON before plunging through your house, and MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYBE the police will one day want to rip down all your drywall to find it and implicate the perp, and MAAAAAAAAYBE this will become an insurance issue at THAT point... but... nah.

I know it probably FEELS weird (because, you know, BULLET), but it's not a lot different than getting a little dime-sized dent in your Daihatsu and electing not to call State Farm.
posted by julthumbscrew at 11:08 AM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If the $500 is less than your deductible, I can't imagine any reason to involve the insurance. Also, glad nobody was hurt.
posted by colin_l at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I don't see any reason to let insurance know either. If for some reason the repair doesn't work or there's unseen damage and you need to file a claim later, you have the police report and the repair bill to show them. Just keep all your paperwork and leave insurance out of it.
posted by bedhead at 11:16 AM on January 7, 2014

Best answer: Nope, no reason to notify insurance if less than deductible. Presumably, you do repairs on your house regularly without notifying insurance.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yikes! That sounds like a very unpleasant surprise... I'm glad no one was hurt!

It seems to me that the difference between this and any other home repair is that the bullet could have unknowingly affected the structural or electrical integrity of the house, which may result in a tragic event in the future that you would need to file a claim on (electrical fire, wall collapse, etc). If this happened, the burden would be on the insurance company and police to prove that the bullet was the sole cause, which is a slim chance in all likelihood.

I'd say if the roof repair is done right by replacing the damaged shingle(s) and patching the hole in the plywood to prevent future water damage, and you feel confident that the bullet didn't hit an electrical wire in the ceiling or wall (get out that stud finder!), don't bother with the insurance.
posted by mrrisotto at 11:30 AM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm neither a gun enthusiast nor a physics expert, but I'm struggling to make sense of the scenario here. If the bullet was shot into the air it really shouldn't have sufficient velocity on its descent to penetrate your roof, ceiling AND wall. Air resistance slows a bullet pretty rapidly. Are you overlooked by any high spots from which someone could have fired directly at your roof? I don't want to worry you unduly, but the police might want to look into this as something more than "celebratory fire" if it's some nut job taking potshots at houses from a highrise or hilltop.
posted by yoink at 11:35 AM on January 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

What if it's a meteorite?? I'd definitely dig into the wall to find out what it was. Even if just to show friends/grandkids "See this? This is a gosh-durn bullet that someone fired in celebration on NYE 2013 that went straight through my roof and two walls!"
posted by Grither at 11:40 AM on January 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, this is a question about insurance, not physics or bullet velocity, etc. Please stay focused.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2014

Response by poster: Are you overlooked by any high spots from which someone could have fired directly at your roof?

No. We are in Central Florida, where the highest mountain peak is Splash Mountain down at Disney. There are literally no hills within a several mile radius of the house, and no taller structures. I can't see any way that what hit us was specifically aimed at us.

What if it's a meteorite??

You are now the second person who has suggested this. I assumed a bullet, because that is what made sense and the hole is about what I imagine a bullet hole should look like in size. That being said, on New Year's Eve there was a stupid amount of fireworks going off all around the area, including quite a few arial bursts (how is that even legal?!?). If not a bullet or a meteorite, perhaps a fragment from an exploding firework?

I am kind of torn. Right now patching the wall could be done with just some putty, with perhaps a small piece of reinforcing mesh. If I want to dig into the wall and search for the projectile, that means cutting open a much larger chunk of wall and doing a full drywall patch.

Then again, I do happen to have 3/4 of a sheet of drywall just lying around in my garage...
posted by Lokheed at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2014

Response by poster: And now that I see Cortex's note - I'll say thank you everyone for relieving my insurance anxiety. That's what I was really concerned about.
posted by Lokheed at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2014

Patching drywall is REALLY simple, why wouldn't you want to know if this was a bullet, meteorite, or what have you??

I similarly thought the angle and penetration was odd. I have construction experience, none with guns, I know a thing or two about objects that fall from space.

Incidentally, I'm pretty certain I was reading something in the last week about how we've just traveled through a bit of space known to have a lot of "astral traffic" for lack of a better term, so it really could have been something from space.

Totally glad you're safe!!

Don't forget to dig out that souvenir and display it on the mantel!
posted by jbenben at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Your insurance agent exists to answer questions like this. Your agent is a separate business entity from the insurer. They merely sell policies for the insurer on a commission basis. Furthermore, they get paid on a regular basis for as long as you have your policy, so you represent a lot of long-term profit for them and they are going to do their best to keep you happy. Just asking a question like yours is not likely to affect your policy in any way.
posted by kindall at 12:10 PM on January 7, 2014

In this case don't even tell them if it is above your deductible! Home insurance is really for catastrophic damages. Trivial claims can result in policy termination at renewel and once you have a policy termination due to claims it can be very difficult to get insurance from other providers. Save the home insurance for things you can't afford to pay to repair yourself.

As for talking to your insurance agent you are not your agent or broker's customer. The insurance company is and you are the broker/agents product. Don't under any circumstances ever trust an agent/broker. They do not have your interests at heart particularly when it comes to premiums (they earn a percentage of your premium) but also when it comes to claims (this can influence what percentage they get). They receive a commission from an insurance company and that is negotiated partly based on whether they deliver 'good' customers - ie. ones who 'perform' - pay premiums and don't claim. They should try and talk you down from claims whether it is justified or not. While your current issue is small potatoes and in my opinion not worth the risks of a claim if you do have a larger issue - talk to a insurance lawyer not an agent or broker or insurance company rep.

I worked as personal lines analyst and you know who insurance companies loved? White middle class people who thought they knew how the system worked and had a WASPY sense of fairness when claiming - not wanting too much, not being pushy and all that. You know who they hated? Recent immigrants who had no clue and so hired experts and actually got what they were fully entitled to. Roughly 3X what non-lawyered claimants received even though by law they should have automatically received the same amounts.
posted by srboisvert at 1:03 PM on January 7, 2014 [12 favorites]

My sister's car windshield was the lucky victim of a similar idiot this NYE. 45 slug went down through the top of the windshield and she found the bullet on the driver's side floor. She was, luckily, not in the car at the time. She did contact her insurance agent's office (she has car and homeowner's insurance through the same big name company) and they said that since it was less than the deductible they would not cover it, but aside from that, they did not seem overly concerned about it. No dings to her record, etc. Nor did the police seem to care. This is apparently a regular enough occurrence around here that it did not surprise or impress anyone she told about it in an official capacity. I do not think your insurance company would consider you to be defrauding them in any way if you chose not to tell them about it.

(Forget what the Mythbusters said about this, guys: when drunkenly shooting guns into the air in the dark, people don't always shoot straight.)
posted by BlueJae at 2:57 PM on January 7, 2014

Response by poster: To everyone who said that there was no way it could be a bullet because there couldn't possibly be enough ballistic energy left: You were wrong. I just pulled the bullet out of my wall. (Picture of bullet pulled from wall).

I'm just sayin'.
posted by Lokheed at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older Where can I volunteer at an archive in NYC? (I...   |   Help me identify these boots! (or a close match... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.