I have a friend who has done this a number of times. He’s a super sharp guy, but absentminded, so he’s driven away without remembering to replace the gas nozzle at the gas station. In fact, it’s a fairly common practice and happens at your average gas station about once a month.
Don’t worry, if you drive away from the gas station with the gas nozzle your car isn’t going to blow up and you’re not going to have a fireball trailing you down the interstate. The hose attached to the nozzle is designed to break in two with a certain amount of force–so you’ll get a few feet before it breaks.
When you break a business’s property, how they deal with you may vary. Some might get your insurance information and some might let you slide. It depends on the gas station’s policy.
According to Paul Fiore, executive vice president of the service station association Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades, how the situation is handled often depends on the gas station. “The policies in place will be as varied as the owners’ and managers’ personalities,” he said to The New York Times. “Each company will have their own approach to this delicate situation. Is it a good customer? Did the customer get an ‘attitude’ right away as if it was the gas station’s fault? Every little thing is a factor in deciding how an owner or manager handles a customer that has damaged store property, and I would imagine it is no different across the retailing spectrum.”
Most car insurance companies cover the damage through liability coverage. “A person who drives off from a gas pump with the hose still attached to the vehicle is generally going to liable for the damages caused by their negligence,” Kip Diggs, a spokesman for State Farm Insurance, said to The New York Times. “The damage to the pump would be covered under the liability portion of the driver’s auto policy. We would determine the damages through the normal claims process.”
Replacing the nozzle could cost around $350 or more, depending on how much damage you did to the pump or if you damaged the underground gas tank. If you damage the gas tank, it could cause real damage to the gas station resulting in a loss of revenue. It’s the cost of thinking of everything but pumping gas when you’re at the gas station.
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Image: Jillian Stewart