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What Happens If You Drive off with the Gas Hose?

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Driving away from a gas pump with the gas hose still attached happens more frequently than you might think — whether it’s a case of morning brain fog, or succumbing to 21st century distraction like texting. In fact, these “drive-offs” happen at least once a month at any given gas station, as The New York Times reports.

But exactly what happens when you drive off with the gas hose still in your tank? Typically, the first step is to notify the gas station of the event. The gas station manager will usually ask for your contact and auto insurance information. Next, the gas station orders their maintenance staff to repair any damage to the pump. This person or team will then send the bill for the repair costs to the gas station’s headquarters. The office will file a claim with your insurance company.

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So, how much does this mishap usually cost? It depends on which auto insurance company you have and which type of policy you have for your vehicle. If you have a comprehensive auto policy, the liability coverage should cover the cost of the repairs. However, in some cases, you might have to pay this cost out of pocket. For example, your insurance company could deny the claim, or the liability policy could exclude this type of event. Repair estimates can cost as low as $100 to $500, or as high as $1,000 to $2,000.

Other factors contribute to the gas station’s leniency or stringency in holding you responsible for damage fees. Paul Fiore, executive vice president of the service station association Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades, articulates these variables. “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.”

Although driving off with the gas hose in tow isn’t the smartest thing a driver can do, it’s definitely not the end of the world. If you have solid liability coverage, repair costs should be reasonable.

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Sources: The New York Times, Mental Floss