Rest assured that you won’t be causing any fireballs or explosions. The hose that attaches the nozzle to the gas pump is designed to break into two pieces when a certain amount of force is applied to it. Next time you’re at the gas station, check the hose for a metal coupling. That’s the break-away point. Once the hose is broken and you’re off on your merry way, check valves in the hose keep fuel from leaking out and creating a hazard.
Other than that, there’s no saying what might happen to you. Like any other time a customer breaks a business’s property, the situation is handled differently from place to place. Some stations might chase you down the street to get your insurance information. Others might just let it slide. Some might tell you you’re going to have to pay for it, then forget to follow up. It all depends on the station’s policy for such situations and even the attendant who’s stuck dealing with the mess.
Typically, if you’re on the hook for the cost of the damages, the station will assess the damage, repair the pump, get it up and running again, and put a dollar amount on all that. The company then files an insurance claim and their insurance company and yours will hash it out. Most car insurance policies will cover this sort of damage as part of driver liability coverage, but not every policy may cover you for the full amount.
What that amount comes to is going to vary. Your costs depend on the amount and type of damage done to the pump, if there’s damage to the gas tank below the pump, if the station wants you to pay for labor as well as parts, and if the station decides to claim other damages, like loss of revenue while the pump is being fixed or the cost of getting the repaired pump re-certified for operation.
Have any of you ever driven away with the pump?