Gas Price Reassurance?

Online tool from Esurance guides consumers on best time, place to fuel up

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

Esurance Fuelcaster gas prices

SAN FRANCISCO -- Fill up today or tomorrow? A new online tool aims to tell consumers when it's best to buy. Insurance company Esurance has launched Fuelcaster, a free tool that the company said can predict if gasoline prices will go up or down within the next 24 hours to help consumers buy at a lower price.

Users enter their ZIP code into Fuelcaster--or use location services to pinpoint their location. The site then displays "buy" or "wait" recommendations depending on whether it expects gasoline prices to rise in the next 24 hours or fall. It also offers a list of up to 10 local gas stations, ranked from lowest price to highest, including their distance from a given location.

Esurance developed Fuelcaster in partnership with Deutsch LA's group, and it is powered by fuel price data from GasBuddy. A proprietary algorithm crunches the pricing data with what Esurance describes as "pricing signals from industry sources" to predict whether gasoline prices will rise or fall in a particular ZIP code. While Esurance vouches for the accuracy of Fuelcaster, it does ask users to submit any faulty predictions.

CSP Daily News gave the tool a spin, plugging in the ZIP code for the town where we are headquartered, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. The site suggested we buy today, predicting a price increase tomorrow, and gave us the lowest price in the area, or $3.64 per gallon at a BP-branded site 1.5 miles away. The closest locations--Mobil- and BP-branded sites less than half a mile away--were priced six cents per gallon more.

The graphics on the site are clean and polished, and the Fuelcaster tool itself is straightforward to use.

Because Fuelcaster is web-based, users can access it on a computer, smartphones and tablets, and use their own mapping app to guide them to their preferred station. Users can also save their three top locations for filling up. The site's function is comparable to, a subscription-based service that tells drivers in more than two dozen metropolitan markets whether to buy today or tomorrow.

"From Coverage Counselor to RepairView, Esurance has a long history of offering useful online tools for our customers. With Fuelcaster, we are broadening our reach to connect with people who may not be Esurance customers to help save them money," said Esurance president and CEO Gary Tolman in announcing the new tool. "Fuelcaster goes beyond simply providing nearby gas prices. It empowers consumers to make smarter decisions about where they buy their gas, the price they pay, and most importantly, when to buy."

San Francisco-based Esurance, a division of Allstate, provides auto, homeowners, motorcycle and renters insurance direct to consumers.