For anyone who has experienced the despair of filling up a tank of gas and then seeing a cheaper price at another station — or worse, at the same station the next day — Esurance says it can help with a new website, Fuelcaster.
The site asks users to enter their zip code, then tells them whether to buy gas now or wait until the next day. Fuelcaster, which relies heavily on data from GasBuddy.com, says it can predict whether the price will rise or fall during the next 24 hours with roughly 90% accuracy. Esurance, an online insurer owned by Allstate, says it tested thousands of scenarios with zip codes across the country to make that claim. Fuelcaster also displays the 10 gas stations in the area with the cheapest prices and what the current cost per gallon is.
"What you'll find is a ton of apps — both free and paid — that show gas prices, but none that focus on retail with the granularity that Fuelcaster does," Esurance said in an email to BuzzFeed. "The bulk of the data comes from GasBuddy.com, which is all user generated content. (Other) prediction sites are more focused on wholesale gas prices, versus local retail, which is what GasBuddy does."
Esurance says that gas prices in any single zip code can vary by as much as $1, so over time, Fuelcaster can help customers save a substantial amount of money. The company said the website, which is mobile-optimized but not a separate app, was developed during the past two months by fewer than 10 people and that "there is nothing we know of in the United States that can do what Fuelcaster does."
Of course, Esurance, which will officially announce the site on Monday morning, isn't providing what sounds like a promising service for philanthropic reasons.
The insurer says that by providing Fuelcaster to the general population for free, it's planning to connect with people who may not be Esurance customers. Presumably, the hope is that they will be down the road.
Sapna Maheshwari is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Maheshwari reports on retail and e-commerce.
Contact Sapna Maheshwari at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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