Card Tricks
Jul/Aug 2008 Issue

Save on fuel with AAA’s online tools

With gas prices escalating across the country, before motorists reach for the pump, they should grab their mouse to visit AAA’s Web site to access a number of fuel tools to estimate costs and save money.

Tracking gas prices this spring and summer has been like a roller coaster ride with prices at press time approaching $4 per gallon. Motorists are feeling increasingly pinched at the pump, and they are rethinking whether or not to take trips and researching ways to save on fuel. But AAA’s Web site has the tools to help them navigate the minefield of fuel-related challenges.

Simply visit and click on the news/safety section where a number of fuel tools are located, including the Fuel Cost Calculator to help you estimate the gasoline costs of a trip. Simply input the city from which you are departing and your destination from a listing of major cities, as well as the make, model and year of your car, and the program will instantly determine the distance of your trip and what your fuel costs will be.

The program uses the latest highway fuel economy ratings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to determine the costs, as well as the current gasoline prices from AAA’s daily online Fuel Gauge Report, another tool on the site. The report, which is the most comprehensive retail gasoline survey available, shows national and state averages for fuel costs.

To find the best gas prices near you, use the Fuel Price Finder on the AAA Web site. You simply enter your city and state or zip code and a map with the local stations and their fuel price, street address and diesel availability will be generated. You can choose a radius up to 10 miles around your zip code to find the stations.

The map shows stations in the area you selected, and a listing under the map gives the address and the price of gas, including the last date and time of day when the price was updated. The prices are derived from credit card transactions, direct feeds and other survey methods at more than 100,000 outlets around the country. Users also can zoom in on the map to get better directions to each station.

In addition to helping motorists find the least expensive gas, AAA’s Web site offers tips on conserving fuel. The Gas Watcher’s Guide on the site notes that the household income spent on transportation is 19 percent, and it offers advice on helping to reduce that number.

Among the tips are consolidating trips and errands to cut down on driving time, slowing down because vehicles generally use more fuel as they travel faster and removing unnecessary cargo from the trunk to lighten the load. Another section emphasizes the importance of proper vehicle maintenance to ensure maximum fuel efficiency, such as keeping tires properly inflated.

If you’d prefer to receive a copy of the Gas Watcher’s Guide in pamphlet form, send a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to AAA, Gas Watcher’s Guide, 12901 N. Forty Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63141. The pamphlet is free.

Gas Prices

Flood insurance coverage can protect your home

Just a few inches of water in your home can translate into thousands of dollars in repair and restoration work, so homeowners should assess their risk of flooding and protect themselves with insurance.

If your home is in a high-risk zone, such as along portions of the Gulf Coast where Hurricane Katrina struck, your chances are one-in-six that you will experience a flood. If you are in a moderate- to low-risk zone, be aware that 25 percent of the flood claim payments are for losses to homes at the same risk as yours. “Low risk” doesn’t mean “no risk.”

To see how the repair costs can mount up when one or two inches of water increases to 10 or 12 inches, use the interactive tool at, the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Homeowners often are unaware that their homeowners’ policy does not cover flood loss. Only flood insurance, purchased separately from a general policy, will cover water damage from “rising water.” And don’t assume that the federal government will reimburse your flood loss. Only those flood events declared a federal disaster will be eligible for government assistance, and that assistance is most frequently a loan that must be repaid with interest.

For more details about flood insurance, visit, contact your AAA insurance agent or click on and visit the insurance section. A preferred risk policy to protect your home might be as low as $388 a year for $250,000 in coverage for your home and $100,000 for your contents.

Many of the contents of a flooded home must be discarded because they are either damaged or infested with mold.

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