With the exponential rise of cell phone photos in the claim industry arises the need to ensure those images are secure. Just like everything that is smartphone connected the vehicle damage images that you – our appraisers – take may be getting stored online in the cloud. Granted, the photos taken as part of a damage claim are usually nothing more than what’s available in a parking lot but the industry is changing and before we look at what’s next we should look into securing what we’ve got.
I recently wrote in another article about how SCA is constantly barraged by security conscious carriers in terms of our database encryption and website vulnerabilities. Every one of these audits also asks about the security of our appraisal network and while a reasonable request most of my responses are neutral. As an appraiser in our network you already know that SCA only deal with independent business owners so by law we are very limited in exerting control over the security systems you’ve put in place. Both SCA and therefor the carrier have to trust you are putting in the effort to keep the information collected secure. To provide some assistance in helping you secure images online I thought I might do a little research of my own to find out about the best cloud storage options for our network. This article also might help SCA provide better answer when responding to our insurance client’s security questions in the future.
While there were a bunch of sites that provided cloud information I found a really good article at TechRadar.com that overviewed the options available as of July 2018, you can check it out HERE. Going through each solution by visiting the company website and trying out the mobile app was informative but it become very apparent there were only four good options for the busy auto appraiser which also would satisfy future carrier requests. I review each briefly below to highlight the differences but my preference was Mega.
Dropbox Obviously the titan in the industry, Dropbox has a good interface and is easy to use plus it works without issues. It is more expensive than many of the other options and only gives you 2GB of data on their free trial. You’ll end up spending $10/month before you can close out your claims for the week.
Google Drive If you have a Gmail account or are an Android phone user this is a near slam dunk. There is a lot to be said for having everything work together based on your mobile device. Considering our network takes most photos via cell phones, seamless integration is a key component. Google Drive gives a healthy 15GB free with your Gmail account making it a good option.
iCloud In contrast to using Google Drive, if you are an Apple user this is a near given solution to use with your devices (it does work with devices other than Apple). It obviously will work well with your existing accounts and have awesome support. The downside of iCloud is they only give 5GB for free at which time you can upgrade to 50GB for an easy $0.99/mo.
Best Cloud Storage for Auto Appraisers Winner: Mega Mega touts higher security as one of their differentiating factors along with automatic camera upload, and desktop sync like the other top end competitors. I was shocked at how easy it was to register and organize my photos. Clearly they are a cloud storage solution to be reckoned with. They give a huge 50GB for free. You can get 200GB a month for $6.
In my closing thoughts I’ll add that the massive amounts of free storage and ease of the organization of the photos made me favor Mega over the others presented. I tested taking photos and uploading them – the ease of use brought a smile to my face. Seeing my cell phone photos appear in my PC browser within seconds was pretty cool. This could be an ease solution for remote desk appraisals as well.
No matter which service you choose it would be my suggestion to start backing up your inspection photos and family memories with separate cloud storage solutions. It’s super easy to direct the different photos to distinct locations. Another article I wrote was on keeping work and family separate so you might as well start with cell phone photos. No one wants to add the need to re-visit cars to the heartache of irreplaceable family photos being lost if your device goes swimming.