Pet Insurance: A Growing Work Perk
One of the best ways to attract and retain top talent is to offer great benefits. That’s understandable, especially when you consider the uncertainty of Social Security and how healthcare costs have been steadily rising in the U.S. for decades. But although employees care deeply about their own health and security, many are also considering the well-being of their pets.
Like human health costs, pet health costs have been on the upswing, making it all the more vital for pet owners to have pet insurance. Pets have also increasingly become a part of the work culture. From tech giants like Google to startups and local microbreweries, businesses big and small are creating pet-friendly workplaces, which allow employees to bring their pets (especially dogs) to work.
Observing these trends, some companies have begun including pet insurance in their benefits package. This might sound silly at first, but upon further examination, it becomes clear why employers might consider offering pet insurance to their staff.
What Do Pets Cost?
Most pet owners cherish their pets and want to provide them with a quality life—but that comes at a cost. Between initial purchase/adoption costs, food, toys, hygiene, transportation, and veterinary visits, a single pet often costs owners over $1,000 per year, according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Depending on the pet’s health, that $1,000 could turn into $2,000 or much more. Dr. Louise Murray, Vice President of ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital notes that at some point during a single pet’s lifetime, “Owners will likely incur at least one $2,000-$4,000 bill for emergency care.”
For most pet owners, these costs can’t be ignored, especially those large irregular bills caused by an unexpected health crisis. With pet insurance, this burden can be reduced.
Like health insurance for people, pet insurance policies vary—with different premiums and deductibles depending on provider, type of pet, and other factors.
How Does Employer-Sponsored Pet Insurance Work?
Health insurance for people can be a chore to figure out. So many plans, convoluted contracts, limited enrollment windows, and restrictions. Fortunately, pet insurance is far less complicated for both employers and employees.
Generally speaking, employees and non-employees can land the same type of pet insurance policy, but employers have the power to negotiate better prices for their people. In other words, an employee can obtain a better rate with the help of his or her employer.
Depending on the policy of choice, the employer may cover 100 percent of the premiums, or a portion of it—with the rest falling on the employee. Some policies cover a percentage of certain treatments, tests, and surgeries. Other plans allow insurance holders to apply for reimbursement checks or credit after seeing their veterinarian. Note that as of now, pet insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions.
If you decide to include pet insurance in your benefits package, be sure to communicate it effectively to your employees—just as you would with health insurance.
Will More Employers Offer Pet Insurance?
It seems likely. Research by the Society for Human Resource Management reveals that approximately 9 percent of organizations offered pet insurance as a benefit in 2016, up 5 percent from 2011. Further, according to Fortune Magazine, one in three Fortune 500 companies provide pet insurance as a way of attracting and retaining pet-owning employees.
This trend will likely incentivize more employers to offer pet insurance to prospective and existing employees. Best of all, the enrollment period for pet insurance is year-round, which means less administrative work for employers and less hassle for employees.