Should Benefit Packages Include Pet Insurance?
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced most teams to work remotely and spend more time at home, many employees took the opportunity to add pets to their families. According to a survey by Rover, “93% of people said their ‘pandemic pet’ improved their mental and/or physical wellbeing in the last year and over 80% said it made working from home and being at home during the pandemic more enjoyable.”
With pets being such a profound part of people’s lives and wellbeing—especially in the last year—what benefits can employers offer to make sure their employees’ pets are taken care of as well?
How Does Pet Insurance Work?
Many pet owners think of their animal companions as part of the family. In some ways, pet insurance is similar to health insurance but in other ways it can more closely resemble property insurance. Most insurance carriers provide plans that are structured with a premium, deductible, and a co-pay.
However, with pet insurance, most plans require the pet owner to pay out of pocket at the vet office and submit a claim for reimbursement after the visit. Most plans allow pet owners to choose their own vet and premiums are very affordable—there are also different tiers, including accident and illness coverage, accident-only coverage, and wellness coverage.
Are Pet Benefits Worth It?
There are a lot of factors that go into pet owners deciding whether or not insuring a pet is worth it. This includes the pet’s species, if they have any pre-existing conditions, if the pet’s breed is predisposed to certain health problems, and the age of the pet. There are also waiting periods for pet insurance to kick in, so signing up for insurance after a pet’s emergency or diagnosis won’t usually help.
Still, pet insurance is a priority for a lot of pet owners. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, “close to 2.82 million pets were insured at the end of 2019 and that pet health insurance has been increasing at an average annual growth rate of 22.1% over the past 5 years.”
Should Organizations Offer Pet Benefits?
According to a Willis Towers Watson survey, 34% of employers offered pet insurance as a voluntary benefit as of 2018, which is expected to increase. Here are some questions for employers to consider while thinking about making pet insurance benefits available to their employees.
- How many employees own pets? Does your company consist of mostly dog and cat lovers? Are they interested in pet insurance? If so, offering pet insurance as a benefit might boost employee retention efforts.
- How does pet insurance tie into other benefits offered? What kind of health insurance and other benefits does your company offer, and is there an opportunity for pet insurance to fit in? Also, how much would it cost?
- How can you rate the success of it? According to ConsumersAdvocate, The cost of routine care, i.e. vaccinations, heartworm, physical exams is usually negligible, even in the first couple years of life. As pet wellness plans generally cost $20-$25 a month, the yearly cost is more or less what you would pay out of pocket anyway.
Just like deciding whether or not to adopt a pet, making the decision to offer certain benefits takes a great deal of research and consideration.
While most major insurance plans offer pet insurance options at different tiers of coverage, employers can also offer employees voluntary pet benefits through veterinary discount and savings cards that pet owners can use at vet visits.
Luckily there are options—like offering a wellness program and discounts versus comprehensive pet insurance—depending on your workforce’s needs.