While easy to overlook, employer-provided pet insurance benefits are becoming a key retention tool.
The job search market is an increasingly competitive one with employers scrambling to attract top talent from their competitors, as well as keeping their best employees happy to stop them from wandering to greener pastures.
So it’s not surprising that companies of every size are going to greater and greater lengths in order to differentiate themselves from other players in their industry and improve their perceived market appeal to jobseekers. Higher salaries, in-office perks, and comprehensive medical packages for employees and their families are the usual ways in which business owners have achieved these goals in years past.
But when it comes to coverage for workers’ four-legged friends, there’s a notable benefit gap that HR professionals all over insist shouldn’t be ignored. “Some 5,000 companies, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Xerox, and Hewlett-Packard, now offer pet insurance, sometimes covering part or all of the costs, in an effort to lure talent but also to recognize the strong emotional bonds between people and pets,” the New York Times reports.
The bottom line: Americans love their pets
With over 2/3 of United States households being home to a pet, pet owners represent a significant portion of the working population. Since 1988, pet ownership has steadily increased by 20% and the 2020 pandemic alone saw a dramatic uptick in pet adoptions and purchases on behalf of lonely Americans stuck at home for a prolonged (and possibly indefinite) period of time.
More Americans than ever before are becoming pet owners and the trend shows no sign of stopping.
More Americans than ever before are becoming pet owners and the trend shows no sign of stopping. The Washington Post confirms that “what began in mid-March as a sudden surge in demand had, as of mid-July, become a bona fide sales boom. Shelters, nonprofit rescues, private breeders, pet stores — all reported more consumer demand than there were dogs and puppies to fill it. Some rescues were reporting dozens of applications for individual dogs.”
Pet care costs are on the rise
In 2020 the American Pet Product Association estimates that the U.S. will spend over $99 billion on the pet industry, with medical expenses and veterinary care accounting for approximately half of all costs. And the more sophisticated and technologically-advanced pet care becomes, the more expensive it will be to the average owner in the future in the future.
Many pet insurers are also restructuring their policies with a focus of long-term wellness in mind, so not only can pet insurance reduce the costs of treating serious accidents or illnesses, but they can save employees money by keeping their pets healthier longer.
Very few workers have pet insurance
For many, pets are like family and owners want them treated as such through better food and care. But these attitudes continue to clash with reality when you consider that only a tiny percentage of pet owners have some form of pet insurance, representing a mere 1-2% of the 90 million pet dogs and 94 million pet cats in the U.S. today.
The situation presents a prime opportunity for forward-thinking companies who want to get ahead of the curve.
Only a tiny percentage of pet owners have some form of pet insurance, representing a mere 1-2% of the 90 million pet dogs and 94 million pet cats in the U.S. today.
Choosing the right benefits for employees and employers
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, there are 18 companies currently offering Pet Health Insurance coverage in the U.S. Employers should do their homework in order to ensure they get the most bang for their buck by choosing the provider and plans that work best for them.
Prudent Pet highlights important questions employers should ask before choosing a pet insurance carrier:
- Is this a reputable company with a good rating?
- Does the pet insurance work with all vets nationwide, or just certain vets in a specific area?
- Do they offer policy discounts for group enrolling?
- Are they able to cover a wide range of health conditions, treatments, and visits?
- Do they have breed or age restrictions?
- How competitive are their rates compared to other pet insurance carriers?
Types of pet insurance
There are 3 central pet health insurance types to consider:
These plans only cover accidents and are the cheapest of the bunch, but offer no long-term illness protection or wellness programs and only include examinations directly related to a pet’s injury.
Accident and Illness Plans
These plans cover physical injuries, infections, cancers, and other non-genetic illnesses and sometimes offer species and breed-specific ailments.
Most plans will offer preventative care at an additional cost and typically cover routine veterinary care, tests, and exams up to a specific amount. Dental plans and prescription medications typically fall under this category.
As with any health insurance plan, the cost of a plan directly impacts coverage and benefits. Always analyze a plan’s annual deductible, reimbursement percentage, annual coverage, monthly premium before deciding on the optimal combination. Check out this article by Pawlicy Advisor for a more in-depth analysis of these coverage factors.
Pet insurance protects employees from large pet medical bills, increases job satisfaction, and reduces financial stress, so companies should definitely capitalize on this unconventional workplace perk before it becomes too commonplace.