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When most employees think of benefits offered at work, things like retirement plans, health insurance, and a free lunch every now and again are likely to come to mind. These perks are a great way to strengthen the overall culture of the company.
In recent years, companies have faced the need to get creative with their benefits packages in an effort to attract and retain employees. One benefit companies have started to offer new employees is the addition of pet insurance.
Why Pet Insurance?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, nearly 9% of organizations reported offering pet health insurance as a voluntary benefit in 2016, representing a 5% increase from 2011. Within Fortune 500 companies, one in three offers some level of pet insurance coverage to employees, and more are on the path to adopting a benefits package that includes pet coverage to eligible workers.
Pet insurance has become a popular choice among hundreds of companies because of the close emotional bond employees have with their pets. No longer are dogs, cats, or other household pets acquired for practical purposes; they are now as much a part of a family as a close friend or small child. And in some cases, pets are welcomed at the office every day of the week.
Pet insurance offers a way for employers to recognize and salute that bond employees have with their household pets, and show that they care about the same things employees do.
Compare Pet Insurance
Pet insurance coverage varies from company to company when sold in the individual consumer market, and the same is true when it comes to employer benefit plans offered to a group of employees.
The majority of pet health insurance policies protect eligible dogs and cats that are kept as household pets, offering reimbursement in the event veterinary care is needed for an accident or illness.
Some pet insurance companies provide coverage up to a percentage of the qualified expenses for receiving care and treatment, including blood tests, prescription medications, and surgeries, while others reimburse policy owners for routine wellness exams, vaccines, and teeth cleanings. Nearly all pet insurance policies have some limitations regarding the conditions that are covered, however.
Pet insurance is intended to protect a pet owner from financial loss when a significant veterinary bill becomes inevitable, but the insurance companies behind the policies need to limit their risk as well.
For this reason, pets are often not covered for conditions that existing prior to the effective date of the policy. Pre-existing conditions could be any medical issue for which the dog or cat has received veterinary care in the past 12 months, including cancer, hereditary issues, or digestion problems.
Although pre-existing conditions are not included in a pet insurance policy, the benefits of reimbursement for veterinary care and treatment can be substantial, saving pet owners hundreds to thousands over the life of the pet.
One of the benefits of having access to an insurance benefit offered through an employer is the potential for reduced costs passed down to the employee. Some companies offer to pay the entire monthly premium for the selected pet insurance coverage, while others may simply pay a portion of the premium while the employee pays for the remaining cost via paycheck deferrals.
There are some pet insurance policies sold in the group market that are offered at a discounted price given the number of employees who may access the benefit at a specific employer, but the employee still pays for the premium out of their own pocket.
Just like pet insurance policies cover different medical conditions up to varied policy limits, pet insurance premiums range from company to company.
For instance, a wellness policy that reimburses pet owners for routine care and annual checkups may cost as low as $15 or $20 per month, while comprehensive coverage may extend up to $50 to $60 for the monthly premium. Most employer-sponsored pet insurance plans allow employees to select the amount of coverage they feel is adequate for their pet at the time the benefit is made available.
Both current and prospective employers can reduce their potential for financial stress due to a pet emergency by having pet health insurance coverage in place, and employers are increasingly acting as a partner in offering this valuable coverage at a reduced cost.
Author: Jeff Gitlen