Most employers that offer health insurance to employees also let them buy additional coverage for family members. Perhaps it’s not so unusual then that some companies provide optional pet health insurance. After all, for many people, pets are part of the family, too.
Pet health insurance is getting to be big business. Overall, 5% of organizations offer pet health insurance as a voluntary benefit to employees, compared with 3% in 2003, estimates the Society for Human Resource .
The popularity of employer-sponsored pet insurance has two drivers. First, at a time when organizations are cutting back on costly benefits such as human health insurance, they’re adding more voluntary benefits that cost them little or nothing but are valuable to employees. Second, more Americans are becoming pet owners—and are getting more attached to their pets—so they’re spending more on veterinary care.
In six years, the country’s largest pet insurer has grown its corporate accounts from 15 to 1,600. About 15% of Veterinary Pet Insurance policies—some 50,000—come from those corporate accounts, says Bill Gorman, group sales manager.
“A lot of people consider their pets part of the family, so the idea of insuring them kind of makes sense,” Gorman says. “People are much more interested in giving their pet the best medical care possible, and the easiest way to do that is with pet insurance.”
Here’s how it works: Organizations strike a deal with a pet insurer to offer their employees a discount—usually 5% to 15%—on their policies. It costs the employer nothing because the worker pays the policy premiums.
Veterinary Pet Insurance works through brokers to offer a 5% discount to about 60,000 employees who work for 1,600 employers, Gorman says.
Think pet health insurance is a benefit that might appeal to your organization’s employees? Here are some tips for getting started:
Conduct a survey to gauge how many employees are interested. A large enough group will reap a substantial discount on premiums from an insurance broker.
Package pet health insurance with other voluntary benefits, such as home and auto insurance. Example: Sprint offers its workers a “suite” of voluntary benefits that address a variety of employee interests and needs. About 1,000 of the firm’s 59,000 employees have bought pet insurance policies.
Count pet insurance among your organization’s recruiting and retention tools. “Employers like to offer things that employees want,” says Gorman. Pet insurance “kind of makes a company look like they’re … with it.”