A doggone good workplace perk for Americans: Pet insurance

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A doggone good workplace perk for Americans: Pet insurance

For decades, American workers have taken advantage of health insurance offered through their employers. Now, a growing number of employees are being offered coverage to protect their pets.

Pet insurance has become a popular workplace perk at companies like Adidas, Hewlett-Packard, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, T-Mobile and Xerox. Dell Enterprises subsidiary VMware started offering pet insurance to its pet-parenting employees in 2012.

"We are always looking for ways to improve our benefit offerings to our employees, and pet insurance was a natural fit," Michael Thacker, director of corporate public relations at VMware, says."Offering pet insurance helps us stay competitive in the marketplace and ensure our benefits attract and retain workers."

For many VMware’s employees, pets are part of the family. When a pet becomes ill, the insurance coverage pays for the pet’s treatment while contributing to a worker’s peace of mind and financial stability, Thacker says.

"A healthy and happy pet equals a happy employee," he says. As of July 2017, 70 employees at VMware have taken out 86 pet insurance policies.

Pet nation

According to a 2016 report from the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, more than 1.4 million U.S. pets were insured at the end of 2015. That year, the average annual insurance premium for a dog was $465; it was $316 for a cat. (First-time feline owners can go here for some helpful ways to keep ‘em healthy.)

About two-thirds of American households own at least one pet, according to a Harris Poll conducted in 2015, and about 1 in every 10 pet owners have purchased pet insurance.

Earlier this year, Nationwide, the largest provider of pet insurance in the U.S., introduced My Pet Protection, a pet insurance product for employers and employees, to streamline coverage options.

With My Pet Protection, which comes at no cost to an employer, an employee can take a pet to any licensed veterinarian in the world for treatment of injuries, conditions and illnesses, as well as for preventive care such as vaccinations and annual wellness exams, says Scott Liles, vice president and chief pet insurance officer at Nationwide. An employee pays a set price for the policy, regardless of a pet’s age, and receives 90% reimbursement of eligible veterinary expenses.

Liles says more than 5,500 employers and associations in the U.S. offer pet insurance from Nationwide as a voluntary benefit. That includes nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies.

"Medical insurance for cats and dogs can be extremely valuable for employees. Too often, people don’t consider insurance until they really need it, and by then it’s too late," says T.J. Houk, chief data officer at Trupanion, a provider of pet insurance.

Houk says that shortly after he started working at Trupanion, a coworker’s golden retriever puppy needed to undergo surgery costing more than $3,000. That expense "would have been financially devastating" for that employee if it hadn’t been covered by Trupanion’s pet insurance benefit, he says.

Protecting furry family members

Rob Jackson, co-founder and CEO of Healthy Paws, a provider of pet insurance, says that with about 78 million dogs and 85.8 million cats living in U.S. households, it makes sense to offer pet insurance as a workplace benefit to attract and keep employees.

"It’s especially beneficial to those looking to recruit younger talent. Many millennials are delaying having children or foregoing human children altogether in favor of having a furry family, so pet insurance is a great perk," Jackson says. "The best part about offering this popular benefit is that it often requires little to no effort or cost on the part of the employer."

He adds: "Offering pet insurance shows employees that their employer is defining the family in modern terms, offering protection to those who mean the most to their employees, whether they have two or four legs."

If your employer doesn’t offer insurance for your four-legged friends, no worries. Our Geniuses can help you find the right policy. You can go here to get some free furry quotes or use the chat feature below to talk to an expert. We’ve also also got a good guide to pet insurance here.

Disclosure: PolicyGenius offers insurance policies from many of the nation’s top insurers, who pay us a commission for our services. However, all editorial choices are made independently.

Image courtesy of Jeanine Skowronski