Fortune Magazine has called pet insurance the “hottest employee benefit” and one survey forecasts that nearly 60% of companies will offer pet insurance by 2018 (Willis Towers Watson 2016). The large growth we’ve seen at Pets Best supports this. The number of companies offering our pet insurance as a voluntary benefit in 2017 has increased over 134% since 2013.

With all the buzz around pet insurance, we often get the question, Why should companies offer pet insurance as a benefit?

For starters, 68% of U.S. households have pets (APPA survey). Further, 75% of Americans in their 30s have dogs, 51% have cats (Mintel survey). So the chances are, the majority of employees have a pet. Which also means they pay for veterinary care. Add to that the increasing cost of vet care–because the quality of care has risen to nearly human level care–it makes sense that employees are requesting pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. And of course, by offering in demand benefits, you’ll attract more talent and retain employees longer.

What trends are driving the increased interest in pet insurance?

Pets are family.

In a survey of our Pets Best customers, over 82% stated they consider themselves pet parents rather than simply pet owners (2016). Additionally, 95% of US pet owners consider pets part of the family (Harris Poll 2016). Americans’ relationship with pets has evolved over the past few decades; they are no longer just family pets, but family members. So, for pet parents, it is imperative their pets are well taken care of.

Millennials & Pet Insurance

One of the most notable trends we’ve seen at Pets Best among our customers is that the fastest growing age group are 25-34 year old millennials. From 2005-2010, 25-34 year olds represented 5.7% of our customers, whereas in 2011-2015, that same age group grew to 16.9% of customers. The average millennial got their first pet at 21, while the average baby boomer was 29 (Wakefield study). Additionally, 76% of millennials are more likely to splurge on something for their pet, than for themselves (Wakefield research). An article on Time.com discussed the growing trend of millennials who are buying homes because of their dogs (July 2017).

Unexpected Expensive Veterinary Bills

The most common reason our customers tell us they got pet insurance is because before they had it, they experienced an unexpected expensive veterinary bill. Pet insurance helps provide peace of mind, which is so important after facing an expensive medical tragedy.

If a company is interested in offering pet insurance as a voluntary benefit, what should they do?

Companies of all types and sizes can add pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. If you’re interested, check to see if the pet insurance you’re looking at is a good fit for your company. For example, is there a size requirement on how many employees your company must have? Do their plans cover what your employees want and need? And, are the plans at a price that fits your company’s budget?

Since engaging with benefits helps increase employee retention, you’ll see the best engagement with pet insurance is if it’s set up with payroll deduct. The next best engagement comes when you give the employee a set amount you’ll pay for.

With pet insurance, employees can quote and enroll all year long. It doesn’t have to be limited to Open Enrollment. Year-round availability lightens the stress of Open Enrollment plus it makes engaging with that benefit quicker and easier.

Finally, when looking at pet insurance, we suggest choosing a company that provides 24/7 access to veterinary experts. All Pets Best policy holders get free access to the 24/7 Pet Helpline, which is staffed by veterinary experts for all their pet health related questions; to help in the event of an emergency, or to provide home care advice, and more. While we knew this would be an added benefit to our customers, the unexpected effect is that it has helped with employee presentism. When an employee’s pet is sick, being able to contact the Pet Helpline first helps alleviate unnecessary emergency visits to the veterinarian which can easily eat up hours of the work day. Not to mention easing the stress of being worried about your pet.

All companies can offer pet insurance, but what are the traits of companies that add it the most?

The companies that offer our pet insurance as a voluntary benefit commonly reside in pet-friendly communities or cities. Companies that have a pet-friendly office are also very likely to offer pet insurance. We’ve also seen an increase in tech companies offering it, because they often compete fiercely to attract and retain talent. Sometimes, a strong benefits package including an in-demand one such as pet insurance can really make a difference for potential employees, especially for millennials.

Photo Credit: investmentzen Flickr via Compfight cc

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