Demand Growing for Voluntary Pet Insurance Benefits

Demand Growing for Voluntary Pet Insurance Benefits

At Employee Benefit News, Richard Stolz highlights the growing popularity of pet insurance as a voluntary benefit for employees:

In 2016, premiums paid for pet insurance (sold both as a voluntary benefit and to individuals) rose 21%, according to the North American Pet Insurance Association. The trade group also calculates that the number of pets insured in North America grew by 11.5% last year. One factor behind the growth seems to be deferred childbearing by millennial generation employees, and the increasing number of “empty nesters” who substitute pets for human children. …

At cloud computing solution provider VMware, pet insurance is a “natural fit” within a wide variety of voluntary benefits, according to Rich Lang, the company’s senior vice president of HR. “Offering pet insurance helps us stay competitive in the marketplace and attract and retain workers,” he says. He also believes pet insurance can give the employees who purchase it a productivity boost. “A healthy pet equals a happy employee,” he says

While few US employers currently offer pet health insurance, SHRM’s 2017 benefits survey shows an upward trend, with 10 percent of employers offering it compared to 9 percent last year and 6 percent in 2014. About 8 percent of employers allow employees to bring their pets to work, while 3 percent have a “bring your pet to work day” event and 1 percent offer to cover pet care expenses while employees are traveling on business. Given many millennials’ devotion to their “fur babies,” it’s not surprising to see employers trying to cater to the needs of their pet-owning employees. There can be too much of a good thing, however: Dog-friendly offices may be fun for employees, but they are often not much fun for their dogs.

Everyone Loves a Dog-Friendly Office Except, Perhaps, the Dogs

Everyone Loves a Dog-Friendly Office Except, Perhaps, the Dogs

In the minds of many pet owners, there’s not much difference in terms of love and loyalty between an animal companion and a two-legged member of one’s family. Millennials are the largest generation of pet owners today and the largest generation in the workforce, so some employers have been reaching out to them with pet-friendly policies: SHRM’s 2015 benefits survey last year that 8 percent of US organizations allowed employees to bring their pets to work, while 9 percent offered veterinary health insurance. Even pet bereavement leave is catching on at a smattering of employers, though this benefit is much less common.

Letting employees bring pets—in most cases, dogs—to work may bring some benefits in terms of morale and employee well being: According to a recent survey of employees and HR leaders by Banfield Pet Hospital, a pet-friendly workplace is widely perceived as a boon to morale and stress reduction, as well as an attractive perk that makes candidates more likely to consider an employer. So what’s not to like?

Well, veterinary student Matt Miller argues at Slate, what’s good for the pet owner isn’t necessarily good for the pet, and your typical dog isn’t comfortable in an office environment:

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