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.

Are Voluntary Benefits the Right Tool to Retain Part-Time Employees?

Are Voluntary Benefits the Right Tool to Retain Part-Time Employees?

Discussing a recent report from Guardian Life Insurance Company, SHRM’s Stephen Miller examines the case for using voluntary benefits to compete for and retain part-time employees and independent contractors. Noting that most part-time workers lack employer-sponsored health care plans, retirement plans, or other core benefits, Guardian suggests that voluntary benefits can be a good way to help address these employees’ needs:

Under a voluntary benefit program, the employer offers workers a menu of benefits; employees pay for the ones they want through payroll deductions. The employee pays the cost, and the benefits provider handles all administration and provides all needed education materials, [Peggy Maher, senior vice president and head of Guardian’s direct-to-consumer business in New York City,] explained. Usually employees are responsible for paying 100 percent of the premiums. However, voluntary benefits sometimes are niche offerings, such as pet insurance, that might appeal to a subset of workers, and employers may pay part of the cost.

Providing access to voluntary benefits can ease part-time workers’ financial stress, reduce turnover and differentiate employers from competitors in the talent market, Maher noted.

Sure, organizations could offer benefits to part-time employees to increase retention, but why would they? Two of the main benefits of having a part-time employee is that they cost less than full-time employees, in terms of both money and time, and they require less long-term commitment, as most are hired to complete a shorter-term project or task.

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