Employers can put pet parents’ minds at ease with this comprehensive insurance benefit

Leonor Wertheimer

There’s nothing pet parents won’t do for their furry companions. But often, a lack of insurance options leaves owners feeling helpless.

That’s why PetPartners, a pet health insurance provider, has launched an employer group accident and illness plan that can be easily integrated into an employer’s existing benefit administration system and help pet parents cover unexpected costs for things like broken bones or toxin ingestion.

“We saw an emerging need being driven by some really big factors,” says Lane Kent, president of PetPartners. “We started this project around the time that COVID hit and it has really accelerated the really important driving dynamics. We study information about what employers are requesting for voluntary benefits to offer their employees, and over the last several years, pet insurance has been making a steady rise up that chart.”

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Currently, just 15% of employers offer pet insurance programs to their workers, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. However, the demand for pet insurance continues to grow among employees and 69% of employers surveyed by Willis Towers Watson say they expect to offer it by 2022.

Traditionally, pet insurance products that are offered by the workplace are the same individual products that consumers can buy via a quick internet search. It may be endorsed by the employer, but it might not necessarily be funded by the organization. The PetPartners offering gives employers an opportunity to contribute toward the cost of the product on behalf of employees, Kent says.

“The fundamental difference is, this is an employer sponsored policy, just like major medical health insurance,” he adds. “The employer has significant input on what benefits are being offered to their employees and an opportunity to contribute to the cost of the coverage.”

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PetPartners has built a platform that can integrate with the benefits administration system that an employer would already be using to offer medical, dental, vision and other benefits.

“It’s fully integrated, which means the premiums that are due —which might be a contribution from the employer and then a contribution from the employee — can all be managed through the normal payroll billing cycle,” Kent says. “So it’s very convenient for the employee to buy it, and convenient for the employee to own it, as it comes out of their paycheck the way their medical taxes do.”

Employees are guaranteed acceptance into the PetPartners insurance program, and coverage will be extended to animals with pre-existing conditions.

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“Pet adoption has exploded and certain generations — millennials and Gen Z — are, in many cases, deferring parenthood and having a pet instead,” Kent says. “They are viewing pets as a member of the family, and incurring the expenses associated with that, and wanting to essentially do whatever it takes to take care of their pet.”

If employers want to recruit and retain young, eager talent, they are going to have to provide benefits that cater to a wide range of employee needs and help to lift the financial burdens — like pet care costs — they are dealing with outside of work.

On average, it can cost an employee between $700 and $2,000 per year in veterinary bills to care for a healthy pet, according to the Spruce Pets, an online resource for pet owners. When you factor in emergency care, food, toys and grooming, employees can end up spending a substantial portion of their salaries on their animals.

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“Peace of mind is something you hear people talk about as it relates to insurance of all types,” Kent says. “It’s a promise by the underwriter that they’re going to be there at the financial time of need for whatever the risk is.”

PetPartners has noticed that animals with health insurance are more regularly and routinely taken to the vet. With the evolution in veterinary medicine, pet insurance can do more than just take some of the financial burden off an employee, it can result in a longer and healthier life for the animal, thus creating a more happy and productive employee.

“There’s been a real explosion in the quality and availability of diagnostic testing and treatment for things that 20 or 30 years ago, might have meant the end of the life of the pet,” Kent says. “It’s not just the peace of mind and the financial health, but it’s also access to better care, which is elongating pets’ lives and providing better quality of life, which means the owner has a better and longer experience with the pet. It reinforces that human-animal bond.”


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