What is Pet Insurance and Why is This Voluntary Benefit Growing?

Jun 17, 2019
| Michael Altiero
What is pet insurance?

Employers continue to face challenges with retaining current employees and attracting job candidates to their organization. As a result, many companies – including small employers – are turning to benefit offerings to help recruit and retain talent, and more specifically looking to add a wide-variety of voluntary benefits.

We’ve written about voluntary benefit trends in the past, but one type of perk that is growing in both demand and use is pet insurance.

But what is pet insurance, how can employers offer it to their employees, and why is it becoming more popular? Let’s find out!

What Is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is an insurance policy that an owner purchases for their pet that helps to cover some or most of the costs of veterinary bills. It is very similar to health insurance that people have for themselves and their dependents in that it has:
  • Deductibles
  • Co-pay
  • Max payouts
  • Premiums (monthly or annual)
  • Waiting periods
  • Doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions

According to PetMD.com, some pet insurance policies also include reimbursement for things like vaccinations and heartworm testing.

To obtain pet insurance, an owner can either explore providers or use the pet insurance benefits that are offered by their employer (if applicable). They would enter their pet’s information and health history, then choose the plan and premium that they feel most comfortable with.

Once the waiting period is over, pet owners can use their insurance plans to get reimbursed for covered veterinary costs and procedures.

Why is Pet Insurance Becoming an In-Demand Voluntary Benefit?

Research has shown that the pet health insurance market in the United States, which was around $1 billion in 2017, will double to $2 billion by 2022. But why is this growth occurring and why are more employers choosing to offer this voluntary perk?

1) Growing Awareness of Pet Insurance

As the numbers above show, more pet owners are becoming aware of pet insurance and the value it can have for owners and families. With increased awareness comes greater usage, and employers are helping with this trend by offering pet insurance as a voluntary benefit. 

Data from Pets Best Pet Health Insurance says that from 2013 to 2017, the number of companies offering their pet insurance increased by 134%.

2) Rising Veterinary Costs

Much like human healthcare costs, pet health costs are also rising, which can lead to financial strains for pet owners if something was to happen to their family pet.

According to The American Pet Parents Association, pet owners paid $18.3 million in veterinary costs in 2018. That’s a $1.2 billion dollar increase from 2017.

Most pet insurance carriers will reimburse anywhere from 60% to 90% of costs on included veterinary services, which can significantly ease the financial burdens of keeping pets in good health.

3) Plenty of Options to Choose From

Unlike human health insurance, where options can be somewhat limited, there are numerous pet insurance providers that individuals can explore. Each will have different premiums, policies, technology, coverage, and more.

Additionally, most providers offer customizable plans that dictate the coverage and premium for each pet owner, meaning there is usually a plan or price that can meet each individual’s needs.

For employers, this means that there are plenty of potential pet insurance partners to choose from. Even small employers can find ways to offer this in-demand voluntary benefit to their workforce.

4) Younger Generations, Especially Gen X, Want and Use Pet Health Insurance

Data from EverythingBenefits showed that Generation X is leading the way in using pet insurance benefits offered by their employer.

While employers are struggling to attract and retain workers in general, many are having even more difficulties with younger generations, such as Gen Z. Offering voluntary benefits and perks that are geared towards these age groups, such as pet insurance, could be a great way to improve recruiting and retention strategies.

Don’t Overlook Pet Insurance and Other Voluntary Benefits

Countless reports have shown the incredible value voluntary benefits bring to employers. Not only do they help to improve employee happiness and engagement (which influences retention), but these perks also help attract job seekers to an organization.

Pet insurance is one popular example that all employers, including small businesses, can look to add to modernize their offerings.

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