August 09, 2017

Pet Health Insurance Growing Thanks to Employers

Premiums paid for pet health insurance policies rose 21% and the number of pets insured in North America grew by 11.5% last year.
By Kerry Lengyel
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), premiums paid for pet health insurance in 2016, including insurance sold both as a voluntary benefit and to individuals, rose 21% and the number of pets insured in North America grew by 11.5%.

Much of this increase is attributed to the increasing number of companies offering their employees pet health insurance as a voluntary job benefit. 

Employers want to stay competitive by offering the specific benefits employees want, and those benefits include pet health insurance. Indeed, many prospective employees, including millennials, base their job decisions largely on the benefits being offered.

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“Offering pet insurance helps us stay competitive in the marketplace and attract and retain workers,” said Rich Land, the senior vice president of human resources at cloud computing solution provider VMware. “A healthy pet equals a happy employee.”
 
What used to be a marketplace with only one pet insurance company—Veterinary Pet Insurance (now Nationwide)—has now expanded to more than 10 companies, including Crum + Forster, Trupanion, Petplan and Healthy Paws, which recently announced the enrollment of its 250,000th pet.

While pet owners can always purchase pet insurance individually, there are several advantages to buying through an employer.
  • Better pricing: Just as with human health insurance and other benefit offerings, the group platform enables individuals to benefit from lower monthly premiums.
  • Premium stability: With some carriers, such as Nationwide, premiums remain stable throughout the life of the policy. As an individual purchaser, premiums can rise as the pet ages.
Companies offering pet health insurance as a benefit to employees have little involvement with the administrative aspects—similar to other voluntary benefits. Enrollment is typically done online by the individual, and the pet insurer coordinates with the company’s payroll department to set up the premium payment.

According to Nationwide, about 30% of Fortune 500 companies offer pet insurance as a voluntary employee benefit. Some of these include Microsoft, T-Mobile, Levi-Strauss, and Yahoo.

“Pets today occupy a special place in people’s lives,” said Tracey Jensen, a private practice veterinarian in Wellington, Colorado. “They’re family members, and their owners don’t want to cut corners on care.”

With only about 2% of the nearly 184 million pet dogs and cats in the United States covered by pet health insurance, veterinarians, insurers, and other animal health professionals know there is a long way to go to penetrate the market and protect more pets.

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