Pet Insurance is the Hot New Trend in Employee Benefits Packages

Mom saw an article recently about Zebra, a national insurance comparison website who extended a $300 stipend to any employee who adopts a cat or dog to encourage pet ownership!

Additionally, they expanded their family-leave benefit to include new pet parents so they would have time off to bond with their new pets.

History of Pets at the Office

This got her thinking that it was time to take another look at pet insurance and employee benefits packages considering the dramatic shift in this country with humans’ relationships with their pets.

Considering where we are today, it was only a brief 80 years or so ago that pets started to regularly come indoors. Dogs were frequently left outside in their dog houses or similar as they were mostly working, hunting and sporting dogs. In the case of cats, it was often stray cats and kittens who seemed friendly who became eventual “house cats”.

The rich started to acquire “little lapdogs” who were bred to provide companionship and entertain their mostly female owners with their cute antics. And through those years, many exotic breeds of cats were bred and introduced to modern society.

Through the subsequent decades, the cats and dogs you owned became part of the family with each generation deepening that human-animal bond. Mom says it started to accelerate with her generation, boomers who came from a family with pets, and felt the need for their own pet to take care of as many moved to their own apartments to start their careers. It is always nice to come home to someone!

Because of the deepening intense bond between humans and their pets, pet owners realized how much better people feel when they have their pets nearby. In the 60’s and 70’s, owners of “hipster” companies started bringing their dogs to work and also allowing employees to bring their dogs into the office.

Mom herself brought her Yorkshire Terrier, Hank, to work on many days. She always said Hank was in charge of PR and goodwill around the office. He loved getting all the extra attention and treats that the team would sneak to him behind mom’s back!

For years, Google has allowed employees to bring their dogs to work. Pets are welcome every day of the week in many pet-friendly companies. According to research, 10% of companies in 2017 allowed employees to bring their dogs to work. I’m sure that number is even higher today!

This trend became so popular that 2020 was the 21st year of Take Your Dog To Work Day, and June 17th is celebrated as Take Your Cat To Work Day.

Mom did bring me into the office one day about 5 years ago! That was sort of fun, but you know us cats don’t really “travel well” when it comes to things like that!

I say take the dogs to work and leave us cats at home to snooze.

Why Employers Offer Pet Insurance

Fast-forward to today, how did we get to the point of some companies adding pet insurance to their benefits packages?

The dramatic shift came about when millennials became the largest generation of pet owners – 35% of all millennials are a pet owner. It has been reported that millennials view pet ownership as a “practice trial” at having children. And some decide that pets are the only children they want!

Companies have also done research within their own company and found that 70% of employees have pets and only 44% have children.

Companies also recognized that there was a mind-shift among many employees, again driven by millennials that quality of life issues matter when deciding who they want to work for.

When polled by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 83% of employees would rather work for a pet-friendly company rather than work for a company that does not have a pet-friendly policy.

Recognizing the role pets play in people's lives, and that millennials and Gen Z care more about a company’s benefits package during these challenging economic times, savvy companies are adding pet insurance to those benefits.

It shows that the company cares about their team and what is important in the lives of those employees. Having a pet provides companionship and unconditional love. Pets help with depression and anxiety and have been known to help reduce blood pressure.

In the race to recruit the “best and the brightest” of the employees available, over 5,000 companies now offer pet insurance as an additional benefit to attract and retain valuable people. 34% of Fortune 500 companies offer pet insurance. Considering the demographics of the workers today, it enhances their business’s competitiveness.

Accessible Pet Insurance Encourages Pet Owners to Take Their Pet to the Vet

For the pet-owning employee, they now have a financial safety net when it comes to their vet bills. They will be much more likely to take their pet to the vet when the need arises because some of those costs will now be covered.

For employees who haven’t adopted a pet yet, it encourages them to consider bringing a pet into their home, knowing they have pet insurance paid for.

If you have been keeping up with us, you know that we believe having pet insurance is incredibly important –right after spay/neutering and microchipping. It is fantastic that so many companies are getting on board and we are confident that it will soon be the norm in the majority of many companies’ employee benefit plans.

And if your company does not currently offer pet insurance as part of their package and you know that the
‘bosses” have pets, bring it up on your next review or roundtable discussion that it would be so great if the company considered adding that coverage along with their family healthcare plans.

It never hurts to ask, and you might get a yes!

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