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Pet InsuranceFamily health insurance policies are more than common among policies offered by employers — they’re ubiquitous. Even while many governments require companies to provide family benefits, most job hunters directly look for employers who are going to go above and beyond in providing for the health of employees and their families. Besides compliance with laws, it is beneficial to provide family benefits to employees: It inspires loyalty and raises morale.

However, almost all employers who offer these family benefits are leaving out one crucial member of the traditional American family: the pet. Most pet owners love their furry companions almost as much as they love their human kids, and many of them are clamoring for health benefits for pets on par with those offered the rest of their family members.

With more than 80 million dogs and 96 million cats owned by Americans, fewer than 2 percent of them are insured. This is surprising, considering pet owners spend about $13 billion on pet health every year. Advances in health care technology for humans have a direct impact on the health care technologies for pets, which has become a blessing and a curse for some pet owners. A diagnosis of cancer in a beloved family dog is no longer a death sentence, which means families have to make a hard decision between paying exorbitant out-of-pocket costs and fees or letting the dog go. When companies offer pet health insurance, that decision is easier to make.

More and more companies are starting to see the benefit of providing employee pet insurance. As many as 3,600 companies, including about a third of the Fortune 500, are willing to provide discounts and subsidies on pet health insurance. Here’s why you, as an employer, should follow in their footsteps.

Improved Employee Retention

Most modern employees don’t stick with their companies for more than four years, but for millennials, the generation now entering the workforce, the duration is half that. Employee retention is a major headache for most employers, as it costs about a year’s salary to hire and train a new employee. However, it’s quickly becoming evident that the employees want to stick around when they feel a connection to their employers, which means employers must offer their employees something besides a salary and standard benefits.

Offering pet health insurance shows that your company is a cut above the rest in caring about your employees’ health and well-being. Employees who believe their employer is looking out for them are more willing to give their job their all. So, not only do you have a better chance of attracting and keeping top talent, but you are getting a boost in productivity as well.

Pet Insurance PoliciesPolicy Flexibility

As with health care policies for humans, health care policies for pets come in as many shapes and sizes as our furry friends. You can cherry pick the plans you want to offer your employees based on what you can afford — though be aware that employees can often smell it when you’re being cheap.

The oldest and largest supplier of pet health insurance is Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), who supplies the plans for most of the companies currently offering employee pet benefits. There are other organizations that provide pet health insurance, like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), but their reach is drastically smaller than VPI.

The simplest policy you can get costs about $30 per month for a young, healthy animal. However, you can scale the plans you provide, and most employees can choose to add pets and special treatments, like pet acupuncture or hydrotherapy, at extra cost. While a vast majority of currently held policies cover dogs — 85 percent, in fact — plenty of plans are available for cats, and VPI is the only organization that has policies for exotic pets like reptiles, rodents, and birds. However, it is important to realize that many pet insurers will not cover pets in breed predisposed to expensive health problems, like hip dysplasia and epilepsy in pure-bred dogs.

The Bottom Line

Testimonials abound from happy pet owners who have been saved significant financial hardship from their employers’ pet insurance programs. No one can predict when or if a beloved family pet will fall seriously ill, either from disease or accident. But, with pet insurance, most costly procedures that will keep your pet alive become significantly more affordable, and in situations when previously you’d need to put your pet down, you can choose to prolong its life.

Top job candidates are becoming more and more interested in the benefits a company can provide rather than salary. Many are willing to relocate frequently when a company is no longer providing the benefits they need for their changing lives. If you want the best people working for you, consider offering more benefits, like flex time, remote connections — and pet health insurance.

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