The United States leads the world in total number of pets, and that number is growing.1 Between 2009 and 2020, the number of households with dogs increased 36%.2 Another 30 million households include cats.3. And that doesn’t take into account the effects of the pandemic, which has seen Americans add pets to the family in numbers so large that pet shelters have reported running out of adoptable dogs and cats. In July 2020, 20% of the participants in a Nielsen survey said they had adopted at least one dog or cat between during the previous three months of that year. 4
This is good news for employers hoping to control the costs of providing health insurance to their employees. Many studies show that pets are good for our physical and mental health. They can help decrease blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, and chronic pain, while often benefiting mental health and wellbeing. In these ways and others, pets save $11.7 billion a year in healthcare costs.5
However, there’s a flip side to the equation. With more and better veterinary interventions, animal medicine has become more sophisticated—and more expensive. Keeping pets healthy can be a financial challenge. One survey found that approximately 45% of pet owners will spend as much or more on their pet’s healthcare as they spend on their own.6 Ten percent of pet owners said they had skipped a payment on another bill because of pet healthcare demands.7
In some cases, then, the benefits pets bring to the health of your workforce are being undermined by the stress employees experience when faced with the costs of providing health care for animals who they consider part of the family.
That’s why more companies are offering pet insurance as part of their benefit package. Back in 2015, Forbes declared it one of the top five “unconventional” benefits for attracting and retaining quality employees.8 By 2019 it had gone from unconventional to mainstream, with 15% of companies offering some form of pet health coverage.9
What does pet insurance cover? The majority of polices today cover dogs and cats kept as household pets in the case of illness or accident. (Depending on the policy, other animals can be covered as well.) They often offer reimbursement on up to 90% of some covered costs. Depending on the policy, those costs can include accidents (such as injuries and toxic ingestions), hereditary conditions, dental issues, preventative wellness care, and even behavioral issues.
The cost of a pet insurance policy can range from less than $15 per month to more than $60 per month, depending on what the policy covers, the age of the pet, and the breed. (The average monthly premium cost for dogs in 2019 was $48.78. The average for cats was $29.16.10) Some companies cover the entire premium for employees. Others pay a portion of the premium.
Because pet insurance is a non-tax advantaged lifestyle reimbursement account, you have a lot of leeway in what you offer and how you offer it. You decide which services or products you will reimburse, the percentage of that reimbursement, and account maximums. The benefit dollars are reportable on the employee’s W-2 and taxable as regular income. The company owns the account, so any unused funds are returned to the company at the end of the benefit period.
Adding pet insurance as a lifestyle reimbursement account can be quick and easy, particularly if you add it as part of unified benefit management platform like TASC Universal Benefit Account®.
Today, there are over 2.43 million insured pets in North America.11 From 2018 to 2019 alone, the number of insured pets increased by 18%.12 As pet insurance continues to gain popularity, it is quickly becoming a must-have benefit for recruiting and retaining quality employees—especially Millennials, who represent the majority of pet insurance policyholders.13 Consider adding it to your benefit package. It has the potential to become your company’s best friend.
Editor’s Note: TASC offers a Pet Care Reimbursement Account & a Pet Insurance Reimbursement Account from more than 50 benefit offerings that can be configured into custom plans that meet employee needs – where they are in life.
1. “Pet Adoption Statistics,” Spots.com, October 2020: https://spots.com/pet-adoption-statistics/
2. “US pet ownership projected to increase to 71 million households,” Pet Food Processing, August 2020: https://www.petfoodprocessing.net/articles/14085-us-pet-ownership-projected-to-increase-to-71-million-households
4. “Dog days of the pandemic create a thriving economy for man’s best friend,” USA Today, September 2020: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/09/02/dog-adoption-covid-19-creates-a-thriving-business-for-dogs/5680569002/
5. “Pet Perks: Employee Benefits That Help You and your Pet,” Healthy Paws, February 2017: https://www.healthypawspetinsurance.com/blog/2017/02/27/employee-benefits-pet-perks
6. “Pet debt pitfalls, how employers can help ease the burden,” Benefit News, August 2019: https://www.benefitnews.com/news/why-employers-needs-to-offer-more-pet-friendly-benefits
8. “Embrace Pet Insurance for Employees,” Embrace Pet Insurance, February 2021: https://www.embracepetinsurance.com/employers
9. “Top 10 Employee Benefits for 2020,” Best Money Moves, 2019: https://bestmoneymoves.com/blog/2019/07/19/top-10-employee-benefits-for-2020/
10. “The average cost of pet insurance largely depends of the company you use and the type of pet you have,” Business Insider, July 2020: https://www.businessinsider.com/personal-finance/average-cost-pet-insurance
11. “Pet debt pitfalls, how employers can help ease the burden,” Benefit News, August 2019: https://www.benefitnews.com/news/why-employers-needs-to-offer-more-pet-friendly-benefits