The Impact of Pets on Employee Well-Being

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As we’ve experienced, the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the health and well-being of people around the world. People’s behavioral patterns and daily routines were and still are altered, and we immediately saw the economic disruption that resulted, where some industries fell and others thrived. One of those thriving industries is the pet industry. From March to April, Google searches around “adopt a pet” increased more than 300% according to findings, and fosters & pet adoptions skyrocketed. While animal shelters were forced to close, American’s, now house-bound and isolated, sought out to provide homes for homeless dogs, cats and other pets.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that during this challenging time, people are turning to pets for comfort and companionship. Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can positively impact the mental and physical wellbeing of their owners. According to the CDC, pets can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can result in physical health benefits like decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Mentally and emotionally, having a pet can help manage and alleviate loneliness, depression and anxiety by giving owners companionship. In addition, pets/companion animals can assist in the treatment of a broad range of conditions from post-traumatic stress to Alzheimer’s disease to autism spectrum disorder, and according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), pet ownership is one of the most common ways older adults interact with animals; over half of adults over 50 have at least one pet. Research has shown that pet ownership can provide important forms of social and emotional support for older adults that can reduce distress, loneliness and improve overall quality of life. But just like humans, pet’s can get sick or injured and become in need of medical care. And the care isn’t inexpensive either.

On average, annual vet visits cost anywhere between $50-$200, but if a pet is sick, needs medication or needs a surgical procedure, this can run costs well up into the thousands, all which would have to be paid out of pocket if the pet isn’t covered under pet insurance. Pet owners, also coined “pet parents”, consider their pets to be part of the family. They love their pets so much that according to Lendedu survey of 1,000 pet parents, 45% will spend the same or more on an animal’s healthcare than on their own, and of those surveyed, 10% of pet owners say they had missed a payment on another bill in order to pay for pet care. 

Pet Insurance as a Benefit:

If pet’s can get sick and injured like humans, might they need insurance, too? While pet owners can certainly obtain insurance individually, buying pet insurance through an employer often means lower premiums and broader coverage. Data from SHRM indicates that the percentage of employers offering pet insurance benefits to workers increased from 9% in 2015, to 15% in 2018, meaning that pet insurance is becoming a more popular voluntary benefit. At the end of 2018,  two and a half million pets in the United States and Canada were insured, which is an 18 percent increase from the year before, as per the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. 

With many employers moving to permanent work-from-home situations, we may continue to see increases in the number of pets being adopted and rescued. Many millennials are delaying having children or choosing not to have human children at all, and instead are opting to promote themselves to pet parents, so offering pet insurance as part of a benefits package is one way to attract younger talent as well.  Offering pet insurance often requires little to no effort on the part of the employer and it’s free to offer this voluntary benefit. Pet insurance also gives those employees with pets at home more peace of mind, affording them the ability to provide the best care for their pet without worrying about the cost. Offering pet friendly benefits lets employees know that they should never have to choose between their pet’s life and their savings, and that their employer cares about their whole family. Having pet insurance can spare employees from having to make a heartbreaking decision, such as putting down a pet due to the inability to afford care. 

Corporate Spotlight: Trupanion

Claims paid at check out.  Trupanion is the only company that can pay claims directly to the veterinarian at checkout with their patented software. With other providers, pet owners have to pay their entire bill and then wait for reimbursement—fronting the costs of care without certainty of repayment. With Trupanion, members can leave their veterinarian paying only their share of the bill while Trupanion takes care of the rest.

No payout limits. In 2010, Trupanion became the first in the pet health insurance industry to have a policy without caps or limits—and they’ve kept it that way since.

A policy built for life. Trupanion deductibles are per condition for the life of the pet. Once the deductible is met for a condition, the member never pays it again.  Many if not all other pet insurance companies require an annual deductible, meaning pet owners with pets who have chronic or recurring conditions pay their deductible every year. Once the deductible is paid (based on pet’s medical condition and amount chosen), the policy begins paying out at 90% for anything related to that condition for the rest of the pet’s life.

One simple plan. Trupanion offers one simple plan that covers all new injuries and illnesses with no payout limits. No longer do pet owners have to choose between tiered policy options.  

Exclusive pricing. Unlike Trupanion’s prices for the individual market, employer offered pet insurance is tailored specifically to each client because they underwrite each group individually. This means that the groups experience alone—not that of every pet in North America—determines their premium, allowing a price lower than what is offered to the general public that remains stable throughout the year.

Benefits that say, “Stay”. To support employee retention, each organization’s exclusive rates work as a retention tool, as they will only be available for their team members—unlike flat discounts other providers offer that team members can still receive after they leave the company.

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