Magazine article Workforce Management

Pet Insurance Might Perk Employees' Ears

Magazine article Workforce Management

Pet Insurance Might Perk Employees' Ears

Article excerpt

LASSIE HAS IT. So does Morris the Cat.

More than a million American cats, dogs and other pets are covered by health insurance policies that help take the bite out of their owners' trips to the veterinarian. They represent about 1 percent of the estimated 171 million cats and dogs in the U.S., according to the website Pet Insurance Review.

The number of companies offering pet insurance as a benefit is growing in popularity as owners spend an average of $215 annually on cats or dogs for routine care but far more for emergencies and illnesses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says vet-erinary inflation has averaged 6.8 percent annually for the past five years.

Employees typically pay 100 percent of a group rate for pet insurance, sometimes through post-tax payroll deductions; participation rates range from 1 to 5 percent. An alternative approach is to access a discount program such as the one offered by Lakewood, New Jersey-based Pet Assure Corp., which has a nationwide veterinary network.

According to Deana Single, director of group accounts at Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., or VPI, one-quarter of Fortune 500 companies offer their employees pet insurance.

Based in Brea, California, VPI has plans that range from low-cost catastrophic to comprehensive with a wellness component. …

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