Close to three years ago, when I was onboarded at iCIMS, I was part of a group of about 12 other new hires. As we were given a rundown of all the benefits and programs available, I remember with amusement that one member of our group asked about pet insurance for his cat. But while the group laughed at the notion of having pet insurance as an employee benefit, it was not the first time I had run across the concept.
In a previous life, I worked for a large insurance company in the employee benefits division. One day we received a Request for Proposal for a full slate of voluntary workplace insurance products, such as cancer care, accident insurance, and other similar elective products funded by the employees themselves, who can take advantage of the workplace for group buying power. One of the products that the employer wanted to add to their benefits program was pet insurance! We didn’t have a pet insurance product to offer them, but I submitted the idea to a new products contest sponsored by the insurance company.
My rational for submitting the idea was the fact that more and more pets are becoming true members of the family. In fact, a 2009 survey revealed that 50% of Americans felt that their pet is as much a part of the family as other people in the household. Furthermore, the same survey reported that about a third of Americans included their pet in either a family portrait or holiday card, and over 40% had taken their pet on vacation with them, reminding me of a story that my neighbor recently told me about seeing a woman on a hotel elevator in Florida carrying a fishbowl with her pet fish in it!
Here at iCIMS, pets are no less valued. And while the coworker above was particularly fond of his cat, dogs seem to rule the day for the rest of the team. In just a quick survey of the iBlog alone, 6 entries feature photos of dogs, two of which are actual iCIMS pets, (see The Pursuit of Happiness and Gaining a Competitive Advantage). And, along with all these four-legged family members come medical bills and the question of whether or not to buy insurance to lessen the economic impact of pet healthcare.
Dr. Stephen Batich of Shark River Veterinary Hospital examines the Blogger’s new pup Salty.
Typically, the decision about purchasing pet insurance is a personal one. But according to a recent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, more and more companies are adding it as an employee benefit. In 2010 alone, one pet insurance provider added an additional 400 large companies and associations to its pet insurance book of business of 2,200 groups. And, while many employers might balk at the idea of offering pet insurance as a benefit in these tough economic times, they are still open to the idea of offering a group discount for employees to purchase pet insurance themselves like some of the other workplace group discounts available today.
My new product idea submission was not successful, but in coming years the concept of pet insurance as a workplace perk or benefit is sure to gain traction, especially as the economy strengthens and the war for talent heats up. For those companies already offering such innovative benefits, be sure to let job seekers know about them through your Recruitment Marketing programs and internal and external recruitment websites. With 39% of US households owning dogs and 33% owning cats, this is a benefit that promises to get tails, and tongues, wagging.