Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pet insurance: the purr-fect benefits perk?

Employers that want to add a no-cost, but high-return benefits offering to employees may want to consider pet insurance.

The same health maintenance and medical care coverage that we all want is also available to our pets, and is growing in popularity as an employee benefits perk. The best news for benefits administrators: your employees will happily pay the bill, if you can provide the plan at group discount rates.

Consider the example of the Liberty Hotel in Boston, which recently signed up for pet insurance with Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the largest provider in the market. Hotel general manager Rachel Moniz says she learned that pet insurance would be a very popular benefit item after talking with hotel "associates" at the hotel's weekly Yappier Hour.

Yappier Hour is the weekly social time in the courtyard of the Liberty Hotel (the former exercise yard for prisoners in the city jail). Hotel guests, and employees alike, are invited to bring their pets every Wednesday afternoon for fun, frolic, and special Muptails and Puptini drinks. The event caught on quickly.

Already pet-friendly, Moniz says the hotel was delighted to be able to offer pet insurance along with the hotel's other benefits items. Liberty Hotel took out a group plan with VPI in order to be able to pass along a group plan rate. Each employee that signs up for the benefits pays 100% for their coverage. Of the hotel's 250 staff, 8% have opted for pet insurance.

"In this industry, you work hard, and the hours are very demanding," Moniz says. "This was something we could do to say thank you."

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