Taking Care of Fuzzy Friends

Recognizing that a healthy pet makes for a happy employee, more companies are offering pet insurance on their menu of benefits.

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Recognizing that a healthy pet makes for a happy employee, more companies are offering pet insurance on their menu of benefits. While the number of companies offering the benefit registered at just 1 percent on the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2000 Benefits Survey of 600 HR professionals, the pet’s status as a valued family member is gaining awareness at corporations.

For example, a recent survey by benefits consultants William M. Mercer of some 1,000 companies employing IT workers found that 3 percent of the respondents have a “pets at work” policy. And Mercer reports that those companies with a policy typically had a half- percent lower employee- turnover rate than those without.

Companies are hoping that pet-friendly policies will breed loyalty. The Emergency Nurses Association, based in Des Plaines, Ill., offers a pet insurance policy through Veterinary Pet Insurance, of Anaheim, Calif. The insurance is offered as a payroll deduction, so it doesn’t cost the company money, says Joyce Kindt, director of human resources. “It’s a great no-cost benefit that gives the company a lot of mileage,” she adds.

Veterinary Pet Insurance, based in Anaheim, Calif., has two pet plans, one with an annual premium starting at $109, and another starting at $191. The plans offer $2,500 to $4,500 of coverage per incident, respectively, with a cap per year ranging from $9,500 to $14,000, respectively, and a $40 deductible. Veterinary says that 200 of its clients offer the benefit to employees.

“It’s a good recruitment tool as companies become more competitive with their recruitment packages,” says Veterinary marketing coordinator Kate McDaniel.

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