Along with typical benefits like medical, dental and life insurance, about 7 percent of U.S. companies are now offering their most valued employees pet insurance, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
Google, Disney, AOL, Home Depot and eBay are some of the companies offering the benefit.
“We do offer voluntary pet insurance as one of our benefits,” Google spokesperson Jordan Newman told AFP. “Google is committed to helping our employees lead healthier lives, and we try to support personal well-being in a number of ways…Ultimately, we believe that work/life balance is key to healthy working environments, and to that end our benefits strive to make life easier for Google families.”
In the United States more than a million pet owners have veterinary insurance, which is double the 2002 figure, according to David Lummis, a market specialist at Packaged Facts, a consulting market research firm.
These numbers “will continue to grow as there is much greater acceptance of the notion of pets as family,” he said, adding that an employer who provides pet insurance “sends the message that the company is valuing family relationships of all kinds.”
Depending on the age, health and prior illnesses of a pet, the owner pays between $40 and $100 per month for a guaranteed reimbursement of vet bills. The cost of veterinary care increased by 84 percent between 1996 and 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“As animals live longer and as sophistication in veterinary care increases, a $1,000 to $2,000 claim for a surgical procedure or an accident is quite common,” according to Grant Biniasz, spokesperson for Vet Pet Insurance (VPI).
VPI received nearly 30,000 claims for pet cancer in 2008. The costs for chemotherapy or radiation treatment sessions can be over $10,000.
While pet insurance is available for both dogs and cats, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, 90 percent of policies are for dogs.