Many years ago, I met a pleasant man named Mark who was in the process of bringing pet insurance into Canada. At the time, I was working with a client that he believed could help him get traction in the Canadian market. I guess I was impressed enough with the product that my spouse decided we should have it for our new kitten. He signed up for it and has paid the premium through monthly automatic deduction ever since.
Pet insurance is an interesting concept. You pay a premium for coverage for vet bills resulting from treatment required due to accidents or illness. The coverage is subject to deductibles and copays, reflecting factors such as the type of animal, their age and the level of coverage purchased. The cost of annual check-ups and vaccines are not covered. The premise of the insurance is that the monthly premium is relatively affordable, while the vet cost for the treatment of a serious illness or injury may not be. Ultimately the hook is that a pet is a member of the family. Should you have to weigh the cost of treatment when they are ill or injured?
I have discussed pet insurance with many clients since my first meeting on the topic. It is usually part of a conversation about what else an employer could provide to employees. When it comes to pet insurance employers are largely providing the convenience of payroll deduction. There may be a small rate advantage or a coverage enhancement for plans offered by employers, but this coverage is available directly. Strangely, I have not had a client implement a plan. Should I say not ever or not yet?
So much of our lives are spent at our jobs. I suggest we work with the goal of obtaining financial security. Many employers offer plans that help employees save for retirement, but what about the here and now? We have health plans to protect us from the cost of medical care for ourselves and our families and Life and Long Term Disability insurance to protect our families from a catastrophic loss of income, so where does pet insurance miss the mark?
Today, some 15 years after that pet insurance policy went into effect, we have a geriatric cat, with health problems. We have spent some hours in an amazing emergency vet clinic (Oakville-Mississauga, if you need a referral) and at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph and we have seen pet owners facing devastating diagnoses and making impossible decisions. And what about us? We have also made some tough decisions. We have claimed more than we paid in premium over those 15 years. And pet insurance has helped us protect the savings we have accumulated over those years.
So, the next time a client is asking about what else they can provide to their employees, I will remind them about the things, like pet insurance, that they can facilitate. Easy access to products and information from a trusted resource like their employer helps employees make choices that can protect their financial, physical and mental health. Employees who feel secure are more engaged and, if pet insurance fills a void, it is an ideal add-on to a benefit plan.
Please let me know if you would like more information about enhancing your benefit plan, pet insurance, or if you would just like to share pet videos.