Throw them a bone: Owners get pet policies

Tuesday, May 13th 2008, 5:46 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

Companies are offering new benefits to employees, including pet insurance. Some coverage plans include surgeries and x-rays for the four-legged family members.

Not only are the policies offered by small firms, but big names like Ford Motor Company, Wal-Mart and Del Monte now see the investment as a "pet project."

"It really compliments our culture, our health and wellness platform that we have for our employees," Liny Schwahn of Del Monte said. "It's just an extension to the health and wellness for our employees' pets."

Workers, not the companies, are typically responsible for paying the premiums, but pet insurers said the number of policies has tripled in the past five years.

"Approximately 15 percent of V.P.I.'s policyholders have come to us through their employers," Pet Insurer Dennis Drent said.

Shaila Shah, who paid about $450 annually for her dog's policy, said she recouped the cost in a single vet visit. Whether an owner buys through their employer or not, Dr. Thomas Carpenter of American Animal Hospital Association said it's important to know what you're purchasing.

"When people are buying pet insurance, probably the biggest source of dissatisfaction is that they aren't really aware what they're purchasing."

Owners are encouraged to be aware of any additional costs for preventative care coverage.

Some companies that offer pet insurance will automatically deduct the premiums from your paycheck.