Pet Insurance – A Pet Owner's Best Friend

Animal healthcare costs are rising, with $31.4 billion spent on veterinary visits and care in 2020. Because of this, pet owners tend to go into credit card debt and miss a payment on bills to pay for their pet’s care. In fact, a survey of 1,000 pet owners found that 45% of pet owners spend the same amount, or more, on their pet’s healthcare than they do on their own. 

If your employees have pets, chances are they consider them to be well-loved and beloved family members. Pet insurance may be a benefit you want to offer to your employees.

What is pet insurance, and what does it cover?

Pet insurance pays—in part or total—for veterinary treatment of a person’s ill or injured pet. It covers things like:

  • General wellness exams
  • Booster shots and vaccinations
  • Flea prevention
  • Medical costs for emergency care
  • Chronic conditions (e.g., arthritis)
  • Acute illnesses (e.g., allergic reactions)
  • Acute injuries (e.g., a bone fracture)

What is the main benefit of pet insurance?

Having pet insurance ensures that cost will be less of a factor when it comes to providing pets the best possible care. With the average veterinary visit being between $50 to $400 on average, and the average emergency vet visit costing between $800 to $1500, employees will not have to choose between paying a bill or going into debt to give their pet the care they need.

What are the other benefits of pet insurance?

1. Delivers peace of mind

Not having pet insurance can make employees who own pets more stressed if they don’t know how to pay for their pet’s care, either preventatively or during an emergency. By offering this benefit, employees may be less stressed by this financial burden—and when employees are less stressed, they are more healthy, focused, and productive. Also, research shows owning a pet helps soothe anxiety and reduce blood pressure.

2.  Encourages employees to own pets

Pets are a significant emotional investment and a significant financial investment as well—pets require not only health care but also:

  • Food and treats
  • Dishes for their meals
  • Collars and leashes (for dogs and/or cats)
  • Grooming and nail trimming
  • Over the counter medications
  • Items for mental stimulation (e.g., toys)

For your employees who don’t have a pet but are considering purchasing or adopting one, a pet insurance benefit makes the choice of buying or adopting a pet easier since employees know their pets’ health needs will be a bit easier to manage.

3. Demonstrates to employees that you care

There are pet-friendly hotels, apartments, and restaurants, and by offering pet insurance, you send the message to your employees that your workplace, in this regard, is pet-friendly. You also demonstrate and support the idea that pets are important family members and deserve to be loved and taken care of. That is a genuine, loving, and caring message, which can also positively impact hiring and retention.

Pet insurance—protection for a pet’s wellbeing

By offering pet insurance, you will create a positive relationship with your employees, and they, in turn, will know that their pets can get the best care possible. If you are interested in providing this supplemental benefit to your employees and want to learn more about how it works, talk to a trusted consultant or advisor.

 

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Disability Insurance: Just the Facts

Insurance protects your employees and their families against any unexpected financial losses. Health insurance protects against unexpected health expenses, and life insurance gives your employees’ families financial security after an unexpected passing. But what about disability insurance? What is it, and why is it important to offer to your employees?

Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is disability insurance?

Disability insurance, also known as disability income insurance or income protection insurance, is a type of coverage that replaces a portion of your employees’ income if an injury or illness prevents them from working. Disability insurance:

  • Provides financial security for your employees and their loved ones
  • Gives funds to your employees to use for whatever they like

Is it the same thing as health insurance?

Not exactly. Disability insurance replaces a portion of an employee’s income lost due to not being able to work because of injuries or illnesses. In contrast, health insurance covers medical expenses that arise due to an injury or illness.

What does disability insurance cover?  

While people may think of major injuries as the only thing disability insurance covers, here are just a few of the things disability insurance might cover:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

It doesn’t mean injuries like sprains and fractures aren’t disabling. What it does mean is the scope of injuries that can prevent people from earning an income is broad.

Why is disability insurance important?

A massive 68% of non-government workers carry no form of disability insurance. With this in mind, here is why disability insurance is essential to offer—and necessary for employees to have.

  • Injuries are all too common: The chance of missing months or years of work seems remote. But more than one in four 20-year-olds will experience a disability for 90 days or more before they reach 67, according to the Social Security Administration. Disability insurance covers those “what-if” or worst-case scenarios. 
  • Disability insurance covers risk: People tend to shrug off the risk because they think only about worst-case scenarios. But the leading causes of disability claims are:
     
    • Pregnancy
    • Cancer
    • Mental health issues
    • Musculoskeletal disorders affecting knees, back, and hips
    • Digestive disorders such as hernias and gastritis
    • Injuries including fractures, sprains, and muscle/ligament strains

Disability insurance covers the risk involved with being affected by injuries, situations, or illnesses.

  • It prepares employees for long-term challenges: It’s common to plan ahead and think about how far you can go without one or two paychecks. However, not enough people plan for possible long-term or future challenges. A study of consumer bankruptcy filings found that the primary reasons for bankruptcy involved illness or injury of themselves or a family member.

Also, workers’ compensation and Social Security do not cover most financial challenges:

Disability insurance gives employees an extra layer of protection to help prepare them and their families for any long-term challenges.

Consider offering disability insurance benefits

Absence of emergency savings and rising medical costs are a concern for many employees. Without added income protection, people may experience severe financial difficulty if they miss work due to injury or illness. Consider adding disability insurance benefits to your employee benefits package and be sure to talk to a trusted advisor to learn more.

 

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Three Financially Focused Benefits Your Employees Will Love

In the last two years, employees across the country have had to adapt and adjust to a lot of challenges, many of which organizations had little to no control over. Employee burnout, stress, and wellbeing took major hits, putting more pressure on organizations to come up with solutions to help them face these challenges. According to the 2021 Employee Benefit Trends Study by Met Life, 86% of employees said finances are a top contributing factor to their stress now and into the future. While this may feel like an insurmountable problem for employers to take on, there are many solutions that can make a big impact for both the wellness of your employees and the health of your business.

1. Student Loan Repayment Programs

Today, 47 million Americans are carrying the burden of student loan debt. This year, student loan debt in America reached a staggering 1.7 trillion dollars. Despite the temporary loan forbearance the Biden Administration placed on federal student loan payments, student loan debt remains a top concern for many Americans in the workforce.

Employers looking for ways to help support employees who are paying off student loans should consider offering employee benefits aimed at just that—helping them pay off this debt. In December, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, enabling employers to contribute up to $5,250 in student loan payments tax-free, making it easier than ever for organizations to help.

Supporting employees burdened with student loan debt can be a strong tool for attracting and retaining top talent.

2. Retirement Planning

A 2019 study by GOBankingRates found that 64% of respondents expected to retire with less than $10,000 in their retirement savings. Employers can help employees prepare for retirement and reduce stress by offering benefits designed to enable employees to begin saving for retirement. Some plan options that provide tax benefits to both employers and employees include:

  • Payroll Deductible IRA – For employers who don’t want to implement a retirement savings plan, this plan offers a way for eligible employees to contribute to an IRA through payroll deductions.
  • 401(k) Plan – This plan offers an opportunity to employees to save through salary deferrals with the option of employer contribution.
  • Money Purchase Plan – This plan allows employers to make contributions to employee savings based on their discretion. There is no fixed amount nor requirement to make a contribution by the employer.

There are many types of retirement plans available to organizations, so do your research and choose the one that fits the needs of your business.

3. Education and stewardship

Understanding the basics of investing, saving, and money management is a challenge for many Americans, leading them to avoid this type of planning altogether. If your organization can’t offer benefits to help them save, consider offering a program to empower them through education.

Platforms like Skillshare and financialgym offer online courses to help anyone learn the basics of investing, planning for retirement and savings, and managing money. Knowledge and understanding can make a more powerful impact, in many ways, than simply offering a plan that no one understands.

Their financial wellness is your reward

Helping employees plan for retirement and effectively manage their savings and debt is a sure-fire way to improve their overall wellbeing by reducing stress and creating stability within their lives and futures. You may see an increase in talent attraction, employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction by offering a hand and enabling employees to create financial stability within their lives. What’s good for them is good for business.

 

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What You Need to Know About Group Life Insurance

A study conducted by LIMRA and Life Happens found that 41 million Americans say they do not have life insurance coverage at all. When it comes to providing benefits for your employees, life insurance ensures they give their families much-needed financial security. All too often, however, life insurance is a misunderstood and confusing topic. We are here to help.

Here is what you need to know about group life insurance plans.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is a contract between a person and an insurance company. A premium is paid, and after a person’s death, a lump sum, or death benefit, is paid to the beneficiaries the person designates. The beneficiaries can use the money for any purpose they like.

What is group life insurance?

Group life insurance is when an entire life insurance contract covers a whole group of people. The policy owner is the employer or organization, and the policy covers all the employees at the organization.

Are there different types of group life insurance?

Yes, there are two different types of group life insurance: employer-paid or voluntary. These are usually seen as term life insurance, which provides your employees coverage for the term of their employment.

Employer-paid life insurance

Employer-paid life insurance is when the policy is paid by the employer. This offers your employees a convenient way to receive life insurance coverage. This type of coverage, at times, offers them coverage portability or the ability for your employees to continue their life insurance policy when they no longer work for you.

Voluntary life insurance

Voluntary life insurance is an optional benefit offered to employees. This type of life insurance is paid for by the employee directly to the workplace’s insurance company via a monthly premium taken out of their paycheck. Like employer-paid life insurance, voluntary life insurance can also offer coverage portability.

Why is life insurance important?

As an employer, you may wonder why life insurance is important to provide to your employees, and there are several reasons:

  • It provides for lost income: Providing a group life insurance policy helps ensure that your employees’ loved ones will have some financial replacement for the lost paycheck in the case of their death. This allows the family time to get a footing in their new reality.
  • It reduces stress: Losing a loved one is already a difficult and emotional experience without the added financial burden of losing a partner or parent. Life insurance will help protect the family from the difficulty that awaits. For example, finding help for childcare after the loss of a parent is a huge stress for the surviving parent. Knowing they have financial support to afford it can ease the pressure.
  • It helps cover bills and debts: Life insurance will help cover bills or debts your employees leave behind, so they are not passed to your employees’ loved ones.

It doesn’t have to be confusing

Life insurance can be, admittedly, confusing. But it is a smart move for employers who want to add family-focused benefits into their employee benefits plan. Talk to a trusted advisor who will help you decide on the best group life insurance plan for your employees.

 

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3 Ways to Set Yourself Up For Open Enrollment Success

Regardless of when your benefits package renews, there’s a lot to be said for employers who plan ahead. Undoubtedly, many changes caused by the pandemic have shifted the needs of employees and altered the ‘normal’ approach to open enrollment. However, planning has always (and will always) be a good idea—especially when it comes to group health plans.

Giving your organization time to plan and prepare will help you improve the absolutely critical process of implementing your benefits package, which has *major* repercussions on your return on investment (ROI). Start by following these three steps.

1. Consider changes to your benefits offering

Pandemic or no, employee needs are constantly changing. They have changed significantly over the past year and will continue to change as our country adjusts how we approach work. Since employee benefits are such a significant investment for employers, it only makes sense to meticulously review what benefits are most popular and what benefits don’t hold as much value.

Survey your employees and do your research. Since the start of the pandemic, some benefits have risen in popularity as employee needs have changed.

These include:

  • Virtual healthcare
  • Flex work, childcare, and elderly care
  • Financial wellness
  • Mental healthcare

Talk to your broker about your options and create a strategy that fits the needs of your employee population, as needs and wants can vary broadly. One size does not fit all for an attractive benefits package.

2. Open enrollment planning

Depending on the shifts your organization made since the pandemic, it’s important to consider how you will proceed with open enrollment this fall. Organizing a supportive and education-based strategy to guide your employees through enrollment can make a real impact on the employee experience during the process and increase plan utilization by employees.

  • Consider how to create a system that works for your employees wherever they are (on-site or remote).
  • Provide resources and support to employees as they make their decisions. These can include educational resources (such as this glossary of standard benefit terms), in-person or virtual support, and clear communication around deadlines and qualifications.
  • Get feedback from your employees before open enrollment about their experience last year and their concerns and needs for the upcoming season. Find common trends to help you fill in gaps that you may have missed in years past.

3. Preparing for implementation

Spend time reviewing and improving your plan of execution. This plan should include a detailed communication strategy, employee education, and year-round support. If you want to see significant participation from your employees, you need to engage with consistent support and education strategies. Ask your employees if:

  • They understand the benefits available to them. Do you offer an HSA or self-insured plan? If so, make sure your employees have a proper understanding of how these different plans work and what to expect when they participate.
  • They know where to go to ask for help. Do they have access to a support line? Are there online resources you are providing them?

Consistent and clear communication is a critical part of ensuring your employees participate in and get the most out of the benefit plan you’re offering. Consider which channels you will be relying upon (email, meetings, one-on-one support, a web page, etc.) to get the word out and offer support. Get clear on how and when you’ll use these channels and stay consistent in using them.

Preparation = success

The more you plan, the better you can guide your employees and your organization through the process of open enrollment. This isn’t the sort of thing you want to put off until the last minute or until your broker comes to talk to you.

Employee benefits are a crucial part of your employee engagement, retention, attraction, and ultimately, the business’s success. And as such, they require and deserve careful planning. By starting with these three steps, you’ll set your organization, and your employees, up for success.

 

 

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