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Feb 14, 2024

Pet Benefits Brokers’ Playbook: Adding Pet Benefits to Your VB Portfolio

Brokers, this one’s for you! Learn the “plays” that create connections and fuel enrollment. Make pet benefits irresistible for your clients and their employees

Pet Benefits Brokers’ Playbook: Adding Pet Benefits to Your VB Portfolio

“You can’t just put a new benefit on the ben admin and see if it sticks,” says Laura Martin, Director of Worksite Marketing at One Digital Mid-Atlantic.

Brokers want to distinguish themselves in a crowded market. And in a world full of expensive, complicated, regulated health benefits, voluntary pet benefits can be a breath of fresh air. They’re popular, employee-paid, and easy to administer.

But even pet benefits need some TLC to gain traction with new clients. Successfully introducing voluntary pet benefits isn’t hard, but it does take some forethought and strategy.

Presenting the value of pet benefits

“When you introduce a benefit to an employer client, don’t lead off with the nitty gritty,” says Laura. “Go for the big picture! Speak with passion! How will this benefit bring value to the employer and employees?”

Fortunately, pet benefits are an easy sell. Especially if the employer is a pet parent, the value of affordable routine care, preventatives, and emergency health visits will be self-evident. And for employers who don’t have pets, educate them on the expensive realities of pet health care:.

  • 45% of pet parents allocate as much or more money for their pet’s health expenses as their own. (BPM)

  • 50% of dog owners worry about affording unexpected veterinary costs. (BPM)

  • 35% of pet parents pushed off their pet’s annual vet visit because of the price. (Forbes Advisor)

“We explain that 70% of employees are pet parents, most of whom consider their pets to be part of the family,” adds Amy Crane, Vice President of Voluntary Benefits at Pet Benefits. “When employers add pet benefits to their offerings, it increases their employees’ goodwill and job satisfaction.”

Making ben admin easy

Convincing employers about the plan’s value is critical, but it won’t help if the benefit is too difficult to implement. “Most employers have a ben admin tool in place,” says Laura. “If the benefit integrates in that platform, it’s easy for the employer to add it.”

This is no small matter. Companies now offer up to 20 different benefits to their employees. Enrollment, information sharing, employee communication, and other administrative functions need to be efficient and electronic. Paperwork is not acceptable in 2024.

“In the past few years, Pet Benefit Solutions has prioritized streamlining the group experience,” explains Amy. “For example, groups now submit their information directly through an online form instead of sending us a PDF.” Pet Benefit Solutions also has formal integrations with more than twenty platforms, including PrismHR, Mercer Marketplace 365+, Plansource Partner Marketplace, and Corestream.

Controlling benefits costs

Every benefits conversation eventually comes down to dollars and cents. As much as employers want to entice employees with incredible benefits, they can’t ignore their budgets. Health care benefits keep getting more expensive, despite brokers’ best efforts to keep costs down.

But you can assure your employer clients that pet benefits won’t strain their budgets:

  1. Rate increases from year to year are minimal, if at all.
  2. Pet benefits are usually 100% employee-paid.
  3. Premiums are paid with post-tax dollars.

Pet benefits are affordable for employees, too. Total Pet Plan, Pet Benefit Solutions’ comprehensive pet care bundle, costs $11.75 or less a month. Wishbone, their traditional pet health insurance, averages $35/month per pet. And, as an added bonus, pet benefits aren’t subject to the same IRS rules and compliance issues as mandatory benefits.

Explaining the plan

Finally, to ensure a successful launch, every stakeholder must understand the benefit and how it works. Decision makers, HR administrators, and employees all need clarity.

“This is where brokers get stuck sometimes,” Amy explains. “Pet benefits are so different from other VB health products that educating themselves can seem overwhelming.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to become an overnight SME. “I just had this exact issue with a new VB,” shares Laura. “I believed in the benefit but didn’t have the expertise yet to answer all my clients’ questions.”

Laura asked the carrier rep to get on the call with her and her client. It’s a simple, effective solution that a carrier should be happy to do. “Our 98% group renewal rates don’t happen by themselves!” says Amy. “I often get on group calls with my clients to review the products and plans. It’s a win-win.”

Bringing on an SME makes a huge difference in benefit enrollment. “When there’s no expert to explain the benefit with enthusiasm and address any questions, enrollment may only reach 15%,” says Laura. “With an SME in the picture, we can easily get to 50%!”

“Pet benefits are a terrific lead-in for a broker with a new group or account,” concludes Amy. “People love their pets, so discussing pet benefits can be a real ice-breaker. It creates a connection that leads to other opportunities.”

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