Pet insurance latest trend in Silicon Valley perks

Palo Alto tech companies and startups are known for giving employees perks such as free food, valet parking, laundry service and bring your dog to work days.

Lately, employee benefits have extended to pet insurance for dogs and cats as businesses look for more ways to attract and retain workers, and such policies have been the fastest-growing employee benefit, typically provided at no cost to employers, said Adam Fell, a spokesman for Nationwide.

Rich Lang, senior vice president of human resources at VMware in Palo Alto, said offering pet insurance as an employee benefit aligns with the company’s core value of building community.

Part of having a supportive work community means helping employees, whenever possible, not feel as if they have to segment their lives between work and family, Lang said.

“And for a lot of people, family includes their pets,” Lang said.

VMware is even considering offering bereavement days for employees who lose pets, Lang added.

Not all VMware locations allow employees to bring dogs to work, such as the Palo Alto site, because it depends on the owner of the building. But VMware offers all its employees discounted pet insurance through the My Pet Protection plan by Nationwide.

Monthly premiums start at $40 for Palo Alto residents and go up to $66 for the most robust plan, according to Nationwide.

The price covers accidents, illnesses and preventive care such as vaccinations, flea medicine and wellness exams — but not preexisting conditions.

Rachel Simon, who works at Pivotal in Palo Alto, said she got her mini goldendoodle Brady a year after she started working at the company. Having a pet-friendly office and the pet insurance benefit made it easier for Simon to decide to get a pet, and such policies will affect where Simon works in the future.

“I was so thrilled to learn about our pet policies,” Simon said. “We wanted our dog to have a good quality of life and not just left at home all the time.”

The cost of insurance almost pays for itself because of the coverage for monthly heartworm and flea medicine, and tests or shots, Simon said. Some of Simon’s colleagues have signed up for insurance after pet accidents that required thousands of dollars out of pocket, such as a dog eating a kitchen towel or breaking a leg after jumping in the shower.

“It’s always better to have insurance so you never have to make that hard decision when the time comes whether you can afford to treat your pet,” Simon said.


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