Startups: New-era companies are adopting pet-friendly policies to better retain talent

If your furry friend has ingested a pest or has an upset stomach or is otherwise indisposed while you are at your workplace, then help is just a call away.

For pet owners at Chennai-based SaaS company Chargebee, the company has rolled out pet telehealth services to help employees get quick animal advice in times of crisis.

And Chargebee is not alone.

New era companies are going the extra mile to have pet-friendly workplaces by leading by example on pet benefits. Pet insurance, telehealth services, pet adoption leaves and wellness leaves are some of the initiatives that companies such as Chargebee, Meesho, Powerplay, Benefits and Deloitte deployed for their employees.

The idea is not only to be more empathetic towards employees who own pets, but also to offer them differentiated benefits in a highly competitive talent market. Insurance companies such as Policybazaar, Plum, and Toffee Insurance are experiencing high demand for pet insurance.

Bengaluru-based Powerplay offers pet owners insurance coverage worth Rs. OPD, terminal illnesses and long-term care.

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“For pet owners, there is no difference between their children and their pets. So we wanted to give them the same insurance benefits that we have for other family members,” Iesh Dixit, co-founder of the construction management software company, told ET. “Medical care for animals can be expensive and we wanted our employees to be covered. in such cases.”

Such policies are also rapidly gaining traction among employees.

Nearly 30 people have already signed up for the service, which is usually offered as an add-on to group health insurance, Dixit said.

Insurtech Toffee Insurance, which co-creates products with insurance companies, is also seeing an increase in pet insurance.

“A few months ago, we entered into our first partnership with a company that specifically wanted pet insurance. There are a lot of companies that are interested in it,” Nishant Jain, co-founder of Toffee Insurance, told ET. “We have sold around 100 policies so far and are in the process of getting around 200 policies issued this month.”

Insurance policies are not where the dollars end.

Plum, an insurance technology company, has rolled out telehealth consultations for pets. Hospitality, e-commerce and SaaS companies are partnering with Plum for insurance services, and 10% of them have actively opted for pet telehealth services, Jayanth Ganapathy said, director of health care at Plum. The company receives 20 new requests a day.

“We are seeing a strong demand for this. Pet owners become anxious when their pets get sick, especially since they are unable to express themselves. When a visit to the vet is not possible instantly, a teleconsultation service with a licensed vet is, which most often gives them a quick resolution,” said Ganapathy.

Plum is partnering with service providers for businesses to provide post-consultation services to employee pets through nutritional consultations and home medicine delivery, among others.

Policybazaar is seeing interest from consumer internet companies, information technology and banks in pet insurance, said Raghuveer Mallik, the company’s chief business officer for commercial insurance.

“From literally zero such cases a few years ago, we presented to about eight clients last year. A food tech major and an edtech biggie are among our clients, and we are seeing an increase in demand” , Mallik told ET.

Other companies allow employees to take time off for their pets.

Earlier this year, Meesho, headquartered in Bengaluru, rolled out a pet adoption policy, allowing new pet parents a week off to bond with their pets and help them settle in. Wellness platform Nova Benefits has also rolled out a pet care policy under where employees can take unlimited time off if their pet is sick or needs surgery.