Pet Insurance & 4 Other Out-Of-The-Box Voluntary Employee Benefits - Zupnick Associates

(By: Brittany Brooks)

The typical benefits package has been done over time and time again. To attract new talent and retain your best employees, you might want to think outside of the box, but how to choose?

As an insurance brokerage that specializes in employee benefits, we’re here to help. Below are some of our top 5 fringe voluntary employee benefits.

  • Pet Insurance

  • Identity Theft Protection

  • Student Loan Repayment

  • Meal Subsidization

  • Access to Mental/Physical Health Facilities


Down below you’ll find more information on each voluntary benefit, including which ones are pre-tax, tax-exempt, or tax-deductible.

1.  Pet Insurance

During the pandemic, there was a surge in pet adoptions to the point some animal rescues and shelters are experiencing limited availability right now. This was due in part to many people working from home and needing to reduce the feeling of isolation.

To help negate the high costs of pet healthcare a few employers have started offering pet insurance as an employee benefit, but sadly not enough.

Only 15% of employers currently offer pet insurance

Employees are looking for plans that cover the totality of their pet’s health, not just accidents & injuries. They’re looking for plans to cover:

Routine Expenses

  • Vaccinations
  • Annual physical
  • Flea & tick prevention
  • Certain lab testing

As of right now, pet insurance is not a pre tax benefit, tax-exempt, or tax-deductible. The issue did pick up traction in Congress back in 2009, but it was stalled. 

2.  Identity Theft Protection

Identity theft can be a nightmare for all parties involved, as it should considering the circumstances. Now, imagine trying to put your life back together.

Did you know it can take 100-200 hours to restore your identity and possibly years to clear your name of fraud?

We can offer our employees identity theft protection to help them avoid this mishap. If they are a victim of identity theft, the protection insurance can assist them through the daunting task of identity restoration.

What it does:

  • Combats identity theft
  • Protects finances, privacy, and their identity
  • Monitors their credit reports, utility bills, banking, public records, social media accounts, and more

Identity theft protection is not taxable and is not required to be reported on an employee’s W-2 form.

15 Million identities are stolen every year

3.  Student Loan Repayment

This year’s high school graduates could be facing $38,147 worth of student loan debt and they haven’t even bought one book yet. It’s a sad truth, but over 42.9 million Americans are consumed by student loans.

To help your employees struggling with student loans, you can offer a student loan repayment voluntary benefit. The CARES Act established this benefit for employers to assist their employees with their debts.

An employer can contribute a maximum of $5,250 a year toward employee federal student loan debt. The contribution doesn’t affect the guidelines of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, since it is collected over the year to be paid to the loan servicer in a lump sum.

Student loan repayment benefits are tax-exempt and are not counted toward the employee’s gross taxable income. Take advantage of this benefit before it ends. The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) extended it until 2025.

Only 8% of employers currently offer Student Loan Repayment Benefits

4.  Meal Subsidization

Free meals and snacks are great perks & employee benefits. Especially if your workplace is far off from restaurants, diners, and other eateries. Employees don’t have to leave unless they want to and mealtime is a little more convenient.

As of right now, meals and snacks given to employees are 50% tax-deductible as long as they are provided on the premises of the company. The IRS added a clause for remote workers as well.

Under Section 274 (e)(5), food and beverages may be provided to remote workers during virtual meetings. This also includes virtual happy hours and recreational activities. The tax deduction is available until 2026.

5.  Mental/Physical Health Facility Access

Mental & physical health is a large part of our well-being that has been overlooked for some time. But when the pandemic hit last year, we had no choice but to look at it.

Employers realized they needed employee benefits to cater to their employees’ overall well-being and their basic benefits package wouldn’t cut it.

Because of this, employers have begun adding access to mental health and physical health facilities as a voluntary benefit.

  • Fitness gyms
  • Nutritionists
  • Yoga instructors
  • Resources to therapists & counselors
  • Paid mental health days for employees
  • Free therapy sessions

This also includes access to mobile apps for more convenience & availability.

  • Calm
  • Talkspace
  • Happify
  • Ginger
  • Headspace

These are a few out-of-the-box employee benefits to offer employees. There are many other voluntary benefits you can offer your employees and attract new hires. The key is to listen to your employees’ needs, keep up with the new trends, and stay creative.

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