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More Companies Offer Pet Insurance As Work Perk

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Many people consider their pets like children and when they get sick, a trip to the vet isn't cheap.

But now employers are helping pet owners by offering pet insurance as a work perk.

Pet insurance is becoming more popular but is it for you? More and more pet owners are saying yes.

Rita Orrell brings her Boster terrier Rooby to radiation treatment three times a week. Rooby, 12, was diagnosed with a tumor near her tail las August. Fortunately, Orrell invested in pet insurance eight years ago.

"It is a relief, it is an investment and a bit of a gamble as insurance usually is, you could never see a return on it and for most insurance you hope you don't," she said.

Insurance for dogs, cats, and other pets is growing in popularity. Nearly two million pets were insured in 2016, up 15 percent from the prior year. But that's just a fraction of the 144 million pets in America.

Some Fortune 500 companies are now offering employees pet insurance as a work perk.

"From their employee's point of view, pets have really become part of the family. Literally, over the last few years, pets have moved from the backyard to the bedroom," said Scott Liles, Vice President and Chief Pet Insurance Officer for Nationwide.

If you have to buy a plan on your own, it can cost more than $40 a month. They usually only cover accidents and illnesses, not wellness visits and vaccines.

Veterinarian Dr. Abe Van Beven says insurance is vital when an animal is hit with a serious disease like cancer.

"It (treatment) starts off at about four thousand (dollars) and ranges up to about nine thousand," he said.

Erica Dicaterino wishes she had protection. Her dog Sophie was recently diagnosed with cancer in her leg.

"Altogether it's been about 11 thousand dollars," she said. "I wasn't prepared for this."

Insurance would have covered 90 percent of Sophie's medical bill. It's an option Dicaterino plans to buy for future pets.

By 2019 pet insurance is expected to surpass one billion dollars and will be offered by nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies.

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