BREA, Calif. – Veterinary Pet Insurance Group Sales Manager Bill Gorman says don't underestimate the value of pet insurance as a creative employee perk. "A lot of people think of their pets as family members and they don't want finances to get in the way of giving their pet the care it needs from standard checkups and shots to taking them to a specialist," said Gorman. "This is an opportunity for employers to stand out from the competition as a company who cares." An American Veterinary Medical Association Household Pet Survey finds that the pet population in the United States is rapidly increasing and in 2001 Americans spent $19 billion on veterinary care and medications -an increase of nearly $8 billion in five years. According to Gorman, VPI's employee benefit aspect is a great example of the power of consumer demand. An employee benefit division launched in 1998 has added some 1,000 companies and an increased number of credit union calls has sparked a new focus for VPI. Navy Federal Credit Union was one of the first credit unions to offer the VPI program and Vice President of Compensation and Benefits Nancy Astorga says that pet insurance is one of the $22 billion credit union's more popular voluntary employee benefits. "The credit union response to this benefit has been great," said Gordon. "Pet owners span from the young to the old and credit unions like the value added aspect of pet insurance." Founded in 1980 by a group of veterinarians, VPI is one of the oldest and largest health insurance plans for pets and was created with the goal of providing both pet protection and pet owner peace of mind. VPI plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional vaccination and routine care coverage is also available.

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