Skip to main content

By Frances Wilkerson, DVM

In the pet insurance industry, a bilateral condition is a medical condition that can happen on both sides of the body. Some companies have restrictions on how much they will cover for these types of conditions. Therefore, it is very important that you understand the bilateral condition policy of any pet insurance plan you intend to buy.

The most common examples of bilateral conditions given by pet insurance companies include, but are not limited to, Hip Dysplasia (could happen in both hips) and Cruciate Injuries (could happen in both knees).

Examples of Restrictions Based on Bilateral Conditions

Let's say a pet has a cruciate injury on his left knee that is pre-existing -- if that same pet gets a cruciate injury on the right knee years later, some companies will bundle this right knee injury with the left knee injury and call it pre-existing as well. Because it is considered pre-existing, it will not be covered.

Also, for some companies, bilateral conditions share the same Maximum Payout Per-Incident.

Let's say a pet is diagnosed with a cruciate injury on the left knee during the first year of the insurance policy. He then gets a cruciate injury on the right knee two years later. If in addition to having this type of bilateral conditions policy, the company uses a Maximum Payout Per-Incident structure, the amount of money reimbursed to the owner for the right knee will be whatever is left over from the left knee injury because they are bundled as one incident.

The bottom line: make sure you clearly understand the bilateral conditions policy of the pet insurance plan you are buying.

Dr. Wilkerson is the author of Her goal is to help pet owners make informed decisions regarding pet insurance. She believes that everyone can make great decisions when given good, reliable information.

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?