Recreation and hospitality industries play a crucial role in providing leisure and entertainment to the public. However, with the increasing number of accidents and lawsuits in these industries, it is essential for owners and operators to protect themselves from legal and financial consequences. Did you know that 95% of pending lawsuits end in a pretrial settlement. A great liability waiver is one way to build a strong defense against a liability settlement.
Here are some very important factors to consider to ensure you have the right waiver for your business.
What is a waiver in insurance?
A waiver is a legally binding document that releases the provider of recreational or hospitality services from liability in the event of injury, loss, or damage to a customer. Waivers are commonly used by businesses offering activities such as camping, horseback riding, hunting, paddle sports, rock climbing, zip lining, and other adventure sports.
What is the purpose of an insurance waiver?
The purpose of a waiver is to limit the liability of a business in the event of an accident, injury, or damage caused by a customer's negligence or participation in an activity provided by the business. The waiver also serves as a warning to customers that the activity they are participating in may be dangerous and that they assume the risk of injury or damage.
What kind of waiver do I need if my business provides horseback riding?
For horseback riding, you will need an equine liability waiver that includes all activities and risks that can happen at your ranch.
Why do I need an equine liability waiver?
Engaging in activities involving horses can be risky, even with the best of horses and experienced riders. Having your customers read and sign a waiver is part of the process of formally informing them of the risks of equine activities. In the event an accident occurs involving your horses, having a liability waiver may discourage someone from filing a lawsuit against you. If you are sued, a quality, well-written liability waiver can provide you with a strong defense or may even result in a complete dismissal of a lawsuit.
What makes an equine liability waiver enforceable?
For an equine liability waiver to be enforceable, it must meet certain criteria. It should include language that is specific to the activities it covers, and it must comply with your state’s laws. Your equine waiver should thoroughly inform the participant of the risks related to the equine activities they’ll be engaging in with your business. It should also identify the parties it is covering, including your business, owners, employees, and independent contractors.
Work with an attorney
An attorney is the best resource for ensuring the verbiage of your waivers matches your activities and your state statutes. Leah Corrigan is a great attorney in the recreation and hospitality industry who can review and update your waivers.
Learn more about getting an equine liability waiver that is customized to your business in the video below.
Keep it clear and concise
Review your insurance waivers to ensure they are clear, concise, and easy to understand. The language used should be specific and unambiguous. The terms should be easy to understand for the average person.
Every Human Signs a Page
According to insurance carriers, you must have each adult sign their own waiver, one signature per page. Minors must have their waiver signed by an adult. If you offer a variety of activities, each activity may need its own waiver. Additionally, if a client refuses to wear a helmet, such as in Western horseback riding, a helmet waiver is a reasonable requirement.
To be enforceable, the customer must sign the waiver voluntarily and with full knowledge of the terms and conditions. The customer must be made aware of the nature and extent of the risks involved in the activity and must have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification before signing the waiver. The customer must have ample time to review the waiver and not feel under duress. Sending the waiver in advance of arrival is an effective way to give the customer enough time to review the waiver.
While recreation and hospitality waivers can provide a significant amount of protection to a business, they are not foolproof. There are certain situations in which a waiver may not be enforceable, such as if the customer was not fully informed of the risks involved, or if the waiver was signed under duress or coercion.
Review and update your waivers regularly to ensure they meet the latest legal standards and protect the interests of your business. The legal environment for each state is also specific.
Do I need a waiver if my state has an equine activity statute?
Not all states have adopted an equine activity statute. If your state does have a statute, it is still important to have your own equine liability waiver. While these statutes can be extremely helpful to your business, they have limitations and you should not rely on them exclusively.
Waivers are an essential tool for owners and operators of recreational and hospitality businesses to protect themselves from legal and financial consequences in the event of accidents, injuries, or damage caused by customers. They provide an important reminder to customers of the inherent dangers involved in these activities and help ensure they are aware of and accept the risks before participating. However, it is important to remember while a waiver can provide protection, it is not a guarantee.
Always prioritize the safety and well-being of your customers.
For more information regarding waivers, please reach out directly to Leavitt Recreation and Hospitality Insurance.