As a professor of sports law at Syracuse University and a lead editor of the book, “Law for Recreation and Sports Managers”, attorney John Wolohan knows a thing or two about release of liability waivers. Below, Mr. Wolohan briefly explains why smart insurance companies are encouraging their clients to use Smartwaiver.
Smart Insurance Companies Get It
John Wolohan, J.D.
As all facility and event operators should know, it is impossible to totally eliminate all risks associated with certain physical activities. As a result, it is essential that facility and event operators purchase insurance in an effort to transfer the organization’s financial exposure due to these risks. Insurance companies, however, are not in business to lose money and do not like to pay out large financial damages. In addition, even though insurance companies can spread the financial risk of paying claims to all of their clients, they also require facility and event operators to transfer some of the financial risk to the athletes who are actually participating in the activities through the use of waivers. Therefore, since insurance companies are going to demand that facility and event operators use waivers, it’s important to examine why insurance companies should encourage their clients to use smart waivers instead of paper/form waivers.
To start, while some insurance companies might feel comfortable having participants sign an ordinary paper/form waiver, it is important that they understand that not all waivers are treated the same by every court. In fact, there are a number of drawbacks to these forms that a digital smart waiver protects against. For example, because of the legal conflict between tort and contract law some courts are only too happy to void waivers if they are missing certain words or are not administered properly.
Below are a few ways in which using Smartwaiver helps protect insurance companies and facility operators.
1. Secure Storage
Because the statute of limitations (the time allowed to file a lawsuit for negligence) can often be three years, Smartwaiver provides a secure online storage location that ensures that the waiver is never lost. Since the first line of defense to any lawsuit is going to be the smart waiver, insurance companies can feel secure that when and if needed the smart waiver will be available as evidence and can be pulled up in seconds.
2. Photo Evidence
Smartwaiver, through its patent-pending Auto Photo Capture feature automatically takes a photo of person who signs the waiver at the business location. This benefits insurance companies, as well as facility and event operators, by adding an extra layer of security to the waiver
Every Smartwaiver comes with a Certificate of Authenticity which ensures the signed document has not been tampered with once the participant signs it. This helps to show that the document presented as evidence is in fact the actual document signed by the participant.
4. Updated Legal Language
Since Insurance companies have control over the legal language for each of their insured companies, they can change language as laws change at any time without worrying if the insured is using the updated version of the waiver.
5. No Missing Information
Using smart waivers ensures that there are never any missing required information on the waiver. This is important because in some jurisdictions if you fail to use certain legal terms in the waiver the courts are willing to reject or void the entire waiver.
The best way for facility and event operators to truly protect their business is by using both Smartwaiver and insurance together. By encouraging the use of Smartwaiver, insurance companies are not only protecting the businesses they insure but also their own bottom line.
- Attorney John T. Wolohan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a professor of sports law at Syracuse University.
Note: Smartwaiver is proud to partner with select insurance companies across the country. We give active clients of our approved partners a 10% discount on Smartwaiver services. If you represent an insurance company and would like more information on our Partner Program, please contact us.