If you don’t already have your guests sign a liability waiver before heading out on your tours and activities, you may be leaving the fate of your business to chance. Liability waivers don’t only protect you from accidents in your control — they can also protect you from the mistakes of your guests, suppliers, and contractors.
It’s important to give them appropriate care and consideration, but where do you begin? Yes, you can search online for a waiver template, but if you want to be sure you’re covered, that may not be the right move.
Consult a lawyer
The advice of a lawyer isn’t free, but your liability release is worth it. If it holds up in court, it could save your company from paying costly damages — and if it doesn’t, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.
A lawyer can help you prepare a waiver that meets the legal requirements for your region. Standards vary by country and state, so be sure to get up-to-date, locally-applicable advice.
Specifics to consider
If you can’t have a lawyer write your waiver, there are templates available online. Be cautious when using a pre-written template. It may not cover your circumstances or your region’s legal requirements.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
Assumption of risk:
Along with a standard legal release, waivers typically include an “assumption of risk” statement. This lays out the risks a guest may encounter during the tour or activity, and acknowledgement that the guest is assuming that risk willingly and with full understanding. Experts generally recommend ensuring the listed risks are specific to the tour or activity in question, but not so specific that they exclude accidents or injuries that could occur.
If a tour or activity is misrepresented to the guest at any point in the booking process, you might run into trouble. That misrepresentation may be used to argue that the guest was not fully aware of what the activity would entail.
There are a few steps you can take to make sure your tours and activities are being characterized correctly throughout the booking process:
- Check over all your marketing materials.
- Read through your tour descriptions.
- Update any emails you send.
- Check with your agents and referrers.
It might be a hassle to make sure your activities are being represented correctly, but it’s worth the effort. False or misleading statements may put you at risk for much worse than a false advertising claim.
If a guest is injured during a part of the tour experience that isn’t under your control — for instance, after being picked up by a transportation supplier you work with — your company could still be liable. Make sure to find out whether your waiver needs specific language to protect your company against the actions of third parties.
The laws around liability and personal injury differ by region. If you use a generic waiver template, it may not meet all the requirements for waivers in your area.
For example, according to League and Williams Law, waivers are only enforceable in Canada if they meet three criteria:
- The waiver must actually apply to the facts of how the accident occurred;
- The waiver must not be unconscionable; and
- The waiver must not be against public policy.
Even if you don’t employ a lawyer to write your liability waiver, you may want to have one read it over and make sure it meets local requirements.
Presenting a waiver
When it comes time to present your liability waiver to guests, there are a few things to consider:
- Are guests aware of what they’re signing?
- Is the waiver presented clearly, not hidden in the fine print?
- Are guests given time to read the whole waiver?
- Are you storing the waivers safely?
With the Rezgo point of sale, you can present guests with waivers that are customized to your specific inventory, print signed copies for your records, and store them safely online. Whenever possible, Rezgo makes keeping your guests and your company safe from risk a little easier.