What Is an Insurance Waiver?

High-risk businesses, such as surfboard rentals, ususally will require you to sign a liability waiver.

A waiver is a legal form or document that releases someone, or some organization, from liability. Insurance waivers usually are offered to, or requested to be signed by, individuals by organizations or companies seeking to document the fact that the individual has declined a certain type of insurance. For instance, someone who lives in Arizona may sign a waiver declining flood insurance coverage offered by his homeowner's insurance company.


Health Insurance Waiver

Many different companies or organizations may provide health insurance waiver forms to individuals. The business where you work may offer a particular health insurance package that contains options or provisions that you find unnecessary. Perhaps your wife already has a health insurance plan that covers many of the contingencies offered by your company, such as dental or vision care. In such a case, your company usually will provide a waiver for you to sign that eliminates your company's dental and vision coverage. Educational institutions often offer the same waiver options for the same reasons. Some colleges, for example, require students to enroll in a health plan offered through the school. Many students may already be enrolled in their parents' health insurance plan and don't need the coverage.


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Home Insurance Waiver

Companies that provide homeowners' insurance normally offer "riders" or additional coverage that you can add to your standard homeowners' insurance plan. Many homeowners elect to decline some options, such as flood or earthquake coverage. In those instances, the insurance company will request that the homeowner sign a waiver, which acknowledges that the insurance company offered the coverage and that the homeowner declined the specified package. Companies do this to protect themselves from potential lawsuits in which individuals may claim that they thought they were covered for, say, earthquake damage.


Car Liability Insurance Waiver

Anyone who's ever rented a car has been faced with a rental agent espousing the potential calamity that might befall you if you refuse to sign a "waiver of liability" form. This document is offered to car renters to protect them from liability in case they get into an accident. However, many such waivers protect the car renter only from liability for damage to the rental vehicle and may not cover the other car or physical injuries suffered by the parties involved. You also may be covered for any rental car issues through your own car or homeowners' insurance policies. Make sure to read the car rental liability insurance waiver form carefully before signing it.


Other Liability Waivers

Many organizations and companies use liability waivers as a matter of course in their everyday businesses. Recreation, sports and amusement entities regularly request that participants sign liability waivers before using their facilities. A ski lodge, for example, may require you to sign a waiver before you hit the slopes. Youth football and hockey teams, bungee-jumping companies, carnivals and amusement parks, and companies that rent equipment such as bikes or surf boards usually require you to sign waivers. Even without a waiver in hand, however, many companies involved in high-risk businesses are protected against potential lawsuits due to state laws. Some states have determined that many sports are inherently dangerous and that participants assume liability risk simply by participating. Most tickets to sporting events contain a clause alerting the purchaser that they are assuming risk by attending, say, a baseball game, where a foul ball may cause injury.


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