Digital waiver vs paper: why it matters

The following is a guest post from our good friend Vaughn Vernon over at Affiliate Guard. Today he’s covering waivers and why it’s absolutely essential that you use and store them effectively to protect yourself. 

Affiliate Guard provides insurance for over 20 percent of the 10,000 CrossFit gyms worldwide. And while the experience at every box is different, one thing most athletes can expect at the front door is the same: they must sign a waiver before stepping foot on the rubberized floor.

Today my clients can choose between offering paper or digital waivers to their athletes. Right now, more than half of our clients use digital waivers, and we are working toward increasing that to 100 percent for a number of reasons.

The first reason why is also the most obvious: you never have to physically look for an online waiver in the event you get drawn into suit. Most CrossFit owners are community-builders and athletes, not file clerks. It’s easy to misplace a piece of paper when space, time and personnel resources are tight.

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Storage is an issue for so many box owners, and digital waivers do not have to be stored. If you move your location, you won’t have to worry about moving files, cabinets, or papers. Digital waivers are safely kept in your online storage system and easily found in the event you should need them.

And you may need them. Most states require that waivers be kept for a minimum of three years after they’re filled out. If you live in the sunshine state of Florida, you need to keep them for five years. That adds up!

A small box sees hundreds of clients in a year, and a larger box could see thousands through competitions and trials. If you sell your business, you are still personally responsible for anyone that draws said box into suit for a minimum of two years afterward, and more in some states.

Even if your organization is dissolved, the box changes name, and you have a whole new life, YOU still need to be in possession of your former athletes’ waivers. It’s not wise to trust anyone who buys your box to keep these important papers. Go digital and they’ll always be a click away.

Here’s some advice that I tell my clients: Every single person that walks through your doors needs a waiver. I don’t care how busy you are, if your printer ran out of toner, or your head coach forgot to get the copies made. You must protect yourself. Athletes can get hurt doing CrossFit, spectators can get hurt watching CrossFit, and if there’s no signed waiver, you are on the hook for their injuries.

Less than ten times in my career, I have seen a box owner drawn into suit without a waiver in hand. The reason why matters not. It could have been misplaced or damaged in a fire. The box dog could have swallowed it whole. Whatever the reason is, if you enter court without a waiver, you are going into a gunfight with a butter knife.

Not on my watch! Take your medicine now, transfer to a digital platform, and you will be good to go. It will only take a few minutes to train your team on how to digitally sign someone in. You will thank yourself in the long run in the unfortunate chance you need to protect yourself.

Ready to put what you’ve learned into practice?
Download a free PDF handbook with many of NCFIT’s gym management procedures and philosophies that you can implement in your gym today.
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