Changing from having your release of liability signed on paper to an online version is no small change. It may require some significant modifications in processes. That said, there are some important benefits to consider when signing online and a few that might hold you back.
Electronic signatures, also known as e-signatures or eSign, have arrived and are here to stay. Laws in the United States and many other countries make e-signatures as valid as paper and ink signatures.
Read more about electronic signatures on waivers and laws that make this possible
This is an important question to understand as you consider switching from paper to online. There are many factors that vary from business to business. The quantity of releases signed, the way in which they are presented to participants, how the releases are then collected and organized, and the method of storage all affect the actual cost of using paper liability release forms. In our research, we generally find that using an online release of liability form vs a paper version will save you money, and in many cases, online release forms are substantially less expensive.
Although people often breeze through various online terms and conditions, WaiverSign has created a process that ensures the entire liability waiver or agreement has been viewed prior to applying an electronic signature. WaiverSign also sends an email of the signed waiver to each participant email address so that they are given the opportunity to read it again.
Read How To Do Electronic Waivers Right
Federal Statutes passed in 2000 defined the use of and legality of electronic contacts and “electronic signatures.” The E-SIGN statute, in effect, legalized the use of electronic and online waivers. The statute stated that a “. . . signature, contract, or other record relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form; and a contract relating to such transaction may not be denied legal effect, validity, or enforceability solely because an electronic signature or electronic record was used in its formation. 15 U.S.C. § 7001 (a) (1) & (2)
The use of an “electronic signature” is defined as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record” was also addressed. 15 U.S.C. § 7006 (5)
So, whether a client is actually signing a digital input screen with a finger or a mouse, or simply asked to click on a box with an “X” in order to agree to accept the terms of the waiver, the client is, in effect, signing a binding contract. It’s kind of like swatting away a fly from around the top of your head when you’re at an auction. With that little shoo-fly-don’t bother me hand gesture, you just bought yourself a clay vase from the Ming Dynasty!
Read 5 points about the validity of electronic signatures.
From banking to real estate transactions, more and more industries rely on, and indeed prefer, the electronic approach to serving up documents, and receiving signatures. That said, we recommend that you confirm with your own insurance carrier that they accept electronic liability waiver forms with electronic signatures.
As with paper liability waivers, there is no guarantee that each individual signed their own waiver, however, the WaiverSign process provides many features not available with paper waivers. WaiverSign records the signer’s IP address and a timestamp as to when the liability waiver was signed. This information is a feature of the document’s audit trail. WaiverSign also requests information from each participant who submits a signature, including name, address, date of birth, email address and, in some instances, a driver’s license or other unique document identification number. Much of this information is checked for accuracy and completeness when it’s entered in the online form. With paper waivers, participants can simply have a spouse, friend or other person sign on their behalf. The steps taken by WaiverSign are more robust than when someone simply turns in a paper waiver form that could have been signed by someone else. That said, we also recommend that you discuss with your lawyer your current process for administering waivers and ensuring all participants have signed prior to their participation in any of your services. There are many other steps that you can work into your business processes that will help act as a defense if necessary.
WaiverSign takes the privacy and security of its customers’ information seriously. WaiverSign adheres to national and international security standards that are designed to protect customer data, including SSL, OAuth 2.0, and Amazon Web Storage. In the event of any data breach, WaiverSign will respond quickly and promptly notify customers.
Each state or province may have different laws regarding the use and process for using online waivers. This is another important question you should discuss with your lawyer as you are reviewing your conversion from paper waivers to online.
Legal opinions on this may vary, so you should check with your own legal counsel about your particular service, but often the thought is that providing the link in advance gives your participants ample time to understand the risks prior to any time they may invest in traveling to your location or the possibility that they may be rushed in filling out your waiver due to a late arrival.