Liability & Waivers 101: Common Questions Answered

April 26, 2021
Jen Corley
5 min read

We often get questions from members of our Retreat Leader Hub community to do with liability and waivers.

Understandably, these documents fall into a complex area that many retreat leaders are unsure of.

To help you make sense of some of the common questions that crop up, we have put together a list of Q&As below.

We touch on some of the expert insights from Episode 3 of the Retreat Planning Video Series, where Christina Papavlasopoulos of SheFari tuned in to discuss legal forms and liabilities with the WeTravel audience.

We also pick up on conversations we’ve had with professionals in this space over the years. Ultimately, the purpose of this is to cover a few essential bases and give you the confidence to move forward in creating coverage for your retreat, your clients, and your business.

Getting To Grips With Legal Forms For Your Retreat

Before jumping into the question and answer section, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind.

Seek Professional Legal Advice

The first is to consult with a certified lawyer when drawing up your forms. The information in this article is not legal advice or opinion and should be used only as general information.

Other sources of qualified information for regulations applicable to your particular situation could be a local commercial insurance agent and your nearest Agricultural and Consumer Services Department.

Be Aware Of State Selling Laws

The second is to look closely at the Seller of Travel law, which impacts certain U.S.-based retreats. You may be affected by it if you sell to retreat participants in a state with those laws, even if it’s not where your business is usually based.

You can find out about this and more from our conversation with Dr. Sheri Rosenthal, CEO of Wanderlust Entrepreneur.

Legal Locations To Consider

Christina points out that there are three main legal locations you should consider for your retreat, namely:

  • your location as the retreat leader or business
  • your clients’ place of residency
  • the physical location of your retreat
Retreat Liability Forms

Go Over Your Venue and Vendor Agreements

Another piece of advice from Christina is to go over the Terms and Conditions documents from your vendors and venue.

These can have a knock-on effect on how you handle any potential issues with your clients.

Be clear on the payment obligations outlined in their contracts and what is covered under their liability versus yours.

No point is too small to keep on record, so document all the fine points of your discussion and agreements.

Finally, read the fine print of your contract so that you can identify any potential problematic typos and mistakes. If you fail to do this, a small innocent error may be included in your legally binding document.

Common Questions On Retreat Liability and Waivers Answered

1. What Standard Liability Forms Should I Ask Attendees To Sign?

Your liability forms will be based on the type of retreat that you offer.

Some retreat leaders opt to send out different forms for different aspects of the retreat, for example, one for yoga and another for the general retreat terms and conditions.

Others draw up one comprehensive and inclusive document for clients to sign.

2. What Is A Release Of Liability Form and What Should It Cover?

Retreat Legal Documents

A release of liability is the part of your form that releases you or your employees from being liable to your guests in various circumstances.

For example, Christina mentions that your forms need to cover you in instances that your clients purposefully separate themselves from the group or if they have certain health conditions or are pregnant.

You do not want to be held liable should anything unexpected happen to them, and your clients need to understand that they are required to act according to the laws of the destination they visit.

It’s also vital for you to receive signed assurances that your attendees are of the correct age and physical condition to participate in your retreat.

3. What Degree Of Detail Should I Provide In My Forms?

Your liability and waivers should be as detailed and straightforward as possible. Christina recommends covering all your bases in your docs and says there is no such thing as being over-covered.

Make sure to outline the total price and deposits in your contract along with what’s included or not.

If your retreat has to have a minimum number of clients to run, ensure your customers know this before booking.

Cancellations can leave you in a difficult position if the terms aren’t set out clearly, so do all you can to prevent chargebacks and cover the force majeure clause.

Waiver For Retreat Leaders

4. How Do I Handle Intellectual Property From My Retreat?

It’s not a given that you can automatically use videos and pictures from your retreat, even if you arrange a professional photographer or videographer to capture footage.

If you want to use any of it for retreat marketing, you will need to ask your clients’ permission to appear in your materials.

Clearly outline all your terms and conditions and make it a requisite for attendees to accept that they have read and understood the agreement for this.

Christina recommends getting to grips with GDPR compliance as well, which is especially important when dealing with Europe.

5. Do I Need To Be Licensed To Hold A Retreat?

We mentioned the Seller of Travel law earlier on. This law requires you to be licensed if you are hosting clients in one of these four states: California, Washington, Hawaii, or Florida.

A way to get around this is to work as an independent contractor through a third party, travel company, or licensed retreat organizer. Check in with your relevant legal experts for more advice on this.

6. Do Electronic Signatures Carry An Legal Weight?

Digital retreat waivers and liability forms are convenient for your participants to sign and return their legal documents. But, how do electronic signatures stand up should a court matter arise?

United States laws and laws in other countries recognize these to be as binding as paper and ink signatures.

Final Thoughts

While drawing up retreat liability and waivers can seem a little complicated, it’s a critical component to get right in the planning process.

Doing so will give you better peace of mind for your retreat business.

If you are unsure of where to start, get in touch with Christina by visiting the section for retreat planners on the SheFari website. You will find downloadable templates, details of their services, and you can schedule a call.

While you are at it, don’t forget to join our Facebook community. It’s a space where retreat leaders can discuss everything wellness and retreat-related, including business, entrepreneurship, and career development.