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Waivers Making Waves

lesson learned Jul 17, 2019

By Beth A. Block

 

Do you have Sensei for a Day classes? How about Mother’s Day classes? Father’s Day classes? These classes give your students a chance to share their sport with their friends and family. They have the added benefit of giving you potential new students.

Waivers for friends are usually procured and signed before the child comes on your floor. Sometimes, the waivers aren’t signed by the friend’s parent. That can be a problem. Your student’s parent might sign the friend’s waiver. Just so you know, those waivers are useless. I recommend you have the child’s parent sign it.

During a Mother’s Day work out, one Mom was holding a floppy bag for her seven-year-old daughter. The martial arts students were doing round kicks to the bag. Mom was kneeling with the bag in front of her face.

The girl didn’t have great control over her round kick. She had only been taking classes for the last six months. On this day, she kicked behind the target. The ball of her foot landed on Mom’s cheekbone.

Mom’s cheek immediately bloomed with a bruise. A couple hours later Mom ended up in an urgent care facility. One x-ray later, she was off to the emergency room. She had a fractured cheekbone.

The doctors in the emergency room asked her how she had broken her cheekbone. The doctors had to find out. If Mom had been abused, as they would have been obligated to report the abuse. Under state laws, doctors and nurses are mandated reporters.

The doctors told her that the cheekbone supports the eye socket. If the bone was not moved back into place, her vision would be impacted for life.

She had to go see an ENT. At the appointment, she was told a surgeon would have to put the cheekbone back, she could heal properly. Her surgery went well, and she was on her way to healing.

Four months later, Mom got a phone call from her health insurance company. They asked her to explain how her cheekbone was fractured. She told them the story about joining her daughter in a Mother’s Day class at the studio.

A couple weeks after that phone call, the studio owner got a letter in the mail. It was from Mom’s health insurance company. They were subrogating against the studio for all Mom’s medical bills.

“Subrogating” is a word that is used mostly in the insurance world. It means the insurance company might have paid for something, but they were now going to sue the person or company who they thought was responsible for what they paid.

I got the first phone call from the owner. He wanted to know how he was responsible. I explained that we live in a world where the individual is often not responsible for what happens. I asked the studio owner if he had a waiver for Mom. He said absolutely. I asked to see a copy of the waiver.

It turned out the waiver was the one Mom signed for her daughter. When I called back and asked for Mom’s waiver, I found out about the Mother’s Day workout. I asked if Mom had signed a waiver for herself. The answer was no.

The next concern was which insurer had the liability insurance. Some companies require a system of obtaining waivers. Without the waiver system, claims can be denied.

If a studio has a system for students but routinely leaves out “guest” class participants, the possibility exists coverage could be denied. In this studio’s case, the liability insurance was not with a company that requires a waiver system.

I helped the studio report their claim.  Mom wasn’t looking for any money. Her health insurance was the only one claiming anything. The health insurance had paid $63,457 on her medical care.

The studio’s insurance company paid the $63,457 plus Mom’s $1,000 deductible. If the studio had a waiver on file for Mom, the studio’s insurance company would have paid $0. I suggest you make sure you have a waiver from everyone before they step out on your mat.

 


Beth A. Block can be reached at (800) 225-0863 or [email protected]

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