Welcome to Home Repair Ministries, Inc.

The Unfortunate Need for Waivers

Why are Waivers needed?

People need to know that their safety and healthcare are their own responsibility and they must agree to assume it.

Our website has some sample Release and Waiver of Liability forms (you will need to register and log in), written for the State of Georgia (you will need one applicable to your state and situation - please seek a lawyer for help), to be signed by the homeowner and another for volunteers. You are on dangerous ground if you neglect to get such a document signed by each group, plus a parent of any minors on the project.

As nonprofits and churches, we cannot afford to have a volunteer think that we are carrying insurance for his health care. Here's a real-life example.

A couple of years ago, we had a discipleship group siding a house and each person signed the Release and Waiver of Liability. During the day, they needed to move a scaffold. A “kidder” in the group looked like he was going to back off the end of a board and the guy on the other end was waiting for the “punch line”. Unfortunately, he wasn’t kidding and backed right off the board, falling about 6’ and hitting his elbow on a piece of concrete block. This guy was married, in his late 30’s, 2 kids, out of work for some time, and was not able to afford health insurance for his wife and himself. He was taken to the emergency room and patched up enough to send home. That was the first time a bill was presented that he couldn’t pay. Unfortunately, it wasn't the last. He ended up having an elbow replacement. The discipleship group leader is a tough negotiator and is still working with the medical people to take what they can get and write off the rest. Can you imagine where the ministry or churches could be if there was an expectation of coverage for him?

Several people have come alongside and offered to help with medical bills. A church has stepped up to help from their Deacon’s Fund. The Body of Christ has not abandoned this brother, but this is a troubling and difficult situation.

While insurance is intended to protect a church or nonprofit from liability in what it has done or failed to do, very often it gets used by lawyers bringing lawsuits which may have no merit but who are hoping for a settlement rather than a judgment. What can bankrupt your ministry may be just legal fees to defend itself against a lawyer.

Defend yourself ahead of time by getting releases/waivers signed and consider carefully what kind of insurance your group needs. Since most of the teams partnering with HRM are churches, the insurance issue may (don't assume that it is) already be in place.

It is also important to have the person you are doing work for sign a waiver as well (a Georgia example of a homeowner's waiver we use is also available to members of our website), to protect your ministry and church.

This whole line of thinking brings an ironic saying to mind: “No good deed goes unpunished” so instead of listening to my own mental tapes, I’ll play Jesus’ tapes: in Matthew 10:16 when He’s sending the disciples out among “wolves” He suggests, “...so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” That just might include the subject of waivers.

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