What is an Insurance Waiver?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A waiver is a form or document that is used to release a person or organization from liability. For example, a person who is learning how to dive may be given a waiver form by his instructor. By signing the waiver form, the individual would be agreeing to not hold the instructor and the organization responsible for any accidents they did not cause or contribute to because of negligence. An insurance waiver is a little different, however. An individual usually signs this type of waiver when he has been offered a type of insurance and has decided to decline it.

An individual who declines to purchase optional life insurance coverage may be asked to sign an insurance waiver.
An individual who declines to purchase optional life insurance coverage may be asked to sign an insurance waiver.

Sometimes an insurance waiver form is used by educational institutions. For example, a higher education institution may require its students to enroll in a student health insurance plan it sponsors. If a student already has insurance and wishes to keep it, he may not need the student insurance plan. In such a case, the school may require him to sign a form stating that he declines the student health plan because he already has health insurance coverage. Sometimes a student may want the health insurance but decide to decline the dental and vision part of the plan; when this happens, the student may sign an insurance waiver that only covers the insurance programs he does not need.

In some cases, individuals may be asked to sign insurance waivers at their places of employment. For example, a company may offer some type of insurance as part of its employee benefit package. An individual may, however, have a better plan with lower rates that he wants to keep. Sometimes an employee wants to decline coverage because he is already covered through a spouse’s employer-sponsored insurance program. In such a case, the employer may ask the employee to sign a form attesting to the fact that he has declined coverage through the employer’s plan.

Sometimes an individual may even be asked to sign an insurance waiver by an insurance company or agent. An individual may, for example, purchase life insurance coverage from an insurance company. The insurance agent may offer an additional type of insurance as an option on his life insurance coverage. If the person refuses the optional coverage, the insurance agent may ask him to sign an insurance waiver. Essentially, signing this waiver is intended as an acknowledgment of the offer of optional insurance as well as the refusal of it.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


If you sign a waiver that limits the ability of your insurance company to collect or recoup payouts from another party, doesn't that void your insurance policy.


College students and their parents need to be closely aware of the health insurance offered by colleges and universities. I've heard many stories about students getting caught in the middle.

All states have different laws, but most require that students signing up for a certain minimum number of credits will be signed up for the school's health insurance program unless they sign a waiver. The waiver indicates that they either have health insurance or they can't afford it.

Some students don't notice that there is a deadline for turning in the waiver.

The colleges need to show that students are signed up for the school's insurance or that they can show that the students, who don't get the school insurance, have signed a waiver. This is necessary to comply with the law. But it's the student's responsibility to take care of the waiver.


When my son was offered medical insurance at his job, he declined the insurance and signed a medical insurance waiver.

He is still young enough that he can be covered on our family insurance plan. This saves him quite a bit of money every month. He will only be able to do this for a few more years, but those monthly premiums can really add up over time.

Once he can no longer be covered under our plan, he will be able to sign up with his company and accept their medical insurance coverage.


Every year our church youth group takes the kids on a ski trip. We must have a liability waiver signed by the parents of every child who is going. This is a pretty common and accepted practice.

The kids always think that nothing is going to go wrong, but I have spent more than one evening in the hospital emergency room through the years.

Thankfully the injuries have never been life threatening, but they were serious enough to go have some tests run. Most of the time it was either a concussion or broken bones.


@hamje32 - Every year we have a meeting with an insurance representative at our company, where he tells us what wonderful new products his company is offering.

If we decide we don’t want to buy the wonderful new products or any insurance for that matter, we have to sign a waiver of insurance. I agree that life is full of risk, and everyone is out to protect themselves, one way or another.


@allenJo - Actually, I’m not sure that there isn’t a contractual agreement of some sort. Read the fine print on all of the documents you get at the general admission gate.

Also at some rides, they have signs that tell you up front the dangers associated with the rides, health requirements and so forth. Proceeding to go on the ride, I would assume, represents a tacit consent on your part to assume the risks.

That doesn’t mean you can’t sue if something goes wrong however. They are supposed to be guaranteeing that the rides are safe; and I think they have their own liability insurance to protect them as well.


@hamje32 - Why don’t theme parks make people sign waivers? There is nothing more risky than jetting through a roller coaster while the wooden frame rumbles beneath you and the coaster hurtles upside down at who knows how many miles per hour.

You’d think that there would be someone standing at the entrance of the roller coaster ride making you sign a liability waver.


@wander - A liability waver is not necessarily a sign that you’re going to do something very risky, only that some risk is involved.

For example, when we sent our kids out to church camp for the summer, we were asked to sign a waiver releasing the church of all responsibility in case anything happened to our children – even death.

That was spelled out in the waiver, and frankly, it was kind of horrifying to read those words. This was church camp after all. But things can go wrong. We signed it, and thankfully we’ve never had an incident.

Unfortunately, just about everything you do these days carries some amount of risk, so waivers are more common than ever. We also live in a very litigious society as well. There are always lawyers waiting, at the drop of a hat, ready to pounce when something does go wrong.


My university was always trying to get us to go with their school health insurance plan, although most of the students didn't really need it. Unfortunately they enrolled us all automatically making it a tedious process to fill out an insurance waiver and stand in line for hours just to hand it in.

I really hated the beginning of the school year because of this insurance waiver process. Nothing is more depressing than knowing you've been signed up for something useless. I suppose the school made good money off the number of students unwilling to stand in line to hand in their filled in the form.


Being asked to sign an insurance waiver is a good clue that you are about to do something very risky. I remember when I first went skydiving the company made me sign an insurance waiver and a bunch of other stuff basically saying that I couldn't sue them if I plunged to my death or was injured.

I suppose that with "extreme" sports you just have to accept to fact that a certain amount of what your doing has a chance to splatter you on the ground. I guess I wouldn't want to insure me either if I was always flinging myself out of perfectly good airplanes and jumping off bridges attached to an elastic band.

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