7 Must Have Disclaimers
Ever heard of the word “disclaimers?” If you’re frequently watching TV commercials (queue small text) or listening to podcasts, you’ve surely encountered this term. Whether you’re running a podcast, writing blogs, producing video content, or advertising your brand on social media, disclaimers are essential to limit liabilities and set expectations for your business.
In this article, discover the seven must-have disclaimers that you should consider implementing into your business. But first, let’s know what a disclaimer is.
A disclaimer is a notice given to your audience, community, customers, and clients to limit your liability. Its purpose is to protect you from unexpected liabilities, unique to the value that you’re providing.
Your disclaimer is telling your audience, customers, and your community that they’re responsible for the actions that they take, its permission to implement the value that resonates with them in their manner, and disregard what may not be for them.
You might ask, “which disclaimers should I have in my business and where should I put them?” A disclaimer is great because it can go in so many places in your business, and it can be used more than once. You can use something, for example, on the intro to your podcast, on your website, or inside your contracts—really wherever it may fit.
If you aren’t using any disclaimers in your business, check out these seven must-have disclaimers.
This type of disclaimer is like the kitchen sink of disclaimers. Keep in mind that you don’t only want to disclaim and set this expectation of liability for yourself, but also your affiliates, employees, independent contractors, licensees, or whoever may benefit from this disclaimer.
So, if you have guest experts inside your community, you might want to say that “our business and guest speakers, experts, employees, or consultants expressly disclaim any liability, including direct, indirect, and consequential damages.” Then be specific about what liability by going into more detail on what that means for your products or services. For example, delays, injuries, harm, loss, damage, death, loss, profits, personal or business interruptions, and misapplications of information. Moreover, it may be physical or mental disease conditions, emotional or spiritual harm, loss of income or revenue, loss of business, loss of profits, loss of contracts, loss of anticipated savings, loss of data, loss of goodwill, waste of time, and any other damage of any kind.
As I’ve said, it’s like a kitchen sink, so make sure it’s sweeping.
Trigger or content warnings are basically to set the expectation if your information (or the way it’s expressed) might need a little bit of a warning. Now, this can be as simple as making sure that little ears don’t hear any explicit content. You can even say that “hey, in this podcast, we use explicit words from time to time, so it might be a really good time to cover little ears and make sure that only adults are listening.”
A disclaimer doesn’t need to seem like legal jargon, it should be easily understood. Content warning or trigger warning is a lot more specific and narrower than the general disclaimer depending on what you want to give your audience a trigger warning for.
Now, we used the “explicit” as a first example. But let’s also talk about other examples, say your program, online course, blog, or podcast might contain discussion or demonstrations of something that’s bringing up past trauma. If this is the case, you should tell your audience that they need to take appropriate steps to protect their mental health and expectations.
Now that we’re living in a virtual world, we mostly depend on the medium, right? For this reason, you may not be able to see your listeners’ facial expressions or determine what they’re struggling with, so set the expectation that while this is good information, only they know their limitations best.
Content warnings can be excellent when you want to make sure that your audiences are taking care of themselves and those around them. Moreover, this is to ensure that the information is given to them in a way and at a time that’s going to be supportive of them.
I know it can be a sexy thing to give a guarantee. But often when you see those guarantees, there’s a lot of small text underneath it that says all of the things that are going to limit or exclude you from the guarantee. So, if you may have thought about doing a guarantee in the past, consider what it’s going to look like and what conditions your audiences need to complete to receive the said guarantee. You also need to make sure that the guarantee is measurable.
But if you don’t guarantee any outcomes, this disclaimer would be excellent for your business. It’s also perfect for coaches or consultants. Now, you want to be clear on this one. You may say that “there’s absolutely no guarantee of (name the suggested outcome). Outcomes can be subjective, and may greatly vary depending on individual circumstances and efforts invested into the process.”
This type of disclaimer is a big one. You want to make sure that participants understand the weight of the decisions on what travel they’re planning, right?
For example, are they booking a non-refundable ticket? Or are they booking the refundable ticket and paying a little extra cost for that flexibility? Whatever the decision they make, it needs to be on them. People need to understand that they’re solely responsible for their personal safety, belongings, and any costs of travel—even those that become non-refundable. Simply put, people should be reminded that they’re responsible for themselves, their stuff, and their travel investments.
This is simply saying that people should assume all risks of access or subsequent actions they choose to take as a result of the influence of information or educational materials that are provided to them. Now, this one’s a little bit different from the previous disclaimer because it’s more general.
It’s a better fit for those with an online educational resource, podcast, online course, virtual mastermind, or blog. Whatever your business may be, remind your audiences that they should take full responsibility for their health, business health, actions, decisions, personal care, and overall well-being. The point is to get specific with this type of disclaimer. So, if there’s something that you’re concerned about, name it.
This type of disclaimer is probably one of my favorites. And it’s going to sound like the one you hear every time you listen to the beginning of my podcast. However, this is where we want to think about extending it to our guest experts or contributors and not only to ourselves like I mentioned earlier.
For example, “we’re not medical, legal, or financial professionals, but we’re offering our professional services and not acting in a professional capacity.”
This type of disclaimer is great when you bring in a guest expert that may be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). They can give only general tax advice. However, they’re not giving advice tailored to everyone tuning in. By using this “educational and entertainment purposes only” disclaimer, you’re protecting you and your guest expert from the liability of someone having the wrong understanding of the purpose of the content—to teach and serve.
When crafting your disclaimer, think about what potential speakers or topics you’ll be serving on, and think about where you may find misleading thoughts and perceptions. From that, set the expectation. Added bonus—extending this disclaimer to your contributors gives them a lot more peace of mind when coming in and teaching inside your community.
Last but not least is a very community-centered disclaimer, the community contributions. This is mostly useful for blogs, masterminds, online courses, or where there are interactions between people inside your community.
Community contributions is simply saying that the opinions expressed by community members are expressed according to their individual capacities and not on behalf of your business or your representatives, sponsors, or partners. You also want to state that your community members’ contributions can’t be discriminatory, hateful, or explicit, and give yourself the right to moderate these contributions and take action as needed.