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Car dealership recognized for standing up to insurance company

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South Charleston auto dealer Joe Holland has been named the 2012 Consumer Advocate of the Year by the West Virginia Association for Justice.

The dealership was recognized for reporting unlawful business practices to the West Virginia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. In one case, Liberty Insurance had asked the dealership's body shop to use aftermarket crash parts on newer model cars without informing the cars' owners. This practice is against the law in West Virginia unless the customer gives prior consent. Holland refused to comply, and the insurer revoked the body shop from its preferred provider list.

However, the attorney general's office began an investigation and filed a lawsuit against Liberty Insurance and another body shop. 

According to  the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act §46A-6B-3, body shops "must use genuine crash parts sufficient to maintain the manufacturer's warranty for fit, finish, structural integrity, corrosion resistance, dent resistance and crash performance unless the motor vehicle owner consents in writing at the time of the repair to the use of aftermarket crash parts."  It also states that insurance companies may not require the use of aftermarket crash parts.  The law applies to automobiles three years or newer.  While some argue that the use of aftermarket crash parts save money, they often do not fit properly, may not meet safety standards or come without warranties.