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Liability issues for look-alike, imported tires are the same, says TIA

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"While the outside appearance of two different tires with the same tread design may be similar, there is no guarantee that the rubber compound is also the same," said Tire Industry Association officials in a recently issued member bulletin about look-alike and imported tires.

"Retailers are ultimately responsible for every tire sold and installed, so it makes good business sense to ensure that the brands being offered are quality products.

"In the event of a safety recall, it's also important to know that the manufacturer will stand behind their tires and do what's right for consumers."

TIA officials stated that liability issues associated with look-alike tires are identical to liability issues associated with the sale of imported tires.

They also relayed suggestions from Zurich North America, TIA's insurance underwriter, to dealers who are thinking about selling imported tires:

* In the case of direct importation, consult qualified legal counsel regarding negotiations. Discuss your potential liability and how to obtain certificates of insurance. Also negotiate and commit to writing how you and the manufacturer will jointly handle the recall and warranty issues.

* Obtain a certificate of insurance from the manufacturer's liability insurance carrier that does a substantial amount of business in the U.S. and make sure the manufacturer has adequate limits (have your insurance representative and qualified legal counsel review the certificate).

* Obtain additional insured vendor's status on the certificate and get 30-day notice of any cancellation or non-renewal. Once you get it, place the certificate in a dated file and follow up 30 days prior to expiration.

For more details about TIA's stance on look-alike tires and plans to raise awareness about them, see the December 2007 issue of Modern Tire Dealer.

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