Convenience Store Chain Cuts Loss Ratio to Less than One Percent!

The problem

Brabham’s store employees were experiencing the strains, slips and falls common to the retail industry—but at a high rate of nearly 38 percent of their total claims. This was especially concerning because the prior year, Brabham’s E-Z Shop stores had racked up 18 claims at a price tag of more than $50,000 in medical and indemnity (lost wages) costs alone. The company’s workers’ comp rates were clearly on the rise, and HR Manager Teresa Hannibal needed answers. “We had just switched to our new workers’ comp company—through Summit—when I was tapped to ramp up our safety programs and results. Our insurance agent, Logan Doty with BB&T Boyle Vaughn, told me that Summit had incredible safety programs that could be customized for our needs.”

The solution

Summit Loss Control Consultant Barry Loudermilk met with Teresa, and the two immediately went to work. Barry researched the claims history for the E-Z Shop stores and then visited them himself. One look showed him that slips and falls were on the rise because employees were not wearing nonslip safety shoes. Barry immediately created a series of safety meetings for managers; he explained the value of true nonslip work shoes and the hazards of not using them. Barry even brought in several pairs to give away as door prizes at the meetings.

“It was great,” Barry states. “Like many folks, Brabham employees thought that tennis shoes are slip resistant, but they’re really not. The engineering of a safety work shoe is different from athletic shoes because they have different purposes. Put the wrong shoes on slippery floors, and the problem becomes huge. I explained these safety items, and presented several shoe styles and price options to encourage participation. In addition, we looked at what happens to store entrances when it rains and how important it is to keep those areas dry at all times. Safety starts with simply realizing potential hazards, and then encouraging people to notice and act on prevention.”

Next, Summit Back2Work Coordinator Chip Green helped Teresa set up a return-to-work program, which included management training workshops to explain the procedures and benefits of Back2Work. Chip also helped identify examples of possible light duty tasks in the stores. Brabham employees who get injured are now able to come to work in a modified capacity until they are completely healed. In the long run, it’s a double bonus—Brabham Oil’s medical and indemnity costs should drop because injured workers can get back to work quickly, and morale gets a boost because employees know that their company cares.


Summit helped Brabham develop safety programs and procedures that have dramatically reduced workplace injuries and raised safety awareness. A year into the Summit/Brabham Oil partnership, workplace injuries are down 55 percent, and the cost of lost wages dropped a whopping 99 percent! In fact, last year Brabham had just seven claims at a total cost of only $80 in lost wages (down from $23,700 the prior year). Moreover, a dramatically lower loss ratio should, in time, contribute to a lower mod—and lower workers’ compensation premiums.

Safety management requires a partnership

In the retail industry, slip-and-fall accidents are the most common cause of workplace injuries. A Summit loss control consultant recognized and recommended several simple steps to help create a culture of safety throughout Brabham’s organization—and the company and its employees made it happen. Thanks to an ongoing series of safety meetings and classes, Brabham Oil staff better understand safety procedures, such as rainwater removal, fire hazards, safety mats and fall prevention. And the company has a solid return-to-work program in place.

Teresa Hannibal is succinct in her explanation, “This is a partnership that works. Our agent sent me to Summit, and they stepped up to the plate with logical and simple safety strategies that are making a difference for Brabham. We are committed to safety excellence, and Summit is committed to us.”

Agent Logan Doty agrees, “I place clients with Summit because they actually look at each insured company to see what is needed, and then they provide it. Summit makes workers’ comp feel like a benefit instead of a cost.”

About the Company

Brabham Oil Company, Inc., headquartered in Bamberg, S.C., is a family-owned and -operated company founded in 1929 by Clarence Brabham. Over the years, the company has developed their E-Z Shop convenience store chain into one of the largest and most recognized in the state. In fact, many include SUBWAY, Domino’s Pizza and/or TCBY co-branded franchises. The company even has its own private-label gasoline, Horizon, that is marketed through its stores.