A small business that’s been selling condoms and lube for 44 years found out last month that it's losing its worker’s comp coverage because it sells adult products.
“The reason for nonrenewal is we have learned that your operations include distribution of adult products,” a letter sent to Paradise Marketing from the Hartford company, viewed by Motherboard, said. The Hartford is a Fortune 500 company, and one of the largest insurance providers in the U.S. “This presents a material change in the nature and extent of the risk beyond originally contemplated and this is not an acceptable exposure under The Hartford's Small Commercial business segment's underwriting guidelines.”
The Hartford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I’m not usually one to speak out, and this shouldn’t surprise me after 44 years in the business, but I’m genuinely in disbelief that in the year 2022, people are still discriminatory towards sexual and reproductive health, self-care and wellness products,” company founder Dennis Paradise said in a statement. “This is a workers compensation policy. This is about if a box falls and hits an employee. They are not using the items in the warehouse during working hours. I do not see how the nature of the items puts the workers in the warehouse at an increased risk. This is clearly about discriminatory prejudice against sexual wellness items. Clearly, The Hartford company is living in the last century.”
Adult businesses frequently face discrimination from lenders, venture capitalists, and payment processors. It’s been a problem for as long as the adult industry has existed, but it’s getting worse: in the last few years, following legislation like FOSTA/SESTA and under pressure from conservative anti-porn and anti-sex work organizations, banks have increasingly discriminated against adult companies, considering them too “high risk” to work with. Insurers have reported dealing with clients that distance themselves from their company when they take on an adult business.
“While we have no choice but to respect Hartford’s decision to cancel our policy, every single item in our inventory is legal to purchase and own in the United States and any other country we may sell to, as we carefully follow all applicable laws, so it’s frustrating and disheartening to have to cancel our policy,” Paradise said. “It seems arbitrary and unnecessary.”