NU Online News Service, Aug. 30, 4:20 p.m. – U.S. group disability insurers made modest gains in the first half of the year in spite of the weak economy.

The 35 carriers that participated in the survey, which was conducted by John Hewitt & Associates Inc., Portland, Maine, increased earned premium revenue 8% from the first half of 2001, to $4.6 billion.

Total new group disability sales increased 6%, to $1.1 billion. New short-term disability sales fell 5%, to $357 million, but new long-term disability sales rose 12%, to $787 million.

New LTD sales to large employers seemed to be especially strong, Hewitt reports.

Insurers also succeeded at increasing the number of employees they protect against loss of income due to serious illnesses and injuries. They pushed the number of employees insured by LTD plans up 1% and the number insured by STD plans up 5%, Hewitt says.

Hewitt, a unit of General-Cologne Re, provides disability risk management and consulting services.