The new International Disability Insurance Society held its first annual conference last month in Florida.

W. Harold Petersen, president of Petersen International Underwriters in Valencia, Calif., says the group represents a cross-section of interests in the disability insurance industry, including regulators, educators, insurers and purveyors (brokers and other producers).

The founders chose to include the word “Society” in its name to signal that the organization would not function as a trade association, says Petersen, who now serves as president of IDIS.

“We intend to bring all the key interests together in a common forum where people can discuss common opportunities and common problems,” he says.

For example, at the conference, Petersen says there was discussion about “prices we can’t change,” citing the fixed costs producers must bear of sustaining a license and meeting the required 30 hours of continuing education credits. This can run to $5,000 a year, he says.

There was also discussion about the need for more training and education opportunities for producers. And there was discussion about how new wording might be inserted in state laws concerning disability insurance that would enable the business to operate the same in various states, he says.

Some regulators did attend, Petersen notes, as well as representatives of several trade associations. The sessions were “not confrontational,” he adds, but were geared toward “enlightenment and enthusiasm.”

“This industry needs a place to go where disability experts can exchange information in comfort,” Petersen contends.

Efforts to form the Society started at least a year ago. Membership now stands at 105, Petersen says. IDIS has its own Web site–www.internationaldisociety.com–and already has laid plans for its second annual conference in 2006, in Las Vegas.