Premium revenue from new U.S. individual disability insurance policy sales increased 0.7% in 2006, to $321 million, but the total number of new policies issued fell 5%, to 220,531.

The number of new policies sold to medical professionals increased, thanks in part to changes in underwriting rules, but the total number of policies sold was down for the second year in a row, and the number of policies sold to individuals in other fields that involve any degree of risk, such as farmers and casino employees, declined significantly, according to researchers at JHA, Portland, Maine, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Omaha, Neb.

The researchers based their findings on analysis of survey responses from 16 insurers in the individual disability market.

This year, “sales growth is being driven by increasing benefit amounts, especially among medical occupations,” JHA President Drew King says in a statement about the latest individual disability survey results.

Sales of guaranteed-renewable contracts rose 2.4%, and sales of non-cancelable contracts were flat.

Revenue from individual disability policies already in force increased 4%, to $4.1 billion, with revenue from in-force guaranteed-renewable contracts rising slightly faster than revenue from in-force non-can policies, the JHA researchers report.