Disability insurance wholesalers, consultants and support services have come here this week to meet executives from most of the major disability insurance carriers.

Organizers of the 15th annual JHA disability insurance conference say attendance has reached 375 this year, a record.

Many speakers and attendees noted that, so far, their business has been solid, and that they read more about a possible economic slump in the newspapers than they see in their own operations.

JHA, Portland, Maine, is a unit of General Re Corp., Stamford, Conn., that sells disability insurance reinsurance, consulting and research services.

Drew King, president of JHA, conceded that the economic news looks grim.

“There are clearly dark clouds ahead,” King said. “This business is very sensitive economically.”

But disability insurers have dramatically improved the profitability of the business in the past few years, and they seem to be making progress at increasing consumer awareness of disability insurance, King said.

One concern is the fact that only half of U.S. workers have disability insurance, and another is that the percentage of workers with disability coverage has changed little over the past 20 years, King said.

Also during the JHA conference:

- As in past years, several exhibitors are offering to help disability insurers assist claimants with the notoriously difficult process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

- Marvin Feldman, the new president of the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, Arlington, Va., said insurers seem to be enthusiastic about the idea of supporting the second Disability Insurance Awareness Month campaign, in May 2008, because the first disability awareness month, held in May 2007, did well.

- One attendee is W. Harold Petersen, the founding president of the International DI Society, Seal Beach, Calif. IDIS, which seeks to represent all types of parties involved in the disability insurance industry, has scheduled its fourth annual meeting to start Oct. 24 in Las Vegas.