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A Manulife Financial building in Toronto, on Feb. 11, 2020.Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Canada’s two biggest life insurance companies, Manulife Financial and Sun Life Financial , reported a rise in third-quarter profits on Wednesday, driven by growth in new business and higher assets under management.

Sun Life beat analysts’ expectations, helped by a 23 per cent surge in earnings from its asset management business that offset losses in the U.S. and Asia from COVID-related claims, but Manulife missed estimates due to weather-related charges.

While the pandemic and related claims, largely outside of Canada, have weighed on parts of insurers’ businesses, the growth in wealth, lifted by lockdown-induced savings and government stimulus has proved a boon for their wealth management units.

Core earnings at Manulife, Canada’s biggest life insurer, rose to $1.5-billion, or 76 cents a share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, from $1.45-billion, or 73 cents, a year earlier. Analysts had expected 79 cents.

The company took a $152-million charge in its property and casualty reinsurance business due to estimated losses from Hurricane Ida on the U.S. Gulf Coast and floods in Europe, above about $135-million expected by Canaccord Genuity analysts.

Manulife reported a jump in assets under management that boosted its global wealth and asset management business and helped offset lower earnings in Asia and the United States.

Underlying profit at smaller Sun Life was $902-million, or $1.54 a share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, from $842-million, or $1.44, a year earlier. Analysts had expected $1.52.

Earnings fell 19 per cent in the United States and 12 per cent in Asia, driven in part by COVID-19 related claims in the United States, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as the negative impacts of foreign exchange movements. However, this was offset by a 23 per cent increase in earnings from its asset management unit.

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