* Earnings less than expected
* Announces higher dividend and share buyback
* Natural catastrophes, man-made disasters weigh on year (Adds detail on earnings, claims, dividend and share buyback)
FRANKFURT, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Reinsurer Swiss Re on Thursday posted a 27.2 percent jump in 2018 net profit, despite claims from large-scale natural catastrophes and man-made disasters.
Net profit for the full year came in at $421 million, compared with $331 million a year ago.
However, company's net profit lagged Reuters poll analysts' estimate of $525 million.
Last year was not as severe as 2017, when a series of major hurricanes, fires and earthquakes in North America made it the costliest year ever for the industry. However, the reinsurer said 2018 was still among the most expensive ever.
Swiss Re saw combined claims of $3 billion in 2018 from events that included typhoons in Japan and hurricanes Florence and Michael in North America.
Industry-wide, the company sees global insured losses of $81 billion, well shy of the record figure of $144 billion of 2017. The 2018 estimate, if it holds, would be the fourth highest on record, Swiss Re said earlier this year.
"There was no respite" from large natural catastrophe events and man-made disasters in 2018, Swiss Re Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler said, adding that he was optimistic about 2019 and expected price increases later this year.
The Zurich-based company said it would propose a 12 percent increase in its dividend to 5.60 Swiss francs per share, and announced a new share buyback programme. (Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Thomas Seythal and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)