UPDATE 1-Travelers profit misses on weak underwriting, higher asbestos claims

(Adds details on earnings)

Oct 22 (Reuters) - Property and casualty insurer Travelers Cos Inc reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, hurt by weak underwriting and a rise in asbestos claims.

New York-based Travelers, often seen as a bellwether for the insurance sector, posted an underwriting loss of $149 million, compared with a gain of $198 million a year earlier. (https://reut.rs/2N0ugti)

The insurer said it set aside an additional $220 million for asbestos claim reserves in its business insurance unit, compared with a year earlier. The company also set aside higher claims reserves in its commercial auto business.

Net income fell to $396 million, or $1.50 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 from $709 million, or $2.62 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned $1.43 per share, while analysts were expecting $2.35 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The Dow component's total revenue rose about 4% to $8.01 billion.

Travelers shares were down nearly 2% in trading before the bell. (Reporting by Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Anil D'Silva)