South African insurer Sanlam said on Thursday its full-year profit rose 3% as the benefits from lower death claims in its life insurance business was offset by weaker general insurance performance.

The company said its headline earnings per share, a profit measure, stood at 454 South African cents in the year to Dec. 31, compared with 438 cents a year earlier.

South Africa, the largest and the most advanced insurance market in Africa, is home to firms that account for more than two-thirds of total premiums collected across the continent.

But a substantial investment of those premiums in local government bonds, corporate debt and equity makes returns unpredictable, especially when the country is being battered by high inflation, low commodity prices and crippling power cuts.

Sanlam, the country's top life insurer, said while its annual earnings from life insurance business increased by 25%, its general insurance profit declined by 32%. (Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Himani Sarkar)