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Introduction

Irrespective of whether you are in your 20s, 30s or 50s, you are sure to have certain life goals and financial objectives and dreams that you want to fulfil. When you are in your 20s, you may wish to save enough money to buy a car or your dream home. In your 30s, you are likely to be focussed on providing for your children’s education. In your 50s, you are likely to save money for your children’s education as well as building your retirement corpus.

Whatever be your financial objective, you need funds to make your dreams come true. This is where, a ULIP – Unit Linked Insurance Plan comes into the picture. It helps you save for your financial goals while also offering your life protection.

A ULIP is a combination of an investment tool as well as life insurance. It’s one of the most sought-after insurance products since it provides the best of both worlds – insurance and life protection.

The first ULIP plan in India was introduced in 1971 by UTI (Unit Trust of India). Following the success of this plan, LIC introduced the LIC Mutual Fund in 1989. Today, there are several insurers who offer ULIPs in India. Some of the leading ULIP providers include HDFC Life, ICICI Pru, Max Life, Bajaj Life, Edelweiss Tokyo and several others.

What is ULIP?

ULIP – Unit Linked Insurance Plan is a mix of insurance and investment. The primary goal of a ULIP plan is to help in wealth creation, along with offering life cover to the insured. When you invest in a ULIP, the insurer invests a portion of your premium towards life insurance, and the rest is invested into a fund – debt or equity. You can choose how to invest the investment portion of the ULIP based on your long-term financial goals like a child’s education, retirement planning, and others.

When you take a ULIP, you can pay the premium either monthly, semi-annually or annually. A small portion of the premium goes to your life insurance, while the rest is invested in – stocks, bonds, or debts – just like a mutual insurance plan.

You have to pay the premium for the entire policy term – say 5, 10 or 15 years. During this period, the insurer accumulates mutual fund units in your account. You can choose whether you want to invest your money in equities or debt. If you are an aggressive investor who can afford moderate to high risks, then you can choose an equity-oriented fund. On the other hand, if you are a conservative investor, then you can opt for debt-oriented funds.

The latest generation of ULIP plans has lower charges compared to older ULIPs. While traditional insurance plans offer returns of 4 to 6%, ULIPs offer double-digit returns, especially when you have chosen equity-oriented funds.

How do ULIPs Work?

Though an insurance product, a ULIP offers more than life protection. It’s a goal-based investment tool that you can use to meet your various financial goals. However, you should understand the plan thoroughly before you invest in it so that you are aware of where your money will be invested.

Just like regular insurance plans, you have to pay premiums for your Unit Linked Insurance Plan. The only difference here is that only a portion of your premiums go for life insurance coverage, while the rest is invested in a variety of funds.

Aggressive investors can opt for equity-oriented funds, while conservative investors can choose debt-oriented funds. If you want the benefits of growth as well as security, then you can opt for balanced funds that are a mix of equities and debts. Alternatively, you can switch between funds depending on your needs at various stages of life.

For instance, when you are younger, you are likely to have lesser responsibilities, and hence, you can choose for equity funds that give higher returns but come with higher risks. As you grow older and start a family, your responsibilities increase. You can then switch to debt or balanced funds that offer lower returns but have lower risks.

How are the funds allocated in ULIPs?

The insurer pools money from all policyholders and then invests it into funds as per the choice of individual policyholders. Once the amount is invested, the total corpus is divided into several units, which have a certain face value. All investors are allocated a certain number of units that are in proportion to the amount they have invested.

The value of each unit is known as NAV (Net Asset Value). The NAV value increases or decreases depending on the change in the value of the underlying assets. If you want to withdraw the corpus, either completely or partially, the corresponding amounts of units are sold.

Features of ULIPs

Before you invest in a unit-linked insurance plan, you need to be aware of the salient features of ULIPs.

1. Liquidity

ULIP plans generally have a lock-in period of five years. The term liquidity refers to the ease of cashing an investment without impacting the returns. ULIP plans allow policyholders to withdraw their investments partially or completely, after the end of the lock-in period.

2. Transparency

ULIPs are one of the most transparent investment products. All the charges and fees levied like the fund management fee, policy administration, mortality charges, etc. are disclosed in the policy document. Additionally, the policyholder has complete knowledge of fund allocation.

With ULIPs, you don’t have to worry about any hidden charges or fees.

3. Flexibility

ULIPs provide policyholders with complete flexibility. You can switch fund allocations based on your changing financial goals, risk appetite, etc.

4. Tax Benefits

ULIPs offer dual taxation benefits under both Section 80C and Section 10(10D) of the ITA. This means you can enjoy tax deductions on both your premium payments as well as the returns

5. Mitigation of Risk

Your funds are managed by professional fund managers, thereby helping you mitigate the common risks associated with stock market investing. This makes ULIPs a good choice for investors who want to enjoy the returns offered by the stock market, but don’t want to invest in it individually.

6. Potential for Higher Returns

ULIPs offer you the potential to enjoy higher returns in the long term. Since your funds are invested in the stock market; it generates higher revenues compared to other modes of investment like Fixed Deposits or Recurring Deposits.

7. Top-Up Facility

ULIPs allow investors to increase their investments. This feature is known as “top-up” facility, and you can invest any amount over your current premium. Tax benefits apply to the top-ups too.

For instance, if you find that your chosen fund is performing better than your initial expectations, you can invest more funds in it, whenever possible and increase your returns.

8. Switch Facility

This facility allows you to change the ratio of invested amount from one fund to another. For instance, if you wish for more equity exposure, you can increase the percentage of funds for equity and vice versa.

The switch facility allows investors to alter their investments according to their changing investment horizons and risk appetites.

Benefits of ULIPs

ULIPs offer several benefits to policyholders. Here’s a quick rundown of the major benefits of investing in ULIPs:

Investment, Insurance & Tax Benefits

ULIPs offer the triple benefits of investment, insurance, and tax savings. When you invest in ULIPs, you enjoy tax savings, get life cover as well as reap market-linked returns.

Death Benefits

ULIPs offer financial assistance to your beneficiary (family members) in the case of your unexpected death during the policy period. The actual sum assured to your beneficiary on your death depends on the type of policy.

Maturity Benefits

On maturity of the policy, you are offered maturity benefits, which are generally equal to the current value of your funds. However, some insurers also other maturity benefits like loyalty bonuses and more.

Market-Linked Returns

If you have wanted to invest in the stock market, but have been hesitant to invest on your own, then ULIPs are an excellent alternative. Here, a portion of your premiums is invested in the stock market – equities, debts, bonds, securities, etc. Professional fund managers handle investments on your behalf, helping you enjoy market-linked returns.

Tax Benefits

Apart from the other benefits, ULIPs also offer tax benefits under Section 80C for the premiums and Section 10(10D) for the returns.

Long-term Investment Benefits

If you are looking to generate maximum returns on your investments in the long term, then ULIPs are a great choice. Since you stay invested for a long time, short-term market volatility and fluctuations do not affect your investments. This helps you enjoy higher returns.

Withdrawal Benefits

Another major benefit of ULIPs is that it can come quite handy during an emergency. If you require funds immediately, you can withdraw a portion of your accumulated funds. These withdrawals are tax-free.

Unit Linked Insurance

5 Main Reasons to Invest in ULIPs

Unit Linked Insurance Plans offer the dual benefit of both – insurance and protection. With high returns on investment, ULIPs are one of the most popular investment products on the market. If you are wondering why you should invest in ULIPs, here are seven compelling reasons to add ULIPs to your investment portfolio:

1. Dual Benefits

As mentioned above, ULIPs offer dual I-I benefits: Insurance and Investment. It’s a great tool to grow your wealth over the long term. Additionally, it also offers you life coverage, helping to protect your family members financially in case of your unexpected death.

A pre-decided amount from your premium is set aside for insurance investments, while the rest is invested in your preferred investment product (debt or equity).

2. Tax-Exemptions

One of the biggest advantages of ULIPs is that it helps you enjoy tax deductions at three stages – investment, returns, and withdrawals.

  • Investment stage - You can avail tax deductions on the premiums you pay.
  • Withdrawals stage - Additionally, unlike mutual funds that incur taxes, ULIPs allow you to withdraw your accumulated funds anytime after the mandatory lock-in period, without attracting any taxes.
  • Returns stage – The maturity amount or sum assured that you receive on the maturity of the policy is also free from any taxes.

3. Top-Up the Policy at any time

ULIPs allow you to increase your investments at any time. Let’s say, you receive a bonus at work or receive a lump sum as an inheritance from a parent/grandparent, you can invest the funds as additional funds to your existing ULIP policy. This significantly increases the amount you have accumulated in your investment.

4. Option to Switch Fund Allocations

ULIPs allow you to switch the ratio of exposure to equities and debt funds. You can alter the percentage of equity, debt, balanced, and hybrid funds in your portfolio based on your various risk appetite that changes with your age.

ULIPs are the only investment tools that provide investors with the option to switch their funds partially or wholly from one fund to another, without incurring any additional charges. If you are an investor who follows the market regularly, then you can make use of this feature to get the most from your investments.

5. Higher Returns compared to other popular Investment Products

ULIPs offer better returns when compared to other insurance and investment products. Since ULIPs invest your money across different asset classes; you get to enjoy the benefits of diversification.

When compared with tax-saving funds, ULIPs present several benefits. Though tax-saving funds are likely to offer higher returns, the amount you get on maturity depends on the equity market performance. This can lead to loss of returns if the market is not performing well during the fund tenure.

Endowment plans, on the other hand, provide you with a fixed lump sum at the end of the tenure. Tax-saving FDs have a similar lock-in period like ULIPs. However, the returns are added to the investor’s income, thereby attracting taxes.

Insurance experts recommend that all individuals have life cover that is a minimum of their ten years income. ULIPs offer life cover that is ten times the annual premium. Thus, with a ULIP, you can protect your wealth against market volatility, while also securing your family’s future. Highly safe and with easy liquidity, ULIPs are excellent tools to get life cover as well as grow your wealth.

Different Types of ULIPs

Several types of ULIPs cater to different financial goals. Understanding the various categories of ULIPs, their benefits and features is a must to find the right ULIP plan that suits your specific requirements. Take a look at the different types of ULIPs and find out how you can use these to achieve your specific goals.

ULIPs for Wealth Generation

If you are looking to build your corpus over a long period of time, then ULIPs for wealth generation is one of the best investment tools for you. You can use these plans to accumulate funds for huge financial commitments like purchasing a house, saving for your child’s higher education, your retirement, etc. The added benefit of life cover gives you peace of mind, knowing that your family is protected at all times.

Classification of ULIPs based on Premium Payment Frequencies

  • One Pay – As the name implies, in this type of ULIPs, you pay the premium only once during the entire tenure of the policy. If you have a lump sum that you are looking to invest, then you can choose the one pay ULIP plan.
  • Regular Pay – Here, you pay the premium regularly throughout the tenure of the plan – say monthly, half-yearly, or yearly, depending on your preferences. The premium for Regular Pay plans is lower compared to the premiums for one-pay plans.

Classification of ULIPs based on Guarantee of Returns

  • Guarantee Plans – These plans offer assured benefits, like a particular amount of returns, irrespective of prevailing market conditions. In such plans, your equity exposure is limited. Guarantee Plans do not offer high returns but give you assured returns.
  • Non-Guarantee Plans – These plans invest your funds in a variety of equities, debts, and other bonds. If you are ready to take risks, then you can choose equity-oriented funds that have the potential for higher growth in the long-term. Non-guarantee plans are ideal if your primary goal is to grow your wealth and not life cover.

Classification of ULIPs based on Different Life Stages

Life stage ULIPs are plans that alter your fund allocations based on different life stages. For instance, when you are younger, you are not likely to have many financial commitments and other responsibilities in life. You can afford to take risks. Hence the initial allocation in these plans have a higher proportion of equity, while the debt component is kept low.

As you grow older, your financial liabilities tend to increase – home loans, car loans, children’s education, etc. You cannot afford to take aggressive risks like when you were younger. When you reach this stage, life-stage plans alter fund allocation and the debt component increases, while investments in equities decrease.

Life stage plans ensure that the fund allocation matches your age and changing financial requirements.

The major life-stage based ULIPs are:

Child Education Plans

One of the major responsibilities as a parent is to ensure that you provide your children with a high-quality education. The education children receive today is the guarantee for their future. Today, education costs are increasing at a staggering rate all across India. From metros to small towns, school fees, and other miscellaneous fees like co-curricular, extracurricular make up the major expenditure of a family’s monthly budget.

ULIPs help you save for your children’s education costs, thereby setting them up for a bright future. Here are some of the features of child-education ULIPs.

  • The amount you invest is locked-in for the first five years. After the completion of the mandatory lock-in period, you can withdraw a part of the funds to pay for your child’s education milestones like higher secondary, undergraduate, post-graduate, overseas education, etc.
  • In case of the unexpected death of the insured, the insurer provides your family with a lump sum payment to help them meet immediate financial emergencies. This ensures that your child’s education continues unhindered, even when you are not around. Additionally, the insurer takes responsibility for paying all your future premiums so that your plan is not interrupted.
  • At the end of the policy period, the insurer pays a lump sum to the child or nominee.

Popular Child ULIP Plans in India for 2019

  • ICICI Prudential Smart Kid Premier Plan
  • Aviva Young Scholar Advantage Plan
  • Max Life Shiksha Plus Plan
  • SBI Life Smart Scholar Plan
  • HDFC SL Youngstar Super Premium Plan

Retirement Plans

Retirement is the stage when you get freed from your pressing work duties. It’s time to relax and enjoy your life at a leisurely pace. However, to make your retirement free from financial troubles, you need to start planning right from an early age. Investing in retirement ULIP plans help you build a safety net that you can use during your retirement.

With increasing life expectancy, thanks to advancements in medical technologies, today people are having a longer retirement, and it’s common for people to live up to their 80s and 90s. The average Indian today lives up to 77.5 years. This makes it highly crucial to building a sufficient retirement corpus, to help you maintain your lifestyle in your sunset years, and to take care of other emergency expenses.

Popular Retirement ULIP Plans in India for 2019

  • ICICI Prudential Easy Retire
  • HDFC Click 2 Wealth – Golden Years Benefit Plan
  • Max Life Guaranteed Lifetime Income Plan
  • Edelweiss Tokio Life – Easy Pension
  • SBI Life – Retire Smart

Classification of ULIP Plans based on Death Benefits

Another classification of ULIP plans is based on the death benefits offered. The two major types are:

Type 1 ULIP Plans

In these plans, if the policyholder dies unexpectedly during the policy tenure, the nominee is provided with the death benefit. The death benefit is equal to the sum assured or the fund value, whichever is higher.

The mortality charge in this plan keeps on decreasing every year, as the sum at risk reduces. Here, the sum at risk denotes the difference between the fund value and the sum assured by the policy. In simpler terms, the sum at risk is the amount the insurer has to pay out of pocket if the policyholder dies unexpectedly during the policy tenure.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Let’s say; a policyholder takes a ULIP plan with a sum assured of Rs. 50 lakhs. The policyholder has paid annual premiums for 7 years now, increasing the value of the fund to Rs. 30 lakhs. If the policyholder dies unexpectedly, then his family receives Rs. 50 lakhs the sum assured (which is higher than the current fund value of Rs. 30 lakhs).

Here, the sum at risk is the difference between the sum assured (Rs. 50 lakhs) and the fund value (Rs. 30 lakhs) is Rs. 20 lakhs, which is borne by the insurer.

Type 2 ULIP Plans

In this type of ULIP plan, if the policyholder dies unexpectedly during the policy period, the nominee receives a lump sum that is a total of the sum assured along with the fund value.

Since the lump sum payment is higher, the premiums for Type 2 ULIP plans is higher than the premium for the Type 1 ULIP plan. In this plan, the mortality charge increases with every policy year, since the risk of death increases as the policyholder grows older.

Let’s illustrate Type 2 ULIP plans using the above example. Let’s say; a policyholder takes a ULIP plan with a sum assured of Rs. 50 lakhs. The policyholder has paid annual premiums for 7 years now, increasing the value of the fund to Rs. 30 lakhs. In the event of the death of the policyholder, the beneficiary receives a total of Rs. 80 lakhs which is the sum assured (Rs. 50 lakhs) along with the fund value (Rs. 30 lakhs).

Who should invest in ULIPs?

While ULIPs work well for all categories of investors, there are certain people for who ULIPs are the best choice:

  • People who wish to build their wealth by investing in equity.
  • People who are saving for a specific financial goal like a child’s higher education, retirement, etc.
  • People who are looking to save taxes under Section 80C.
  • People who have a longer investment horizon.
  • People who wish to maximize their returns.
  • People who want the benefits of life coverage, investment, and tax exemptions in a single investment product.

ULIP Riders

Riders are add-on covers that you can opt for by paying an extra premium. Riders offer you extra coverage at a nominal cost.

The common riders available with ULIP plans are:

Accidental Death and Permanent Disability Benefit Rider

As the name implies, when you choose this add-on cover, the insurance provider provides the nominee with the sum assured (according to the plan you have chosen) along with the rider benefit, if the policyholder passes away unexpectedly during the policy term.

The purpose of choosing this rider is to provide your loved ones with an additional supplementary financial coverage, in case of an accident of the breadwinner of the family.

There are plenty of times when an accident doesn’t mean the death of the policyholder but could lead to other devastating conditions like permanent disability like loss of limbs, eyesight, etc. This leaves the victim handicapped or crippled, leading to loss of jobs, pay, etc. The permanent disability rider provides the policyholder with a rider benefit, helping the policyholder manage difficult circumstances.

Critical Illness Rider

Critical diseases like cancer, kidney failure, paralysis, heart attack, bypass surgeries can occur anytime, and if advanced prevents the policyholder from working and earning. Additionally, the treatment costs for critical illnesses are quite high.

When you choose a critical illness rider cover, the insurer provides you with a lump sum payment when the policyholder is diagnosed with any critical illness mentioned in the policy document.

Term Rider

The term rider provides the nominee of the policyholder with a lump sum payment or monthly payments if the policyholder passes away during the term of the policy. This is highly crucial when the life insured is the primary breadwinner of the family.

When you choose monthly payouts, your nominees receive regular monthly payments that help them take care of their daily needs, without missing out on the lifestyle they are accustomed to.

Waiver of Premium Rider

When the policyholder meets with an unexpected accident and gets disabled or passes away, the family of the policyholder finds it hard to pay future premiums. The earning member of the family is no more, and the family’s income comes to a standstill. In such situations, it’s difficult for the policyholder’s family to continue paying future premiums, causing the policy to be discontinued.

You can avoid this situation by opting for waiver of premium rider. With this rider, all your future premiums are waived off, helping you or your family members continue enjoying the other benefits offered by the ULIP plan.

Unit Linked Insurance Plan Charges

When you invest in a Unit Linked Insurance Plan, you have to pay the following charges to your insurer for the administration services and other benefits provided. These charges are deducted from the premiums you pay.

Administration Charges

This is a fee that the insurer charges for your policy every month. These charges are deducted by cancelling the corresponding units from the funds you have chosen.

Fund Management Charges

As the name implies, these are the fees that you pay the insurer for managing your funds on your behalf. The fund management charges are calculated as a percentage of the fund’s value and are deducted before calculating the NAV (Net Asset Value) of the fund.

Mortality Charges

Depending on the age of the insured and the amount of cover, the insurer may levy mortality charges to provide death cover to the policyholder.

Partial Withdrawal Charges

ULIPs allow you to withdraw the funds accumulated partially after three years of policy commencement. Depending on your policy plan, partial withdrawals may or may not attract charges.

Premium Allocation Charge

The premium allocation charge is calculated as a fixed percentage of the premium. It’s higher in the initial years of the policy and decreases later on. The premium allocation charge depends on the following factors – whether you pay regular premiums or whether you have chosen single premiums, the premium payment mode, payment frequency, and the size of the premium.

Surrender Charges

The insurer levies these charges when you prematurely surrender the units in hand. You may or may not have surrender charges depending on when you surrender the policy.

Switch Charges

You can switch between funds based on your changing financial goals and requirements. Most insurers allow you to make a particular number of switches free of cost every year. Once you have exhausted the number of free switches, you have to pay a particular amount for every subsequent switch. The switch charges are deducted by cancelling the appropriate number of units from the funds you have chosen.

How to choose the best ULIP plan that suits you?

There are several ULIP plans in India offered by several insurers. A ULIP plan that meets the financial goals of one person may not work for another. There are several factors to consider while choosing the right ULIP plan that suits your specific financial requirements.

Here are the top things to keep in mind while selecting ULIPs:

1. Choose the right ULIP plan that meets your financial goals

ULIP plans allow investors to invest in equities, debts, or a mix of both. While equities have high-growth potential in the long-run, they come with higher risks. Debt funds, on the other hand, are low risks but help you preserve your wealth. Depending on your financial goals, investment horizon, and risk appetite, you can decide whether you want to invest in equity or debt or a mix of both.

Additionally, there are specific ULIP plans that help you meet certain financial goals like your child’s education, retirement, medical or personal emergencies, or building a corpus. If you have a specific goal in mind, then choosing a ULIP plan specifically created for that financial goal, helps you to meet your needs on time.

2. Decide the right amount of life cover

Apart from helping you meet your financial objectives like funding your child’s higher education or building a corpus for retirement, ULIPs also secure your family’s future. ULIPs offer life cover that protects your family from financial emergencies in the case of your unexpected death.

The insurer provides your family with a lump sum life cover that they can use to meet their routine expenses, in the unfortunate case of you passing away. Generally, all ULIP plans offer a minimum life cover that is ten times your annual premium. You can also increase this amount by getting in touch with your insurer.

Let’s say - you take a ULIP plan with an annual premium of Rs. 1 lakh. The minimum life cover offered by the plan is 10 x 1 lakh that is Rs. 10 lakhs. However, if your financial liabilities are higher than this amount, you can increase the life cover, by getting in touch with the insurer.

3. Try to stay invested over a long term

Apart from providing you with life cover, one of the major goals of ULIPs is to help you build your wealth over the years. When you stay invested in ULIPs for a longer term, the insurer rewards you with bonuses like Wealth Boosters and Loyalty Additions to help you build your wealth in the long term.

4. Consider the Tax Benefits

According to the ITA (Income Tax Act) of 1961, you can enjoy tax deductions when you invest in Unit Linked Insurance Plans. ULIPs offer various tax advantages at different stages of the policy. They are:

Stage 1: Entry Stage

You can enjoy tax benefits on the premiums you pay for ULIPs under Section 80C, 80CCC and 80D. Tax benefits under these sections are subject to the conditions of the ITA and are subject to changes from time to time.

Stage 2: Earnings Advantage

The wealth you build by investing in ULIPs is not subject to taxation. It is free from taxes.

Stage 3: Switching Advantage

You can switch your allocated money from equities to debts and vice versa, without having to pay any extra taxes.

Stage 4: Exit Advantage

Additionally, the maturity benefit (the amount you receive at the end of the policy term) is free from taxation.

5. Be Aware of the Charges Levied under your ULIP Plan

While ULIPs offer double benefits like – protection and savings, it has some charges attached to it. You need to be aware of the various charges before purchasing a ULIP plan. The common charges include:

  • Premium allocation charge
  • Mortality charge
  • Policy administration charge
  • Fund management charge

While these charges may appear too much, remember that the overall charges of your ULIP plans reduce in the long-term, helping you build a significant corpus over the years. However, remember that your life insurer has the right to revise the various charges and fees over a period of time.

6. Know the features of your preferred ULIPs

To get the best out of your ULIP investments, you need to be aware of the various features in it. Some of the common features of ULIPs include:

  • Fund Switch – This feature allows you to move your fund allocation from debts to equities and vice versa. You can also alter the percentage of funds that you have invested in debts and equities.
  • Premium Redirection – This feature lets you invest your future premiums in other funds, apart from your chosen base fund.
  • Partial Withdrawals – Using this feature, you can withdraw a part of your money.
  • Top-Ups – This feature allows you to divert your surplus funds, into your existing investment policy.

Make sure to read your product brochure thoroughly to understand all the available features and other terms and conditions. If you have any doubts in the policy document, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a representative of your insurance company.

Understand the benefits, compare different policies, and then make the right decision.

What is a ULIP Calculator, and how to use it?

A ULIP calculator is a special tool that helps investors calculate the premiums of different ULIP policies and expected returns. There are several online ULIP calculators that you can use for free. Some ULIP calculators provide you the option of comparing different ULIP plans, helping you choose the right plan that meets your investment goals as well as your budget.

A ULIP calculator helps you decide the amount of premium you have to invest to meet your short-term and long-term financial goals.

How to use it?

Before you use a ULIP calculator, make sure to have the following details in hand – your preferred premium frequency (one-time, monthly, yearly, etc.), the amount you wish to invest and expected returns.

Step-by-step process of using a ULIP Calculator

  • You have to load the URL of your preferred ULIP calculator. A Google search will help you find the best online ULIP calculators that you can use for free.
  • The next step is the amount you wish to invest. This depends on your financial situations and budget. You can choose a premium as low as Rs.500 per month.
  • Next, you have to input the frequency of premium payment. Whether you wish to pay in lump-sum or monthly, quarterly or annually instalments.
  • Next, you have to choose the tenure of the plan. This is the number of years you want to stay invested in.
  • In the next step, you have to decide the percentage of your premium, which you want to allocate for investing in the stock market.
  • Next, decide the lock-in period. All ULIPs have a minimum lock-in period of 5 years. However, you can extend this period to maximize your returns.
  • The final step is selecting the type of funds you want to invest in – equities, debts, hybrid or balanced.

Once you enter the details, you can get a list of ULIPs that meet your criteria. Go through the terms and conditions and features of each plan to pick the right plan that works for you.

Top Insurance Companies in India for ULIPs

Several insurers offer unit-linked insurance plans. Here is a list of the top insurers and the popular ULIPs offered by them.

S.No.InsurerULIP Plans Offered for 2019
1Aegon Life ULIP Plans
  • Aegon Life Imaximize
  • Aegon Life Invest
  • Aegon Life Future Protect Plus
  • Aegon Life Imaximize Single Premium Insurance
  • Aegon Life Future Protect Insurance
2Aviva Life ULIP Plans
  • Aviva Life Bond Advantage
  • Aviva Live Smart
  • Aviva i-Growth
  • Aviva Young Scholar Advantage
3Bajaj Allianz ULIP Plans
  • Bajaj Allianz Life Goal Assure
  • Bajaj Allianz Future Gain
  • Bajaj Allianz Life Fortune Gain
  • Bajaj Allianz Life Principal Gain
  • Bajaj Allianz Life Future Wealth Gain
  • Bajaj Allianz Life Goal Based Saving
4Bharti AXA Life ULIP Plans
  • Bharti AXA Life eFuture Invest
  • Bharti AXA Life Grow Wealth
  • Bharti AXA Life Future Invest
5Aditya Birla Sun Life ULIP Plans
  • ABSLI Wealth Max
  • ABSLI Wealth Assure
  • ABSLI Wealth Secure
  • ABSLI Wealth Aspire
  • ABSLI Fortune Elite
6Canara HSBC ULIP Plans
  • Canara HSBC Titanium Plus
  • Canara HSBC Platinum Plus
  • Canara HSBC Smart Future
  • Canara HSBC Smart Goals
  • Canara HSBC Smart Life Long
  • Canara HSBC Secure Bhavishya
  • Canara HSBC Smart One Pay
  • Canara HSBC Insure Smart
  • Canara HSBC Shubh Labh
  • Canara HSBC Future Smart
  • Canara HSBC Grow Smart
7DHFL Pramerica ULIP Plan
  • DHFL Pramerica Life Wealth Enhancer
  • DHFL Pramerica Life Wealth Maximizer
  • DHFL Pramerica Wealth + ACE
  • DHFL Pramerica Smart Wealth Plan
8Edelweiss Tokio Life ULIP Plans
  • Edelweiss Tokio Life Wealth Gain+
  • Edelweiss Tokio Life Wealth Plus
  • Edelweiss Tokio Life Wealth Accumulation (Privilege)
  • Edelweiss Tokio Life Wealth Enhancement (Ace)
  • Edelweiss Tokio Life Wealth Accumulation (Cover Plus)
  • Edelweiss Tokio Life Wealth Ultima
9Exide Life ULIP Plans
  • Exide Life Prospering Life Plus
  • Exide Edelweiss Tokio Life ULIP PlansLife Prospering Life Plus SP
  • Exide Life Wealth Maxima
10Future Generali ULIP Plans
  • Future Generali Big Dreams
  • Future Generali Easy Invest Online
  • Future Generali Dhan Vridhi
  • Future Generali Bima Advantage Plus
  • Future Generali Bima Gain
  • Future Generali Wealth Protect Plan
  • Future Generali Pramukh Nivesh ULIP
11HDFC Life ULIP Plans
  • HDFC Life Click2Invest ULIP
  • HDFC SL Crest
  • HDFC Life Pension Super Plus
  • HDFC SL YoungStar Super Premium
  • HDFC Life ProGrowth Plus
  • HDFC SL ProwGrowth Flexi
  • HDFC SL ProGrowth Super II
  • HDFC SL ProGrowth Maximiser
  • HDFC Life Single Premium Pension Super 
12ICICI Prudential ULIP Plans
  • ICICI Pru ULIP Plan LifeStage Wealth II
  • ICICI Pru ULIP Plan LifeTime Premier
  • ICICI Pru ULIP Plan Pinnacle Super
  • ICICI Pru ULIP Plan Elite Life
  • ICICI Pru ULIP Plan Elite Wealth
13IDBI Federal ULIP Plans
  • IDBI Federal Life Insurance Smart Growth
  • IDBI Federal Life Insurance Wealth Plus Critical Protection
  • IDBI Federal Life Insurance Wealthsurance Growth Insurance SP
  • IDBI Federal Life Insurance Wealthsurance Future Star Insurance
14IndiaFirst ULIP Plans
  • IndiaFirst Life Wealth Maximizer
  • IndiaFirst Life Money Balance
  • IndiaFirst Life Smart Save
15Kotak Life ULIP Plans
  • Kotak Wealth Insurance
  • Kotak Invest Maxima
  • Kotak Single Invest Plus
  • Kotak Single Invest Advantage
  • Kotak Platinum
  • Kotak Ace Investment
  • Kotak Headstart Child Assure
16LIC ULIP Plans
  • LIC New Endowment Plus Plan
17MaxLife ULIP Plans
  • MaxLife Fast Track Super
  • MaxLife Platinum Wealth Plan
18Reliance Nippon Life ULIP Plans
  • Reliance Nippon Life Smart Savings Insurance
  • Reliance Nippon Life Prosperity Plus
  • Reliance Nippon Life Premier Wealth Insurance
  • Reliance Nippon Life Classic Plan II
20Sahara Life ULIP Plans
  • Sahara Sanchit Jeevan Bima
  • Sahara Utkarsh Jeevan Bima
  • Sahara Sugam Jeevan Bima
21SBI Life ULIP Plans
  • SBI Life eWealth Insurance
  • SBI Life Smart InsureWealth Plus
  • SBI Life Saral InsureWealth Plus
  • SBI Life Smart Wealth Builder
  • SBI Life Smart Wealth Assure
  • SBI Life Smart Power Insurance
  • SBI Life Smart Elite
  • SBI Life Saral Maha Anand
  • SBI Life Smart Privilege
22Shriram Life ULIP Plans
  • Shriram Life Growth Plus
  • Shriram Life Wealth Plus
  • Shriram Life Fortune Builder
  • Shriram Ujjwal Life
  • Shriram Ujjwal Life SP
23Star Union Dai-chi ULIP Plans
  • SUD Life Dhan Suraksha Plus
  • SUD Life Wealth Builder
  • SUD Life Century Plus
  • SUD Life Dhan Suraksha Express
  • SUD Life Dhan Suraksha Premium
24Tata AIA ULIP Plans
  • Tata AIA Life Insurance InvestOne
  • Tata AIA Life Insurance Fortune Maxima
  • Tata AIA Life Insurance Fortune Pro
  • Tata AIA Life Insurance Wealth Maxima

What are the differences between ULIPs and mutual funds?

Quite often, investors confuse ULIPs with mutual funds since both these products invest in the stock market. Here’s a table comparing the key differences between the two.

FeaturesULIPsMutual Funds
Scope of the productInvestment along with life insurancePure investment product
Lock-in periodCompulsory five years lock-in periodNo lock-in period. Can be withdrawn any time.
Switching between fundsAlternating between different fund classes – equities to debts, and vice versa is permitted.Switching between funds of the same fund house is permitted. However, this is considered as redemption, and the resulting gains from it are taxable.
Charges LeviedPremium allocation charge, mortality charges, administration charges, and fund management charges.There is no entry load. However, you have to pay the applicable exit load for premature withdrawal, and the annual fund management.
Tax SavingAllows tax deductions under Section 80C of the ITA.Only ELSS mutual funds are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80C of the ITA.
Fund Management ChargesThe charges for ULIPs are lower than mutual funds. The IRDAI requires insurers that the total charges not to exceed 2.25%. The charges for mutual fund managers are higher than the charges levied by ULIPs.

As you can see, the biggest difference between the two is the ULIPs offer life cover, while mutual funds do not. This means, when you invest in a ULIP, apart from growing your wealth, you can also protect your family, in case of an untimely death.

Here’s an example illustrating the differences between the two. Let’s say Mr. A chooses a ULIP with an annual premium of Rs. 50,000. On the other hand, Mr. B purchases mutual fund units worth Rs. 50,000 per year. Both A and B invest the same amount. However, a portion of Mr. A’s investments is spent on purchasing life cover for him. Mr. B has not invested in life cover.

In the unfortunate case of an accident, and Mr. A passes away, the insurer pays his family a life cover worth Rs. 5 lakhs or the fund value, whichever is higher. On the other hand, if Mr. B passes away, there is no life cover for him and his family does not receive any death benefits from his mutual fund investment.

Apart from death benefits, there are other ULIP plans that offer coverage for specific life goals. For instance, if you invest in a child's education policy, the insurer provides you with a lump sum payment to cover for your child’s higher education.

If you were to pass away unexpectedly, the insurer waives your future insurance premium payments. Additionally, these policies also provide a regular monthly income for your family.

ULIPs Vs. Mutual Funds – which one should you invest?

When choosing between mutual funds and ULIPs, you have to consider the following questions,

  • What is your financial goal? Do you want to save for a specific long-term objective like a child’s education, retirement, etc.?
  • Do you require life cover? Or do you already have another insurance plan like term insurance that offers you adequate life cover?
  • What is your investment horizon?
  • What is your risk appetite?

To phrase it in a nutshell, ULIPs are best suited for investors with long-term objectives of wealth creation along with life cover requirements. ULIPs offer you the double benefit of wealth creation as well as insurance.

Additionally, ULIPs work well for individuals who don’t have the knowledge or time to monitor the equity market or different fund options offered by mutual fund investments. If you wish to enjoy the benefits of equities, without having to track different funds, ULIPs are an excellent alternative.

What are the differences between ULIPs and ELSS?

Investors often get confused between ULIPs and ELSS. Here is a comparative analysis between the two popular investment products.

FeaturesULIPs (Unit Linked Insurance Policies)ELSS (Equity Linked Savings Schemes)
Scope of the ProductAn insurance cum investment product.A pure investment product.
The objective of the ProductTo provide investment benefits along with life coverage.It’s a professionally managed fund that helps individual investors diversify their equity investments.
RegulatorIRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India)SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India)
Lock-in PeriodULIPs have a mandatory lock-in period of five years.ELSS plans have a mandatory lock-in period of three years.
Tax BenefitsYou can claim tax deductions for the premiums paid for ULIPs, under section 80C of the ITA. However, the gains you get from your ULIP investments are taxable. Both investments and returns up to Rs. 1 lakh are not taxable under Section 80C according to the LTCG (Long Term Capital Gains) Rule.
Applicable ChargesPremium allocation charge, mortality charges, administration charges, and fund management charges.No entry load. But exit load and fund management charges are levied and vary based on the fund house.
Expected ReturnsThis depends on the type of investments chosen by the policyholder – equities, debts, mixed.Since the scheme is market-linked, the returns depend on the type of scheme. Generally, investors can expect returns of up to 12 – 14% for long-term investments.
LiquidityYou can withdraw your funds anytime after the mandatory lock-in period of five years.You can withdraw your funds anytime after the mandatory lock-in period of three years.
SwitchingSwitching between fund allocations – equity, debt, balanced, hybrid, and money market funds is permitted. However, the number of switches and the charges of switching vary from one insurer to another.No switching allowed. Your entire funds are locked in equities and equity-oriented funds. You can opt for STP (Systematic Transfer Plan) once the mandatory lock-in period of three years is completed.
Maximum ChargesCharges are capped to 2.25% for policies with a term period of 10 years and above. For shorter policies, the charges are capped at a maximum of 3%. The fund management charges vary depending on the fund house and is deducted in the NAV.
TransparencyIt’s not necessary for the insurer to provide you complete details on where your money is getting invested.All fund management houses must provide complete details of all the stocks purchased and the number of stocks held by the fund house.
RiskHigh risks. Return of capital is not guaranteed, but life coverage is guaranteed.High risks, return of capital is not guaranteed and the fund’s performance depends on the individual fund manager and the fund management house.

ULIPs Vs. ELSS – which is best?

ELSS is ideal for investors who are looking for short-term investments with high growth potential. ULIPs, on the other hand, work best for long-term investors with specific financial objectives along with a need for life coverage.

Top ULIP Myths that You Need to Stop Believing In

ULIPs is a unique investment product that offers triple benefits – insurance, life coverage and savings – in a single product. There are several myths surrounding ULIPs. Here, you can find the truth behind popular ULIP myths. Make sure to understand the product features and benefits so that you can make informed decisions.

Myth #1: ULIPs are not a good choice for Investments.

Reality Check:

ULIPs are an excellent investment product to build your wealth. It gives you the power to invest accordingly based on your financial goals and risk appetite. You can choose whether you want to invest in equities, debts, hybrid, large, mid, or small cap funds based on your specific goals and investment horizon.

The biggest benefit is that ULIPs give you the complete flexibility to decide the funds you want to invest in. Hence, it’s one of the most customizable investment products that help you achieve financial goals in different stages of life.

Myth #2: You should withdraw your funds as soon as the lock-in period is over.

Reality Check:

ULIPs work the best for investors with long-term investment goals. They are not structured for short-term investments. If you have an investment horizon of 10 years or more, then you can expect to generate the best returns from ULIPs investments.

So, if you want to get the highest returns from your investments, then it’s highly recommended that you continue staying invested, even after the lock-in period is over.

Myth #3: ULIPs have a lock-in period of 3 years.

Reality Check:

The IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India) has revised the lock-in period of ULIPs from three to five years, post-2010. The new regulations favours investors with the following benefits – lower initial charges, the higher sum assured, and higher returns.

Myth #4: ULIPs have plenty of charges, and the amount invested in funds is quite low.

Reality Check:

This is one of the biggest myths of ULIPs. People falsely assume that much of their premium investments is spent on various charges, and the actual investment is low. While it’s true that earlier ULIPs used to have these drawbacks, the new generation of ULIPs introduced post-2010 have various clauses that benefit investors.

In the first generation of ULIPs, nearly 60 – 75% of the first-year premiums went towards paying the charges. However, with the recent changes introduced by the IRDAI, the charges are now uniformly divided over the first five years (lock-in period). This means, right from the first-year, a significant portion of your premiums goes towards investments.

Additionally, the IRDAI has capped the maximum charges that the insurer can charge policyholders. This has significantly reduced the charges of ULIPs.

If you stay invested for more than ten years, then the insurer can charge only a maximum of 2.25%.

Myth #5: It’s difficult to Liquidate your ULIPs in case of an emergency.

Reality Check:

ULIPs offer you the option of partial withdrawal of your funds as and when required, after the lock-in period. You can partially withdraw the required amount of funds, at no extra costs. Even when you partially withdraw, the remaining units continue to be invested, and it keeps on growing.

Myth #6: ULIPs have high switching charges.

Reality Check:

There are no charges for switching the allocation of funds in ULIPs. The number of free switches available in a year varies from one insurer to another. Make sure to check the number of free switches allowed when choosing a ULIP plan and the insurer.

Myth #7: ULIPs are risky since they are market-linked.

Reality Check:

The life insurance cover in your ULIP plan remains fixed. It does not vary based on market conditions.

When it comes to the investment component, you can choose the required funds based on your risk appetite. If you are an aggressive investor, you can opt for equity funds. On the other hand, if you want to keep your risks low, then debt funds or balanced funds are ideal for you.

ULIPs as such aren’t risky or not. It all depends on the funds you choose. If you find that your investment is getting riskier, you can switch funds at no extra cost.

Myth #8: ULIPs do not offer good returns.

Reality Check:

Ultimately, the returns in your ULIPs are based on the type of asset classes you have chosen – equities, debts, hybrid or balanced, and your choice of fund. With the right choice of funds, and with proper switching, you can generate optimal returns from the market.

Myth #9: You cannot exit a ULIP once you purchase it

Reality Check:

ULIPs come with a lock-in period of five years to inculcate the habit of disciplined savings. At the end of the five year period, you have the choice of whether to surrender your existing policy or continue with it.

You can also make a full withdrawal before the end of the lock-in period. If you do so, there are no exit load or surrender charges, and you get paid the current value of your fund.

However, it’s highly recommended that you don’t surrender the fund mid value unless it’s an emergency. ULIPs generate the best returns by the power of compounding when you stay invested in the long-term.

Myth #10: The Life Cover provided by your ULIP plan decreases when the market dips

Reality Check:

Though ULIP investments are linked to the market, your life cover is kept separate. The life cover is not affected by the ups and downs of the market. Additionally, in the unfortunate case, you were to pass away during the policy term, your beneficiaries receive life cover along with the fund value.

FAQs on Unit Linked Insurance Plan

Find answers to all common queries on ULIPs right here.

1. Do ULIPs offer guaranteed returns?

Returns from ULIPs are not guaranteed. The investment risks of ULIPs are borne by the policyholder. The losses or profits are determined by the market performance and the chosen funds. Also, remember that past performance of a product is not an indication that the product will continue to perform similarly in the future.

Make sure to go through the policy document carefully, to understand the risks of the product, before investing.

2. How much return will I get when I invest in ULIPs?

It depends on the funds you are investing in. Equity-oriented funds give returns that are based on market performance. Generally, the equity markets in India have given a return of 15% per annum. However, if you are concerned about the security of your funds, then you can invest in debt-oriented funds that give modest returns of up to 8 to 9%.

3. What are the different types of funds offered by ULIPs?

ULIPs providers offer a wide range of funds to suit the investment goals of different types of investors to meet their objectives, time horizons, and risk profiles. The potential of returns varies from one fund to another, and so does the risks.

Here are some of the common types of funds and associated risk levels:

Fund TypeInvestmentsRisk Levels
Equity FundsInvested in stocks of companies with the aim of capital appreciationHigh to medium
Debt FundsInvested in government securities, corporate bonds, and other fixed-income investment productsMedium to Low
Cash Funds (Also known as money market funds)Invested in bank deposits, cash, and other money market instrumentsLow
Balanced FundsA mix of equity and debt fundsMedium

4. What are the things to look for before signing the policy document?

To ensure that you avoid any disappointments and conflicts later on, make sure to go through the following details before you sign the document:

  • Check out all the charges for the policy
  • Understand the features and benefits of the policy
  • Read the exclusions and limitations
  • Make sure to find out what happens if you let the policy lapse or delay premium payments
  • The fees for the premature surrender of the policy
  • Other terms and conditions
  • Go through the policy benefits for 6% and 10% returns as prescribed the life insurance council of India

5. Can I invest in ULIPs more than my regular premium?

Yes. ULIPs allow additional contribution on top of the regular premium. This facility is known as “top-up” facility. Get in touch with your insurer to know the actual procedure for topping up your investments.

6. Can I request a refund of the premium, if I am not satisfied with the policy?

Yes. According to IRDAI rules, all insurers must provide policyholders with free look-in period after policy commencement. If you disagree to the terms and conditions of the policy, the insurer will refund your premium, after deducting cancellation charges and medical expenses if any. Generally, the free look-in period is up to 15 days of policy commencement.

7. How much of the premium is used to purchase fund units?

Only a portion of the premium you pay is allocated to purchase fund units. The rest is earmarked for your life insurance. The percentage of the premium used to purchase units varies from one ULIP product to another.

8. How much Tax can I save when I invest in ULIPs?

ULIPs offer tax benefits in two ways. You can avail tax deductions under Section 80C for the premiums you have paid, as well as the returns you get from the policy, are tax-exempted under Section 10D.

9. What’s the difference between small, mid, and large cap funds?

When you invest in equity-oriented ULIPs, your insurer invests your funds in small, mid or large cap funds.

  • Small cap funds invest in companies with a market value of less than 2 crore rupees.
  • Mid-cap funds invest in companies with a market value ranging from 2 crores to 10 crore rupees.
  • Large-cap funds invest in companies with a market value above 10 crore rupees.

10. Do I require a Demat account to invest in ULIPs?

No. You don’t require a demat account for investing in ULIPs. In fact, ULIPs provide you with an alternative way to invest in the stock market, without opening a demat or trading account.

11. Do ULIPs offer a lump sum on maturity, or do they pay in regular installments?

Most ULIPs offer a lump sum payment to the policyholder on the maturity of the plan. However, some ULIP products also dispense the maturity amount in monthly, quarterly, or half-yearly payouts.

12. Can I purchase a ULIP plan for my child and avail tax benefits on it?

Yes. Parents and grandparents can purchase a Unit Linked Insurance Plan for their children and grandchildren and avail tax deductions under Section 80C for the premiums paid.

13. Can I surrender my ULIP policy before the end of the lock-in period?

ULIPs have a lock-in period of five years. Hence, it’s highly recommended that you continue with your premium payments for five complete years from the date of inception. At the end of the lock-in period, you can surrender your policy for free of cost and receive the funds accumulated as a lump sum payment.

However, if you wish to surrender the policy before the end of the lock-in period, you can specify your request to your insurer. Your funds are then moved to a discontinuance fund, and you are guaranteed a minimum 4% returns.

14. What happens to my ULIP if I stop paying premiums?

There are several scenarios depending on when you stop paying premiums. Here are a few situations:

  • Premiums not paid for three years from policy inception – If you have not paid the premium for three consecutive years from policy commencement, the life cover offered by the ULIP ceases. Sometimes, insurers offer an opportunity for reviving the policy. If you fail to pay the pending premiums during the revival period, the insurer pays you the surrender value of the policy, at the end of the third year or the revival period, whichever comes later.
  • Premiums unpaid after three years from policy commencement – Let’s say, you have paid the premiums regularly for the first three years, after which you have failed to pay. As mentioned above, the insurer offers you a revival period. If you fail to revive the policy within this period, the policy will be terminated, and you will be paid the surrender value.

Generally speaking, when you fail to pay premiums, you have the following two options:

  • Renew the policy within the revival period
  • Or your funds get moved into the discontinuance funds

15. What is NAV (Net Asset Value)?

The NAV indicates the value of each unit of the fund. It keeps changing every day. The total value of your funds is the NAV multiplied by the number of units you own. The NAV of your fund is displayed on the insurer’s website.

16. How is the fund value calculated?

The fund value is the total amount you have invested in the funds of your choice over the policy period. It’s calculated using the following formula:

Fund value = NAV (Net Asset Value) x Total number of units owned by you.

For instance, if the current NAV is 100 and you own 200 units, then the value of your fund is Rs. 2,00,000.

17. What will I receive at the maturity of the policy?

At the end of the policy period, you are entitled to receive the maturity benefit, which is usually paid as a lump sum to the policyholder. The maturity benefit is the total value of the fund at the time of maturity.

18. What do my family members receive if I die within the policy period?

In the unfortunate case of your death within the policy period, your nominee/beneficiary receives death benefits based on the terms and conditions of your policy.

If you have a one-time pay policy, then the nominee receives death benefits that are the higher of the following:

  • A fixed amount that is the sum assured. The sum assured is adjusted based on whether you have made any premature withdrawals or topped up your policy.
  • Or the current fund value.
  • Or the minimum death benefit, which is 105% of all the paid premiums.

If you have a regular pay or limited pay policy, the death benefits are provided based on the following:

  • If the policyholder is less than 50 years, then the death benefit is the sum of the sum assured + fund value, or the minimum death benefit, whichever is higher.
  • If the policyholder is greater than 50 years, then the death benefit is the higher value of the following – the sum assured or fund value or minimum death benefit.

19. What are the different premium payment frequencies available for ULIPs?

ULIPs can be classified into three different types based on premium payment frequencies. They are:

  • One pay policy – Here, you pay the premium only once during the entire policy tenure.
  • Limited pay policy – In these plans, you have to pay the premiums only for a certain number of years and not the entire policy tenure. Say, you take a policy for 10 years, you’ll have to pay the premium only for the first 5 years.
  • Regular pay policy – Here you pay the premiums for the entire duration of the policy. You can pay the premium monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or annually based on your preferences.

20. What is the Premium Redirection feature?

When you choose this facility, your future premiums will be invested in a different fund. The premiums you invested earlier will remain in the fund you have chosen before.

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