Unit-Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) is insurance cum investment plan. In ULIP risk cover is guaranteed, but returns depend on market performance. As ULIPs are linked to markets, you can create wealth for future financial goals. In ULIPS, a part of your premium is invested in equities or debt as per your choice and a part of your money goes towards providing you life cover. As ULIPs are long term product, it requires commitment and discipline. Hence, such products are ideal for long term goals such as children’s education and one’s own retirement.

What is ULIP

There is prevelant myth that ULIP is expensive investment option, but now ULIPs have become low-cost investment option and transparent product. In 2010, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IrdaI) has capped the proposed annual charges of ULIPs at 2.25%. At present, some insurers have cut commissions and other charges, and hence, some ULIPs launched in recent years are cheaper than mutual funds.

While some ULIPs allow unlimited free switches, others permit only 4-12 free switches in a year. And for additional switches, you need to pay some charges.
You can also avail tax exemption on premium paid for ULIPs under section 80C of Income Tax Act. And proceeds received on maturity are tax free under section 10 (10D).

ULIP Flexibility

ULIPS are most flexible product. ULIPs give you flexibility to switch between equity, debt and hybrid funds. You can choose from various fund option as per your risk appetite. You can not only take benefit of rising equity markets but also move within debt. You can move to long duration funds when interest rates are expected to go down and move to short term funds when rates are on the rise. Biggest advantage of ULIPs is that when switching between funds, there is no component of capital gains tax.

Types of ULIP

ULIPs can broadly be classified in two categories depending on death benefit – Type 1 and Type 2 :-

Type 1 ULIP:

In case of death of the policyholder, the nominee receives death benefit which is equal to higher of the sum assured or fund value by the insurance company. In this plan, mortality charge keeps on reducing every year as the sum at risk reduces. The sum at risk is the difference between the accumulated fund value and sum assured under the policy.

Type 2 ULIP:

Under this ULIP, when a policyholder dies the death benefit received by the nominee is equal to sum assured plus fund value. However, premium for Type 2 ULIP is higher than Type 1 ULIP.

Charge Structure

Premium Allocation Charge

It is imposed beforehand on the premium paid, which is the initial expense incurred by the insurer in issuing the policy, medical expenses & underwriting cost.

Policy Administration Charge

Policy Administration Charge is deducted on a regular basis for the recovery of expenses borne by the insurance company for maintaining a life insurance policy.

Mortality Charge

This charge imposed for providing life cover to the insured. These vary with the age and sum assured of the policy. These charges are deducted on a monthly basis.

Management Charge

It is charged by the insurer for managing your fund. The charge varies with both fund and plan. The amount is subject to deduction calculating the Net Asset Value.

Fund Switching Charge

It allows you to switch between different funds, for this company charges a switching fee. However, few free switches are provided by most insurers every year.

Discontinuation Charge

On premature continuation of a plan within lock-in period, the insurer deducts a small fee. Since this fee is fixed by IrdaI, this is almost same for all policies.

Surrender Charge

This charge refer to the deduction for full or partial encashment of premature units. This charge is levied as a percentage of the fund value or as a percentage of the premium.