scorecardresearch
Explained: The What, How, Why of ULIPs

Explained: The What, How, Why of ULIPs

From how beneficial are unit-linked insurance plans to how to avail tax exemption on their proceeds, here are some ULIP FAQs.

Much like with any other investment, there are questions aplenty regarding unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs). Much like with any other investment, there are questions aplenty regarding unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs).

What are ULIPs?

How beneficial are ULIPs? 

How can I save tax through ULIPs?

Much like with any other investment, there are questions aplenty regarding unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs). Here's a look at some frequently asked questions and answers about ULIPs, which will help you invest in one.

What are ULIPs?
ULIPs are insurance plans that provide both insurance cover and investment returns. They are linked to the capital market, wherein policy holders are invested in equity or debt funds aimed at capital appreciation over time.

What is the dual benefit in ULIPs?
ULIPs offer the dual benefit of insurance and investment, at the same time serving as a tool for savings. While one portion of the ULIP premium is used as premium towards life insurance coverage, the remaining goes towards funds such as bonds, equity, etc., for generating returns on investment.

Which ULIP fund should I invest in?
Investment in a fund depends upon a number of factors, including your appetite for risk; the choice of fund (large-cap, mid-cap, debt or balanced); your long-term investment goal; the better fund basis past returns, etc. Analysis and comparison of various funds are required, which can be done offline, online, and through consultation with an investment advisor. Among the better ULIP plans in the market are HDFC Life Click2Wealth and HDFC Life Click2Invest. 

What are the tax benefits on ULIPs?
ULIPs offer dual tax benefit: Under Section 80C, the annual premium on ULIPs is eligible for tax exemption; also, ULIP returns upon maturity are tax-exempt according to section 10(10D) of the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Are ULIPs a good long-term investment?
Not only do ULIPs offer protection, but they are also considered a good long-term investment, giving decent returns with the power of compounding. They are suitable for wealth creation, and ULIP proceeds at the end of tenure can help realise future financial goals such as children's education, marriages, and retirement.

How are ULIPs a flexible investment choice?
ULIPs offer a good degree of flexibility in investments, allowing you to switch money between funds that are invested in equity, debt, etc. If you are not satisfied with a fund's market performance, you can move to another that is anticipated to perform better. If you consider an equity fund to be high-risk, you can shift to a low-risk debt fund so as to secure your investment. ULIPs thus offer dynamism to avoid market fluctuations and volatility, and are an ideal option for investors having a medium risk appetite. 

How are ULIPs taxed? 
As per Budget 2021, the government has proposed that proceeds from ULIP will be taxable if annual premium is more than Rs 2.5 lakh in any year during the policy tenure. Long-term gains (more than 1-year holding period) of over Rs. 1 lakh are taxable at 10%, whereas short-term gains (made in less than 1 year) are taxable at 15%. 

What is the lock-in period for ULIPs?
From the date of commencement, a ULIP has a lock-in period of 5 years. This means proceeds from ULIP cannot be availed by the policyholder before the lock-in period of 5 years. Partial withdrawal may or may not be allowed within the term.

Can ULIPs be withdrawn after 5 years?
You are free to withdraw your ULIP after the lock-in period of 5 years. However, it is advisable to stay invested if the funds are performing decently to enjoy the benefits of long-term investment.

Can I surrender the ULIP before 5 years?
You can surrender the ULIP before the lock-in period of 5 years. However, there are some certain drawbacks: even if you surrender, the surrender value is paid to you only at the end of the 5-year term; you may incur some deductions on the fund value, along with discontinuation fees; your insurance cover will stop when the policy is surrendered; and upon early surrender, the value will incur TDS and all ULIP tax deductions claimed will be treated as taxable income.

How are proceeds from ULIPs taxed in case of policyholder's death?
In the event of policyholder's demise, proceeds received by the nominee/beneficiary are exempt from tax. 

Are ULIPs taxable upon surrender?
ULIPs have a lock-in period of 5 years. If you surrender a policy before the lock-in period, the entire surrender value is treated as income for the financial year and taxed as per slab. Surrendering a policy after the lock-in period of 5 years ensures that surrender value is tax-free.

What if premium payment is stopped?
ULIPs must remain for their entire lock-in period of 5 years to claim the ULIP tax benefit. If the premium for the plan during, for example, the fifth year is not paid, ULIP tax benefits availed during the first four years may be withdrawn.

If you've gotten answers to your ULIP questions and are planning to invest, HDFC Life has a suite of funds to choose from. 

HDFC Life Click2Wealth gives the dual advantage of market-linked returns along with financial cover. Key features:

  • 11 funds to choose from, with unlimited free switching option to maximize your investment.
  • Only fund management charge towards managing your funds and mortality charge towards life cover.
  • Special addition of 1% of premium allocated to your fund for first 5 years.
  • With the premium waiver option, all future premiums are waived off and fund stays invested in case of death of the proposer.
  • Systematic withdrawal from funds offers post-retirement income.

HDFC Life Click2Invest allows you to grow your investments without compromising your family's security. Key features:

  • 11 fund options.
  • Get full fund value at maturity or in periodical installments.
  • Flexibility to pay premiums regularly, for limited periods of 5, 7 and 10 years, or pay once under Single Pay.
  • Make partial withdrawal from funds to meet financial emergencies.