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ULIP (Unit Linked Insurance Plan): Meaning, Types, and Tax Benefits

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Income Tax | 0 comments

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Important keyword: Income Tax, Tax Saving Investment, ULIP, ULIP Benefits.

ULIP (Unit Linked Insurance Plan): Meaning, Types, and Tax Benefits

Individual investors are constantly seeking investment avenues that offer both protection against uncertainties and opportunities for high returns. One such avenue is the Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP), which blends insurance coverage with investment opportunities. A portion of the investment goes towards life insurance coverage, while the remaining amount is invested in various funds. These funds can be equity-oriented, debt-oriented, or hybrid in nature, depending on the investor’s risk appetite and financial goals.

The inception of ULIPs dates back several decades. The Unit Trust of India (UTI) introduced the first ULIP in 1971, marking a significant milestone in the Indian financial landscape. Following UTI’s initiative, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) introduced its own ULIP in 1989, further expanding the availability and popularity of this investment-cum-insurance product.

What is ULIP: Full Form and Meaning?

ULIP stands for Unit Linked Insurance Plan, which offers a unique blend of insurance and investment opportunities. It addresses two primary concerns for investors:

  1. Insurance Coverage: ULIP provides life insurance protection, ensuring financial security for your loved ones in case of unfortunate events like death.
  2. Investment Growth: A part of your ULIP investment is directed towards various funds such as equity, debt, or a mix of both, depending on your risk appetite and financial goals. This allows your money to potentially grow over the long term through market-linked returns.

ULIPs also offer tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, allowing you to reduce your taxable income by the amount invested in the plan. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) oversees ULIPs to ensure transparency and fairness in their functioning.

Recent updates in the 2021 budget have made ULIPs subject to taxation if the annual premium exceeds INR 2.5 lakh in any given year of the policy term. This change aims to align ULIPs with other investment instruments in terms of tax treatment.

How Unit Linked Insurance Plan Plans Work?

ULIPs, or Unit Linked Insurance Plans, provide a unique opportunity for individuals to secure life insurance coverage while also investing in various market funds such as stocks, debt instruments, or a combination of both. When you pay a premium towards a ULIP, a portion of it is allocated to investment funds based on your risk tolerance and financial goals, while the remainder goes towards providing life insurance coverage.

The invested portion of the premium enters the equity markets or other investment avenues as managed by fund managers employed by the insurance company. Their role is to monitor and manage these investments to potentially yield returns over time.

One of the key advantages of ULIPs is their flexibility. Policyholders have the option to switch between different types of investment portfolios, such as debt-oriented or equity-oriented funds, depending on market conditions and their investment strategy. This flexibility allows investors to optimize their returns by adjusting their investments when market opportunities arise.

What is the Lock-in Period?

The lock-in period of a ULIP typically spans five years, during which policyholders are advised to consider holding onto their investment for at least fifteen years. This recommendation stems from ULIP’s dual nature as both insurance and investment, with both components intended for long-term growth.

What are the different types of Unit Linked Insurance Plans?

In India, ULIPs offer a variety of plans tailored to suit different risk appetites and financial goals. These plans are categorized based on their investment strategies:

  1. Fund-based ULIPs:
    • Equity-Oriented Funds: These ULIPs primarily invest in high-risk equities, aiming for substantial growth over the long term.
    • Debt-Oriented Funds: Here, ULIPs focus on investments in less risky debt instruments like bonds and securities, offering stability with moderate returns.
    • Balanced Funds: Combining equity and debt investments, balanced ULIPs aim to strike a middle ground, offering a blend of growth potential and stability.
    • Cash Funds: These ULIPs invest in cash equivalents and low-risk money market instruments, providing stability and liquidity.
  2. Based on Wealth Creation:
    • Guarantee/Non-Guarantee: Guaranteed ULIPs prioritize capital preservation by limiting exposure to equities, whereas non-guaranteed ULIPs focus on maximizing wealth creation through higher equity allocations, albeit with higher risk.
    • Single-Premium and Regular Premium: Single-premium ULIPs require a one-time premium payment at inception, while regular premium ULIPs allow for periodic payments (monthly, quarterly, etc.).
  3. Life Stage-based ULIPs:
    • These plans adjust the investment mix based on the policyholder’s age and risk tolerance. They typically shift towards safer investments like debt instruments as the policyholder grows older.
  4. Based on End Use of the Fund:
    • Wealth Creation: These ULIPs aim to build a substantial corpus over time to meet future financial goals.
    • Funding Children’s Education: Designed to secure funds for children’s education expenses and unforeseen financial needs.
    • For Retirement: Retirement-focused ULIPs aim to accumulate a retirement corpus that can provide financial security during the policyholder’s retirement years.

Each type of ULIP offers distinct features and benefits, catering to diverse financial objectives and risk preferences. Understanding these categories can help individuals make informed decisions aligned with their long-term financial goals and risk appetite.

Taxation on Unit Linked Insurance Plans

Investing in ULIPs offers a blend of life insurance coverage and investment opportunities, making it a versatile financial tool. Here are some key benefits of investing in ULIPs:

  1. Life Insurance Coverage: Unit Linked Insurance Plans provide the dual benefit of life insurance along with investment growth. This ensures financial protection for your loved ones in case of unfortunate events.
  2. Flexibility: Market conditions can fluctuate, affecting investment returns. ULIPs offer flexibility by allowing investors to switch between different fund options (equity, debt, balanced) based on market dynamics and their risk appetite. This feature helps in optimizing investment performance over time.
  3. Long-Term Goals: Unit Linked Insurance Plans are designed for long-term investment horizons, typically with a lock-in period of 5 years. This makes them suitable for achieving significant financial goals such as children’s education, marriage, or buying a home. The longer investment duration allows for potential market-driven growth and compounding benefits.
  4. Tax Benefits: Investors can avail tax benefits under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961, on the premium paid towards ULIPs, up to a maximum of INR 1.5 lakhs in a financial year. Additionally, before the 2021 budget changes, ULIPs fell under the EEE (Exempt, Exempt, Exempt) category, where not only premiums but also maturity proceeds were tax-exempt under certain conditions. However, post-2021, certain ULIPs are subject to capital gains tax similar to equity-oriented mutual funds if certain thresholds are exceeded.
  5. Investment Discipline: ULIPs encourage disciplined savings and investment habits due to the mandatory lock-in period. This can help investors stay committed to their financial plans and avoid impulsive decisions based on short-term market fluctuations.

Unit Linked Insurance Plan vs Mutual Fund

Mutual funds and ULIPs have long been regarded as two of the better-performing assets for wealth creation. A comparison between ULIP & Mutual Funds is shown below:

CriteriaULIPsMutual Funds
ScopeInvestment as well as insurance productInvestment product
WithdrawalThere is a lock-in period of 5 years as it is a long-term investmentAnytime withdrawal
LiquidityLimited liquidityHigh liquidity
Tax BenefitTax deduction under section 80CNo tax benefits
Switching between fundsAltering between funds is permissibleSwitching is not permissible; the only way to reduce the risk is to exit which may lead to capital gains tax


Tax BenefitA deduction can be claimed under section 80CA deduction can be claimed under section 80C
TaxationGains more than INR 1 lakh in a given financial year are taxable under LTCG  @10%Charges are simple and easy to understand:
Approximately, on average Expense Ratio ranges from 1.05% to 2.25%
Lock-in period5 Years3 Years
Risk High RiskModerate Risk
Underlying AssetEquity, Debt, and BalancedEquity
ChargesBelow are the major charges associated with Unit Linked Insurance Plan:
Mortality Charge, Premium Allocation Charge, Switching Charge, Surrender Charge, Policy Administration Charge, etc.
Charges are simple and easy to understand:
Approximately, on an average Expense Ratio ranges from 1.05% to 2.25%

Read More: Proofs for Income Tax Declaration

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Official Income Tax Return filing website: https://incometaxindia.gov.in/


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