What Makes ULIP A Flexible Investment Option
The cost of living has increased as time has gone by. What your money got you a decade ago amounts to far less today. While incomes have increased, at times it is possible to wonder where all your money gets spent. Savings, as a result, are hard to make. While it is important to save money, it isn’t always as clear-cut as one would imagine. Moreover, making investment decisions such that the money you have set aside can multiply and grow traditionally requires a certain amount of knowledge. That being said, unit-linked insurance plans are one of the preferred investment options for people wanting to make disciplined investments that allow for the generation of wealth.
What is ULIP?
Unit-linked insurance plans (or ULIP) are one of the cleverest forms of insurance presently available in the market today as they have a dual role. They serve as both, an insurance plan as well as an investment product. In addition to the life cover they offer, ULIPs also give the policyholder the option to invest in their choice of funds. These options include equity funds, debt funds or a mix of the two. In this way, ULIPs offer the benefit of investment and insurance.
How the ULIP fund switching feature works
Unit-linked insurance plans come armed with the potential to switch funds thereby providing the policyholder with ample amounts of flexibility. As an investor, they are entitled to invest their money in debt or equity funds or a portfolio which features a mix of both equity and debt funds. Under this policy, policyholders are entitled to transfer their investments from one ULIP fund to another. Moreover, these transfers may be for partial or full units which makes them all the more suitable.
When is the right time to switch?
Since policyholders are entitled to switch from one ULIP fund to another as and when they desire, they may wonder what time they should take this opportunity up. Ideally, factors policyholders must consider when deciding on an appropriate time to switch are as follows.
Tough market situations that are hard to navigate may encourage a switch as a means to tackle the present volatility in the stock markets. Volatile market conditions have the potential to hinder your investments and expose them to risks. Switching funds at this point in time are recommended as debt instruments may be safer at this point in time. Once the market goes back to being stable, policyholders can always switch their investments back to equities. Although is not always possible to accurately time the switch with the market fluctuations, it is an effective tool to mitigate the risk to a certain extent.
Policyholders can switch funds when their plans are just short of maturity. Once investments have become particularly bountiful and are just short of maturity, switching funds to safer alternatives such as debt, might be a safe bet. Policyholders should make these moves keeping in mind the unpredictable nature of the stock market as this nature of the market has the ability to wipe away funds which may not be easy to recover.
How to make ULIP fund switches?
Those with Unit-linked life insurance plans have the facility to switch funds in a number of ways listed below –
- Insurance companies provide switching facilities – Insurance companies have a switch form that can be filled and submitted. Based on the information provided the specified units requested will be transferred to the fund of the requester’s choice.
- Self-service online transfers – Policyholders can carry out the switching process entirely on their own. Most companies have online portals which allow these activities to be conducted by the policyholder.
- Enlist the aid of a fund manager – Policyholders have the option to prescribe to automatic switching on their behalf. In such instances, a fund manager is responsible for making switches depending upon predefined conditions subscribed by the policyholder. keeping in mind market conditions and the policyholder’s goals.
Partial withdrawal feature explained
Policyholders of ULIPs are entitled to withdraw a partial sum of money from their own accumulated fund values prior to the policy term coming to an end. The value of this facility is enormous as it can help cover rainy day expenses. It is important to note that the entire amount is not available for withdrawal and this service is only available after the specified lock-in period ends. Policyholders can apply this service to both, the base policy as well as any top-ups.
Additional conditions may be prescribed in the policy terms and conditions based on which, withdrawals may vary from one ULIP to another. That being said they ordinarily are as follows –
- Withdrawals aren’t permissible from investment-linked pension plans.
- Plans that provide insurance to a minor only permit withdrawals once the minor turns 18.
Unit-linked insurance policies are viable insurance policies as they provide policyholders with life insurance coverage in addition to an investment plan thereby killing two birds with one stone. They offer a significant amount of flexibility which adds to their appeal. Prior to purchasing a plan, it is important to read the fine print such that you aren’t caught unawares in the future.
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