How Does Insurance Work As An Investment? 

Financial prosperity is an outcome of consistently prudent investment decisions. The stepping stone to a sound financial plan is to take into consideration the largest expenses that could potentially drain down your wealth. While no one can predict or foresee the future, one can always be prepared for it. This is where insurance comes to your rescue—your only financial shield against uncertainties of the future.

In your financial journey, protection should closely be followed by wealth creation. The products that fit the bill for both these needs are insurance-cum-investment plans. One-stop solution for security and fund growth, these plans help investors accumulate wealth while also safeguarding the future of their dependents. Here is a lowdown on these plans, their features and why they have a growing popularity among investors.

What are Insurance-cum-investment Plans?

Insurance-cum-investment plans offer a two-in-one benefit of protection as well as wealth creation to the policyholder. As the name suggests, these products come with life insurance as well as an investment component. The investor has the liberty to choose the risk quotient that they are comfortable with in these market-linked plans.

While traditional products like guaranteed returns plans offer a safer investment avenue, products like unit-linked insurance plans (ULIPs) follow a more high-risk-high-reward kind of approach.

Simply put, these plans help you cast a safety net for your loved ones even in your absence through insurance, and also take care of your fund growth in your lifetime along with savings in tax benefits as well.

Types of Plans

  • Guaranteed Return Plans

Not every investor has the heart to lose their hard-earned money to market volatility. This is why guaranteed return plans have found a growing fanbase among investors, especially with new-age plans offering higher returns.

These plans bode well for all kinds of investors as they provide favorable returns along with capital security. In fact, new-age guaranteed return plans offer a return as high as 7% to 7.5%, depending upon the investor profile. The best part – this rate is fixed and unaffected by market conditions.

The policyholder can take the long plunge and lock in their funds for 40-45 years or they can even choose to withdraw after five years. They are a great alternative to traditional options like fixed deposit (FD), national savings certificate (NSC) or public provident fund (PPF) as they offer a much higher return that’s completely tax-free, unlike these instruments. These plans are a great option to meet one’s non-negotiable life goals like children’s education or marriage.

While they serve the average risk-fearing Indian investor well, these plans also work very well for the high-net-worth individuals or HNIs who can invest INR 1 lakh every month for five years. This way, they will be investing about INR 60 lakh but will be able to accumulate a corpus of INR 1 crore owing to the competitive, inflation-beating rate of return.

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Also, these returns will be completely tax free if one makes this investment before March 31, 2023. After which, returns on traditional plans will become taxable as per applicable tax slabs if cumulative annual premium of policies bought after March 31 is more than INR 5 lakh.

Risk quotient: Nil to low

  • ULIPs

ULIPs have been an investor-favorite market-linked instrument, especially the new-age ULIPs. An individual’s financial planning always hinges on securing their today as well as tomorrow. Insurance-cum-investment products like ULIP effectively cater to this combined need with one plan. ULIPs come with a life insurance cover and under favorable market conditions, they fetch a return of 12-15%. This also means that they also carry investment risks in a fluctuating market.

However, they allow investors to divide their funds between equity and debt. ULIPs come with tax benefits, both at the time of premium payment as well as at the time of maturity owing to the life insurance component. (But if annual premium of policies bought after Feb 1, 2021 is more than INR 2.5 lakh, then long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax shall be applicable like the tax on all equity-oriented investments.

Also, tax shall be paid (in case of long-term capital gains (LTCG) at 10%. However, no taxation is imposed in the case of a death of an individual. Most importantly, ULIPs are designed to serve long-term investor requirements. Even though the lock-in period is as low as three to five years, investors should ideally dive in for a good 10-15 years to extract the maximum benefit out of this plan.

Risk quotient: High

  • Capital Guarantee Solution

This plan offers the policyholder the best of both worlds and caters well to the moderate risk taker. If you’re someone who wants to bank on the upside of the market but also wants to follow a traditional approach to investing, then capital guarantee solutions would work best for you.

The plans, formulated to be a hybrid of guaranteed return plans and ULIPS, are best suited for investors targeting fund growth and risk in proportionate measures. While 50% to 60% of the fund amount is invested into guaranteed return plans, the remaining is contributed to equity.

Coming to security, your principal amount is 100% secure and bears no loss. The equity component appreciates your rate of return under favorable market conditions and the rest grows at a consistent pace locked at the time of policy issuance. There lies a growth opportunity as well as security for the investor under these plans.

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Risk quotient: Moderate

  • Annuity Plans

Investing for retirement is not even on the radar for most people until they age. Unfortunately, every day of delay costs you dearly when it comes to investing. The only way to secure yourself financially for your golden years is to start investing whilst young. Annuity plans are considered a great investment option for smart and steady retirement planning.

Typically, pension schemes often come with reinvestment risk. Also, they even carry an upper limit on the amount you can invest. Annuity plans not only give you the freedom to invest as high as you want to but also eliminate the reinvestment risk for you. These plans can get you up to a 6.5% rate of return, depending on the policyholder profile.

The interest rate is also locked up for the entire policy tenure. They also offer an investment period of not just 10-20 years, but a lifetime which gives you more flexibility to invest. There are two types of annuities – immediate and deferred. You can invest a lump sum amount in immediate annuities and start receiving the pension as early as next month itself, while in deferred annuities, the payouts begin after the deferment period comes to an end but you lock in your annuity rate the day you start investing.

Here, you also have the option to pay monthly for 5-10 years and then get pension after a few years or if you have a ready corpus, then you could invest a lump sum amount. This option may be more suitable if you still have a few years ahead of you for your retirement and do not need a retirement income immediately.

Risk quotient: Low to nil

Tax Benefits Under Insurance-cum-investment

After March 31, the returns on traditional plans will be subject to taxation if annual premium exceeds INR 5 lakh.

ULIP – The above-stated benefit under Section 80C also applies to ULIPs for the very same reason which is the life insurance component. Talking about 10 (10D), the tax benefits apply for an annual premium of up to INR 2.5 lakh.

Especially as the tax deadlines draw closer, ULIPs continue to be a popular choice as they have been able to escape the axe of tax deductions in the recent Budget 2023 announcement pertaining to high-premium insurance policies.

Capital guarantee plans – The life insurance element triggers the same tax benefit under Section 80 C of up to INR 1.5 lakh and also under Section 10 (10D) for the death benefit.

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Annuity plans – Annuity plans are eligible for tax deduction up to INR 1.5 lakh under Section 80CCC on the pension received. The current tax rate for annuity income earned from a pension plan is equal to the retiree’s income tax bracket. The entire annuity income is taxable even if the pension from an annuity plan has both the principal amount as well as return on investment.

For decades, tax rebates have acted as catalysts in insurance adoption. Here’s an understanding of what tax benefits can an investor get with these products –Guaranteed return plans – The plan comes with a life cover that is 10 times the annual premium, which makes the death benefit tax-free under Section 10(10)D. Also, it provides a rebate under Section 80C up to INR 1.5 lakh owing to the life insurance component.

New-age Plans

The new-age plans are weaved in customer centricity to maximize customer value through innovative features. Some recent examples include –

  • Insurance-cum-investment plans now offer the benefit of health insurance along with ULIP. This translates to wealth creation, life insurance and health protection along with tax benefits of Section 80C, 10 (10D) and 80D.
  • New-age guaranteed return plans with multiple innovative features offer the best-in-class return rate of 7.5% along with additional maturity benefits for women investors.Short-term lock-in feature in plans ranging from three to five years that facilitates the ease of liquidity and financial planning without incurring any surrender charges.
  • Products offering better flexibility of premium payment frequency. Some plans allow the policyholder to pay a single premium and get covered for 5-10 years.
  • Waiver of premium feature in child plans is of great help in times of distress. In case of the unfortunate death of a parent, the future premiums are waived off by the insurance company and the nominee is eligible for fund value upon maturity and income to meet other expenses. This doesn’t let their education or quality of life get hampered.

Bottom Line

Whether you are an optimistic investor following a risk-reward approach or you like to take the conventional route for investment – insurance-cum-investment products are designed for every category of consumer. What sets these plans apart from regular investment plans is that apart from fund growth, they also help you leave a legacy through the life insurance protection net.

If you wisely invest online after navigating through your options, you stand to make the most out of these plans. Lastly, every day you put your decision on hold, you end up losing future gains. So, the right time to invest is now.