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ULIP Index Funds


Oct 29, 2023


Lately, I examine a few life insurance coverage corporations highlighting the launch of small cap index funds.  Hyperlink 1 Hyperlink 2

It is a new phenomenon. You don’t usually see a life insurance coverage firm launching index funds. Normally, mutual fund corporations do this.

Therefore, this got here as a shock to me. Nevertheless, there’s a catch. To spend money on that small cap index fund by a life insurance coverage firm, you will want to spend money on a ULIP (Unit-Linked Insurance coverage Plan).  A life insurance coverage firm can add an index fund to its suite of ULIP funds. However you possibly can spend money on these funds provided that you spend money on a ULIP.

You possibly can’t simply spend money on an index fund by a life insurance coverage firm, identical to you spend money on mutual funds.

Sounds sophisticated, no? Let’s break down the product construction a bit.

Observe: This publish is just not about whether or not it is best to or how a lot it is best to spend money on small cap funds. Sure, these are good occasions to launch small cap funds. Small cap shares have finished nicely over the previous few years. And nothing sells like good previous efficiency. Makes good enterprise sense for the product vendor. This publish is about life insurance coverage corporations launching an index fund. The life insurers may have very nicely launched a Nifty 50 index fund and we might nonetheless be having the very same dialogue.

What are ULIP funds and the way does all this work?

You spend money on a ULIP product, say from ABC life insurance coverage firm.  

A ULIP product doubles as an insurance coverage and funding product. Distinction this with mutual funds which might be pure funding merchandise. In a ULIP, a portion of your collected wealth goes in the direction of offering life cowl and relaxation stays (will get) invested for progress.

The ABC life insurance coverage firm will give you a alternative of ULIP funds to take a position your cash in. ULIP funds are identical to mutual funds supplied by AMCs (mutual fund homes).

All of the ULIP funds supplied shall be managed by the identical life insurer (ABC life insurance coverage firm). You possibly can cut up your cash in any sample you need amongst that set of ULIP funds.

You received’t get an possibility to separate your cash throughout ULIP funds from a number of life insurers.

One other level to notice:

A life insurer might provide a number of ULIP merchandise (say Product 1, 2, and three).

And a number of ULIP funds (say Fund, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G)

Whether or not you spend money on ULIP Product 1, 2, or 3, you may have the selection of investing in any of those ULIP funds.

Now, if you end up speaking a few new ULIP index fund (say Fund I), it’s about including to the selection of ULIP funds.

Even the present buyers in ULIPs from ABC life insurance coverage will get an choice to spend money on the brand new fund (fund I).

Nevertheless, to spend money on Fund I, you need to spend money on any one of many ULIP merchandise 1,2, or 3 supplied by ABC life insurer.

However a ULIP has its personal set of prices

Firstly, a ULIP is a life insurance coverage product. And there can no life insurance coverage product with none life insurance coverage part. And life insurance coverage doesn’t come free. There’s a value hooked up to it (generally known as mortality expenses). And the mortality expenses go up with age.

Over and above, there will be different forms of expenses akin to premium allocation, coverage administration and so forth.

Now, in case you are not keen on life insurance coverage cowl, that is an pointless value.

Secondly, the expense ratio of ULIP funds tends to be increased than mutual funds. Observe it doesn’t should be that manner.

IRDA caps the fund administration cost (FMC) for a ULIP fund at 1.35% p.a. The life insurers have an choice to cost much less, however they have a tendency to maintain FMC nearer to the permissible cap. 1-1.35% p.a. Direct mutual funds are inclined to have decrease expense ratios.

A ULIP funding, as soon as made, faces decrease aggressive pressures. Why?

As a result of you possibly can’t exit an underperforming ULIP product everytime you need. The utmost you are able to do is to maneuver your cash from 1 ULIP fund to a different (inside the similar life insurance coverage firm). Therefore, the identical life insurance coverage firm nonetheless owns your cash.

Sure, you do have an choice to take out your cash utterly when you full 5 years. And transfer to a ULIP product from a special insurer. Nevertheless, that’s numerous work and you’ll face the identical points with the following insurer too.

Distinction this with a mutual fund. There isn’t any restriction on exiting. Sure, there could also be some friction resulting from tax prices however no rule that stops you from exiting.  You possibly can promote from a scheme from mutual fund home X and reinvest proceeds in any scheme from the identical or a special fund home.

How are numerous expenses in ULIPs adjusted?

In 3 methods.

  1. Immediately from the premium installment (Premium allocation cost)
  2. By means of cancellation of models (Coverage administration cost and mortality expenses)
  3. Adjusted inside the NAV (Fund administration cost)

Now, the efficiency of any ULIP fund (proven on insurer web site or different web sites) will disguise the affect of (1) and (2) on investor returns. Not precisely unfair. However the investor loses a little bit of returns to all these expenses.

With MFs, what you see is what you get.

Between ULIPs and mutual funds

My opinion is biased, but logical.

I’ve written a detailed publish on this matter. Observe this publish was written earlier than the excessive premium ULIPs turned taxable. Counsel you undergo the above publish.

If I had been to decide on between index funds (on the identical index) from an insurance coverage firm and a mutual fund firm (AMC), I’d seemingly select an index fund from a mutual fund firm.


Higher flexibility. Lesser restrictions. Doubtless decrease prices. Agnostic to investor age.

Having stated that, the launch of an index fund by a life insurance coverage firm is a wholesome growth. I’d hope that this development continues, and plenty of extra insurers add index choices to their suite of ULIP funds. And that the insurers don’t restrict the selection of index to solely small cap indices. Low-cost index choices on bellwether indices akin to Nifty 50 and Sensex would add numerous worth to ULIP buyers.

Picture Credit score: Unsplash

Disclaimer: Registration granted by SEBI, membership of BASL, and certification from NISM on no account assure efficiency of the middleman or present any assurance of returns to buyers. Funding in securities market is topic to market dangers. Learn all of the associated paperwork fastidiously earlier than investing.

This publish is for schooling function alone and is NOT funding recommendation. This isn’t a suggestion to take a position or NOT spend money on any product. The securities, devices, or indices quoted are for illustration solely and are usually not recommendatory. My views could also be biased, and I’ll select to not give attention to elements that you simply take into account essential. Your monetary objectives could also be totally different. You might have a special threat profile. Chances are you’ll be in a special life stage than I’m in. Therefore, you need to NOT base your funding selections based mostly on my writings. There isn’t any one-size-fits-all resolution in investments. What could also be funding for sure buyers might NOT be good for others. And vice versa. Due to this fact, learn and perceive the product phrases and circumstances and take into account your threat profile, necessities, and suitability earlier than investing in any funding product or following an funding strategy.


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