What is a life insurance policy?
A life insurance policy provides financial protection to your family in the unfortunate event of your death. At a basic level, it involves paying small sums each month (called premiums) to cover the risk of your untimely demise during the tenure of the policy. In such an event, your family (or the beneficiaries you have named in the policy) will receive a lump sum amount. In case you live till the maturity of the policy, depending on the type of life insurance policy you have opted for, you will receive returns the policy may have earned over the years. Today, there are many variations to this basic theme, and insurance policies cater to a wide variety of needs.
- Term insurance
- Endowment plans
- Unit linked insurance plans (ULIP)
- Whole life policy
- Money back policy
Term plans are the most basic form of life insurance. They provide life cover with no savings / profits component. They are the most affordable form of life insurance as premiums are cheaper compared to other life insurance plans. Term insurance plans providepure risk cover, which explains the lower premiums.A fixed sum of money - the sum assured – ispaid to the beneficiaries if the policyholder expires over the policy term. If the policyholder survives, there is no pay out.
Endowment plans differ from term plans in one critical aspect i.e. maturity benefit. Unlike term plans which pay out the sum assured, along with profits, only in case of an eventuality over the policy term, endowment planspay out the sum assured under both scenarios – death and survival. However, endowment plans charge higher fees / expenses – reflected in premiums – for paying out sum assured, along with profits, in either scenario – death or maturity. The profits are an outcome of premiums being invested in asset markets – equities and debt.
ULIPs are a variant of the traditional endowment plan.They pay out the sum assured (or the investment portfolio if its higher) on death/maturity. ULIPs differ from traditional endowment plans in certain areas. As the name suggests, performance of ULIP is linked to markets. Individuals can choose the allocation for investments in stock/debt markets. The value of the investment portfolio is captured by the NAV (net asset value). To that end, there are many similarities between ULIPs and mutual funds. ULIPs differ in one area, they are a combination of investment and insurance, while mutual funds are a pure investment avenue.
A whole life policy covers a policyholder over his life. The main feature of a whole life policy is that the validity of the policy is not defined so the individual enjoys the life cover throughout his life. The policyholder pays regular premiums until his death, upon which the corpus is paid out to the family. The policy expiresonly in case of an eventuality as there is no pre-defined policy tenure.
This is a variant of the endowment plan. It gives periodic payments over the policy term. To that end, a portion of the sum assured is paid out at regular intervals. If the policy holder survives the term, he gets the balance sum assured.In case of death over the policy term, the beneficiary gets the full sum assured.