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In ULIP Plan, the investment risks in the investment portfolio is borne by the policyholder

What is ULIP?

Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) are a type of life insurance plan that offer the dual benefits of life insurance and investment. A portion of the premium paid for a ULIP is invested in a variety of market-linked funds, while the remaining portion is used to provide life insurance coverage.


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Benefits of ULIP

What is ULIP Plan? Full Form, Meaning, Benefits and Features

What is ULIP plan
March 19, 2024


What is ULIP (Unit Linked Insurance Plan)?

Full form of ULIP is Unit linked Insurance Plan. ULIP's are a combination of insurance + investment. A small portion of the money invested goes to securing your life whereas the rest of the money is invested in the market. Policyholders can pay premiums monthly/annually.


In Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIP), the investments made are subject to risks associated with the capital markets. This investment risk in investment portfolio is borne by the policy holder. Thus, you should make your investment choice after considering your risk appetite and needs.

Another factor that you need to consider is your future need for funds. HDFC Standard Life offers you a variety of unit-linked insurance products to suit your goals - be it for your retirement planning, for your health, for your child's education and marriage or for investment purposes.

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How Does ULIP Work?

ULIP offers investors an opportunity to invest towards a life insurance policy and mutual fund with a single plan. The amount which you invest in ULIP is referred to as premiums. This amount is divided into two parts, one of which is invested towards debt, equity or hybrid mutual funds as per the market scenario. The other part is used to buy life coverage like any life insurance policy.

The investment part of a ULIP works similarly to mutual funds. It is invested into equities, debt or a combination of both assets; you get the option to choose a plan or switch between plans. Like mutual funds, you are assigned units in proportion to your investment. Each unit has a daily NAV (Net Asset Value) which reflects the value of the underlying assets.

Unit-linked plans are handled by professional fund managers who closely study the market movements and invest the required portion of your premium accordingly. They will again study the market movement after investing the funds and make changes as and when required.

After this policy matures, you will receive the total maturity amount which consists of an aggregate of your investments across all funds. However, in case of death of the beneficiary, the nominee will receive the higher amount from fund value, sum assured or 105% of the premium that he has paid to date.

How to Choose the Best ULIP Plans?

You can keep the following factors in mind to choose the best ULIP plan for your finances.

  • Choose a ULIP Plan Aligning with Your Investment Goals

    When investing in ULIP, you will get an option to choose from equity, debt or hybrid mutual funds. Consider choosing the fund keeping your risk appetite and investment goal in mind. For instance, you can opt for a hybrid fund to generate decent returns without facing drastic losses owing to market volatility.
  • Stay Invested with ULIP for the long term

    ULIP Plans are beneficial when you stay invested for the long term. Therefore, you must always opt for a plan that will allow you to stay invested for a longer period. With a long-term ULIP plan, besides returns on maturity, you can enjoy perks like loyalty additions to include your family members or wealth boosters to increase your sum assured.
  • Go for a Necessary Amount of Life Insurance Cover

    Besides growing wealth with mutual fund investment, another aim of a ULIP plan is to provide life insurance coverage. It helps you to fund long term goals like children's marriage or education. It also helps cover the financial requirements of nominees in case of a beneficiary's death. So you need to have a clear idea about your future needs and opt for a plan that can cover them.
  • Have an Idea about ULIP Charges

    Before investing in a plan, consider studying the insurance company's website to learn about additional ULIP charges. If you choose a plan ignoring the additional charges, you might have to pay them along with your premium. This can eventually burden your finances and lead to monetary indiscipline. Here are five main extra charges that you might need to pay for your ULIP.
  • Mortality charges
  • Fund management charges
  • Premium allocation charges
  • Policy administration charges
  • Go through the Tax Benefits

    You can enjoy certain tax benefits by investing in ULIP as per the Income Tax Act. According to Sections 80C, 80D and 80CCC, you can opt for tax benefits for paying life insurance premiums. You can also enjoy tax exemption on the maturity amount as per Section 10 (10D).#
  • Evaluate your Risk Appetite

    Before you invest in a ULIP, you must assess your risk tolerance. Also, think about your investment preferences based on your risk appetite before you shortlist the ULIP plans. This is because ULIPs offer various fund options, each with different risk profiles. There are equity funds with higher risk and higher potential returns. The low-risk debt funds on the other hand, are suitable for more stable investments in terms of risk and returns. Your fund selection must align wit your financial goals, needs and risk appetite to achieve results that are best suited for your long-term and short-term investment strategy.

Which Investor Class Are They Most Suited For?

  • Those who wish to closely track their investments

    Unit linked insurance plans allow policy takers to closely monitor their portfolios. They also offer the flexibility to switch your capital between funds with varying risk-return profiles.
  • Individuals with a medium to long term investment horizon

    ULIPs (Unit Insurance Linked Plans) are ideal for individuals who are ready to stay invested for relatively long periods of time.
  • Those with varying risk profiles

    Across the seven funds offered, the equity component varies from zero to a maximum of 100 per cent. Thus there is a choice of funds available to all types of investors - from risk-averse investor to those investors who have strong risk appetite.
  • Investors across all life stages

    This plan category offers a variety of plans which can be opted for depending upon the life stage you are in and your needs and financial liabilities at that point in time.

How Is the ULIP Plan Structured? 

ULIP investments are structured quite like mutual fund investments. However, in ULIPs, investments from different investors are pooled together before allocating to various funds of the investor’s choice.

As an investor you can either buy units (shares) of a single fund or you can opt to diversify your investment across different ULIP funds. All of these are market-linked and depending upon the market conditions and fund performance, you have the flexibility to adjust your fund preferences for as long as the duration of the investment.

All ULIPs are managed by fund managers, whose job is to ensure the investment remains aligned with the investor's financial goals and objectives. 

To start your investment, you decide on a lump sum to commit to the plan. Then once the plan is selected, you can start the premium payment, which could be annual, six-monthly or monthly, depending upon the plan you choose. You can also use a ULIP Calculator to work out your premium. 

The premiums you pay are invested in the funds chosen by you after deducting different charges such as allocation, fund management, policy administration, and charges for providing insurance cover. These are deducted by cancelling some units. The per-unit value is calculated by dividing the fund's total value by the total number of units.

Who Should Buy a ULIP Plan?

ULIP plans are market-linked investment opportunities that anyone above the age of 18 can avail. They are ideal for people expecting decent returns with minimum Life Cover. Here are some investors for whom ULIPs can be a great option: 

  • Those seeking long-term investment opportunities:

    ULIPs yield the best results when you stay invested for the long term. So, if you are comfortable investing your money for a minimum lock-in period of 5 years, you can consider ULIPs. During the lock-in period, partial withdrawal of funds is not possible, but it allows your investment ample time to grow through market variations. 
  • Those who want to control their fund management: 

    Since ULIPs are highly transparent instruments, investors experience a lot of flexibility in managing their money. It is easy to set the ratio of funds you want to allocate to debt and equity. You can also decide which funds you want in your basket and how much money you want to allocate to each. This distribution can change with changes in market trends.
  • Those who understand their risk appetite:

    If you are someone who understands their risk appetite and knows it changes from time to time, ULIPs are a great instrument for you. With a ULIP plan, you can keep changing your debt and equity investment ratio as your risk appetite changes across the policy duration. 

How to Maximize Returns from a ULIP?

If you want to maximize your returns from your ULIP investment, here are some of the things that you can do:

  • Early Start: 

    People who start their investments early in life always gain from market fluctuations and stand a chance at better returns over the long term. Staying invested helps overcome the risk of market volatility. Also, as ULIP is a life insurance policy as well, you will be able to create financial security for your loved ones from a very early age. 
  • Consistent investment:

    ULIPs prove to be one of the best investment options when you stay at them consistently and regularly. Financial discipline is important as this way. You can create a large invested corpus over time that will provide better returns. Setting automatic ULIP premium payments ensures you remain actively invested. 
  • Carefully Select Different Fund Options:

    Being aware of different fund types and their performance is a good path to maximising returns. With ULIPs, you can choose from equity, debt or balanced funds based on your risk appetite. In addition, depending on market opportunities and trends, you can also switch funds to take advantage. Volatile markets are best for debt fund investments, while favourable markets are ideal for equity-based funds. 
  • Review regularly:

    Keeping in touch with your portfolio and regularly monitoring your funds' performance helps you take timely action. With this approach, you will be able to encash market opportunities and increase or decrease your investments between funds for maximised returns. 
  • Consider tax benefits:

    It is important to know that ULIP premiums are tax deducted up to INR 1.5 lakh a year under deductions under 80C of the Income Tax Act, 1961. But did you know that even the payouts from ULIPs are tax-free in accordance with Section 10D? With these tax benefits, your overall returns from your ULIP investment are significantly high. 

What is the Lock-in Period of a ULIP?

The lock-in period of a ULIP, or Unit Linked Insurance Plan, is five years. Policyholders cannot surrender or withdraw their funds during this period without incurring charges. This time frame encourages a long-term investment approach that helps wealth creation and also meets the insurance objectives of a ULIP.

Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) vs Other Investment Options Available Under Section 80C

Here's a detailed comparison of Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) with other investment options available under Section 80C #. Go through the details for each on lock-in period, tax benefits, underlying assets, taxation, risk, and charges for an in-depth comparison and informed decision-making: 

Investment Option

Lock-in Period

Tax Benefits

Underlying Assets





5 years

Premium and maturity benefit exempt under 80C, 10(10D)

Equity, Debt, Hybrid funds

Maturity proceeds tax-free. Returns from equity funds may attract capital gains tax.

Market-linked risk, varying based on fund allocation

Premium allocation, fund management, policy administration, mortality charges, switching/surrender charges

Equity-Linked Saving Schemes (ELSS)

3 years

Premium exempt under 80C

Primarily Equities

Gains above   1 lakh in a year are taxable as LTCG at 10%. Capital gains tax on redemption

Less risky than ULIPs but risk is market-linked 

Fund management charges (expense ratio of 1.05 to 2.25), exit load (if applicable)

Public Provident Fund (PPF)

15 years

EEE (Exempt-Exempt-Exempt)

Government Securities

Interest and maturity proceeds tax-free

Risk-free, backed by the government

One-time account opening charge and none other

Features of ULIP Plans 

  • Single Premium

    The policy holder is required to pay the entire premium amount as a lump sum at the beginning of the policy term.
  • Regular Premium Payment (annually, semi-annually or monthly)

    The policy holder has to pay the pre-determined premium amount periodically i.e. annually, semi-annually or monthly, depending upon the premium payment term opted for.
  • Number of Premium Paying Years

    This depends on the term of the policy that you have chosen. In most cases, the policy term and the number of premium paying years (in case of regular premiums) are the same. However, some policies give the insured the option of choosing the number of premium paying years.
  • Dual Advantage of Investment and Insurance:

    ULIPs offer the dual benefit of investment to policyholders covering both investment and insurance. A part of the premium goes towards life coverage and ensures that the policyholder’s beneficiaries get financial protection. The remaining money is invested to maximise the returns from a ULIP over time.
  • Market-Linked Returns

    One of the stand-out features of ULIPs is their ability to offer market-linked returns. Policyholders can choose the funds they want to invest in — equity, debt, or a mix of both. This way, they have control over their market exposure and can benefit from the capital appreciation.
  • Flexibility in Fund Selection

    ULIPs allows investors to select the funds they want to go ahead with. Therefore, policyholders can align their investments to their financial goals and risk tolerance. Switching between funds is easy and simple. 
  • Transparency

    ULIPs are highly transparent investment instruments. Policyholders get regular performance updates on their investments, with details on fund Net Asset Value (NAV) and associated charges if any. This paves the way for informed decision-making.
  • Lock-in Period

    There is a lock-in period on ULIP investments as a result, the policyholders cannot surrender or withdraw their funds for a minimum period specified. The lock-in period aids long-term investment and helps in wealth creation over time. 

Fund Options Under ULIPs

You can opt for any of the following types of funds while investing in a ULIP.

  • Hybrid Funds:

    Hybrid funds under ULIPs are a strategic blend of equity and debt instruments. These funds enable a diversified investment that aims to balance risk and return. With hybrid funds, investors can appreciate their wealth equity exposure while also ensuring their risk is contained, and there is a certain sense of stability through debt instruments. Hence, investors find a middle ground between risk and capital appreciation within a single plan. 
  • Equity Funds:

    Equity funds majorly invest in stocks and offer significant capital appreciation over the long term. They are perfect for investors with a higher risk appetite, as equity funds are more volatile but yield substantial returns. If you have a long investment horizon, you can benefit from the compounding effect of wealth creation.
  • Balanced Funds:

    These ULIP funds perfectly balance equity and debt instruments. They work intending to moderate the risk with growth. These funds suit investors who need a balance between capital appreciation and stability. Balanced funds provide a diversified investment approach within a single fund, making them suitable for investors with a medium risk tolerance.
  • Liquid Funds:

    Liquid funds focus on short-term, highly liquid instruments such as treasury bills, certificates of deposit, etc. They lend stability and security to your accumulated corpus in the ULIP. The book returns faster, and the fund manager can reinvest your funds for more returns. Liquid funds are a great choice when you have surplus funds. They are also suitable when short-term financial objectives are fulfilled while maintaining a low-risk profile.
    For example, you are saving for your child’s education. While liquid ULIP funds may not meet your immediate expenses due to the lock-in clause, they do secure your profits faster and increase your corpus in a comparatively secure method. Therefore, they are a must-have in your ULIP portfolio.

What are ULIP Charges?

The following charges are deducted from your policy towards the cost of benefits and administration services provided by HDFC Standard Life Insurance -

  • Administration charges

    A fee is charged for administration of your policy every month. Administration charges are deducted by cancelling units proportionately from each of the funds you have chosen.
  • Fund management charges

    These charges are towards meeting expenses related to managing the fund. This is charged as a percentage of the fund's value and is deducted before arriving at the net asset value of the fund.
  • Switch charges

    You can switch between the funds available to suit your changing needs and goals. In a policy year, a fixed number of such switches are available free of cost. Subsequent to this, each switch would attract a certain charge. These charges are deducted by cancelling units proportionately from each of the funds you have chosen.
  • Surrender charges

    These charges are levied for premature encashment of units. They are charged as a percentage of the fund value and depend on the policy year in which the policy has been surrendered.
  • Mortality Charges

    Depending upon the age, and the amount of cover, these charges are levied towards providing a death cover to the insured.
  • Premium Allocation Charge

    This charge is deducted as a fixed percentage of the premium received, and is usually charged at a higher rate in the initial years of a policy. This charge varies depending upon whether the policy is a single premium plan or regular premium policy, the size of the premium, premium frequency and payment mode.
  • Partial Withdrawal Charges

    Lump sum withdrawals are allowed from the fund after the lapse of three years of the policy term and subject to pre- specified conditions. However, such withdrawals attract charges, as mentioned in the respective policy brochures.

Invest in ULIPs


Benefits of Investing in ULIPs

Let's take a look at some of the ways a ULIP plan benefits you:

  1. Makes Saving a Habit

    When you put money away in a ULIP every month, you're making disciplined savings a habit. As we all know, putting away savings is one of the main elements of every successful long-term financial plan. When you pay regular premiums on time, you can enjoy creating wealth for yourself while securing the financial future of your loved ones.

  2. Offers Protection

    One of the most significant benefits of ULIP is that it offers life cover along with investment options. So, apart from creating wealth for yourself, these plans ensure that your family will be taken care of financially if anything untoward were to happen to you.

  3. Flexible Investments

    With a ULIP, you are completely in control of your finances. You can choose to switch your funds around at any point. This means that you can move your money from equity funds to balanced and debt funds or vice-versa. Additionally, you can choose to redirect future premiums to a different fund of your choice. If you like to invest more money later, you can top-up your ULIP. Most importantly, in certain cases, you will have the opportunity to partially withdraw some of the funds from the investment for financial emergencies.

  4. Tax Benefits

    As with most other investments and life insurance products, the money you invest in your ULIP is also eligible for tax benefits. Both the premiums you pay and the returns you receive can be exempt from taxes as per Sections 80C# and 10D# of the Income Tax Act, 1961 respectively. Additionally, if you choose to move your money from one fund to another, you will not have to pay any additional tax.

  5. Growth Potential

    The benefits of ULIPare countless. But, one of the reasons it continues to be a sought-after investment option is its growth potential. These plans allow you to invest in market instruments like debt and equity funds to grow your money. The returns you receive could help you achieve your long-term financial goals.

  6. More Rewards Over Time

    The longer you stay invested in your ULIP, the more time you have to enjoy bonuses such as loyalty additions or wealth boosters. Once you invest, you should commit to it for the long-term.

  7. Income Tax Benefits of ULIP

    You purchase a ULIP with two goals in mind. Firstly, you'd like to invest your money and grow your wealth. Secondly, you'd like to get life cover to protect the financial interests of your family. But, you can also enjoy certain ULIP tax benefits. As per the Income Tax Act, 1961, the premiums you pay are eligible for ULIP tax exemption up to INR 1,50,000 per year. To enjoy this ULIP tax benefit, you must make sure that your sum assured is at least 10 times the annual premium you pay. If this requirement is not met, the maturity benefit will not be exempt from income tax and your premium tax benefits will be covered at 10% of your total sum assured.


In conclusion, Unit Linked Insurance Policies are versatile financial instrument because it  seamlessly integrates insurance and investment components. With the dual nature of ULIPs, policyholders can benefit from protection and wealth creation under a single plan. ULIPS have features like market-linked returns, flexibility in fund selection, transparency, and a specified lock-in period that aid holistic financial planning. 

However, to get maximum returns on your investment, it is important to track your plans regularly and assess them to ensure they align with your financial goals and risk tolerance. With ULIPs, you get a dynamic and personalised solution for investors who want a balanced strategy supporting long-term economic growth as well as life cover.

FAQs on What is ULIP Plan?

1. What is a ulip and how does it work?

Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) are a category of goal-based financial solutions that offer dual benefits of protection and Investment. Your Unit linked Insurance Plan is linked to the capital market and offers you flexibility to invest your units in equity or debt funds depending upon your risk appetite. ULIPs are typically bought for long term capital gains and offer a protection cover too.

2. Is ULIP a good investment?

ULIPs can be considered suitable investments for those seeking insurance coverage and market-linked returns. With ULIPs, you get flexibility, choice of funds, and wealth creation. However, the suitability of this investment instrument depends upon your financial goals and risk tolerance.

3. What is the right time to invest in ULIPs?

It's always a good time to invest in ULIPs. Ideally, the earlier you start, the better it is for you. This is because you will have more time to grow your money and reach your financial goals. You can also pick the funds you'd like to invest in based on your age, risk appetite and how much you'd like to earn in returns.

4. Is it necessary to pay tax on the ULIP maturity amount?

ULIP maturity proceeds are exempt from tax under Section 10(10D) of the Income Tax Act, 1961. This makes ULIPs tax-efficient investments. 

5. How can I maximize my ULIP returns?

You can follow a few simple steps to maximise your returns. The steps include:

  • Starting early
  • Investing regularly
  • Paying your premiums on time
  • Taking advantage of the strategies offered and investing in various funds
  • Reviewing your investment portfolio every 6 months to make changes
  • Adding top-ups to strengthen your investment
  • Maintaining the ratio of investment to insurance to enjoy tax benefits.

6. What is the fund value in ULIP?

When you opt to purchase a ULIP, you have the opportunity to invest in various fund options based on your risk appetite and financial goals. The fund value is essentially the total monetary worth of all the fund units that you own at any given point. For example, you may hold 10,000 units. Each unit is valued at INR 20. This means your fund value is 10,000 x 20 = INR 2,00,000.

7. How much of the premium paid is used to purchase units?

The whole premium you pay does not go towards the purchase of units. These are purchased only after deducting different charges such as allocation, fund management, policy administration, and charges for providing insurance cover. The remaining amount is used to buy units.

8. What is ULIP NAV?

NAV, or Net Asset Value, is the value of each unit in a ULIP fund. NAV reflects the fund's market value. It helps track the performance of the ULIP's underlying investments.

9. What is the minimum lock-in period for ULIP?

The minimum lock-in period for a ULIP is typically five years. Policyholders cannot surrender or withdraw their funds during this period without incurring charges. This duration encourages a long-term investment horizon.

10. What should one keep in mind while investing in ULIP?

  • Applicable charges
  • Payment on premature surrender
  • Investment fund options
  • Features and benefits
  • Limitations and exclusions
  • Lapsing and its consequences
  • Other disclosures

11. What are some advantages of ULIP's?

A. Market linked returns

Unit linked insurance plans give you an opportunity to earn market-linked returns as part of the premiums are invested in market linked funds which invest in different market instruments including debt instruments and equity in varying proportions.

B. Life protection, Investment and Savings

Unit linked insurance plans offer the twin benefits of life insurance and savings at market-linked returns. Thus, you have the opportunity to invest your money to earn higher returns, while taking care of your protection needs. Investing in unit linked Insurance plans helps to inculcate a regular habit of saving and investing, which is important for building wealth over the long term.

C. Flexibility

HDFC Life offers different ULIP's (Unit Linked Insurance Plans) which are just right for you and can help you meet your specific financial objectives.

  • The option to switch between investment funds to match your changing needs.
  • The facility to partially withdraw from your fund, subject to charges and conditions.
  • Single premium additions to enable the policy holder to invest additional sums of money (over and above the regular premium) as and when desired, subject to conditions.

12. How is ULIP better than other investments?

ULIPs offer a unique combination of insurance and investment. They also lend flexibility in fund choices. In addition, there is potential for market-linked returns and tax advantage. All these features make ULIPs highly rewarding as compared to other investments.

ULIPs from HDFC Life

Having known the various advantages that ULIP offers, it is advisable to choose the right plan depending on your age group and the corresponding goals at various life stages.

Unit Linked Insurance Plans offer you a wide range of flexible options such as

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Francis Rodrigues Francis Rodrigues

Francis Rodrigues has a decade long experience in the insurance sector, and as SVP, E-Commerce and Digital Marketing, HDFC Life, manages the online sales channel, as well as digital and performance marketing. He has had hands-on experience in setting up sales channels and functional teams from scratch over a career spanning 2 decades.

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Vishal Subharwal Vishal Subharwal

Vishal Subharwal heads the Strategy, Marketing, E-Commerce, Digital Business & Sustainability initiatives at HDFC Life. He is responsible for crafting and ensuring successful implementation of the overall organisation strategy.

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We at HDFC Life are committed to offer innovative products and services that enable individuals live a ‘Life of Pride’. For over two decades we have been providing life insurance plans - protection, pension, savings, investment, annuity and health.

#The above tax benefits are subject to conditions specified u/s 80C and u/s 10(10D) of the Income tax Act, 1961.

The afore stated views are based on the current Income-tax law. Tax Laws are also subject to change from time to time. The customer is requested to seek tax advice from his Chartered Accountant or personal tax advisor with respect to his personal tax liabilities under the Income-tax law.

The Unit Linked Insurance products do not offer any liquidity during the first five years of the contract. The policyholders will not be able to surrender or withdraw the monies invested in Unit Linked Insurance Products completely or partially till the end of fifth year.

Unit Linked Life Insurance products are different from the traditional insurance products and are subject to the risk factors. The premium paid in Unit Linked Life Insurance policies are subject to investment risks associated with capital markets and the NAVs of the units may go up or down based on the performance of fund and factors influencing the capital market and the insured is responsible for his/her decisions. HDFC Life Insurance Company Limited is only the name of the Insurance Company, The name of the company, name of the contract does not in any way indicate the quality of the contract, its future prospects or returns. Please know the associated risks and the applicable charges, from your Insurance agent or the Intermediary or policy document of the insurer. The various funds offered under this contract are the names of the funds and do not in any way indicate the quality of these plans, their future prospects and returns.

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