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Investment Plans

Investment Plans are financial products that provide the opportunity to create wealth for future. Life Insurance products are often used as investment instruments. The advantage of investing through a life insurance plan is that it not only allows you to create wealth for future but also offers comprehensive life coverage at the same time.

These plans are essentially of two types, Unit Linked Insurance Plans or ULIPs that provides returns based on market performance, and traditional endowment plans that offer a lump sum or annuity payout at the end of the policy term when the life insurance policy matures. These type of saving scheme or investments offer life coverage and returns but differ in their construct.

A good financial plan with returns and life coverage invest the premium as paid by the policyholder in the stock market and gives them returns which are comparatively volatile as they depend on the performance of the stock markets. Whereas, an endowment plan offers lower but safer returns. However, a customer does not get to know where they are saving money or it is being further used due to the opaque construct of endowment plans, unlike ULIPs where they know where their fund is being put. ULIPs offer customers the option to check the status of their investments through a figure called the Net Asset Value (NAV), among others.

Nonetheless, endowment plans have their benefits. Where ULIPs give the policyholder a lot more flexibility and transparency, endowment plans act as a guaranteed return plan option as they offer definite profits.

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Best Investment Plans in India 2016

HDFC Life Click2invest

ICICI Pru Smart Life

Bharti AXA eFuture Invest

SBI Life- Smart Scholar

ExideLife Wealth Maxima

Future Generali Easy Invest Online Plan

HDFC SL YoungStar Super Premium

Aviva iGrowth

HDFC Life Assured Pension Plan

Retire Rich

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Types of Investment Plans

1. Life Insurance Investment Plans
2. Unit Linked Investment Plans (ULIP)
3. Endowment Plan
4. Guaranteed Return Plan

1. Life Insurance Investments: The best investment plan offers the policyholder both life cover plus the added advantage of saving fund. Life insurance investments is always taken keeping a future objective in mind and this objective could be either a long-term or a short-term objective, like buying a house, child's marriage and education or just building up a corpus for future. The best investment acts as a two-in-one solution.

2. Unit Linked Investment Plans (ULIPs): Unit Linked Plans as commonly referred to are a type of coverage plan that provides coverage wherein the money paid as premium by the investor is channelised into the stock markets. Each and every ULIP has a different set of funds that they invest in. Individuals who invest in a best investment plan get a certain number of units of the fund. These investments are based on the correlation of the fund value of the fund they are investing in and the premium the investors have put in.

The Unit Linked Insurance Plans are amongst the best investment options in India in case you are looking for some coverage cum investment options. The ULIP plans give both financial security and life coverage. ULIPs also give you the leverage to make direct market investments. Your ULIPs funds can be invested into equity funds or debt funds or both partially. The value of the debt fund or the equity fund is evaluated as Net Asset Value the criteria. Though investment through ULIPs is rarely seen case but Unit Linked plans have a greatly responsible in the investment market.

Comparatively, mutual funds are complete Systematic Investment Products i.e. SIP. Different mutual funds have different risk exposures. Mutual funds that are equity oriented invest a major part into equities wherein the balanced funds or hybrid funds invest into equity and debt fund market. The debt funds invest in the bonds and fixed income securities. Below is a brief on how ULIPs and Mutual Funds justify your investment needs:

[list_element]Potential of Returns[/list_element]
The potential returns on ULIPs are lower since the ULIPs fall is a member of low risk products unlike a mutual fund product. The sum assured promised by the product is regardless of the return earned by the ULIP plan. Wherein mutual funds are differently featured as the equity mutual funds incur better returns than the hybrid returns and the hybrid funds give higher returns than the debt funds.

[list_element]Liquidity[/list_element]
ULIPs can be anytime used for money withdrawal to get through any financial emergency. This totally depends on the investment tenure of the product. Although mutual funds are more liquid as the market exposure is higher than ULIPs.

[list_element]Risk exposure[/list_element]
Since ULIP plans are less prone to risks because the simple ideas of ULIPs are to provide coverage. Although ULIP plans have a variety of scope to invest its funds the ULIPs needs to be handled diligently since they are basically insurance products. The risk associated with equity mutual funds are more than hybrid mutual funds and both are relatively more risky than a debt fund. Although an investor can put in their money after making a detailed study on the product NAV i.e. the Net Asset Value.

3. Endowment Plans: Endowment plans are the traditional form of insurance products that offer an individual a life cover with very low profit. Endowment plans are usually taken by individuals who are looking to increase the value of fund plan but one which offers them guaranteed profits in lieu of a higher life cover.
Endowment plans are the best investment plan for investors who are not looking for a large corpus but are actually more concerned about keeping their funds safe and secure, and still receive a certain amount of profits on their assets.

4. Guaranteed Return Plan: These plans offer a guaranteed amount of fund to a policyholder at the end of a specific investment policy term. The policyholder needs to compare and know that the guarantee he gets here is specific to set of terms and conditions of the plan. These conditions could be either a:


  • Highest NAV, which is usually in Unit Linked Plan

  • Capital Guarantee, again offered by Unit Linked Plan

  • Maturity Guarantee, offered by traditional endowment plan

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Objectives of Investment Plans


  • To save we need to look at ULIP with a guaranteed return possibility

  • For corpus building, a traditional ULIP with no guarantee

  • For a retired person, an annuity plan


You must also check out this : 10 Best Investment Options in India

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Benefits & Features of Investment Plans

The best investment plans or savings schemes offer more than one benefit to the consumers. Primarily, they offer:


  • Protection to loved ones

  • Goal based planning

  • Build fund reservoir

  • Tax Benefit under section 80C and 10(10D).

Options to obtain a loan in lieu of the same as a guarantee against non-payment
Protection to loved ones: Return on investments with coverage provides the dual benefit of life cover and returns. This means that in the event of anything unfortunate happening to the insured, their family will receive the sum for which they were insured in addition to the fund value either as a single or in the form of monthly/quarterly/half yearly payments. They help to secure the family needs and monetary goals if the insured party is unable to earn a living or in the unfortunate event of his demise.

Goal based planning: A goal based saving option is a great way for saving money for a goal – whether it is buying a house or a car, paying for children’s education costs, or planning for marriage or after you retire. The endowment funds offer a secure yet safe way to plan for retirement if you are not keen on riskier market linked ULIP plans. The ULIP plans offer alternative opportunities to invest and you can take a look at their historical profits to calculate your returns and corpus build up in a few years time. Also, the lock-in period of a good plan to invest and save that the funds stay untouched and builds up over the years to help you achieve your objectives.

Build fund reservoir: Plans with coverage cum investments with lock in period help to save money that can be used to fulfill a financial goal. Whether you want to buy your first house in seven years and/or save enough to buy a second home in the next five, your saving plan feature can help accomplish your aims.

Tax Benefits: The premiums paid under these plans qualify for deduction under section 80C of Tax Act up to applicable limits. This means that you are not taxed on the funds you invest in these options or best saving schemes and additionally the profit is reduced by the investing fund. The exemption, however, is limited to the total exemption limit under section 80C and cannot exceed that statutory limit. In addition, the payout received on maturity is exempted from levies under section 10(10D) of the Act.

Options to obtain a loan in lieu of the same as a guarantee against non-payment: Banking institutions take these plans as collateral for any loans given to the insured. These instruments act as security for the loan. Since the loan is in the form of a secured loan, the interest rate is generally lower and other terms and conditions more favorable as compared to unsecured loans.

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FAQs

1. What Personal Things to Check before Choosing Plans?
Goals: Your monetary goals should determine what type of scheme you should buy. These goals may include marriage, buying a house or a car, providing for children’s education and marriage or building a corpus amount. In fact, even small term goals like foreign trips can be financed by ULIPs. If you are just starting out in your career or have a small family, then you can definitely opt for a best saving scheme such as a ULIP to fund your short-term goals. On the other hand, if you are in your 40s or even 50s, then endowment plans are better as best saving schemes in combination with ULIPs or other options like mutual fund. Your monetary goals will help determine what options are best.
Current Expenses vs. Savings: In order to meet the financial goals the amount an investor spends or saves has a larger role to play. With fewer saving and more expenses, it is unlikely that you can define large short-term goals that can be met by coverage plans. In such a scenario, if you live at home with your parents and have no major outgo like rent, and you are likely to save money every month then it is best to buy an adequate life cover with return benefits and get their two-in-one benefit.
Future Expenses vs. Savings: The amount you save for future will also determine what kind of scheme works as the best for you. If you have fewer expenses now because the children are young, you can plan for the major expenses that will come your way in a few years like the children’s college education or marriage. Therefore, you can choose an option that charges premium for a few years and then pays out enough that it can itself pay for any premium from the annuity or other regular benefits. Moreover, you investing a higher amount would now mean that a good profit plan will grow to a larger capital base in 20-30 years time when you need it for your monetary goals or basic expenses. Planning your expenses is a good way to filter the ones to invest on.
Major Expenses that may arise: These schemes are a smart way to get the cover you need and also grow your fund at the same time through the best saving schemes. The major expenses like buying a house or to meet the living expenses after you retire can be easily covered by ULIPs and even endowments. Also, you can plan for the major expenses that are certain to occur and take them into account while determining the best saving scheme. E.g., suppose your child is in primary school, then you know that within 8-10 years you will have to bear major expenses for their education. As such, it makes sense to invest a small ULIP that ensures you can meet this definite expense in a few years time.
Insurance Cover – Existing vs. Required: The insurance cover of the best saving scheme should be adequate to take care of you or your family in case you are unable to work anymore or in the unfortunate event of you being no more. The cover provided by the product should be able to pay for your own or your family’s expenses in the years to come until your children can take care of you and your spouse in addition to themselves. To understand how much you need, make an estimate of your current and future expenses vis-a-vis what a scheme offers. If your cover is less than what is required, then opting for ULIPs or endowments as best saving schemes are a better way to ensure you increase your money while protecting yourself and your family at the same time.
Number of Dependents: The number of dependents should also determine the assured sum you need to invest in the best options. If you have only a wife and child as dependents then your needs would be lesser in comparison to when you may be taking care of your siblings, parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, nephews, nieces, etc. Your monetary insurance product should not only be able to cover for all the necessary expenses and also help you build a corpus for all your and your family’s major goals. Also, the age of the younger dependents matter while choosing the best saving scheme. If you have teenage children, then it is likely you need a good plan to save up for their college education or marriage. ULIPs are better for such cases than endowment plans.

2. Fund Planning before making investments?
To understand how much cover a person needs in a best saving scheme, he or she has to take stock of their existing expenses, compute to the extent possible the amount of future obligations that are likely to crop up and how much money they need to meet their living expenses. A key factor is also the age of dependents as this would determine how long before they can meet their own living expenses without having to depend on the payouts from the schemes.
Existing Debts: The existing loans that a person has are one of the primary things that one should consider while calculating the amount of life cover required in the best saving scheme. The existing loan may be a house loan or a personal loan, a car loan etc. It may also include loans that a person or his/her dependents may have to take in the future and their EMI payments. E.g., a child may have to take an education loan to cover for further studies or foreign studies. In such cases, an ideal financial portfolio should be adequate to cover for repayment of these loans for 2-3 or more years until the child lands a job and can repay the loan himself or herself.
Replacement of earnings: This is perhaps the most important aspect of applying for a best saving scheme in the first place. The payment from the best plan on the happening of an unforeseen or unfortunate event must be adequate to cover for the loss of income without any material change in one’s lifestyle. Suppose the sole breadwinner has a salary of Rs. 12 lakh per annum, then the plan should be able to cover for a substantial part, if not all of the income loss suffered by the family, if the insured is unable to work due to a partial or total disability or in the unfortunate event of his demise. Saving money also helps to build up a corpus that can yield interest income.
Existing and Future Expenses: A good product should be enough to cover any major expenses at present or in the near or distant future. So, larger expenses such marriage, retirement, continuing treatment of illnesses, etc. has to be accounted for in the calculations along with saving fund while arriving at the life cover required for the family. The expenses should be thought out with some rationality to select the best saving scheme. Considering medical expenses or hospital stay for the family does not make sense if there is already a Mediclaim plan covering all such expenses. However, the annual premiums on such options should be factored in while making the calculations.
Existing Cover: The existing cover should be discounted while calculating the cover required if it is an individual financial scheme. If it is the employer’s group policy, then the coverage under it can be considered. For more clarity, it is always better to ask the employer for the benefits under the group financial policy. Once the facts are clear, the individual can reduce the amount they are likely to receive under these policies from the new cover they need under the insurance products.
Income of Spouse or Other Members of Family: While calculating the coverage required, it makes sense to discount the income of the spouse or other members of the family. This will help provide a more realistic picture of the amount of coverage and returns required. If the spouse earns then the amount of cover should be able to take care of all the major expenses that are likely to occur and also take care of most of the expenses that are being met by the earnings of the insured. The rest of the expenses can be met from the income of the spouse.
Premium calculation: To plan your financial future better insurance service providers have developed various tools to aid individuals to calculate premiums and plan better for their future financial aims. A premium calculator helps to make a cost efficient decision and examine different plans that meet the basic requirement of the investors. The calculator helps the investor to use their fund in a more systematic manner in order to have a good portfolio.

3. Types of investments while planning for children?
The planning for children can be further sub-divided into two: the first for the children’s education and the second for their marriage. Both education and marriage are major expenses and need proper asset planning. Insurance investment options are ideal for these as they provide the child the necessary covers in addition to helping the parent prepare for the eventual expenses.
Investments Children’s Education: The meet the expenses to educate your child start taking gargantuan proportions after secondary education. From taking tuition classes to studying for competitive exams, all preparations for furthering their education and career prospects are expensive and need a good financial portfolio. In addition, college fees in private colleges and foreign universities are quite exorbitant and will only increase gradually. All these expenses cannot be met out of the monthly salary of the parents and need to be properly planned. These are ideal for such cases as they provide the necessary cover for the child and also help the parent build-up a corpus for major expenses. Some things to check out while choosing a plan for children’s educational expenses include:
Whether the payout is lump sum or regular: Timely payouts are better to pay the tuition and college fees while a single payment is best to meet major expenses that crop up at the beginning of college or a foreign education course. Some offer both options with a single payment when the child reaches a certain age like 18 or 21 years and customary payouts.
Whether the cover insures against children specific problems: Children have their own set of unique ailments and the better option will cover such contingencies. They will also provide reimbursement for illnesses and diseases that require hospital stays.
Possibility of Increasing or Decreasing Cover: Since the parents meet most of their children’s expenses, it makes sense to go for a good scheme to invest with higher return in the initial years and lesser cover. This will also help to build up a larger corpus in the later years.
Investments for Children’s Marriage: The individuals generally sketch the funds to invest in order to meet the expenses of children’s marriage with a good financial option. The best ones are those that give a payout at a certain age of the child such as 23 or 25 years. An early move in to the products that provide coverage when the child is young helps to build a large corpus of premium.

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