What is the difference between ULIPs and mutual funds

Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) are combined life insurance cum investment products. Unlike traditional insurance plans e.g. endowment, money back plans, pension plans etc, ULIPs are market-linked and have the potential to deliver higher returns compared to traditional plans. However, ULIPs, unlike traditional life insurance plans, do not offer capital safety. ULIPs provide investors with life insurance cover and at the same time investment in a fund of their choice.

Mutual fund, on the other hand, is a purely market linked instrument, which pools the money of different people and invests them in different financial securities like stocks, bonds etc. Each investor in a mutual fund owns units of the fund, which represents a portion of the holdings of the mutual fund.

One can think of ULIP as a mutual fund with a term life insurance plan attached to it. In terms of gross investment returns ULIPs have performed comparably with mutual funds over a 5 year period. However, net returns to investors are lower in ULIP because various costs are deducted from ULIP premiums before they are invested in the ULIP fund. A portion of the ULIP premium goes towards buying the life cover or sum assured. Another portion goes towards a variety of fees like, premium allocation fees, policy administration fees, fund management etc. The balance premium is then invested in the ULIP fund.

For an objective comparison of ULIP and mutual funds, read our article, Term Insurance and Mutual Fund or ULIP: Which is a better option?

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