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Mutual Funds Score over ULIPs

Surrendering your ULIP after 5 years won't subject you to heavy charges. Invest the money in appropriate mutual funds

I am 36 years old. I have a ULIP plan - the ICICI Prudential Lifetime policy. I had bought this policy in 2003 and since then I have paid the premiums regularly, as well as some top-ups to accumulate a total sum of around ₹8.2 lakh. The total sum assured in the policy is only ₹1 lakh. As I am using this policy only for the purpose of investment, I want to know if I should continue with this policy or invest in a balanced fund like HDFC Balanced, as the policy is like a balanced fund. I already have a term plan from Aviva worth ₹1 crore. I also have equity mutual fund investments of about ₹34 lakh. Please guide.
- Ritesh

ICICI Pru Life Time policy is a unit linked plan which charges heavily during initial years. The charges reduce subsequently. Total expenses from third year onwards for the plan are near to 6.5 percent p.a. Balanced funds on the other hand at most charge 3.28 percent annually which is almost half of the charges under the unit linked policy. You have already invested with the policy for last 11 years which is a very long time frame. Over this period, top balanced mutual funds such as HDFC Prudence or Tata Balanced would have managed a 20 per cent CAGR return. Anyway, as far as your question of continuing with the policy is concerned, a good thing about the plan that there are no surrender charges if you surrender anytime after completion of three years. You still have 10 long years to reach your goal. Surrender this policy and invest into well rated balanced funds if you really want to control risk. However, given your long horizon, even large or multicap equity funds may deliver good results. In mutual funds, you can phase out your investment through monthly SIPs instead of investing one big lumpsum at one date in the year. Consider funds like HDFC Top 200, Quantum Long Term Equity and ICICI Pru Top 100 for your choices. You must however start switching from equity into debt as you near your goal. Just as an example, if you start from zero, and assuming your investment grows at 12% per annum, you would need to invest ₹3600 monthly to accumulate ₹8.20 lakh in 10 years.

Insurance is not to be confused with investment. We have always been advocating that investors keep insurance and investments separate. Continue with your term policy with Aviva because this is a pure protection product.

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