Last Updated on 23/01/2024 by Pardeep Garg
India is expanding massively in the life insurance market. The current rank of India in the same is 10 among 88 global countries and its share is 2.36% in the same. With this apparent boom in the insurance market, there has emerged a ton of insurance providers to choose from, a lot of confusion in deciding which policy to take, and so on. Life Insurance is not a new term. Postal Life Insurance was introduced to the general public back in 1884. Companies like Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), SBI Life Insurance, etc. had started providing life insurance long ago, but now are facing tough competition by the new players like Max Life Insurance, HDFC Life Insurance, and so on.
Many people might be on their first life insurance purchase and must be studying the types of life insurance, life insurance meaning, and more. Don’t worry because this article will address everything you need to know about life insurance right from “What is life insurance?”
In the article
What is Life Insurance?
Life Insurance is a mutual contract involving a policyholder and an insurance company. In this contract, the insurance company makes a promise to provide financial security to the individual or the nominee of the policy in return for regular premiums paid to this insurance provider. If the policyholder dies or when the policy matures, then the insurance company will provide a certain lump sum to the nominee or the individual (if they are alive).
How Life Insurance Can be Useful: Benefits of Life Insurance Policy
Life Insurance can be quite useful when it comes to meeting individual or family financial goals. We have listed down some of the same:
- Children’s Education
- Buying or building your own house.
- Regular income after retirement/ Pension.
These were just some of the benefits you get when you buy a life insurance policy. Life is quite unpredictable and that we all will agree. You never know what problem might arise due to the looming uncertainties. Such problems will hinder your and your family’s endeavors. If you avail of life insurance, then you are ensuring that the people who are dependent on you or your family can easily carry on their lifestyle at a normal pace in case of any unforeseen danger. We have listed down the significant benefits of getting life insurance, in detail:
1. Tax Benefits
Availing life insurance will help you in saving a huge amount of money on taxes. More or less, all the life insurance companies offer you this benefit. This advantage consists of the tax deduction on premiums and tax-free sum as under Section 80C and Section 10(10)D of the Income Tax Act of 1961, respectively.
2. Loan Reimbursement
Life insurance policies also provide coverage for all the loans and mortgages that the policyholder takes up. If an unpredictable event happens when the policyholder is unable to pay off his loan premiums, then the life insurance policy can be used to pay off the mortgage.
Life insurance calls for periodic premium payments. This regular payment becomes a habit and the policyholder saves this cash over a long period. Hence, a good amount is saved which will help you to meet your future financial needs.
4. Earning through Dividends
Life Insurance companies also allow their policyholders to take part in their monetary booms. This involves no funding threat, whatsoever. The policyholder will receive maturity benefits if they break up the funding earning via the yearly announcements of dividends/ bonus.
5. Medical Expense Cover
All life insurance companies provide financial cover in case of critical illness and hospitalization. Hence, it provides coverage for the increasing medical expenses and you will face minimal health expenses.
6. Loan Facility
If you avail of life insurance, then you have the option of taking a loan or mortgage towards this insurance coverage. This will in turn help you to meet your unforeseen financial requirement without putting a risk on the advantages provided by the life insurance.
7. Guaranteed Income through Annuity
Life insurance policies act as a steady income source as you will be depositing premiums over the long term. The profits generated will provide you regular income post-retirement.
8. Comprehensive Plans
Besides providing financial support in case of the policyholder’s untimely death, it also plays the role of a long-term investment option. A life insurance policy allows you to give importance to your objectives such as a child’s education, retirement savings, and so on. This planning will take place as per your risk tolerance and the life stage you are at. You will receive maturity benefits, guaranteed cash values, money back, and other such built-in guarantees with most of the conventional policies.
Does Life Insurance Cover COVID 19?
The world has been suffering for quite some time now due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Everybody is uncertain about whether their life insurance will pay out if they die due to the COVID-19 infection. The answer is ‘Yes’ if you already have life insurance. Life Insurance companies will accept death claims caused due to COVID-19 because death caused due to health issues are usually covered under life insurance policies. The lump-sum amount will be paid to the nominee of the policyholder. Some Life Insurance companies have also made special policies that will cover medical expenses due to COVID-19. Aegon Life Insurance Company has even started a one-year special policy for COVID-19.
Types of life insurance
There are 9 major types of life insurance plans provided in India. The details of the same are explained below:
1. Term Insurance Plans
Term Insurance Plan is one of the very basic forms of life insurance. This one is affordable life insurance that you can easily avail of without any hurdles. It provides a death benefit if the untimely death of the insurer occurs within the policy term. In the event of such an unforeseen demise, the insurance company will provide a pre-decided death coverage as a lump-sum or as a monthly/ annual payment, or as combined benefits to the beneficiary/ nominee. This should be your take if you want the death coverage with low premium payments.
Term Insurance Plans Benefits:
- Death Benefit
To know more about Term Insurance Plans: Best Term Insurance Policy In India 2024
2. Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)
This is a type of life insurance that acts as the perfect combo of insurance + investment. It has perks like a long-term investment opportunity and investment flexibility. The premiums you pay towards this policy are partly used as risk-cover for your life coverage plan and the leftover is invested in funds like debts, bonds, hybrid funds, equities, etc. The selection of funds depends on the risk tolerance of the policyholder and their preference.
Unit Linked Insurance Plans Benefits:
- Life Coverage + Investment
- Easy investment
- Autonomy (As the insured can choose the preferred investment options).
3. Endowment Plans
These are also known as traditional life insurance policies. An endowment policy is a blend of life coverage and savings. This policy will invest a specific part in life coverage and the rest will be invested by the insurance provider. If the policyholder outlives the policy term, then the insurance provider will offer the maturity benefit to them. Some endowment policies also provide bonuses on pre-specified periods.
Endowment policy Benefit:
Endowment policy serves as a financial planning tool that offers returns at the time of maturity.
4. Money-Back Plans
Money-Back Life Insurance Plan offers a specific percentage of the assured sum, and that is repaid to the policyholder at intervals decided earlier. This is known as survival benefit. A money-back plan is best for those who want their investments to include some amount of liquidity. Besides, these plans are also eligible for bonuses.
Money-Back Plans Benefit:
It helps you reach your short-term financial goals and earn returns on your investment upon maturity.
5. Whole Life Insurance Plans
A whole life insurance plan is an extensive coverage plan that will provide coverage for the policyholder’s entire lifetime. The premiums for this one are low. The assured sum is decided at the time of purchase and shall be paid to the nominee after the death of the person insured. Besides, bonuses shall also be paid to the nominee.
Money-Back Plans Benefit:
You get insured for your entire life at considerably low premiums
6. Whole Life ULIP
This is a variant of the aforementioned policy. This combines the benefit of whole life plans along with that of ULIPs. So, the whole life ULIP provides extensive coverage with high returns on investment.
Whole Life ULIP Benefits:
- No age limit
- Once the premium payment period is finished, you can avail of partial withdrawals.
- Entire lifetime coverage.
7. Child Plans
This one generates funds for the policyholder’s children. The plan will build a corpus for the policyholder’s child and this sum can be used for the child’s future education needs and marriage. The benefits are provided in the form of installments annually or as a one-time payout after the child attains 18 years of age.
If the policyholder dies untimely during the policy term, then the immediate premium payment needs to be paid by the insurer. Some life insurance companies waive off future premiums. However, the policy continues until the stipulated time.
Child Plans Benefits:
- Ensures that the future of the child is secured despite the parent’s untimely death.
- Provides financial support for the child’s education, wedding, etc.
8. Retirement Plans
A retirement plan/ annuity/ pension plan accumulates a corpus for the policyholder’s retirement. This plan generally provides benefits as annual installments or a 1-time pay-out once the insured reaches 60 years of age.
Retirement Plans Benefits:
- Generates retirement corpus
- Helps attain financial independence
- Tool for long-term investment
9. Group Life Insurance Policy
This is offered by the business groups, employers, banks, and housing societies to the employees, clients, and members. The employer retains the insurance contract and the employees receive an insurance coverage certificate.
Group Life Insurance Policy Benefits:
- Low premium
- The claim process is easy
- Tax saving
- No pre-medical tests required
Best life insurance plans in India 2022
Here is a list of Best Life insurance plans in India with minimum and maximum Policy term and Assured Sum
[table id=14 /]
Best life insurance companies in India
India has performed quite well in the life insurance segment and is continuously growing in the same. The claim settlement ratio plays a major role in deciding the reputation of a life insurance company. It translates to the number of death or maturity claims settled in a specific fiscal year by the insurance provider. We have prepared a table listing down the top 10 life insurance companies in India 2022 based on their IRDS claim settlement ratio data for the year 2018-19.
Difference between Health Insurance and Life Insurance
Some people often get confused between health insurance and life insurance and consider them to be the same thing. It is not quite so. The basic difference between health insurance and life insurance is that health insurance will provide coverage for some part of your medical expenses and on the other hand life insurance will pay out a lump-sum upon an untimely death. Both the terms are completely different as far as definition and coverage are concerned. We have further elaborated on the difference between the two. Take a look.
|Hospitalization costs, medical expenses, and related treatment costs in return for fixed premiums.
|Pays out a lump-sum to the insured person’s nominee in case of their unforeseen death.
|Covers medical treatment and illness costs up to a maximum amount and certain conditions.
|Death Benefit paid to the nominee of the policyholder.
|No such claim bonus can be added.
|Maturity benefit, Surrender Benefit, Loyalty Additions, etc. can be added
|Type of coverage
|Individual, family floater policy, and group coverage
|Individual and group coverage.
|Usually of a shorter term
|Usually of a longer-term
|Types of plans
|Comprehensive health insurance plans, critical illness cover, and more.
|Term plans, child-related, retirement, savings, etc.
|Under Section 80D of Income Tax Act.
|Under Section 80C, Section 10(10)D of the Income Tax Act.
Difference between life insurance and term insurance
The basic difference between life insurance and term insurance is that the term insurance will give you a death benefit only in case of the untimely death of the insured individual but life insurance gives both death benefit as well as maturity benefit to the policyholder. There are several other factors too that differentiate the two types of insurances.
|Traditional Life Insurance
|Only provides a death benefit
|Death Benefit + Maturity Benefit
|Risk Covered Vs. Savings
|Ideal if you only want to cover for an untimely death and can’t afford high premium payments.
|Ideal if you want to create an investment corpus besides getting life coverage.
|Surrendering is simpler. If you stop paying the premiums, then the policy would lapse.
|If you surrender or close the policy mid-term, then you would not be able to receive the entire saved amount of the policy.
|Term insurance plans are affordable as they provide higher life coverage at a minimal cost.
|If you want higher coverage, then you need to pay higher premiums.
How much Life Insurance do you need?
A general thumb-rule is opting for a life insurance coverage that is around 10 to 15 times your annual income. Suppose, your annual income is INR 7 lakhs, then your ideal life insurance cover would be at least INR 70 lakh. This could seem like a large amount but you can avail it for a low monthly premium. Besides, medical bills are ever-increasing and if you add inflation to the scenario, then a huge amount is indeed needed to cover for your future requirements. However, it purely depends on your financial needs and situations. You can follow the steps given below to figure out how much life insurance is ideal for you:
- Figure out how much of resources you have, i.e., your liquid assets, and your after-tax income.
- Calculate your financial obligation, i.e., expenses + debt.
- Calculate your Coverage Gap, i.e., Financial Obligation – Liquid Assets.
- You Coverage Gap is the amount of life insurance you need to ideally avail.
How is Life Insurance Premium calculated?
Life Insurance Premiums refer to the fixed amount of money we have to pay towards the purchased life insurance policy. We do not own much say over our payable life insurance premiums. The insurance companies calculate it and we only have the option of accepting or rejecting the offer presented to us.
The life insurance policy premium varies as per your chosen plan. It also depends on the credentials of the applicant. Several factors and variables play an important role in deciding your premium amount. You can use the postal life insurance calculators for this purpose.
Life Insurance Premium Calculator is such a tool that takes in the values of certain variables like your chosen policy, your age, term, assured sum, etc. and returns an estimated amount of your payable premium. You can use such calculators online. The insurance companies and insurance providers also have their premium calculators that you can use. For instance, the Postal Life Insurance Company has its own Postal Life Insurance Premium Calculator. A typical life insurance premium calculator requires you to fill in the following fields:
- Name of the Plan
- Applicant’s age
- Assured Sum
- Premium frequency
- Tenure of the policy
- Riders (if any)
Once you have filled in all the required data fields, then you will be shown an estimated premium figure as a result. This result might not be your actual premium since your insurer can also take further details into consideration which might affect your premium calculation.
What are the factors that affect the life insurance premium cost?
If you know how to calculate life insurance premiums, rather know about the deciding factors, then you can direct the situation to your benefit. Here are some of the important factors that play an important role in deciding how the insurance premiums are calculated:
1. Personal Factors
- Age: Your age is directly proportional to the premium you have to pay. The younger you are, the healthier you are considered, and hence, you pose a lower risk to the insurance provider and can avail lower life insurance premiums.
- Gender: Studies suggest that women live longer than men, hence, they are a low-risk group of people. So, they are charged with lower life insurance premiums.
- Weight and Height: Obese people are more likely to suffer from weight-related illnesses, and hence, will be paying a higher premium.
- Drinking/ Smoking: Non-smokers will be preferred over smokers. Similarly, alcoholics too shall be charged higher premium since they are more prone to alcohol-related illnesses.
- Medical History: Your medical history including any recurring illnesses, or a critical illness you have recovered from, whether you take good care of your health or not, etc. are quite important. This is a major factor by which the insurer decides how much risk you impose and hence, your premium.
2. Insurance Company related factors:
- Operating Cost: Includes the net operational cost faced by the insurer that consists of rent, legal fees, salaries, agents’ commission, etc.
- Interest: Certain policies are required to be invested in real estate, stocks, etc. so that the insured earns something on these investments. This interest-earning too is a major factor in calculating your premium.
3. Policy related factors
- Whole Life and Term: Whole Life insurance plans provide coverage for your entire lifetime, so they carry higher premiums when compared to the basic term plan that provides cover for a specific tenure.
- Decreasing pay-outs: Life-insurance premium amount is also based on whether you want your coverage to decrease with time or receive a fixed coverage for the entire tenure.
- Coverage: Joint life coverage calls for a higher premium because the policy will receive a claim request soon. Policies that cover critical illnesses also charge high premiums.
How to choose the best life insurance plan?
The best life insurance plan will vary for one person to another and will depend on their age and requirements. Let’s have a look at them.
Best life insurance for first-time policy buyers and youngsters:
If you are in your 20s and are not yet married, then you should opt for a term life coverage policy. This should be your first policy since the premium charged is pretty low.
The best policy for married people with children:
Your financial objectives are bound to change after you get married and have kids. You could go for the whole life coverage schemes because they offer savings + financial safety for the future. If you already have insurance, then you can continue that one and take up this one too.
If you do not have life insurance, then you can for a combination of both these policies and act after consulting an agent.
The best policy for people in their 40s
If someone has not purchased insurance even in their middle-age, then they could go for a small term plan. They will be charged a higher premium as compared to those who have insured for the same amount at a younger age.
Why should you buy Life Insurance Plans Online?
If you buy your life insurance policy online, then you will be more in control of the purchase and also receive a cost advantage. Besides, there shall be no middle-man or agent involved. We have listed down 5 reasons why buying a policy online will be beneficial for you:
- Lower Cost: Most online life insurance plans are at least 50% cheaper than the offline price.
- Higher Assured Sum: Lower costs are involved, so the average sum turns out to become higher in the online policies as compared to the offline insurances.
- Customer Empowerment: You do not have to depend on an agent or any other middle-man to receive relevant information about the policy. The insurance company provides the information clearly on their website.
- Easy check of reputation: You can browse online through all the reviews given by customers concerning claim settlements.
How to buy life insurance policy online?
Buying a life insurance policy online is not only convenient but also very cost-effective. There are two methods by which you can buy life insurance online: 1. visiting the website of the insurer, 2. Comparing policies at an online insurance collector website. The majority of people prefer the latter one as it allows them to compare policies on different parameters and choose the one that suits their needs. The insurance providers have mentioned all the details about their policies on their websites. This helps in better decision making.
Here is the step-by-step procedure:
Step 1. Duly fill-in the life insurance application form. Provide your basic details like name, DOB, phone number, income, etc. Once done with the same, different plans with their features will be shown on your screen. Go through the same and choose what best suits your requirements.
Step 2. Attach the relevant documents like ID proof, address proof, etc.
Step 3. Pay your life insurance premium online. After successful payment, a confirmation message will be mailed to the e-mail id provided by you.
Step 4. Once your application gets approved, your policy document shall be mailed to you.
Documents required to apply for life insurance
- Income Certificate
Needed to estimate the covered sum that will be offered to the policyholder. The general income proofs include the following documents:
- Salary slips of the last 3 to 6 months.
- Income Tax Returns (ITR) of the last 2 or 3 years.
- 6 months’ bank statements with continuous entries of 3 months’ credited salary.
- A certificate issued by CA if the person is self-employed.
- Latest form 16
- Address Proof
You can provide any of the following as your address proof:
- Voter ID
- Aadhaar Card
- Saving Account Bank Statement
- Last 3 months’ Credit Card Statement
- Driving License
- 3 months Utility Bills
- Ration Card
- Identity Proof
Any of the following will work for your ID proof:
- Aadhaar Card
- PAN Card
- Voter ID Card
- Age Proof
You can use any of the following as age proof:
- PAN Card
- Voter ID Card
- Ration Card
- Driving License
- Aadhaar Card
- Birth Certificate
- School/ College Leaving Certificate
- Marriage Certificate
- Other Miscellaneous Documents
- Insurance Application/ Proposal form
- Policy declaration (needed if someone other than the insured has filled the policy form)
- Final declaration stating that all the information provided is true.
- If the policy is to be registered under the Married Women’s Property Act, then a separate form is needed to be filled out and submitted to the insurer.
- The policy proposal also consists of a personal statement attached to the declaration form.
Eligibility Criteria to apply for Life Insurance Plans
The eligibility criteria vary from one insurer to another but generally, the minimum entry age is 18 years. The maximum entry age depends upon the policy type, the policy term, and the insurance company. Generally, the maximum entry age ranges from 60 to 65 years.
How to File a Life Insurance Claim
It is quite significant that you opt for the right way while filing an insurance claim. The nominees of the insured or the policyholder can file a life insurance claim under two scenarios: Upon the demise of the insured and maturity of the policy. The claim settlement procedure could take up to 30 days.
1. Death Claim:
If the policyholder dies during the policy term, then the nominee/ beneficiary can claim the death benefit from the insurance provider. This claim is known as a death claim or the life insurance claim. Given below is a step-by-step procedure of how you need to make a death claim.
Steps to make a death claim
Step 1. Inform the life insurance company where the deceased person was holding a policy. Insurance companies put deaths into two categories: Early death and Non-Early death. If the policyholder dies within 3 years of buying the life insurance policy, then it is called an ‘Early death’.
Step 2. Take the claim intimation form from the life insurance company.
Step 3. Enquire about the documents needed for the claim procedure. If you have purchased the policy online, then you should apply online for the intimation form.
Usually, the following documents are needed to make a death claim:
- Original insurance policy documents
- Death Certificate
- ID proof of the nominee
- Age proof of the policyholder
- Medical Certificate (Proof of cause of death)
- Discharge form (executed and witnessed)
- Police FIR (for unnatural death)
- Postmortem report (in case of unnatural death)
- Hospital records/ certificate (if the death was due to some illness)
- Cremation Certificate and Employer Certificate (In case of early death)
2. Maturity Claim:
The insurer intimates the policyholder at least 1 or 2 months in advance about the policy that is to mature. The details about the maturity date, amount, and discharge voucher will be provided to the policyholder.
The policyholder needs to sign the discharge voucher in front of witnesses. The voucher is sent to the insurer with the original bond of policy. If the insured has nominated another entity or individual for the plan, then the nominee needs to sign the discharge voucher to receive the maturity amount.
How to Save Tax in a Life Insurance Policy
A Life Insurer policy provides financial security to the policyholder’s family in case of a sudden demise. But, as already mentioned, life insurances come with other benefits as well as tax benefits. We have enlisted below the tax benefits you can avail under a life insurance policy:
· Tax Deductions Under Section 80C
Explained under the next sub-heading.
· Tax Deductions Under Section 10(10D)
The money received from life insurance policies is eligible for tax deductions. The amount received can be any of the following:
- Death benefit
- Survival benefit
- Surrender value
- Maturity benefit
- Sum accrued through the bonus
- Interest earned on ULIPs
· Tax Deduction Exemption
This is available for the following situations:
- Annuity and Pension plan
- Group Life Insurance plans
- Plans bought in the time from April 1, 2003, to March 31, 2012, where the premium rate is more than 20% of the assured sum.
- Plans purchased after 1st April 2012, where policy premium in any year is more than 10% of the assured sum.
- Plans purchased after 1st April 2013, by people suffering from disabilities or some diseases, if the policy premium is more than 15% of the insured sum.
How much income tax can you save with a life insurance policy?
You can avail the maximum tax exemption of an amount up to INR 150,000 as under different sections of the IT Act like 80C, 80CC, 80CCE, etc. If the insurance premiums you pay make for a maximum of 20% of the assured sum, then those premiums are applicable for deductions.
If in some financial year, the total premium amount paid by you becomes more than 20% of the sum insured, then that will not qualify under tax exemptions. Besides, the policies purchased before 31st March 2012, are applicable for tax benefits.
The policies that have been issued on or after 1st April 2012, then the tax exemption shall be only applicable for those premiums that do not become more than 10% of the sum assured.
If the policyholder opts for tax benefit as under the Section 80C and if the policy gets terminated or nullifies within 2 years from the date of issuance, then the tax exemptions availed shall be reversed. This is valid on all life insurance policies that save the ULIPs.
If you purchase a ULIP and opt for tax exemption under Section 80CC, and if your plan is terminated or cancelled within 5 years of the policy issuance, then the tax benefit will stand reversed.
FAQ about life insurance in India (please add more FAQ from references links)
Q 1. Is life insurance mandatory?
Ans: No, buying a life insurance policy is not mandatory. However, you can buy one to secure your family’s or dependents’ future in case of your untimely demise or to build a corpus for various reasons.
Q 2. What is the ideal life insurance policy?
Ans: The ideal life insurance policy varies from person to person and also as per their needs. Check this out to know more in detail.
Q 3. What is the right time or age to buy life insurance?
Ans: The best time or age to purchase a life insurance policy would depend on your specific circumstances. However, the earlier you start, the lesser premium you need to pay.
Q 4. What is the maximum age to get life insurance?
Ans: The general maximum limit set by the life insurance companies lies in the range of 60 to 75 years.
Q 5. Who can claim the life insurance after the insured’s demise?
Ans: The nominee of the policy or the legal heir of the insured can claim the life insurance benefit.
Q 6. Can you cash in life insurance before death?
Ans: Yes, you can based on the cash value of the respective life insurance, the policy can be cashed-in. Cash value refers to a portion of the policy’s death benefit that you can liquidate. This varies from one insurer to another.
Q 7. How much of life insurance cover is enough for me?
Ans: As a general rule of thumb, your life insurance should provide 10 to 15 times your annual salary as coverage.
Q 8. Are Life insurance policies exempted from GST?
Ans: No, life insurance policies are not exempted from GST.
Q 9. How much will a life insurance policy cost me per month?
Ans: Factors like your age, the coverage you want, type of life insurance, your health, occupation, etc. will contribute to the life insurance policy’s cost.
Q 10. Does term life insurance policy provide coverage for a natural death?
Ans: Yes, term life insurance does cover for the natural death of the insured