Many of us reading this article have invested in ULIPs or planning to invest in it. We are familiar with ULIP as an investment tool that offers insurance also and know that the ULIP full form is Unit Linked Investment Plan. Today let’s understand the switching option offered by ULIP that is not much popular but is nevertheless, an effective feature. Here you will get to know how you can change your investment mix and that too without having to bear any additional costs.
Being an ULIP investor, you are allowed to change the investment options under your plan. For example, if you find the market favorable, you can change exposure to equities. There is a huge count of people who are unaware of the switch feature available with ULIP. Approximately, only 20% know about this option and less than 5% access it. You might lose some major benefits by not utilizing this feature.
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Switching requires a proper analysis of the market and needs the ULIP investor to create a perception of market and decide on his/her risk capacity. The triggering market level can be used to pull your asset allocation with every 10% change. A proactive policyholder is expected to yield good result with clever switching and systematic asset allotment.
Switching feature is free hence you don’t require worrying about the cost, and utilize the option for as many times you wish to. Earlier there was a predefined number set for free switches in a year but not anymore. The process of switching simply requires you to access your policy online on the insurance company’s website and alter the investment mix as desired. In case you are unable to check online, just submit a switch request form to the insurance company.
Switching decisions can be linked to Price to Earnings (PE) ratio of the index by the sophisticated investors. PE is derived on dividing index level by the earning per share (EPS). In April-June 2014-15 the Nifty EPS was Rs 376. The value of EPS depends on the quarterly results declared by companies. On 15 September, Nifty was at 8,040 and PE was 21.38 i.e. little above its average of 18.5.
You are free from any sort of tax implication when switching asset allocation of your ULIP. Being an insurance product, ULIP offers tax-free long and short- term gains. In case of mutual funds, the tax-free label is applicable only on equity-oriented balanced funds and long-term gains from equity funds. In case of equity funds, short-term gains are taxed at 15%.
The change in market needs proper analysis for availing the switching feature. You could have increased your exposure to stocks a year ago when Nifty was at 5,285 and PE was 15.23. Currently, it is better to cut down exposure to stocks as the index has touched 8000.