The birth of a child brings immeasurable joy to parents. However, after the initial euphoria subsides, the future expenses start staring at you in the face. Add to this the innumerable ads on TV and print media, and you’re left with only one choice: buy a child plan.
That’s the beginning of your second problem – there are innumerable child plans out there. How do you know which one suits you the most?
Ask yourself these questions.
1. When will your child need the money?
2. How much will you need for the particular goal (marriage, education)?
3. How much will you be able to save?
4. How much insurance cover do I need?
Understanding Child Insurance Plans
There are basically 3 types of child insurance plans.
Money-Back: This is by far one of the most popular plans. Under this plan, your child will get survival benefits at regular intervals. For example, when he turns 18 years, he would get about 20% of sum assured, and a further 20% at age of 20 and so on. This plan is useful for those who feel the need for lump sum requirement at regular intervals and helps you in life stage planning.
Another benefit these plans offer is the premium waiver benefit, which ensures that in case of death of the parent, then the premiums are waived off and the policy continues with benefits.
A disadvantage of depending on this alone is that its returns often fail to match inflation, especially if you are planning to buy it for your child’s education. Education costs are growing at around 12% whereas money-backs would give you around 7-9%, leaving you grossly underfunded at the time of goal. Also, the premiums are steep.
ULIPS: ULIPs are non-traditional plans wherein returns are market-dependent. If the parent dies (or, as in the case of some policies, gets diagnosed with some critical illness), then the child would receive the sum assured in a lump sum. Also, future premiums are waived off and on maturity, the child would get the fund value too.
ULIP plans offer variety of funds ranging from conservative to balanced or aggressive. Under ULIPs, you can change from debt to equity and vice versa without the worry of taxation, thus enabling you to benefit from both timing the market and also rebalancing your portfolio.
But, ULIPs levy a variety of charges by way of premium allocation charges, policy administration charges, mortality charges, fund management charges, etc. This would affect the returns generated by the investment in market related instruments and ultimately the corpus that your child receives. Another negative of ULIP is that in case of an emergency, if you want to surrender or do partial withdrawal, the charges are high and also attract tax.
While a long term ULIP (above 15 years) could actually cost less than a mutual fund, it is less flexible. You just can’t move from one ULIP to another as in case of mutual funds. If you are putting your entire money in child ULIP plans and if it underperforms on a consistent basis, you are stuck!
Endowment Policies: Endowment policies are one where lump sum amount is paid at the time of the maturity along with bonuses. This is very useful to plan for your child’s big expenses like wedding, higher education, etc. And, unlike ULIPs, there is a minimum guaranteed amount of payment. Besides, you may get bonuses too.
Endowment policies too invest in market-backed securities, but unlike ULIPs, they invest only in debt products and the returns too are not exactly spectacular. And, if you require higher cover, you will have to pay a steeper premium. So, an ideal way is to take up an endowment policy as a debt portion of your overall asset allocation.
Almost all child insurance plans cover the parent and thus, if in an event of an unfortunate untimely death of the parent, the child’s needs would still be taken care of by way of lump sum payment on death and also on maturity. But beware of plans that cover the child and not the parent! It is your child who needs financial security and not you!
Another thing to be noted is that, there are riders like waiver of premium offered along with child plans to cover the untimely death of the parent. The policy continues here at the absence of the parent, but the benefit comes at a high cost as the premium increases due to this rider. And, the mortality rate charges for a child plan are quite high too.