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Zero Cost Term Insurance Plan: What is it & Should you buy it?

Zero cost term insurance plans are unique life insurance plans that allow policyholders to enjoy the benefits of a term insurance policy without the financial burden of premium payments.

  • 8,644 Views | Updated on: May 31, 2024

What if you can have a life insurance plan that comes with a price tag of zero? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that is what a zero-cost term insurance plan claims to offer. But before diving headfirst into this seemingly magical insurance option, let’s understand what it really is and whether it is the right choice.

Key Takeaways

  • Zero cost term insurance offers the advantages of standard term insurance, along with the option of receiving a refund of the premiums.
  • Zero cost term insurance plans provide a death benefit to the nominee in case of the policyholder’s demise during the policy term.

What is Zero Cost Term Insurance?

Zero cost term insurance offers the advantages of standard term insurance, along with the added option of receiving a refund of the premiums paid if the policyholder decides to terminate their term life insurance plan before the policy’s expiration date.
A Zero Cost Term Plan offers a policyholder the advantage of both security, to a standard term plan, and the possibility of receiving a full premium refund, similar to a Return of Premium Term Plan. In simple terms, this plan allows the policyholder to cease premium payments for their term plan at a designated point, with the premium cost being nearly identical to that of a standard term plan.

What are the Features of a Zero Cost Term Plan?

Now that you know what a zero-cost term plan is, it is time to move ahead and shed some light on what makes it an attractive option.

  • This coverage is applicable for a specific policy duration.
  • Policyholders can maintain life coverage until the age of 99.
  • It combines the advantages of a standard term plan and a return of premium plan.
  • When compared to return of premium plans, zero-cost term insurance is a more cost-effective option.
  • This plan caters to individuals seeking a refund of their paid premiums and is particularly well-suited for salaried employees looking to cease premium payments after a designated period.
  • Premiums paid for the zero-cost term plan are eligible for tax exemptions of up to Rs. 1.5 lakhs under the old tax regime.

Steps to Buy a Zero Cost Term Plan

The process of buying a zero cost term plan can be intricate, and making the right choices is crucial to maximize its benefits. But worry not; we have got you covered with these detailed steps.

1. Selecting the Right Insurer

It is crucial to opt for an insurer with a strong claim settlement ratio.

2. Determine the Sum Assured

Ensure that the sum assured is a minimum of ten times your annual income.

3. Decide on the Policy Term

Ideally, the policy should remain in force until your retirement, but it’s advisable to extend it for an additional 2-3 years beyond the retirement age.

4. Making Premium Payments

You can make premium payments through various modes, including online, offline, or ECS. If you’re choosing a policy term extending beyond 60, you can consider the “pay-till-60” option.

Now that you understand the distinction between a zero-cost term plan and a term plan with a return of premium, you can make a more informed decision based on your protection goals. A term life insurance plan is a vital safety net for your family in the unfortunate event of your untimely passing, making it an indispensable component of your contingency plan.

Documents Required for Zero Cost Term Plan

Whether you are considering this insurance option for the first time or you are looking to renew your policy, understanding the documentation requirements is essential to securing the financial protection you desire.

Important Documents

Identity Proof

To establish your identity, you will need to provide documents such as a passport, Aadhar card, voter ID, or driver’s license. This ensures that the policy is issued to the correct individual.

Address Proof

Insurance companies require proof of your residence, which can be a utility bill, rent agreement, or any government-issued document with your address.

Age Proof

Accurate information about your age is crucial in determining the premium-free coverage. Documents like your birth certificate, passport, or school leaving certificate are typically accepted.

Income Proof

Though you will not be paying premiums, insurers may still request income proof to assess your financial situation. Documents such as salary slips, income tax returns, or bank statements can serve this purpose.

Medical Reports

To evaluate your health and assess the risk associated with insuring you, insurance companies may ask for medical reports. A medical examination, including basic tests and a health questionnaire, may be required.


Recent passport-sized photographs are generally requested for policy documentation.

Nominee Details

In case of your demise, it is essential to provide the name and details of the person who will receive the policy benefits. Ensure their information is accurate.

KYC (Know Your Customer) Documents

You may be asked to complete the KYC process by submitting documents like a PAN (Permanent Account Number) card, Aadhar card, or passport.

Declaration Form

You will need to fill out a declaration form to provide additional information about your health, lifestyle, and habits.

Bank Account Details

To facilitate claim settlements, the insurer may require your bank account information.

Income Tax Returns

Sometimes, you may be asked to provide your income tax returns to verify your income.

What Advantages do Zero Cost Term Plans offer?

  • The plan includes both the normal term plan and the return of the premium term plan’s advantages.
  • The return of premiums term plan is significantly more expensive than the zero cost term plan.
  • You can leave zero cost term plans at any point throughout your life. As a result, the insurer will not have to worry about losing the premiums they already paid when they decide to leave the plan once they retire or have paid off all of their responsibilities.

Limitations of Zero Cost Term Plan

While a zero cost term plan can appear to be the ideal solution for those on a tight budget, it is essential to recognize that such plans also come with their limitations and drawbacks. Here are some of the major disadvantages you should consider:

Limited Coverage Amount

Zero-cost term insurance plans often come with relatively low coverage amounts. This means that if you want a higher level of financial protection for your family, you may need to opt for a separate insurance policy, potentially leading to additional costs.

Strict Surrender Regulations

Zero-cost term plans are subject to stringent surrender regulations, permitting policyholders to surrender the policy only within a designated timeframe. The surrender value of the policy may also be comparatively lower when compared to conventional insurance plans.

No Investment Element

Term plans with zero costs lack any investment component and do not provide returns or profits. Consequently, policyholders should not anticipate any returns on the premiums they’ve paid.

Limited Investment Opportunity

Zero-cost term plans do not offer an opportunity to grow your wealth through investments. Traditional life insurance policies, such as whole life or universal life insurance, allow you to build cash value over time, which can be used for various financial goals.

Restricted Duration for Premium Payments

In a Zero Cost Term plan, the premium payment period is typically constrained to a few years, necessitating the policyholder to make the full premium payment in advance. This arrangement might pose challenges for individuals who would rather spread their premium payments across multiple instalments.

Expiry of Premium Refund

Even if you outlive the policy term and receive a premium refund, this money may not have the same purchasing power due to inflation. It may not be enough to cover your financial needs at that time.

Limited Conversion Options

Zero cost term plans may not offer easy conversion options to permanent insurance, which could be necessary if your circumstances change and you require more extensive coverage.

Final Words

The recently released zero-cost term plan is a more economical option than the standard Term Plan and Return of the Premium Term Plan. In the tragic event of the policyholder’s passing, the nominee will receive the sum assured. If the policyholder survives, they will receive their premium payment, less non-refundable fees and taxes.

- A Consumer Education Initiative series by Kotak Life

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