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ULIPs or Pension Plans – Which is a Better Retirement Plan?

Are you planning your retirement but confused about where to invest your funds? Read this blog to gain an understanding of ULIPs and other pension plans that you can consider for your retirement.

  • 5,820 Views | Updated on: Jun 13, 2024

No financial planning is considered comprehensive without retirement planning. The necessity for retirement planning grows as average life expectancy rises. Retirement planning provides an additional source of income and aids in coping with medical crises, achieving life goals, and being financially independent after retirement.

As you cross the various stages of your life, your retirement plan should adapt, morph, and transform to suit your changing needs. It’s like having a wise companion guiding you through the maze of retirement, ensuring that your golden years are truly golden. Along the way, you will encounter many choices, each with its importance and possibilities, adding an element of excitement to the journey.

When we talk about buying a retirement investment plan, there are various options in the market. ULIPs and pension plans are the two most exciting options that you can consider. This blog will compare these plans to understand which will suit you better.

Understanding Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs)

Unit-Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) offer investors both insurance and investment opportunities. They vary from standard insurance policies as they invest in various assets to produce better returns. Let us read more about ULIPs.

Features of ULIP

ULIPs emerge as a bridge, connecting your long-term goals and the means to achieve them. Whether you envision a lavish dream home, a comfortable retirement, or an unforgettable globe-trotting adventure, ULIPs become your trusted companion on this thrilling journey. Take a glance at the different features of this unique plan.


You can choose how much of your investment should go into properties and what portion should go into life insurance with ULIP insurance. You also can move between the funds available based on market performance and value.

Period of Lock-In

ULIPs have a 5-year lock-in duration. You will be fined a penalty fee if you redeem your money before the 5-year term has passed.

Tax Benefits

Tax breaks on paid insurance premiums are available in the Income Tax Act 1961 under Section 80C. Furthermore, as per the Internal Revenue Code, the maturity amount is tax-free under Section 10.

Returns on ULIP

Due to the sheer flexibility that ULIP investments provide, long-term Ulip Returns are often highly promising. However, that market success determines the majority of the returns.

Understanding Pension Plan

A pension plan is a carefully crafted financial strategy, a bridge between your hard-working years and the tranquil days of retirement. These plans are annuity solutions designed to provide retirement benefits to policyholders.

Features of Pension Plan

Pension plans offer steady benefits after retirement. It is like receiving income without actively working for it. Let us examine the features of pension plans that can profit you after retirement.

Guaranteed Income

Depending on where you decide to invest, you can obtain a stable and regular income after retiring (delayed plan) or soon after investing (immediate plan). It will ensure that when you retire, you are financially self-sufficient. Use a retirement calculator to get an approximate idea of how much money you’ll need once you retire.


Some programs enable withdrawals even while the account is being built up. It will guarantee the availability of funds in an emergency rather than needing to depend on bank loans or other funding sources.

Age of Vesting

The vesting age is when you will start receiving your monthly pension. Most pension plans, for instance, have a minimum vesting age of 45 or 50 years. However, it is flexible until you reach the age of 70, while some firms enable you to vest at 90.

Payment Timeline

Investors frequently confuse the payment timeline with the investment period. For example, if a pension is received between 60 and 75, the payout duration will be 15 years. Most plans maintain this distinct from the accumulation period, while some do allow partial or complete withdrawals during the accumulation period.

Which is Better? ULIP or Pension Plans

When comparing a pension plan with ULIP to determine the best option, you must understand that both have perks and features. These are investment and insurance products, but they have distinct features and different purposes. Let us compare and contrast them:



Pension Plans


ULIPs provide the dual benefit of insurance coverage and investment growth.

They are designed to offer life insurance protection and the opportunity to invest in various market-linked funds.

Pension plans are specifically designed to provide financial security and a regular income stream during retirement.

They focus on long-term savings to build a retirement corpus.

Insurance Component

ULIPs have a significant insurance component.

In the circumstance of the policyholder’s death, the beneficiaries receive a death benefit.

Pension plans do not have a substantial insurance component.

Investment Component

ULIPs allow policyholders to invest in various funds, such as equity, debt, or balanced funds, based on their investment goals and risk appetite.

Pension plans typically offer conservative investment options like fixed-income instruments, including government and corporate bonds.

The aim is to provide stable and predictable returns for retirement planning.


ULIPs offer flexibility in terms of switching between different funds based on market conditions and policyholders’ investment preferences.

Pension plans generally have limited flexibility when it comes to investment choices.

The stress is on long-term stability rather than short-term flexibility.

Tax Benefits

ULIPs offer tax benefits under Section 80C of the ITA (Income Tax Act) for the premium paid, subject to certain limits.

Additionally, the maturity amount is tax-free under Section 10(10D) if certain conditions are met.

Pension plans provide tax benefits under Section 80CCC and Section 10(10A) of the ITA.

Contributions made towards pension plans are eligible for deductions, and a portion of the maturity amount can be commuted tax-free.


ULIPs have a lock-in duration of 5 years. Surrendering a policy before the lock-in period can attract penalties.

Premature withdrawals or surrendering the policy before retirement could result in penalties.

Making an Informed Decision: Factors to Assess when Choosing a Retirement Plan

When evaluating and choosing between ULIPs and pension plans for your retirement, consider the following specific factors:

Investment Flexibility

ULIPs offer investment flexibility, allowing you to choose where to invest your premiums, typically in equity, debt, or a mix of both.

Pension plans often provide limited investment options, usually focusing on fixed-income instruments, which may offer more stability but potentially lower returns.

Risk Tolerance

If you are comfortable with market-linked risks and have a higher risk tolerance, ULIPs may be suitable, as they offer the potential for higher returns over the long term.

If you prefer a more conservative approach with lower risk exposure, pension plans can provide more stability with their fixed-income investments.

Cost Structure

ULIPs may have higher charges, including premium allocation charges and fund management charges. Understanding the fee structure is essential to assess their impact on returns.

Pension plans typically have lower charges and are more cost-effective, ensuring that a significant portion of your contributions goes toward your retirement corpus.

Liquidity Needs

ULIPs may offer partial withdrawals or surrender options, providing some liquidity in case of financial emergencies. However, these withdrawals can impact your long-term goals.

Pension plans are designed for long-term retirement goals and often have limited liquidity options. Assess your liquidity needs before committing to such a plan.

Retirement Income Structure

ULIPs generally provide a lump-sum maturity benefit at retirement, which you can use per your needs.

Pension plans offer a structured, regular income stream, ensuring a steady flow of funds during retirement. Evaluate which income structure aligns better with your retirement lifestyle.

Death Benefit

ULIPs typically include a death benefit component, which can provide financial security to your dependents in case of your demise during the policy term.

Pension plans may offer limited or no death benefits. If ensuring financial protection for your family is a priority, factor this into your decision.

In a Nutshell

Whether you choose ULIPs, pension plans, or a combination of both, remember that retirement planning is essential to comprehensive financial planning. It is your guide to ensuring that your golden years are indeed golden, filled with financial security and the ability to fulfill your life goals confidently. To do so, it is imperative that you seek guidance from a financial advisor before making any decisions. Moreover, take the time to explore the available plans, select the one that aligns most closely with your requirements, and consider investing in it.

Key Takeaways

  • ULIPs combine insurance and investment, while pension plans focus on building a retirement corpus.
  • ULIPs have a 5-year lock-in period, while pension plans may have no lock-in period or a shorter one.
  • ULIPs offer the potential for higher returns but also involve higher risks. Pension plans provide more stable returns.
  • When choosing a retirement plan, consider your financial goals, risk appetite, and flexibility.
  • It is advisable to consult a financial expert to decide the most appropriate retirement plan for you.

- A Consumer Education Initiative series by Kotak Life

Amit Raje
Written By :
Amit Raje

Amit Raje is an experienced marketer who has worked in various Fintechs and leading Financial companies in India. With focused experience in Digital, Amit has pioneered multiple digital commerce in India. Now, close to two decades later, he is the vice president and head of the D2C business department. He masters the skill of strategic management, also being certified in it from IIMA. He has challenged his challenges and contributed his efforts in this journey of digital transformation.

Amit Raje
Reviewed By :
Prasad Pimple

Prasad Pimple has a decade-long experience in the Life insurance sector and as EVP, Kotak Life heads Digital Business. He is responsible for developing user friendly product journeys, creating consumer awareness and helping consumers in identifying need for life insurance solutions. He has 20+ years of experience in creating and building business verticals across Insurance, Telecom and Banking sectors