IRDAI Issues New Guidelines: ULIPs Cannot Be Marketed as Investment Products.

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has issued a new master circular that significantly changes how Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) can be marketed. As of June 19, ULIPs can no longer be promoted as “Investment products”. This directive addresses concerns about the misrepresentation and mis-selling of these plans.

What Are ULIPs?

ULIPs are insurance products that combine life insurance coverage with investment opportunities in equities and bonds. Policyholders pay regular premiums, part of which covers their insurance, while the remainder is invested. These investments can be in equities, bonds, or a mix of both, offering a blend of insurance and investment.

Key Features of ULIPs

1. Dual Benefit: Provides both life insurance cover and investment options.


2. Premium Allocation: A portion of the premium goes towards insurance, and the rest is invested.


3. Lock-In Period: ULIPs have a mandatory lock-in period of five years. During this period, withdrawals are not allowed.


4. Flexibility: Policyholders can choose the investment mix based on their risk appetite.

Why the Change?

Earlier this year, there were reports of insurers mis-selling ULIPs by advertising them as purely investment products. This led to confusion among consumers, with many believing that ULIPs were similar to mutual funds or other direct investment products. Additionally, insurers were promoting new ULIPs as New Fund Offers (NFOs), further blurring the lines between insurance and investment products.


The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) raised concerns about this misrepresentation, prompting the IRDAI to step in with stricter guidelines.

New Advertising Guidelines

According to the latest circular from IRDAI, the following rules now apply to the marketing of ULIPs:


1. No Promotion as Investment Products: ULIPs must not be advertised or marketed as investments.


2. Risk Disclosure: All advertisements must disclose the associated risk factors of linked insurance products.


3. No Guarantees: Ads must state that bonuses or past performance should not be seen as guarantees of future returns.


4. Compliance with Standards: Advertisements for all linked and annuity products with variable payouts must comply with the standards set by the Advertising Standards Council of India.

Implications for Policyholders

For existing and potential policyholders, these changes mean a clearer understanding of what they are purchasing. ULIPs should be viewed primarily as insurance products with an investment component, not as standalone investment products. This helps ensure that consumers make informed decisions based on accurate information.


The IRDAI’s new guidelines are a significant step towards protecting consumers and ensuring transparency in the insurance market. By clarifying the nature of ULIPs and enforcing stricter advertising standards, the IRDAI aims to prevent mis-selling and enhance consumer trust in insurance products.

As always, Policyholders must read the fine print, understand the product features, and assess their financial goals and risk appetite before purchasing any financial product.

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