Sales of Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) have substantially declined in 2010-11 over the previous year. This was mentioned by the IRDA Chairman during a FICCI organised event in Delhi where he mentioned that ULIP sales have gone down by as much as 15% over the previous year. A public row between SEBI and IRDA brought in new regulations for ULIPs from September 1 wherein charges and commissions were dramatically reduced. We feel that this had made a very attractive product category for the end consumer, but the tragedy has been that the life insurance distribution force has been reluctant to sell it due to lower payouts.
It would be interesting to see whether this 15% decline is for the full year, or whether it is from September 1 when the new regulations came into effect. In case the decline is at an annual level, the real decline would be much more as the new regulations were in force for only 6 months.
In the long term, however, we feel that the market will tide over this and the new regulations will be healthy for the market. The level of misselling leading to record lapse rates would come down through these new regulations. In the short term, we expect to see higher level of sales of traditional life insurance policies.