If you were a woman born in India in the early 19th century, you would have probably never stepped into a school, or even held a pen. Today, 200 years after, women have marched much ahead of those times, armed with education and an independent financial life. Take 29-year-old Veena Vakatkar. She works as a consultant for a private firm in Mumbai and has done her masters in business management. “I am financially independent and like my freedom,” says Vakatkar.
A list of some women-only financial products and benefits.
Income-tax benefitsUnder the current tax regime, women pay less tax than men. For the assessment year (AY) 2012-2013, the tax exemption limit for women is Rs 1.9 lakh. However, for men this limit is Rs 1.8 lakh. So a woman who earns an annual salary of Rs 10 lakh will need to pay Rs 1.2 lakh as income-tax. In comparison, the male counterpart will need to pay Rs 1.2 lakh tax.
Life: While buying a life insurance policy women pay less premium than men. Women enjoy discounts, up to 10%, till the age of 40 years.
Health: Though women don’t enjoy any discounts in premiums, but there are other women-related benefits.
Maternity benefits: Most group health insurance policies offered by firms cover maternity benefits. “Most group covers are floater policies and offer maternity benefits,” says Deepak Mendiratta, director, HII Insurance Brokers. “However, there is a sub-limit on maternity benefits and can range from Rs 35,000-50,000.”
Riders: There are riders that cover women-specific ailments. Recently, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance launched a standalone critical illness policy exclusively for women. This covers five women-specific cancers along with burns, paralysis and multi-trauma. If the policyholder contracts any of the ailments, she will get the sum assured and the policy would terminate.
Banking financial services and products specially designed for women are not uncommon these days — be it loans, debit cards, credit cards or savings accounts.
Loans: Government-owned banks have a special discount of about 50-100 basis points (100 basis points is 1 percentage point) for women taking education loans. For instance, Bank of Baroda gives a loan that is cheaper by 1% for girl students. A few banks offer loans for women to buy gold jewellery. Some banks also offer loans for financing women entrepreneurs.
Cards and savings accounts: Banks are also designing premium cards with women-specific features. Examples include HDFC Bank’s Solitaire Premium women’s credit card range. Apart from the reward points on spending, the card offers free health check-up.
A few banks, including Axis Bank Ltd, IDBI Ltd and ICICI Bank, have savings accounts, which have women-specific features such as zero balance requirement.
Transfer of property is subject to stamp duty in the country. It is a tax you pay to the state government when you buy a property or get a property transferred in your name. However, for women, the rate is less than that for men. The stamp duty rates varies from state to state. Thus if your apartment costs you R50 lakh, you would have to shell out Rs 1.5 lakh as stamp duty if you are woman compared with Rs 2.5 lakh that a man would have to pay.