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Understanding The Different Types Of Mortgage Insurance

5-minute read

September 17, 2020


It’s important to understand all of the costs you’ll be responsible for when you buy a home. One of those expenses might be mortgage insurance. We’ll walk you through the different types of mortgage insurance, how long you’ll have to have it, approximate costs and whether you can avoid it.

What Is Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage insurance is a type of insurance that protects the lender in case you default on your home loan. Most conventional loan lenders require you to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you put less than 20% down on your home. A conventional loan is a loan that isn’t backed by the federal government.

PMI minimizes the lender’s losses in case you are unable to continue paying your mortgage. On the upside, it does allow you to be able to buy a home if you can’t make a 20% down payment.

Mortgage insurance is an additional monthly expense that you’ll need to take into consideration. Your lender will likely automatically include your PMI expense in your monthly mortgage payment. The lender is in charge of selecting the mortgage insurance company, so you won’t be able to shop around, but you can ask for a quote before you finalize your paperwork.

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How Long Do You Need To Have Mortgage Insurance?

The good news about PMI is that in most cases, you won’t have to continue paying on it for the entire length of your home loan. Most mortgage insurance plans allow you to cancel your policy once you’ve paid off more than 20% of the full loan amount, or principal, of your home (typically, your lender would remove it once you have 22% equity).

Some mortgage insurance types require upfront payments that are also refundable when your mortgage insurance is canceled. Let’s walk through the different types of mortgage insurance to learn more.

What Are The Different Types Of Mortgage Insurance?

There are different types of mortgage insurance you should be aware of – here’s a quick overview of each type.

1. Borrower-Paid Mortgage Insurance

In most cases, your PMI will be borrower-paid mortgage insurance (BPMI). When lenders talk about PMI, this is usually the type they’re referring to. BPMI is the type of mortgage insurance that’s rolled into your monthly mortgage payment.

Let’s break down how it could affect your costs. Typically, you’ll pay about .5% – 1% of your loan amount per year for PMI. This translates to $1,000 – $2,000 per year in mortgage insurance, or about $83 – $166 per month.

You can cancel the insurance after you have paid more than 20% of the home’s value. For single-family homes, this occurs when you have reached 78% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, which means you have paid off 22% of the value of the loan or when you have reached the midpoint of your loan term – 15 years for a 30-year mortgage. 

2. Lender-Paid Mortgage Insurance

Lender-paid mortgage insurance (LPMI) means your lender initially pays your mortgage insurance – but your mortgage rate is higher to compensate for that lender payment. The interest rate increase is typically .25% – .5% more for LPMI. You’ll save on monthly payments and you’ll have a lower down payment because you’re not required to have 20% down with LPMI.

The lower your credit score, the higher your interest rate will be – LPMI will cost you even more if you have a low credit score. Also, you’ll never be able to cancel LPMI, because it’s built into your payment schedule for the entire loan term.

3. FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium

So far, we’ve covered the types of mortgage insurance options for conventional loans, but what about government-backed home loans? Most FHA home loans, which are first-time home buyer loans financed through the federal government, also require the purchase of mortgage insurance, called a mortgage insurance premium (MIP). In most cases, you pay mortgage insurance for the duration of your loan term unless you make a down payment of 10% or more (in which case, MIP would be removed after 11 years). You pay a couple of ways. First, a FHA loan mortgage insurance upfront mortgage insurance premium (UFMIP), which is usually about 1.75% of your base loan amount.

Next, you’ll also pay an annual mortgage insurance premium. Annual MIP payments run approximately .45% – 1.05% of the base loan amount.

MIP works similarly to borrower-paid mortgage insurance, but it has a few key differences. Like BPMI, you’ll pay a monthly amount, typically rolled into your mortgage payment.

Here’s how it could work: You’ll pay an upfront payment that is 1.75% of the loan amount. So, if your home loan is for $200,000, expect to pay $3,500 at the time of closing. Expect to pay an average of .85% of your home loan for MIP throughout the duration of your mortgage. This percentage can run higher, depending on how much of a down payment you put down on your loan.

How Much Does Mortgage Insurance Cost?

Mortgage insurance costs depend on the type of insurance you have. On average, you can expect to pay .05% – 1% of your home loan amount in PMI.

Your premiums for PMI will depend on: 

  • Your PMI type
  • Whether the interest rate is fixed or adjustable
  • Your mortgage term – the length of your home loan
  • Your LTV ratio
  • The insurance coverage amount required by your lender
  • Your credit score
  • Your home’s value
  • Whether the premium is refundable
  • Additional risk factors, which will be determined by your lender

For instance, if you have a low credit score and only put down a 3% down payment, you’ll likely pay a higher amount for your mortgage insurance than a buyer with a better credit score who put down more money on the same home.

How To Avoid Mortgage Insurance

There are two government-backed mortgage types that do not require mortgage insurance: USDA loans and VA loans.

USDA home loans are for buyers who purchase a home in a rural area. These loans are financed through the United States Department of Agriculture and do not require private mortgage insurance – no matter your down payment amount. You will, however, have to pay an upfront fee of 1% of your loan amount and an annual .35% fee that will serve as a replacement for mortgage insurance payments.

VA home loans are for buyers who currently serve in the military, used to serve in the military or are a qualified spouse. These loans have no down payment options and no mortgage insurance requirements. You will need to pay an origination fee to cover processing costs – typically 1% of the loan amount. This fee can often be rolled into the loan.

It’s important to note that there's a funding fee between 1.4% – 3.6% of the loan amount that exists to offset the cost of the VA loan program. The percentage depends on several factors including: Whether it's a purchase or a VA Streamline refinance, service status, down payment and whether it's the first time obtaining a VA loan. However, the VA makes exceptions for veterans and servicemembers who are either eligible for or already receiving compensation for a disability that is service-connected; surviving spouses who meet the eligibility requirements for a VA loan; and active duty servicemembers who have been awarded the Purple Heart.


Mortgage insurance is an extra expense you should plan to pay if you opt for a conventional loan and put less than 20% down on your home. Mortgage insurance is what allows lenders to help you receive financing if you’re unable to pay 20% for a down payment – mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event that you default on your loan. In many instances, mortgage insurance can be canceled once you pay off 20% of your home’s value.

Here are the different types of mortgage insurance that are available:

  • Borrower-paid mortgage insurance (BPMI): You’ll pay mortgage insurance throughout your mortgage term.
  • Lender-paid mortgage insurance (LPMI): Your lender pays your mortgage insurance – but you get a slightly higher mortgage rate.
  • FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium: You’ll be asked to pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) – but USDA loans and VA loans do not require mortgage insurance.

Check with your lender to find out which types of mortgage insurance they require and the terms that go along with their policies.

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