Mortgage Insurance: What You Need to Know

Mortgage insurance is a critical component of the home-buying process, providing protection to lenders and offering potential benefits to borrowers. Understanding mortgage insurance, its types, requirements, and benefits can help homebuyers make informed decisions and navigate the Canadian housing market with confidence. Understanding mortgage insurance can also help when considering financial options in retirement, such as reverse mortgages, which allow homeowners to convert part of their home equity into cash. This article will delve into the essential aspects of mortgage insurance in Canada.

What Is Mortgage Insurance and When Is It Required?

Mortgage insurance, also known as mortgage default insurance or mortgage loan insurance, is a type of insurance that protects lenders if a borrower defaults on their high-ratio mortgages payments. Mortgage insurance is mandatory for homebuyers who make a down payment of less than 20% of the home’s purchase price. This insurance reduces the lender’s risk, allowing them to offer mortgages to borrowers with smaller down payments and applies to both first-time homebuyers and repeat buyers. In addition to mortgage insurance, homeowners may explore other financial products like residential second mortgages and home equity loans to manage their finances more effectively.

Types of Mortgage Insurance

There are three primary types of mortgage insurance in Canada:

1. CMHC Insurance

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is a government agency that provides mortgage insurance to lenders. CMHC insurance is the most common type of mortgage insurance in Canada. When seeking mortgage insurance, it’s important to know the difference between a mortgage banker and a mortgage broker, as they can offer varying advice and options.

2. Sagen

Sagen is a private mortgage insurance provider that offers similar services to CMHC. They insure high-ratio mortgages, helping lenders manage risk and enabling homebuyers to purchase homes with smaller down payments.

3. Canada Guaranty

Another private mortgage insurance provider, Canada Guaranty, offers mortgage insurance to lenders across the country. They focus on providing flexible mortgage insurance solutions to meet the needs of various borrowers.

How Does Mortgage Insurance Work?

When a borrower obtains a high-ratio mortgage, the lender arranges for mortgage insurance through one of the three providers mentioned above. The cost of the insurance, known as the premium, is typically passed on to the borrower. The premium is added to the mortgage amount and paid off over time as part of the regular mortgage payments. For those looking to invest in rental properties, understanding mortgage insurance is crucial, as it can impact financing options and overall investment strategy.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Mortgage insurance premiums are calculated as a percentage of the mortgage amount and depend on the size of the down payment. The smaller the down payment, the higher the premium percentage. As of 2024, the CMHC mortgage insurance premium rates are as follows:

  • Down payment of 5% to 9.99%: Premium rate is 4.00%
  • Down payment of 10% to 14.99%: Premium rate is 3.10%
  • Down payment of 15% to 19.99%: Premium rate is 2.80%

For example, if you purchase a home for $400,000 with a 10% down payment ($40,000), the mortgage amount will be $360,000. The mortgage insurance premium will be 3.10% of $360,000, which equals $11,160. This amount can be added to the mortgage balance, making the total mortgage $371,160. While mortgage insurance protects lenders, homeowners should also be aware of title fraud, which can threaten their ownership even with insurance in place.

Benefits of Mortgage Insurance

1. Access to Homeownership

Mortgage insurance makes homeownership more accessible to Canadians who may not have a large down payment saved. By allowing smaller down payments, it enables more people to enter the housing market.

2. Competitive Interest Rates

Since mortgage insurance reduces the lender’s risk, lenders are often willing to offer more competitive interest rates to borrowers with insured mortgages. This can result in significant savings over the life of the mortgage. Despite the additional cost of mortgage insurance, many Canadians are interested in fast tracking to being mortgage-free, exploring strategies to pay off their mortgages quicker.

3. Stability in the Housing Market

Mortgage insurance helps stabilize the housing market by reducing the risk of default and foreclosure. This stability benefits both lenders and borrowers, contributing to a healthier overall economy.

4. Flexibility for Borrowers

Mortgage insurance providers often offer flexible options and programs to help borrowers with unique financial situations, such as self-employed individuals or those with non-traditional sources of income.

Drawbacks of Mortgage Insurance

1. Additional Cost

The primary drawback of mortgage insurance is the additional cost it adds to the home purchase. The insurance premium increases the overall amount that the borrower needs to repay, making the mortgage more expensive over time.

2. Limited Down Payment Options

While mortgage insurance allows for smaller down payments, it also means that borrowers must adhere to the down payment and mortgage insurance requirements, which may limit their flexibility in the home-buying process.


Mortgage insurance is a vital aspect of the Canadian housing market, providing protection to lenders and making homeownership more accessible to borrowers with smaller down payments. By understanding the types, requirements, premiums, and benefits of mortgage insurance, Canadian homebuyers can make more informed decisions and navigate the home-buying process with confidence. With new mortgage rules impacting purchasing power, it’s essential to understand how mortgage insurance fits into the broader financial picture. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a repeat buyer, being aware of mortgage insurance and its implications can help you achieve your homeownership goals.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your homebuying journey or have questions about mortgage insurance, reach out to Donna Lewczuk today. Whether you’re looking for a knowledgeable mortgage broker in Niagara Falls or a reliable mortgage broker in Burlington, Donna is here to guide you through the process and help you make informed decisions. Contact her to get started and ensure you’re on the right path to homeownership.

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