Understanding Mortgage Insurance in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide - Branko Kovacevic Mortgage Broker Services

Understanding Mortgage Insurance in Canada: Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to purchasing a home in Canada, navigating the complexities of mortgage insurance is essential for both lenders and borrowers. Mortgage insurance plays a crucial role in safeguarding against potential financial risks, offering protection and peace of mind to all parties involved. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the intricacies of mortgage insurance in Canada, covering its benefits, premiums, and everything else you need to know.

What is Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage insurance, also known as mortgage default insurance, is a financial product designed to protect lenders against the risk of borrower default. In Canada, mortgage insurance is typically required for homebuyers who make a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price. This insurance helps mitigate the lender’s risk by ensuring that they will be compensated in the event of a foreclosure or default.

Types of Mortgage Insurance Providers

In Canada, there are three primary providers of mortgage insurance:

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC): As a federal Crown corporation, CMHC is the largest provider of mortgage insurance in Canada. It offers insurance products for residential mortgages, including loans for both homeowners and rental properties.

Genworth Canada: is a private mortgage insurance provider that offers similar products to CMHC. It provides insurance coverage for homebuyers with down payments as low as 5%.

Canada Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company: is another private insurer that offers mortgage insurance solutions for lenders and borrowers across Canada. Like Genworth, it provides insurance for high loan-to-value ratio mortgages.

Benefits of Mortgage Insurance

For Homebuyers:

Allows homebuyers to purchase a home with a smaller down payment.

Helps borrowers qualify for lower interest rates on their mortgages.

Provides protection for homeowners in the event of unexpected financial hardships.

For Lenders:

Mitigates the risk of borrower default, reducing potential losses for lenders.

Enables lenders to offer mortgages to a broader range of borrowers, stimulating homeownership and the housing market.

How much mortgage insurance cost?

The following table provides you with a general idea of the premiums charged by CMHC. The exact premium will be calculated when you apply for a mortgage and provincial sales tax may apply.

Loan–to-Value Standard Purchase Premium
Up to and including 65% 0.60%
Up to and including 75% 1.70%
Up to and including 80% 2.40%
Up to and including 85% 2.80%
Up to and including 90% 3.10%
Up to and including 95% Traditional Down Payment 4.00%

Source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

Mortgage insurance premiums are the fees paid by borrowers to secure mortgage insurance coverage. These premiums are typically calculated as a percentage of the loan amount and can be paid upfront or added to the mortgage principal. The exact premium amount varies depending on factors such as the loan-to-value ratio, amortization period. .

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Pros and Cons of Mortgage Insurance in Canada


  1. Lower Interest Rates: Mortgage insurance often allows borrowers to access lower interest rates, resulting in reduced monthly payments over the life of the loan.
  2. Easier Qualification: With mortgage insurance, lenders are more willing to approve loans for borrowers with lower credit scores or smaller down payments, making homeownership more accessible.
  3. Reduced Funds Needed for Down Payment: By requiring a smaller down payment, mortgage insurance enables homebuyers to enter the housing market sooner and with less upfront capital.


  1. Refinancing Challenges: One drawback of mortgage insurance is that refinancing can be problematic. Changes in mortgage terms, such as extending the amortization period or increasing the loan amount, may result in the cancellation of the insurance policy.
  2. Cost of Insurance: Mortgage insurance premiums add to the overall cost of homeownership. While they enable borrowers to purchase a home with a smaller down payment, these premiums can significantly increase the total amount paid over the life of the loan. It’s essential for borrowers to consider these additional expenses when evaluating the affordability of their mortgage.

Experience Note: As experienced mortgage brokers, we’ve encountered instances where clients refinanced their mortgages with banks, only to realize later that their mortgage insurance was canceled due to the changes in terms. This serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the importance of understanding the implications of mortgage insurance before making refinancing decisions.

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