Facts on Mortgage Insurance
Photo by Laura Taylor
You have just spent months shopping for your dream home, then weeks looking for the best mortgage rate. Your lender suggests taking out mortgage insurance to protect your prized asset. On the surface it sounds like a good idea - protecting your loved ones against an unforeseen illness or death seems like a prudent decision, so at the lender's suggestion you decide to tack on the premium to your mortgage payment.
This scenario unfolds hundreds of times each week throughout Canada, yet many consumers still do not realize that they may be getting ripped off. The basic premise behind mortgage insurance is sound; the problem is that, in most cases, consumers blindly sign up without taking the time to examine their options. Mortgage insurance offered through a lender just does not offer the flexibility available with individual insurance policies offered through life insurance companies, and in most instances the coverage is significantly more expensive through a lender.
Let's take a closer look at a few specific differences:
- The mortgage insurance coverage amount with a lender declines as your mortgage balance declines. The coverage amount on a separate policy remains the same, even as your mortgage shrinks.
- Mortgage insurance through a lender is not portable. An individual mortgage insurance policy through an insurance company is owned by you - you can keep it if you switch banks, pay off your mortgage or move to a new home.
- Mortgage insurance through a lender only pays out a benefit equal to the mortgage, even if both spouses die. Individual policies will pay out twice the amount in the event of a simultaneous death.
- A mortgage lender's insurance names the bank as beneficiary if you die. A separate policy allows you to choose your own beneficiary.
- Mortgage insurance through a lender is not convertible to a permanent insurance policy. An individual term policy through an insurance company is convertible without a medical to a permanent policy - providing lifetime protection and the ability to generate a tax-sheltered cash value.
You would think you'd be receiving all these benefits when paying the premium from your mortgage lender - think again. A 38-year-old male and 37-year-old female will pay 28 cents a month per thousand dollars of mortgage amount on a mortgage life insurance plan with CIBC. On a $500,000 mortgage, this translates to $140 per month. That same couple can apply with Transamerica Life for $500,000 of Individual Term 20 coverage for $98.55 a month; and if they qualify for preferred rates their premiums could be as low as $71.10 a month. That's a savings of $9,948 to $16,536 over 20 years - not bad for a few minutes of research. You can see the savings for yourself at Get your free quote.
The moral of this story - a lender's mortgage insurance offers convenience. But this convenience comes at a price - inferior coverage, and in most instances, significantly higher premiums.