What is an Insured Mortgage?

Person signing a document to get an insured mortgage
Dec 28, 2023 | Jason Anbara

The dream of owning a home is a significant milestone for many individuals and families. However, navigating the complex landscape of mortgages can often seem daunting. Among the various types of mortgage options available, understanding what an insured mortgage entails is crucial for aspiring homeowners.

An insured mortgage stands as a pillar of support for both lenders and borrowers, offering a layer of protection that influences the dynamics of the home loan process. In this post, we delve into the intricate realm of insured mortgages, unravelling their essence, benefits, and how they function within the housing finance landscape.

Understanding Insured Mortgages

Insured mortgages are pivotal for aspiring homeowners, providing a safety net for lenders against borrower default. These mortgage types, often supported by government agencies, allow for lower down payments, making homeownership more accessible. 

By mitigating risks for lenders, insured mortgages boost lending confidence, fostering a stable housing market. Their role extends beyond individual aspirations, contributing to the overall health of the economy by encouraging responsible lending and expanding homeownership opportunities.

Definition of an Insured Mortgage

An insured mortgage refers to a home loan protected by mortgage insurance, shielding lenders from potential losses if borrowers default on payments. Typically backed by government agencies, insured mortgages facilitate lower down payments, expanding access to homeownership. This insurance mitigates risks for lenders, encouraging them to offer favourable terms, thus aiding individuals in purchasing properties.

The Role of Mortgage Insurance

In Canada, mortgage insurance plays a crucial role for homeowners by enabling access to homeownership through insured mortgages. For many buyers unable to provide a 20% down payment, mortgage insurance becomes a requirement. This insurance protects lenders and helps Canadians, especially first-time buyers, attain housing by making mortgages more affordable and accessible.

Home figurine on Jenga blocks

Types of Insured Mortgages

In Canada, insured mortgages can be categorized into private-insured mortgages and government-insured mortgages:

Government Insured Mortgages

These are insured by government agencies like the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Genworth Financial Canada, or Canada Guaranty. These agencies provide insurance to lenders, covering a portion of the lender’s losses if the borrower defaults. These government-insured mortgages typically include high-ratio mortgages where the down payment is less than 20%.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Some lenders also offer private mortgage insurance through private companies. Private insured mortgages are similar to government-backed ones, but the insurance is provided by private insurers approved by the lender. They also cover high-ratio mortgages but may have slightly different terms and conditions compared to government-insured options.

Differences Between Mortgage Insurance Providers

The differences between mortgage insurance providers in Canada primarily revolve around the following aspects:

  • Eligibility Criteria: Each mortgage insurance provider may have slightly different eligibility requirements for borrowers. While all aim to facilitate homeownership, some providers might be more lenient regarding credit scores, income sources, or property types.
  • Premium Rates: Mortgage insurance premiums vary among providers. These premiums, typically based on the loan-to-value ratio and amortization period, differ slightly among insurers. Borrowers might find variations in insurance costs based on the provider they choose.
  • Maximum Insurable Loan Amounts: There might be differences in the maximum loan amounts eligible for insurance coverage offered by different providers. Some insurers might have higher or lower limits, impacting the size of the mortgage they’re willing to insure.
  • Types of Mortgages Covered: Some insurers might specialize in certain types of mortgages, such as insured loans for specific property types or borrower profiles. For instance, one insurer might focus more on insuring high-ratio mortgages, while another might cater to a broader range of mortgage types.
  • Policy Features and Flexibility: Each insurer might offer unique policy features or flexibility in terms of payment options, prepayment privileges, or portability. Borrowers should review these features to find the insurer that aligns with their preferences and financial goals.

Benefits of Insured Mortgages

There are distinct advantages that collectively make insured mortgages a valuable tool for enhancing accessibility to homeownership, supporting a more diverse range of aspiring homeowners, and fostering a robust and inclusive housing market.

Lower Down Payments

Insured mortgages allow homebuyers to make a purchase with a down payment as low as 5%, compared to the typical 20% required for conventional mortgages. This lower upfront cost enables individuals, particularly first-time buyers or those with limited savings, to enter the housing market sooner. It opens doors for aspiring homeowners who might otherwise struggle to accumulate a larger down payment, making homeownership more feasible and attainable.

Easier Mortgage Approval

These types of mortgages often have more flexible eligibility requirements, such as accommodating lower credit scores or considering non-traditional income sources. The reduced risk for lenders due to mortgage insurance encourages them to approve loans for a wider range of borrowers. This flexibility expands opportunities for individuals who might face challenges obtaining approval for conventional mortgages, fostering inclusivity in homeownership.

Lender Risk Mitigation

Mortgage insurance acts as a shield for lenders against the risk of borrower default. This security encourages lenders to extend loans with more favourable terms, lower interest rates, and longer repayment periods. As a result, more borrowers can access financing, while lenders are protected from potential financial losses, promoting a healthier lending environment and bolstering the stability of the housing market.

Expanded Eligibility

Insured mortgages cater to individuals who may not meet the strict criteria of conventional mortgages. This includes self-employed individuals, newcomers to Canada, or those with irregular income sources. The presence of mortgage insurance makes lenders more willing to consider applicants with smaller down payments or unique financial situations, thus broadening the pool of eligible homeowners.

A couple looking over the terms of their insured mortgage

Who Qualifies for an Insured Mortgage?

Qualifying for an insured mortgage typically involves meeting certain criteria set by lenders and insurers in Canada:

  • Down Payment: For high-ratio-insured mortgages (less than 20% down payment), borrowers need a minimum down payment of 5%. Low-ratio mortgages (20% or more down payment) may not require mortgage insurance but could benefit from it.
  • Creditworthiness: Borrowers must demonstrate a decent credit history and a satisfactory credit score, usually above a certain threshold determined by the lender or insurer. A good credit standing indicates financial responsibility and lowers the risk for lenders.
  • Stable Income and Employment: Lenders assess an applicant’s income stability and employment history to ensure the borrower can manage mortgage payments. Consistent employment and a steady income stream are crucial factors.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: Lenders evaluate the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, ensuring that monthly debt obligations, including the proposed mortgage payment, are within reasonable limits compared to the borrower’s income.
  • Property Type: The property being purchased must meet specific criteria set by insurers. Factors like the property’s condition, location, and usage may influence eligibility for mortgage insurance.

Meeting these criteria increases the likelihood of qualifying for an insured mortgage in Canada. However, the exact requirements may vary among lenders and insurers, so it’s essential for potential borrowers to consult with mortgage professionals to understand specific eligibility guidelines.

How to Obtain an Insured Mortgage

To secure an insured mortgage, start by assessing eligibility criteria set by lenders and insurers, ensuring you meet requirements regarding down payment, credit score, stable income, and property type. Jason Anbara is here to help you navigate the complex process, leveraging our expertise in finding suitable lenders and insurance providers. Our brokers act as a liaison between borrowers and lenders, offering access to multiple options and guiding through paperwork and negotiations.

Streamlining the application process, we have access to various lenders and insurance companies to find the best rates and terms tailored to individual financial situations. Contact us today to learn more about your mortgage options.

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Jason Anbara
Jason Anbara
Mortgage Broker
Jason Anbara, Founder, CEO, and Principal Mortgage Broker, has been dedicated to realizing the homeownership dreams of countless clients through his mortgage services business. A distinguished graduate in International Management with Honours, Jason also holds a Bachelor of Commerce from The Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.

Driven by a passion for his community and the positive influence he has on both new and existing residents, Jason has garnered multiple accolades and awards. These recognitions underscore his unwavering commitment to providing exceptional customer service

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