Who Gets Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage insurance protects lenders against loss if you default on your loan. It’s typically required for conventional loans with down payments below 20% and FHA mortgages, and payments may either be made up front or included as part of monthly installments.

Make a larger down payment or opt for a piggyback second mortgage to avoid mortgage insurance payments; however, this strategy may not suit everyone.


The Federal Housing Administration, more commonly known as FHA, provides mortgage insurance to expand homeownership opportunities for people with less-than-ideal credit. Borrower and lender payments go toward this insurance which protects lenders against losses due to defaulted loans. FHA mortgage loans usually require at least 580 credit score and minimum 3.5% down payment with some lenders setting their own requirements in terms of credit score or down payment requirements.

FHA lenders must conduct an intensive underwriting process that goes far beyond credit scores and down payment requirements, including income verification, running credit reports, inspecting properties for specific standards, as well as running an automated program called Desktop Underwriter or DU. DU evaluates factors like debt ratios, reserves and credit scores in order to make an underwriting decision.

FHA borrowers must pay both an up front mortgage insurance premium that can be rolled into their loan, and annual premiums that will be added onto monthly mortgage payments. The up front premium typically ranges between 1.75% of mortgage amount and up to 0.75% annually; annual premiums usually fall between 0.15-0.75% of mortgage value.

While FHA mortgage insurance may not be as stringent, it still protects lenders in case of default and comes at a cost to borrowers – hence why most buyers who opt for FHA loans are first-time homebuyers.

Good news is that the Biden Administration recently reduced the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance premiums, saving homeowners an average of $800 each year in mortgage insurance costs. This step forward will assist more people buying their first homes, particularly in expensive markets like Las Vegas.

Since 2013, mortgage insurance (MIP) payments no longer cease once your equity reached a specific percentage of loan-to-value ratio; instead, this policy remains in place and must continue until either selling your home or refinancing into a conventional loan loan type. You can reduce monthly MIP costs by making larger down payments or switching over to one.


Mortgage insurance is an additional expense associated with conventional mortgage loans that require less than 20% as down payments. It protects lenders in case borrowers stop making payments or their home’s value drops significantly, and costs vary based on type of loan, amount of down payment and lender. Mortgage insurers charge either single premiums or split premiums that borrowers can either pay monthly or add into the mortgage loan balance.

The mortgage industry has developed several methods for homebuyers to avoid paying PMI, including increasing the down payment or opting for government-backed loans. Unfortunately, however, these solutions may not always be feasible or appropriate; so in such instances it’s crucial that homebuyers understand how mortgage insurance works so that they can make an informed decision.

Conventional mortgages typically require a 20% down payment or higher, while some lenders provide loans with lower minimum down payments and higher interest rates than traditional loans. While these may not be ideal options for quickly buying homes or those who lack enough savings, they could still provide the opportunity for homeownership.

Mortgage lenders take several factors into consideration when making their decision about approving a mortgage loan application, including credit history and finances as well as affordability considerations such as monthly payment capacity – such as loan-to-value ratio which determines if mortgage insurance coverage is necessary.

The Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV Ratio) is calculated by dividing a home’s value by its mortgage amount, and used by lenders as an indicator of risk when making loans to borrowers. Most conventional mortgage lenders will require mortgage insurance when the LTV ratio exceeds 80%, while FHA and USDA loans require at least that threshold before qualifying as loans.

Borrowers who obtain conventional mortgages with down payments of less than 20% must pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) fees each month in addition to their mortgage payment, because lenders take on greater risk by lending more money with less equity invested upfront in the property.


The USDA is a government agency that offers mortgage insurance to protect lenders against losses on home loans made to qualified buyers. Their PMI costs significantly less than conventional loan PMI policies, and lasts throughout the life of your loan. Plus, its low-interest rate can help homebuyers lower monthly payments!

To qualify for a USDA home loan, first you must meet its income requirements – this varies by region but most applicants should meet or be within 115% of their area median income. Furthermore, your new purchase must serve as your primary residence and be located in an eligible neighborhood.

USDA home loans, like FHA loans, are supported by the federal government and non-conforming loans; as such they don’t adhere to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lending standards and thus may have different requirements regarding credit scores, down payments and lending amounts.

One key distinction between USDA loans and FHA mortgages is their respective down payments requirements – one requires no down payment while an FHA mortgage requires at least 3.5% down. Furthermore, USDA has stricter income limits than FHA – making qualifying more challenging.

USDA loan borrowers have the advantage of financing 100% of their purchase price – providing homebuyers struggling to make down payments with accessing 100% financing and potentially lowering overall mortgage costs, including both upfront and ongoing fees.

The USDA provides two different mortgage products, guaranteed and direct. Guaranteed loans are offered by private lenders who are backed by the USDA; in case they default, the USDA will take over and pay your debt off instead.

Direct loans provided by the USDA are designed for people unable to afford traditional mortgages or secure safe housing elsewhere. In order to be eligible, your household income must fall below the USDA’s national poverty level threshold and live in an area offering affordable mortgage rates.


Mortgage insurance is an insurance product used by lenders to reduce the risk of home loan default and repayment default, typically offered as standard with conventional loans. A lender may also offer mortgage life or protection insurance policies to cover some or all outstanding payments should an incapacitation occur while still owing their mortgages; though these policies appear similar, they serve different functions and must often be purchased independently of one another.

Conventional home loans that do not qualify for government backing require private mortgage insurance (PMI). This allows borrowers with credit histories that do not fulfill the traditional 20 percent down payment requirement to access mortgage financing and become homeowners – creating economic benefits across the board.

The cost and terms of PMI depend on your lender and mortgage type, as well as whether it is borrower-paid, lender-paid or split premium mortgage insurance (BPMI/SPMI). Borrower-paid typically involves an up front premium that is added directly onto principal, while Lender-paid uses higher interest rates to cover insurance costs instead of charging them directly to borrower.

Private mortgage insurance was designed to safeguard lenders, and as the homeowner builds equity their mortgage insurance payments will decrease gradually. At any point in time if enough equity exists to reduce risk the lender can cancel it; if payments cannot be maintained and it becomes necessary to foreclose on the property due to nonpayment then foreclosure could occur and foreclose must occur in its place. For this reason it is vitally important for borrowers to understand all risks involved when taking out a home loan, while taking steps to keep their credit in good standing – many find the advantages outweigh paying monthly expenses related to mortgage insurance premiums!