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Exploring and Analyzing Mortgage Insurance Costs

Understanding the cost of mortgage insurance is an important part of the home buying process for many homeowners. Mortgage insurance has a significant financial impact, so it’s essential to know how it works and how much it costs.

The cost of mortgage insurance typically averages $1,200 per year. It’s determined by factors such as loan amount, down payment percentage, credit score, loan type, property type, and loan term length. Costs can range from 0.3% to 2% of the total loan amount for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI), or 0.45% to 1.05% for FHA loans.

This article will provide key details on determining your mortgage insurance costs, ways to reduce them, and how they compare to other homeownership expenses.

Mortgage insurance serves a valuable purpose in enabling homeowners to buy a home with less than a 20% down payment. It protects the lender from the risk of default. Mortgage insurance makes homeownership possible for more people by allowing smaller down payments. However, it also adds a regular expense that buyers must budget for. 

Why Is Understanding the Cost of Mortgage Insurance Important?

Mortgage insurance is typically required by lenders when borrowers make a down payment of less than 20% of the purchase price. It protects the lender in case the borrower defaults on the loan. The average cost of mortgage insurance is $1,200 per year (Source:, 2023). For most homeowners, it is a significant recurring expense.

Without mortgage insurance, many borrowers would not qualify for loans at all. It makes home buying possible with lower down payments. However, understanding the cost is essential for budgeting when buying a home. Borrowers must be prepared to pay the premiums over time until mortgage insurance can be removed.

How Is the Cost of Mortgage Insurance Determined?

There are several key factors that influence mortgage insurance costs:

Loan amount: The total amount borrowed has a proportionate impact on mortgage insurance premiums. Larger loans mean higher premiums.

Down payment percentage: The higher the down payment, the lower the premiums tend to be. With less than 10% down, costs are highest.

Credit score: Borrowers with higher credit scores usually pay lower premiums. Excellent credit can save hundreds per year.

Loan type: Government-backed loans like FHA, USDA, and VA have standardized insurance costs based on the above factors. Private mortgage insurance rates also consider individual risk.

Property type: On average, mortgage insurance costs are higher for condos than for single-family homes. Unique factors like construction type also play a role.

Loan term length: Opting for a shorter 15 or 20-year loan term reduces total interest paid over the life of the loan, which indirectly lowers mortgage insurance costs.

Which Types of Mortgage Insurances Have Different Cost Structures?

There are two main categories of mortgage insurance:

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): PMI is a type of insurance provided by private insurance companies and typically required for conventional loans with less than 20% down. PMI is more expensive than government-backed mortgage insurance programs (Source:, 2023). Monthly premiums for PMI generally range between 0.3% to 2% of the total loan amount.

Government-backed mortgage insurance: Several government agencies offer their own mortgage insurance programs at lower cost than PMI:

Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans): Insurance is required for all FHA loans. Premiums range from 0.45% to 1.05% of the loan amount per year.

USDA Loan Insurance: For rural home buyers, this program requires an upfront fee of 1% and annual fee of 0.35% to 1.5% of the loan amount.

VA Funding Fee: For veterans, this fee ranges from 1.4% to 3.6% of the loan amount depending on down payment.

How Can Borrowers Reduce or Eliminate the Cost of Mortgage Insurance?

Here are some strategies for spending less on mortgage insurance:

Increasing down payment: Putting down more upfront directly reduces monthly mortgage insurance premiums. Each 5% increment (10%, 15%, 20%) reaches a lower pricing tier. 

Refinancing: When interest rates decline, refinancing can lower monthly payments. This allows more money to go toward paying down principal and shortening the time until mortgage insurance can be canceled.

Request cancellation: When enough home equity is built to reach an 80% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, mortgage insurance can be canceled(Source: Fannie Mae, 2023). This takes years for most borrowers but eliminates the expense.

Aside from the mortgage payment itself, homeowners have other housing costs including:

Home Ownership ExpenseTypical Annual Cost Range
Property Taxes1-3% of home value
Homeowners Insurance0.3-1% of home value
Home Maintenance1-4% of home value
Mortgage Insurance$1,200 avg. or 0.4-0.5% of $250k home

Comparatively, the average $1,200 yearly cost of mortgage insurance is relatively affordable (Source:, 2023). It equates to just 0.4% to 0.5% of a $250,000 home value. While not inexpensive, it may be less than other key ownership costs.

Why Do Some Homeowners Opt Out of Mortgage Insurance Even if It’s Costly?

Despite the benefits, some borrowers try to avoid mortgage insurance. Without it, lenders view the loans as riskier:

  • Default risks increase for the lender without the protection of mortgage insurance. Opting out may mean not qualifying for the loan at all.
  • Some borrowers think they can save money by not paying premiums. But this savings means assuming more risk. Defaulting due to job loss or hardship can cost the home.

Carefully weighing these risks versus short-term savings helps inform the decision. But forgoing insurance can jeopardize loans or lead to preventable foreclosure.

Is Mortgage Insurance Tax-Deductible?

Mortgage insurance premiums are tax-deductible in some cases:

For mortgages originated in 2007 or later, premiums are deductible subject to income limits. Consulting a tax professional is recommended to understand eligibility (Source: Investopedia, 2023).

Pre-2007 mortgages may qualify for deductions if premiums are paid through an escrow account. Complex tax laws determine the amount based on factors like income and escrow setup.

Properly claiming these deductions reduces the net cost of mortgage insurance for eligible filers. But the rules are complicated, making consultation with a tax advisor essential.


Mortgage insurance enables lower down payments but adds an ongoing expense for homeowners. While not inexpensive, its cost is competitive or lower than other elements of homeownership. Awareness and budgeting for this cost based on your specific loan, credit, and property situation makes its impact more manageable.