Mortgage Default Insurance

The Role of Mortgage Default Insurance in Canada

In the realm of Canadian homeownership, mortgage default insurance plays a pivotal role. It’s a financial safety net that helps both lenders and aspiring homeowners navigate the complexities of real estate. This blog will delve into the intricate world of mortgage default insurance, its significance in Canada, and why it matters for both lenders and borrowers.

Understanding Mortgage Default Insurance

What Is Mortgage Insurance?

Commonly known as CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) insurance, is a crucial financial instrument designed to protect lenders in case borrowers default on their mortgage payments. It enables borrowers to purchase homes with down payments as low as 5% of the property’s value.

Why Is It Necessary?

It is a critical component of the Canadian housing market, primarily because it mitigates risks for lenders. In the absence of this insurance, lenders might be hesitant to provide mortgages with smaller down payments, which could restrict access to homeownership for many Canadians.

Who Requires Mortgage Insurance?

High-Ratio Mortgages

One of the primary scenarios in which mortgage insurance comes into play is when homebuyers opt for a high-ratio mortgage, which is a mortgage where the down payment is less than 20% of the property’s purchase price. In such cases, it’s a requirement by Canadian law.

Low-Ratio Mortgages

While not mandatory for low-ratio mortgages (those with down payments of 20% or more), borrowers can still choose to secure mortgage insurance to potentially benefit from better interest rates and terms.

Advantages of Mortgage Default Insurance

Homeownership Accessibility

For many Canadians, homeownership is a lifelong dream, and mortgage insurance makes it a reality by reducing the financial barrier to entry. With lower down payments, more people can access the housing market.

Lender Confidence

Lenders are more inclined to approve mortgages with lower down payments when they have the security of mortgage insurance. This confidence in lending fosters a more robust real estate market.

The CMHC and Canada’s Housing Market

The CMHC’s Role

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is the crown corporation responsible for overseeing mortgage default insurance in Canada. As a federal agency, the CMHC plays a central role in shaping the mortgage landscape and ensuring its stability.

Risk Management

The CMHC plays a significant role in risk management, assessing the potential vulnerabilities in the Canadian housing market and implementing measures to safeguard its stability. This includes setting guidelines for borrowers and lenders, which indirectly impacts the use of mortgage default insurance.

Navigating Mortgage Default Insurance Premiums

How Are Premiums Calculated?

Default insurance premiums are calculated based on the size of the down payment. The smaller the down payment, the higher the premium. The premium can either be paid upfront or added to the mortgage principal.

Premium Refunds

In some cases, borrowers may be eligible for a premium refund if they meet specific conditions, such as fulfilling the mortgage’s terms and paying it off early.

Potential Downsides of Mortgage Insurance

Added Costs

While default insurance enables homeownership with a smaller down payment, it also adds an extra cost. Borrowers must consider the premium amount and its impact on their overall mortgage expenses.

Limited Choice of Lenders

In cases where borrowers require mortgage default insurance, their choice of lenders might be more limited. Not all lenders work with CMHC-insured mortgages, potentially reducing the variety of mortgage products available.

Its Future in Canada

Recent Changes

In recent years, the Canadian government has made adjustments to mortgage default insurance rules. These changes aim to strike a balance between providing access to homeownership and ensuring the stability of the housing market.

Market Dynamics

As the Canadian housing market continues to evolve, so too will the role of mortgage default insurance. Its future role may be influenced by economic factors, changes in government policies, and shifts in homebuyer preferences.


Mortgage insurance is an integral part of the Canadian housing landscape, serving as a bridge to homeownership for many. It enhances accessibility, instills confidence in lenders, and fosters a dynamic real estate market. As borrowers and lenders continue to rely on its protective measures, the role of mortgage default insurance in Canada remains both robust and necessary, ensuring the housing dream remains within reach for many.


FAQ 1: What is mortgage default insurance, and when is it required in Canada?

Mortgage insurance, also known as CMHC insurance, is a financial safety net that protects lenders in the event that borrowers default on their mortgage payments. In Canada, it is mandatory when homebuyers opt for high-ratio mortgages, where the down payment is less than 20% of the property’s purchase price. For low-ratio mortgages (20% or more down payment), it’s optional but may lead to better terms and rates.

FAQ 2: How are mortgage default insurance premiums calculated?

Mortgage default insurance premiums are determined based on the size of the down payment. The smaller the down payment, the higher the premium. Borrowers can choose to pay the premium upfront or have it added to the mortgage principal. Premiums are typically a percentage of the mortgage amount.

FAQ 3: Are there downsides to mortgage insurance in Canada?

While mortgage default insurance enhances homeownership accessibility, it comes with added costs. Borrowers should consider the premium’s impact on their overall mortgage expenses. Additionally, it may limit the choice of lenders, as not all lenders work with CMHC-insured mortgages. Borrowers should weigh the benefits and costs when considering mortgage default insurance.

Contact Us

Contact Capital Mortgages today to learn more about refinancing and how we can help you save money on your mortgage. Our team of experienced mortgage professionals is here to help you navigate the process and to find the mortgage solution that best meets your needs. Whether you are looking to lower your monthly payments, pay off your mortgage faster, or access equity in your home, we can help you explore your options and find the best mortgage solution for your unique situation. So, if you are thinking about refinancing your mortgage in Canada, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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What is Mortgage Default Insurance and Do I Need it?

The mortgage world can be a tricky one to enter. As interest rates keep fluctuating and qualifying rules keep changing, you can be left feeling thoroughly confused and overwhelmed. Don’t worry! Our expert team of Capital Mortgages agents and brokers are here to help. Have you heard the term ‘mortgage default insurance’ and are not sure if it applies to you? To clear things up, here is some information to better explain the point of mortgage default insurance and when you may need to pay it:


What is mortgage default insurance?

Mortgage default insurance is coverage provided to a lender that protects them in the case that a borrower stops making payments and defaults on their mortgage. Like any other insurance, mortgage default insurance requires additional premium payments. The premium amount will vary depending how much of the purchase price is being financed by the mortgage. Your mortgage insurance premium is usually added to your mortgage amount and paid off over the life of your loan. However, you do also have the option of paying the premium upfront from your own resources.


Do I have to pay mortgage default insurance?

In Canada, the minimum down payment you can put towards a home is 5 per cent. Any down payments between 5 and 19.99 per cent require mortgage default insurance. By protecting lenders against borrower default, mortgage default insurance offers homebuyers in Canada the ability to purchase property that would otherwise be financially out of reach. Mortgage default insurance is not available on all property types and amounts. A member of our Capital Mortgages team would be happy to help you navigate this issue.


How can I minimize my mortgage default insurance amount?

As the borrower, it benefits you to pay more money upfront: the greater the down payment, the smaller your mortgage and, in turn, the lesser your premium. Your down payment must come from your own cash resources. Financial gifts from an immediate family member are also allowable. If you are a first-time homebuyer, you may be eligible under the Home Buyers’ Plan to draw from your RRSP. Your mortgage broker will be able to discuss these options with you to help you determine which is best suited to your needs.


Are you still confused about mortgage default insurance and whether or not you need to pay it? We can help! Connect with one of our Capital Mortgages agents today and we will provide you with clear and concise advice, helping you to find the perfect mortgage solution to fit your needs.