When you go to the bank to get a mortgage, you'll inevitably be asked to take out mortgage insurance. The idea behind mortgage insurance is simply that if something happens to you or your spouse then your loan will be paid off which is good news for your family and the bank. Most financial institutions act like they are doing you a favor by offering you mortgage insurance through their own group plan, but are they?
The truth is that you could probably get a much better deal and at least an equal amount of protection by shopping around for your own insurance policy.
Essentially, mortgage insurance is no different than term-life insurance. With both, your policy only lasts for a specified period of time and pays its benefits if something happens to you or your spouse. The real difference comes down to how much control you'll have over your policy and how much you'll pay for it.
If you choose to use the mortgage insurance offered by the bank, you will not be able to customize a policy to fit your needs and you'll be lumped together with other borrowers under a group plan. Because of this, you will only have limited control over your policy. For example, through a third party provider, you would be able to choose your own beneficiary, decide how to spend the proceeds if necessary, and cancel the policy at any time. You would not have these options with a lending institution.
Additionally, the bank maintains the right to not renew your policy and to cancel the policy when you sell the house. If you find your own insurance provider, you can make those decisions yourself.
The other big difference is cost. A third party insurance policy's premiums will not go up, so you would pay the same premium today that you'd pay ten years from now. You won't get that same guarantee from a bank which can and probably will increase your premiums during the life of the policy. In most cases, you'll probably pay more through a bank anyway. In fact, you could pay as much as 40% more than you would if you shopped around and found your own insurance provider. Not to mention that the policy you take out through your bank will gradually decrease in value while a plan you select from an outside source will be worth the same amount during the entire policy period.
Of course, many people don't mind paying more for their mortgage insurance because it's more convenient than dealing with insurance agents. The truth is that you can easily find a policy that fits your needs and provides affordable premiums via the Internet. An organization, such as the Hughes Trustco Group, can even generate quotes for you from multiple insurance providers so you'll know that you're receiving the best deal possible on the policy you want.
The bottom line is that mortgage insurance is important and should be part of your home buying or refinancing preparations, but that does not mean you need to pay more or let the bank make important decisions for you. Instead, you should find your own personal plan from a third party provider which will let you stay in control of your policy and will save you money in the long run.
Ivon T. Hughes is a Canadian life insurance and investment broker who is licensed across Canada. You can deal with him from virtually anywhere in Canada by mail, fax, e-mail or telephone.