As well referred to as a ‘CMHC fee’, a ‘high ratio’ or an insured mortgage, mortgage default insurance is required for any purchase with less than 20% down payment.

With this in mind, this article was written to offer the best possible advice on how to lower your mortgage default insurance or CMHC costs. These default insurance costs can easily be 4% of the mortgage amount or $20,000 on a $500,000 mortgage. Therefore, if it looks like you will have less than 20% down payment, along with rate and fine print, this is definitely an area to consider for your overall mortgage savings.

Here is the breakdown of how much mortgage default insurance will cost. The cost of the premium or ‘fee’ is bundled into the total mortgage amount and not paid out of pocket on closing. 

5% Down Payment: 4.00% of the mortgage amount. 

10% Down Payment: 3.10% of the mortgage amount.

15% Down Payment: 2.80% of the mortgage amount.

20% Down Payment: 0%.

For example, at a 10% down payment, for every $100,000 of a mortgage, there is $3,100 of mortgage insurance costs that are included back into the mortgage (bringing the total to $103,100 in this example). 

Another example: home $500,000 purchase price with 5% down payment requiring a CMHC insured mortgage:

5% down payment is $25,000

Basic Mortgage amount required: $475,000 (95% of the purchase price)

ADD Mortgage Default insurance into the mortgage (4% CMHC fee in this case): $19,000

Mortgage Total INCLUDING mortgage default insurance: $494,000

Benefits of an insured mortgage

Although there is a benefit of avoiding the CMHC mortgage default insurance, there are also several benefits that could lower the overall cost of your mortgage:

Lower mortgage rates: The tantalizingly low mortgage rates that are seen online are usually CMHC insured rates. The mortgage business is very risk-based. Accordingly, because the CMHC default insurance removes the risk for the lender, this is factored into the rate.

You don’t need to wait longer to save up more down payment to buy your home. Because you are in the home sooner, you are paying down your mortgage, not your landlord (if you are renting). Also, you may see growth in the value of your home which could reasonably amount to 5% increase in 1 year.

Buying a home sooner can not be understood. If in 2 years the value is up 10% more, then that’s extra down payment you will need to save up. Furthermore, in an increasing housing market, saving is almost a battle against time. 

Renewal rates are lower. Although it’s probably the last thing you’re thinking about now, when your mortgage comes up for renewal, for example in 5 years, you will want to have the lowest rate again. If your mortgage is CMHC insured then you will continue to have the lowest rate for the life of your mortgage – including renewal. This is unless the mortgage is refinanced for equity take out. This cancels the insured status of the mortgage.

Based on most math, based on the lower rates, the CMHC fee up to 4% will pay for itself in the second term. In other words, in 7-8 years your lower mortgage default insured rate will pay for itself and for the rest of your mortgage you will actually save more than a non- insured rate. 

How to lower your CMHC or mortgage default insurance fees

While paying the mortgage default insurance can be worth it for some homeowners, we still want to help ensure that you pay the least amount for mortgage default insurance. Here are some tips to help lower your mortgage default insurance premium:

Ensure that your lender has shopped all 3 mortgage default insurers. Although CMHC is the big name used regarding mortgage default insurance, there are two other mortgage default insurers: Genworth and Canada Guaranty. There could potentially be savings or even a more reliable approval, depending on what insurer the lender selects.

Getting to the next down payment threshold. You may notice that at 10% down payment the mortgage default insurance fee is lower. Same thing at 15%. So, if you are close to the next threshold, it might be worth getting some gifted down payment or saving a little bit longer to get to this next threshold. For example, if you have 9% down payment, then saving hard for 2-3 more months or getting a down payment gift from family may save you thousands of dollars in default insurance fees

Getting to 20% down payment: If you can avoid the mortgage default insurance premium then this could help you save the most, over time. If a gift can be provided from immediate family, or even if the down payment can be borrowed from another resource (this is harder to qualify with) then you may be able to completely avoid the default insurance fee. Even a short term second mortgage could cost less than a 3.10% CMHC fee.

If you are looking to refinance or purchase a home over the next few months, contact us today at 877-296-2696 or email us at