Lenders Mortgage Insurance

Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is an upfront charge you pay when borrowing over 80% of your property's purchase price.

Lenders Mortgage Insurance is how your lender protects itself in case you can’t repay your mortgage. You will only be required to pay an LMI premium if your loan is considered high risk -- if you’re taking out a large loan, more than 80% of the value of the property, or you don't have the full financial documents to prove your income and employment history.

Typically you will pay LMI on your home loan if you are borrowing more than 80% of the property value on a standard loan, or more than 60% of the property value on a low doc loan. You can pay LMI either as a one-off lump sum at the establishment of the loan, or it can be capitalised onto the loan repayments. This means it’s added to the principal of your loan, and attracts an interest charge.

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How much does LMI cost?

The amount you pay for lenders mortgage insurance depends on various factors:

  • Loan size. A larger loan incurs higher risk and thus higher LMI costs.
  • Deposit size and property value. The size of your deposit relative to the value of the property helps determine how much LMI you have to pay (or whether you need to pay it at all). As a general rule the smaller your deposit and the higher the property value, the more insurance you'll pay.
  • Loan type. Investment loans and owner occupier loans may lead to different LMI costs.
  • First home buyer. If you're a first home buyer your LMI premium may be slightly lower.

Example LMI costs

Genworth is one of the biggest lenders mortgage insurers in Australia. Their LMI estimate calculator can provide a rough idea of your LMI costs. The following quotes assume 30 year loan terms and the estimates given are for non-first home buyers, with first home buyer estimate in brackets. These are estimates only and may not reflect final LMI costs.

Property value Deposit size Estimated LMI cost
  • 5% ($20,000)
  • 10% ($40,000)
  • 15% ($60,000)
  • $14,174 (first home buyers $12,768)
  • $7,668 (first home buyers $6,912)
  • $4,284 (first home buyers $3,842)
  • 5% ($30,000)
  • 10% ($60,000)
  • 15% ($90,000)
  • $28,557 (first home buyers $25,707)
  • $14,634 (first home buyers $13,176)
  • $7,344 (first home buyers $6,630)
  • 5% ($40,000)
  • 10% ($80,000)
  • 15% ($120,000)
  • $38,076 (first home buyers $34,276)
  • $19,512 (first home buyers $17,568)
  • $9,792 (first home buyers $8,840)
  • 5% ($50,000)
  • 10% ($100,000)
  • 15% ($150,000)
  • $47,595 (first home buyers $42,845)
  • $24,480 (first home buyers $22,050)
  • $12,325 (first home buyers $11,135)

As the examples above show, LMI can add thousands of dollars to the cost of buying a home. With many struggling to scrape together enough funds for a 20% deposit, first-time buyers could end up having to pay more than they realise.

In the examples calculated above, if you bought a $1,000,000 home with a 5% deposit of $50,000 you could end up paying almost as much in lenders mortgage insurance premiums.

Can I avoid paying lenders mortgage insurance?

There are ways to avoid LMI, or at least minimise your costs. There are a few things borrowers can do - some more obvious than others. Some simple ways to avoid paying LMI include:

  • Keep your loan to value ratio below 80%

Your loan to value ratio (LVR) is the amount you have borrowed in relation to what your property is actually worth. If this calculation results in a number less than 80%, you usually don't have to pay LMI. However keep in mind that to get your LVR below 80% you'll need to provide a larger deposit to allow you to borrow less.

Sometimes it's worth taking that extra bit of time to save a decent sized deposit, and sometimes, as explained below, it's not. Not just because you'll avoid LMI, but because a property is an investment, and you will need to consider a range of other factors other than the LMI premium.

  • Know the premiums on your loan amount

LMI premiums on loans over $300,000 cost significantly more than those charged on loans less than $300,000. If you were looking to buy two investment properties for which you needed a $300,000 loan for each at an LVR of 95%, common sense would say to take out a loan for $600,000.

However, the premiums calculated on two $300,000 loans may be less than the LMI premium on a $600,000 loan. According to the Genworth LMI estimator, if you had an LVR of 95% on a $600,000 loan for up to 30 years, you could be paying a LMI premium of over $28,600.

  • Split your investment loans to save on LMI

Using the above example of two separate $300,000 loans with a LVR of 95% each, the LMI premium is calculated on a lower rate for each loan, with a combined LMI premium of approximately $16,016. That's a saving of about $12,584, which more than makes up for the doubling up of application fees from two loans.

  • Take out a family guarantee

A family guarantee or family pledge is when one of your family members guarantees part of your loan with their own property. They can usually nominate how much to pledge, and this is then added to your deposit amount. If you haven't saved enough to avoid paying LMI, a family guarantee can get you over the line with an acceptable LVR.

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Case Study LMI 2 Jessica and Morris want to purchase their first home. The home they're looking at costs $500,000. They have $75,000 saved already, meaning the LVR of their loan is 85%, and may attract LMI.

If they receive a family guarantee from one of their family members for $25,000, this will mean their deposit is now $100,000 and their LVR is 80%, eliminating the need for them to pay LMI.

Remember family guarantees will differ depending on the lender, so be sure to consult with your lender to find out what's available to you.

How do I pay LMI?

You can pay your LMI costs upfront, or you can capitalise it, which means you fold the cost into the principal of your loan. In other words, you can borrow your LMI costs along with your loan and pay it all off over time.

Here's an example. Say you were to borrow $150,000 and your LMI premium is around $1,400. You would only receive $148,600, as part of the balance will go towards paying the premium. By capitalising the LMI premium onto the loan, you’re going to get $151,400 allowing you to use the full $150,000 you applied for. But note that because you're now borrowing more this can affect your borrowing amount. In other words, by capitalising your LMI costs you could be paying off less of your home loan at first.

Is it worth paying LMI or should I avoid it at all costs?

While the majority of advice out there may suggest avoiding LMI, sometimes paying the premium could be the better option. There are circumstances where you may have found the home of your dreams for a bargain, and you need a loan sooner rather than later: LMI allows you to do this.

Find out how much LMI will cost you and weigh this up against the cost of saving up for a greater deposit. The added expense of LMI may be outweighed by the equity you would've built up in your home by buying your home sooner. While you can never predict this entirely, if you're expecting the value of your property to rise, then getting your foot in the door earlier can be the wiser option even with the added cost of lenders mortgage insurance.

Given how fast some properties have risen in value over the last few years, paying the extra cost of LMI could be far more cost effective. If you keep waiting to save up a 20% deposit to buy a property that keeps rising in value you may never get there.

Dan the savings man

Smiling man with laptopDan is in the market for his first property. He has $30,000 in savings and wants to buy a $300,000 property. His savings of $30,000 are only 10% of the value of the property, so if he purchases the property now he'll more than likely have to pay an LMI premium.

If he purchased the property now, he'd have to take out a loan with an LVR of 90%. According to the Genworth LMI calculator, Dan would pay an estimated LMI premium of $4,077.00.

If Dan saves another $30,000 he'll have a 20% deposit and won't need to pay LMI. But how long will that take him? If property prices rise, he'll need to save even more than $60,000 to avoid LMI. Buying sooner could mean building up equity and making more in the long run.

*This is a hypothetical example only. Consult a professional before making any decisions, and find out if you should pay LMI or wait until you've saved enough.

Can I get a refund on my premiums?

Your lender may not announce the fact that you could be entitled to a lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI) refund but you should be aware of your right to a refund. If you repay your mortgage in full within one to two years since loan settlement, you could be entitled to an LMI refund.

Are LMI refunds available?

LMI refunds may be offered by some lenders, depending on the policy of their insurance provider. If your home loan was settled before 2012, and you repay your loan within the first one or two years, then it’s worth enquiring with your lender to see if you’re eligible.

How much is the refund?

The amount of the LMI refund varies depending on the insurance provider. The mortgage insurer calculates and repays the LMI refund.

Generally you can expect a refund of around 40-50% of the initial premium that you paid, but this will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

What criteria do I need to satisfy?

To qualify for an LMI refund, you will generally need to meet the following conditions:

  • The loan must not have been in default, arrears or had any late payments throughout the term.
  • The loan must have been repaid in full less than two years from the loan settlement date.
  • The refund amount must be more than $500.

Keep in mind that the lender may have their own guidelines regarding the criteria you need to meet for a LMI premium refund.

Generally, the lender must notify the LMI provider (such as QBE, Genworth or the Commonwealth Bank Low Deposit Premium) that a refund is due within 30 days of the loan being discharged.

How do I apply for a refund?

To request a refund, contact your lender and tell them that you’d like to apply for an LMI refund. They will then notify you of the process and the next steps required. You may need to put forward a written request.

How long does it take?

An LMI refund can take between 3-6 months depending on the procedure of your lender and the lender’s LMI provider.

Your lender will be very helpful and eager to tell you about the benefits of LMI. Remember it's there for their benefit, not yours.

The biggest, (and most important) piece of advice we can give about LMI is to remember it does not protect your repayments if you can't afford them. You'll need to arrange your own income/repayment insurance just in case something unexpected goes wrong!

Frequently asked questions about lenders mortgage insurance:

Compare home loans with 90-95% LVR

Rates last updated December 12th, 2018
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20 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    PeterJune 7, 2017

    If I make a lump sum to my loan which will bring me under 80%, would I be able to have the LMI stopped? Will the bank keep the remaining amount owing in insurance or cancel the remaining, as it was put into the total amount of the loan?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 8, 2017

      Hi Peter!

      Thanks for the comment.

      It would depend on how the LMI was agreed to be paid in your loan. If it was paid upfront and had been more than two years from settlement, you may not be able to recoup the said amount or at least the whole of it. But if it is included on your loan repayments, it may be recomputed by the LMI insurers.

      You can contact your lender or mortgage insurer as this is reviewed on a case-to-case basis.

      Hope this helps.


  2. Default Gravatar
    ianJune 16, 2016

    I have had finance approved,my lender(suncorp) will not allow me to pay for the lmi up front is this correct

    • Default Gravatar
      JodieJune 16, 2016

      Hi Ian,

      Thank you for contacting finder.com.au, a financial comparison website.

      Each lender has their own restrictions on how they handle LMI, if you would prefer to pay the LMI upfront you will need to discuss this with Suncorp directly or you can look at another lender that will allow for upfront payment of LMI.

      There has not been any regulation changes regarding LMI, you might be best to contact a mortgage broker who can offer you a range of lenders that can assist you with your specific needs.


  3. Default Gravatar
    DavidMay 29, 2016

    I am buying a house with my 2 children who are both employed, I will be selling my house for approx $720.000 and buying the new house for $1m.I will be putting in $500.000 and the other half will be equally shared by my two children $250.000 each.
    We have been approved finance, but now they require us to pay LMI insurance, as I am paying half the loan up front, do we have to pay this cost ? or can I refuse to pay it ?

    • finder Customer Care
      MarcMay 30, 2016Staff

      Hi David,
      thanks for the question.

      LMI is required as a condition of finance with most lenders, so if a lender requires a borrower to pay LMI then they will have to in order to obtain a loan from them.

      I hope this helps,

  4. Default Gravatar
    JeshuaAugust 3, 2015

    I recently enquired about a housing loan and was advised that as of last week LMI is no longer able to be capitalised onto the principal of the loan, meaning that I have to come up with the LMI and a deposit before I can get a loan.

    I am not sure if this is for this particular lending organisation or if it is actually now a legal requirement. Everything I find on the internet advises that LMI can still be capitalised.

    Can you please advise me on the current situation in Australia?

    • Default Gravatar
      JodieAugust 4, 2015

      Hi Jeshua,

      Thank you for contacting finder.com.au, a financial comparison website.

      Each lender has their own restrictions on how they handle LMI, there are still lenders who would allow LMI to be capitalised into the loan amount depending on your circumstances.

      There has not been any regulation changes regarding LMI, you might be best to contact a mortgage broker who can offer you a range of lenders that can assist you with your specific needs.


  5. Default Gravatar
    MohanMay 27, 2015

    I have taken an LMI for a $216,000 loan for a property Purchased at $271,000, but the bank only valued at $235,000.

    The cost of my LMI is $4,847.

    Can you advise if I were to refinance after a period of 6 months and I do not need a LMI, how do I calculate the LMI reimbursement amount.

    • finder Customer Care
      MarcMay 29, 2015Staff

      Hi Mohan,
      thanks for the question.

      The amount you’re reimbursed for will be worked out by the insurer used by your lender. I would recommend contacting them to find out how much you could receive back.


  6. Default Gravatar
    ranjithMay 19, 2015

    Please send me a Loan Mortgage Insurance amount for following situation
    Purchase price 600,000.00
    Bank Valuation 560,000.00
    Stamp Duty & other Charges 18,500.00

    Loan obtaining from Bank without LMI = 520,000.00

    How much the Loan Mortgage insurance

    • finder Customer Care
      BelindaMay 25, 2015Staff

      Hi Ranjith,

      Thanks for your enquiry.

      According to the Genworth LMI estimator, the LMI payable for this loan would be approximately $8 944.00 (excluding stamp duty).

      I need to stress that this is an estimate and may not take into account many other factors that could determine your LMI premium.

      It would be best for you to speak with your broker directly.


  7. Default Gravatar
    MalcolmApril 25, 2015

    I have recently paid out a loan after 8 months which had LMI am i entitled to a reimbursement on the insurance payed

    • Default Gravatar
      JodieMay 8, 2015

      Hi Malcolm,

      Thank you for your question.

      Generally speaking if you pay off your loan within the first few years you can apply for a refund of the LMI. I would recommend that you contact your lender and LMI insurer to discuss this with them.


  8. Default Gravatar
    MarkFebruary 21, 2015

    Hello guys,

    Can you check my figures for me, my bank is confusing me.

    I have a home valued at 720,000 and a mortgage on it of 500,000
    So 220,000 equity.

    I want to buy an investment property of 400,000 including the settlement costs.

    The bank should lend 80% of the 400,000 which is 304,000 leaving me to come up with 96,000 .

    With 80% of my homes equity I’ll have 175,000 to use . So no need for LMI and I should still have 79,000 in equity after the acquisition?

    Any help would be great as my bank is saying I can’t borrow over 300,000 without LMI


    • finder Customer Care
      ShirleyFebruary 23, 2015Staff

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your question.

      Generally speaking, you can borrow up to up to $240,000 (from the $300,000) without incurring LMI.

      Given that your equity is $200,000 and you would like to use 100% of that amount, you’ll need to provide $20,000 to make up for this gap.

      If these numbers still seem strange to you, it’s best to ask your lender for a breakdown of their calculations, as by law they are required to disclosed all of these. They may also have different policies regarding how LMI is calculated, so it’s best to ask them to explain these to you.


  9. Default Gravatar
    gabrielleFebruary 18, 2015

    If I take out a loan at 90% and incur the mortgage Insurance and add the amount to the loan, say in 12 months i have incurred enough capital growth for my loan to fall into a 80% LVR. Can the lenders mortgage insurance be cancelled and reimbursed?

    • finder Customer Care
      RichardFebruary 18, 2015Staff

      Hi Gabrielle,

      Thanks for your question. As it is a lump sum you won’t need to cancel it.

      I hope this was helpful,

  10. Default Gravatar
    debbieAugust 26, 2013

    I have had a broker to assist with my home loan .
    The property is $420.000 and i have $45.000 deposit.
    I have been told i will be required to pay $12.000 LMI . My loan will be with CBA . Would this LMI calculations be correct ?

    • finder Customer Care
      MarcAugust 27, 2013Staff

      Hello Debbie,
      thanks for the question.

      According to the Genworth LMI estimator, the LMI payable for this type of purchase would cost from $6,600 to $7,350. This is purely an estimator and doesn’t take into account many of the other factors which go into deciding how much LMI is payable, so if you feel this LMI premium is too high it may be a good idea to discuss it with your broker.

      I hope this helps,

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