Why Insured Mortgages Often Have Lower Rates in Canada


When navigating the complex terrain of home financing, Canadian homeowners and prospective buyers encounter a variety of mortgage options. Among these, the distinction between insured and uninsured mortgages is particularly significant, as it directly impacts the interest rates that lenders offer. In this article, we'll delve into the reasons why insured mortgages typically come with lower rates compared to their uninsured counterparts.

What are Insured Mortgages?

An insured mortgage in Canada is one where the borrower has obtained mortgage default insurance, which is typically required when the down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price of the home. This insurance is designed to protect the lender in the event that the borrower is unable to continue making payments. The premium for this insurance can be paid as a lump sum upfront or added to the mortgage payments.

The Role of Mortgage Default Insurance:

Mortgage default insurance is a safety net for lenders. It reduces the risk associated with lending large sums of money for home purchases, which is particularly high when the borrower has invested a smaller down payment. In the event of a default, the insurance policy covers the outstanding loan amount, ensuring that the lender does not suffer a financial loss.

Why Insured Mortgages Have Lower Rates:

1. Reduced Lender Risk:

The primary reason for lower rates with insured mortgages is the significant reduction in risk for the lender. Since the mortgage is backed by an insurance policy, lenders are more confident in offering lower interest rates, as their potential for loss is mitigated.

2. Government-Backed Insurance Providers:

In Canada, mortgage default insurance providers such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), along with private insurers like Sagen Financial and Canada Guaranty, are backed by the federal government. This backing further lowers the risk for lenders, as it assures that the insurance is reliable and the funds will be available if a claim is made.

3. Increased Market Competitiveness:

Insured mortgages are often packaged into mortgage-backed securities and sold on the financial market. The lower risk associated with these insured loans makes them attractive to investors, which in turn allows lenders to offer competitive rates to borrowers.

4. Regulatory Requirements:

Regulations in the Canadian mortgage industry also play a role in the rate disparity. Lenders are required to hold less capital against insured mortgages, which means they can operate with more liquidity and, as a result, can afford to offer lower rates.

The Impact on Borrowers:

For borrowers, the lower interest rates associated with insured mortgages can translate into significant savings over the life of the loan. However, it's important to consider the cost of the insurance premium when calculating the total cost of borrowing. In some cases, the premium may offset the savings gained from lower interest rates.


Insured mortgages offer a level of protection to lenders that is not present with uninsured mortgages, resulting in lower interest rates for borrowers. While this can be advantageous in terms of monthly payment amounts, it is crucial for borrowers to assess all aspects of their mortgage options. Understanding the interplay between down payments, insurance premiums, and interest rates is key to making an informed decision that aligns with one's financial and homeownership goals.

For homeowners and buyers in Vancouver, Canada, navigating these options can be complex. As a mortgage broker, it's my role to provide clarity and guidance to ensure that my clients find the best mortgage solution to meet their unique needs. Whether you're looking at purchasing your first home or considering refinancing options, understanding the nuances of insured versus uninsured mortgages is a vital step in your homeownership journey.