Crunch Finance Article

What is LMI? Lenders Mortgage Insurance explained

Lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) is a common expense for borrowers with home deposits below 20%. It can amount to thousands of dollars. The question…

Crunch Finance explains lender's mortgage insurance (LMI) in simple terms

Lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) is a common expense for borrowers with home deposits below 20%. It can amount to thousands of dollars. The question is, does paying for LMI make sense if it allows you to purchase property sooner?

In Australia, there’s a choice when it comes to buying property. Waiting until you save up a larger deposit means you can avoid paying for lenders mortgage insurance (LMI). On the other hand, if you’re an early bird and buy with a minimal 5% deposit, you might catch your dream home before prices rise. While this might mean paying for LMI, it seems many borrowers think it’s worth it. The Reserve Bank suggests about a quarter of Australian housing loans have LMI coverage.

Understanding Lenders Mortgage Insurance

Lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) stands as a shield that protects mortgage lenders from potential losses in case a borrower defaults on their loan payments. This crucial distinction must not be confused with mortgage protection insurance, which safeguards borrowers against unforeseen life events.

Operational Mechanism

Imagine a scenario where a mortgaged property’s value plummets below the outstanding loan amount, leaving the lender facing a loss upon sale. LMI comes into play here, allowing lenders to make insurance claims to cover these losses. Consequently, lenders are more inclined to approve loans with higher loan-to-value ratios (LVRs), expanding opportunities for borrowers.

Origins of Lenders Mortgage Insurance

Introduced to Australia in 1965, lenders mortgage insurance transformed the lending landscape by enabling a wider range of individuals to secure home loans. Leading providers like Genworth Financial, now Helia Group, and QBE assumed the mantle of LMI coverage, with the lender’s discretion determining the choice of provider.

Costs of Lenders Mortgage Insurance

LMI premiums vary based on loan size, LVR, and borrower type. For instance, first-time borrowers may encounter different premiums compared to existing borrowers, even under similar conditions. The table below illustrates LMI premiums for different LVRs and property values:

Table: LMI Premiums for Various LVRs and Property Values

Estimated Property Value 95% LVR LMI Cost 90% LVR LMI Cost 85% LVR LMI Cost
$200,000 $6,137 $2,574 $1,299
$400,000 $15,428 $6,552 $3,390
$600,000 $23,954 $13,284 $6,463
$800,000 $41,344 $14,400 $6,800

Prices include GST but exclude stamp duty. Based on a loan term of up to 30 years.

Is Lenders Mortgage Insurance Worth Paying?

When time constraints hinder the accumulation of a 20% deposit, opting for LMI might be a viable option. In a dynamic property market, where prices escalate rapidly, paying a modest LMI premium could prove prudent, especially when the potential capital gains outweigh the cost.

A Hypothetical Scenario

Consider Amanda, who possesses $40,000 and aims to acquire a $400,000 property. While she could wait to amass a 20% deposit, rising property values might nullify her savings advantage. The decision hinges on a cost-benefit analysis that accounts for potential capital gains.

Avoiding Lenders Mortgage Insurance

Deposits exceeding 20% of the property’s value generally exempt borrowers from LMI. Exceptions might require larger deposits in high-risk suburbs. Alternative routes include leveraging guarantors, belonging to certain professions, utilizing government assistance programs, exploring lender discounts, or demonstrating a stellar credit history.

Payment and Tax Considerations

LMI premiums can be paid upfront or added to the loan, with upfront payment often preferred. For investors, LMI costs, including stamp duty, can be tax-deductible over five years. Refinancing or termination might warrant partial refunds, contingent on lender policies and specific criteria.


In the intricate web of home financing, understanding lenders mortgage insurance can pave the way to informed decisions. Weighing the benefits of immediate homeownership against the potential costs of LMI demands careful analysis. By navigating this landscape thoughtfully, aspiring homeowners can find the pathway that best aligns with their financial aspirations.

More Questions?

Ready to make a move in the property market? Crunch Finance is here to help you navigate the complexities of lenders mortgage insurance and find the best financial strategy for your homeownership journey. Explore our expert guidance and start your path towards your dream home today!
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