Navigating the World of Mortgage Insurance: PMI vs. MIP

When diving into the world of home ownership, two acronyms you’ll frequently encounter are PMI and MIP. These terms stand for Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) and Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP), respectively. Both types of insurance serve as protective measures for lenders but can often be a point of confusion for homebuyers. In this post, we’ll break down PMI and MIP, highlighting their similarities, differences, and how you can eliminate them from your mortgage payments.

What Is Mortgage Insurance?

Before we delve into the specifics of PMI and MIP, let’s understand the purpose of mortgage insurance. In essence, mortgage insurance protects the lender—not the borrower—if the borrower fails to make payments and defaults on the loan. It’s a common requirement for loans where the down payment is less than 20% of the home’s purchase price.

PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance

PMI is a type of mortgage insurance typically associated with conventional loans—those not backed by the government. It’s arranged by the lender but paid for by the borrower. Here’s what you need to know about PMI:

  • Cost: PMI fees can range from 0.3% to 1.5% of the original loan amount per year, depending on your down payment, loan term, and credit score.
  • Payment Options: Borrowers can pay PMI monthly, as a single upfront premium, or a combination of both.
  • Cancellation: You can request to cancel PMI once your mortgage balance falls to 80% of the home’s original appraised value. Furthermore, lenders are required to automatically terminate PMI when the balance reaches 78%.

MIP: Mortgage Insurance Premium

MIP is required for all FHA loans, which are government-backed mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration. Unlike PMI, MIP is not exclusive to low-down-payment loans. Here’s the rundown on MIP:

  • Cost: MIP charges include an upfront premium (1.75% of the loan amount) and an annual premium (ranging from 0.45% to 1.05% of the loan balance), paid monthly.
  • Duration: For loans issued after June 3, 2013, if you put down less than 10%, you’re required to pay MIP for the life of the loan. However, with a down payment of 10% or more, MIP can be removed after 11 years.

Similarities and Differences

While PMI and MIP serve the same purpose—protecting lenders—their requirements, costs, and cancellation policies differ significantly. Both insurances are associated with low-down-payment loans, but PMI applies to conventional loans, while MIP is for FHA loans. PMI can be canceled under certain conditions, potentially saving borrowers money over the loan’s life. In contrast, MIP may stick with you for the entire loan term, depending on your down payment.

Eliminating Mortgage Insurance

Eliminating PMI or MIP from your mortgage payment can save you a considerable amount of money over time. For PMI, this involves keeping track of your principal balance and requesting cancellation once equity reaches 20%. For MIP, considering refinancing into a conventional loan might be a viable option once you have sufficient equity, as MIP cancellation is much more rigid.


Understanding the nuances of PMI and MIP is crucial for prospective and current homeowners. It can impact your monthly payments and overall loan cost. By managing your loan payments effectively and knowing the requirements for eliminating these insurance premiums, you can potentially save thousands over the life of your loan. Always consult with a mortgage advisor to explore the best strategies for managing or eliminating mortgage insurance based on your specific situation.

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