Lenders mortgage insurance

If you're in the process of looking to buy a new home, you might have come across the term Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) and wondered what it's all about.
Dawn Teh
Written by
Dawn Teh
Imogen Baxter
Reviewed by
Imogen Baxter
Last updated
January 24, 2023
0 minute read
Table of contents
Woman typing on her laptop researching lenders mortgage insurance, photographed by Yan Krakau

Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) is an insurance policy that covers the lender if you, the borrower, fail to keep up with your home loan repayments. It may allow borrowers with smaller deposits to qualify for a home loan, as lenders are more willing to lend money to 'high-risk borrowers' if the insurance policy covers the risk of default. LMI was originally founded in the 1960's as a Government policy, and has remained largely unchanged since then. Critics of LMI say it is costly, and best avoided, which is why it is rapidly being replaced by new services such as OwnHome's Deposit Boost Loans.

When does lenders mortgage insurance apply?

If you're applying for a standard home loan, lender's mortgage insurance usually applies when the size of your deposit is below 20%. You'll often see this described as having a loan-to-value ratio of >80% of the purchase price. During the application process, if your deposit is less than 20% of the purchase price, you'll be told to 'pay LMI' if you continue with the loan application.

Are there alternatives to LMI?

OwnHome offers a low-deposit path to homeownership without LMI.

OwnHome’s Deposit Boost Loan is here to help bridge the pesky 20% deposit gap, making homeownership possible for people who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings. For a low deposit Premium of 1.1% - 2.2% of the property purchase price, you could access an 80% LVR mortgage and a deposit boost loan- taking LMI out of the equation.

How does an OwnHome Deposit Boost Loan work?

With an OwnHome Deposit Boost Loan, all you need is a 2.2% upfront, and we’ll cover the rest of your 20% deposit - so you don’t pay LMI!

Here's how the Deposit Boost Loan works:

  1. For just 2.2% upfront, we’ll cover the deposit you need to unlock your very own 80% LVR mortgage.
  2. If you have some deposit saved, the Low Deposit Premium can be cheaper.
  3. Using your OwnHome deposit, you’re free to choose the best home loan for you.
  4. Our qualified team of expert Buyer's Agents will help you every step of the way—from search to settlement.
  5. You repay your OwnHome Deposit Boost Loan over time, just like you would with your mortgage. Think of it as paying for your deposit while you live in your home.

At OwnHome, our main concern is getting you into the house you want, where you want, at the right price - without a decade of saving for a deposit. Use our buying power calculator to see how much you could afford with an OwnHome Deposit Boost Loan.

Can you afford mortgage repayments but not the deposit? Learn more about a deposit boost loan.
Check your eligibility
Right arrow

How much does LMI cost?

The cost of LMI is calculated as a percentage of the amount you borrow. The LMI fee increases if you borrow more money at a higher LVR. It can be charged as a one-off fee or added to the total value of your home loan. It's important to note that if you add it to your home loan, your LVR will increase.

As part of saving for a home loan, if you opt for LMI, you need to factor in LMI charges along with other upfront fees such as stamp duty, mortgage protection insurance (often recommended for homeowners with a home loan) and moving costs.

How is the LMI premium paid?

The lender will pay the LMI premium to the insurer at the settlement of your home purchase. This one-off upfront payment covers the lender for the life of the loan (up to 30 years).

Can I get an LMI waiver?

Not all first-home buyers have to pay for LMI. Some pathways to homeownership, don't require you to pay LMI. There are also some exempt professions.

Which professions don't need to pay LMI?

  • Accounting professionals with membership to an eligible accounting institute
  • Lawyers and solicitors with a current practising certificate in Australia
  • Barristers, judges and magistrates
  • Some medical professionals, including medical practitioners, dental practitioners, Specialists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, optometrists and vets. It does not include psychologists, midwives or many other medical professionals.

For those considering an LMI waiver as part of their home loan application, it's essential to know that even without paying LMI, your interest rate will not be based upon an 80% LVR loan. You will likely be charged a higher interest rate as your total loan size is still larger than 80%. You can get the help of a mortgage broker or review the product disclosure statement or key fact sheet to confirm which interest rate you'd qualify for.

Pros and cons

Depending on your personal objectives, the value of the property you're hoping to buy and the upfront costs needed to purchase it, LMI might be suitable for your new home. A few things to consider are below.



  • It's not there to protect you. It's there to protect your home loan provider and the LMI provider.
  • It can cost tens of thousands of dollars upfront or more in home loan repayments if added to your home loan amount.

Do you have to pay LMI if you’re refinancing?

You may need to pay for LMI again. If you refinance to a different financial institution or a different lender, even with a bigger deposit, if your LVR is above 80%, you will be charged LMI again.

How Does Lender's Mortgage Insurance Affect Your Loan?

While LMI can help you access larger a home loan, it can also increase the size of your home loan if you add the cost of LMI to your home loan amount. This means over your loan term you may pay more interest.

What happens if I cannot repay my loan and my home is sold?

If you cannot meet your mortgage repayments and it cannot be resolved, your property may be sold to cover the outstanding loan amount. In case of a 'shortfall'—where the sale proceeds don't cover the outstanding loan balance—the lender would recoup this loss from their LMI policy provider. The LMI provider may then ask you, the borrower, to repay this directly to them. Australia's leading provider of LMI insurance to lenders is Genworth (now Helia).

Financial hardship

All LMI insurers have hardship policies in place. It may be possible to arrange a deferral or payment plan to help you pay off the debt in instalments.


No items found.
This article is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS), or other offer documents before making an investment decision in relation to a financial product (including a decision about whether to acquire or continue to hold).
Prepared by OwnHome Services Pty Ltd ACN 664 492 059. This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Always read the disclosure documents for products and services before deciding on a product or service, and consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice for your unique circumstances.
Start your pathway to homeownership
Make yourself at home! Log in and track your process. Or create an account in minutes and join thousands of Aussies already using OwnHome.