Do I need to pay mortgage insurance when refinancing?

When refinancing in Australia, whether you need to pay mortgage insurance, specifically Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), depends primarily on your Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR). If your new loan's LVR exceeds 80%, you will likely need to pay LMI, even if you had already paid it on your original loan, as it does not transfer between loans. To avoid LMI, you can increase your home equity, improve your credit score, or look for lenders offering special deals that might waive LMI under certain conditions.

Refinancing a mortgage is a common financial move for homeowners looking to secure better interest rates, reduce monthly payments, or access equity. However, an important consideration during this process is mortgage insurance. Understanding whether you need to pay mortgage insurance when refinancing in Australia can significantly impact your financial decisions. This article explores the nuances of mortgage insurance in the context of refinancing, helping you navigate this complex aspect of home finance.

What is Mortgage Insurance?

Mortgage insurance, specifically Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), is designed to protect the lender in the event that a borrower defaults on their loan. In Australia, LMI is typically required when a borrower has a Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR) above 80%. This means if your deposit is less than 20% of the property's value, the lender will require you to take out LMI. The cost of LMI can be substantial, often adding thousands of dollars to the loan amount, which is why it's crucial to understand its implications.

Mortgage Insurance and Refinancing

When refinancing, the requirement for mortgage insurance depends on several factors. If your new loan has an LVR above 80%, you will likely need to pay LMI, even if you paid it on your original loan. This is because LMI is specific to each loan and does not transfer between loans. However, if your LVR is below 80%, you generally won’t need to pay LMI on the refinanced loan. It's important to compare the terms of your original loan with the refinanced loan to understand the implications for mortgage insurance.

Higher equity can reduce the need for LMI. If your property has appreciated in value or you've paid down a significant portion of your mortgage, your LVR may be lower. A strong credit score and solid financial history can sometimes influence lender decisions. While it doesn't typically negate the need for LMI, it can affect loan terms and interest rates.

Cost of Mortgage Insurance When Refinancing

The cost of LMI varies based on the loan amount and the LVR. LMI premiums can range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. These costs are usually added to the total loan amount, increasing your debt. It’s important to calculate these costs when considering refinancing, as they can impact the overall benefit of refinancing your mortgage.

How to Avoid Paying Mortgage Insurance When Refinancing

To avoid paying LMI when refinancing, consider increasing your home equity by making additional repayments to reduce the loan amount or waiting for property values to increase. Improving your credit score can also enhance your eligibility for better loan terms and potentially lower the LVR threshold for requiring LMI. Additionally, explore other refinancing options and look for lenders offering special deals or options that might waive LMI under certain conditions. Some lenders might have products that cater to specific borrower profiles, reducing the need for LMI.


Understanding the intricacies of mortgage insurance is essential when refinancing in Australia. Whether you need to pay LMI depends on factors like your LVR, equity, and financial history. By increasing your equity, improving your credit score, and considering different refinancing options, you can potentially avoid the costs associated with mortgage insurance. Carefully evaluating these aspects will help you make informed decisions, ensuring a smoother refinancing process and better financial outcomes. To get started with refinancing, or to find out more, it's a good idea to speak to a top mortgage broker, who will assist you free of charge.

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