Homeowners Insurance and Mortgage Escrow

Homeowners Insurance and Mortgage Escrow


Often it is raised the question if one should accept paying homeowners insurance along with a mortgage, or prefer doing that separately.

And what exactly private mortgage insurance is? Well, let’s define the answers.

Insurance on mortgage, alias said Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is different from the home insurance payment included in your mortgage. PMI isn’t addressed directly to borrowers, but protects lenders from clients who might be impeded to pay: if you haven’t stipulated a home policy yet, it will be an obligation for you as a homeowner. Typically, it comes into play when you can’t make a down payment above 20% of your mortgage total. In both cases, its purpose is acting as a guarantee for the lender investment, toward its possible loss. Once you have paid that percentage, you will then ask to remove it. PMI usually corresponds to a portion of your mortgage payment plus principal, interests, and fees, and is generally included and required as part of the escrow.


What actually an escrow is?


Basically, if you decide to include home insurance in your mortgage, you are making an escrow: this is a dedicated account from which your mortgage lender withdraws the money, then make the payments of insurance monthly installments, along with property taxes for you. The amount of escrow is 1/12 of the estimated annual insurance premium plus all the other expenses. It can also comprehend flood insurance, depending on the lender.

Most of the credit institutions provide a clause where your escrow conditions are stated.

If escrowing is a requirement for mortgage approval depends on lenders, however, it is a preferred and wanted option for most, since it serves as a warranty there will be no missed payments on your property, which is de facto financially managed by the lending company. On the other hand, there are cases when escrowing may become obliged: that is generally when you haven’t made at least a 20% down payment (a condition that imposes PMI), or when you have a fair or bad credit score, which means below 669 (respectively 580-669 and below 580). Another situation is when you are getting an FHA loan, that will request escrowing.

But if you aren’t bound to these conditions, you have the freedom to choose and it is worth evaluating the pros and cons of putting your home insurance into this special account. Ultimately, you want to make sure being covered all the time, should anything happen to your most valuable asset.


When escrowing home insurance is better


Considering a unique fund for insurance, mortgage, and property taxes is meant to be advantageous for both borrowers and lenders.

It is, by all means, the best option if you are more than other things about easing your mind from a further monthly payment (the home insurance installments) on your own, while lenders don’t have to worry about your compliance.

Automatic withdrawals will take care of on-time payments, and will avoid missed coverage and prospective liens. Adjustments will be also be made inside the account to cover potential shortages due, for instance, to fluctuating tax bills. In a nutshell, if one of the components of escrow is in deficit (in our example funds aimed at property taxes) the others will provisionally compensate.

Transparency: everything you paid is shown to you through an annual report, and if anything changes in the timespan, like ongoing needs to increase your funds, you will be advised on the fly.

Overcoming budget management and liability issues in the long-term: if you foresee that keeping up with multiple recurring payments will be troublesome, then create the account and your lender will do the hard work for you. Potential late payment of insurance and taxes will be attributed to the lender, and he will take charge of penalties.

You might get a lower interest rate on a mortgage, which leads you to save thousands of dollars after several years.

The annual premium along with taxes and mortgage rates are diluted in 12 months, instead of being paid as a unique fat sum at the end of the year. If you bring a high premium due to your residence location, then you may be overwhelmed by suddenly facing say a $2,000 or greater expense.


When paying home insurance aside is better


This is a more viable option for several reasons:

  • You want to hold more liquidity: the money you put into escrow is frozen, and can’t be accessed to until is there. If you are a good saver or investor, you may not like the fact your dollars are handled by a third party.
  • By the time, overages will generate and you won’t have any return from the accrued interests, that your creditor will benefit from instead. Although some states are required by law to return some of those interests to you, this might be sub-optimal for your financial situation and preferences.
  • Don’t have to make the up-front payment for setting up the escrow account: opening such a financial account demand to pay a lump sum in advance, which generally corresponds to the first months of property taxes.
  • Getting out of escrow is tricky and comes with substantial fees, known as waivers.

Should you pay homeowners insurance up-front or at closing?


Pre-payment of your first year of homeowner’s insurance is required from most lenders, in order to consider closing a mortgage. That is proof you already have coverage on their asset of investment. And you can decide to pay this amount either in advance by a unique sum, or at closing in monthly stretched rates. One of the other alternatives has its advantages and drawbacks.

When you pay up-front, you essentially have the benefit to save on the long-term, in fact, your insurance premium installments will be out of escrow, and aren’t subject to closing costs, which are fees applying to the entire amount deposited. If you can afford to pay all at once, this is the recommended option. Beware if you are using a credit card to make the payment: your mortgage lender will take into account that is borrowed money, and if your credit will result in a deficit, the loan might get complicated, something you want to avoid; your best choice is likely using bank funds, instead.

If you opt for paying home insurance at closing, you will be comfortable in the short-term, because that expense is spread out in 12 months, however, the closing costs will affect the total of installments, and figure as percentages of 1%, 2% up to 5% of the home loan. At the end of the year, you will have spent more, but if financial stress relief is your priority, this may be the way to go.