Individuals & Families

Mortgage Insurance vs. Individual Life Insurance: What's Best for Homeowners? (2024)

Garrett Agencies Team
March 9, 2024
5 min read

When purchasing a new home or refinancing a mortgage, homeowners are often faced with a decision: should they opt for mortgage life insurance or an individual life insurance policy? Both options offer a safety net for families in the event of the borrower's death, but they come with distinct differences that can significantly impact financial planning and family security. This article delves into the essence of both, evaluating their pros and cons, and explains why Individual Life Insurance, especially Term Life Insurance, often emerges as the preferable choice for most Canadians.

What is Mortgage Life Insurance?

Mortgage Life Insurance is a specialized insurance product designed to pay off your remaining mortgage balance in the event of your death. This type of insurance is directly tied to your mortgage, meaning its sole purpose is to ensure that your family or dependents won't have to bear the financial burden of the mortgage payments after you're gone.

Pros of Mortgage Life Insurance:

  • Simplicity and Ease of Approval: Often, obtaining Mortgage Life Insurance doesn't require a medical exam, making the approval process straightforward and accessible for many homeowners.
  • Direct Payment to Lender: In the event of the policyholder's death, the insurance payout goes directly to the mortgage lender, clearing the outstanding mortgage balance.

Cons of Mortgage Life Insurance:

  • Decreasing Value: As you pay down your mortgage over time, the potential payout of the insurance decreases, although your premiums generally remain the same.
  • Lack of Flexibility: The benefit is strictly used to pay off the mortgage, leaving no room for other financial needs or debts.
  • Tied to Mortgage: If you switch lenders or pay off your mortgage, the policy ends, offering no further benefits.

What is Individual Life Insurance?

Individual Life Insurance, on the other hand, provides a death benefit to the named beneficiaries upon the policyholder's death, which can be used for any purpose, including but not limited to paying off a mortgage, covering living expenses, or funding education. This type of insurance offers more flexibility and control over the insurance benefits.

Pros of Individual Life Insurance:

  • Flexibility: Beneficiaries can use the death benefit for any financial needs, not just the mortgage.
  • Fixed Premiums and Benefits: The coverage amount, and premiums remain constant throughout the term of the policy.
  • Portability: The policy is not tied to your mortgage, so coverage continues regardless of changes to your mortgage or property.

Cons of Individual Life Insurance:

  • Underwriting Process: Obtaining coverage may require a medical exam and a comprehensive application process, which could be a hurdle for some.
  • Separate Payment: Premiums are not bundled with mortgage payments, requiring separate management.

Why Individual Life Insurance is Generally Preferable

For most Canadians, Individual Life Insurance is often the more advantageous choice due to its flexibility, consistency, and the broader scope of coverage. Unlike Mortgage Life Insurance, which diminishes in value and is limited to covering the mortgage, Individual Life Insurance provides a stable and versatile safety net that can address a wide range of financial obligations and goals.

Types of Individual Life Insurance Available

Individual Life Insurance comes in various forms, each with its unique features and benefits:

  • Term Life Insurance: This type of life insurance is designed for those seeking straightforward, temporary coverage. It provides protection for a predetermined period, such as 10, 20, or 30 years, making it an ideal choice for individuals looking to cover specific financial responsibilities like a mortgage or education expenses for their children. The premiums and death benefit amount are fixed, ensuring predictability in costs and coverage. Due to its simplicity and affordability, Term Life Insurance is often recommended for most Canadians as a basic form of life protection.
  • Whole Life Insurance: Unlike Term Life, Whole Life Insurance extends coverage throughout the entirety of the policyholder's life, guaranteeing a death benefit no matter when the policyholder passes away. One of the key advantages of Whole Life Insurance is the accumulation of cash value over time, a portion of your premium payments that grows at a guaranteed rate. Policyholders can borrow against this cash value, offering a source of funds for future needs. This feature, combined with lifelong coverage, makes Whole Life Insurance a suitable option for those looking for a combination of life insurance and a long-term savings vehicle.
  • Universal Life Insurance: For those seeking flexibility in their life insurance, Universal Life Insurance stands out as a valuable tool. It allows policyholders to adjust their premiums and death benefits within certain limits, adapting to changing financial circumstances over time. This type of insurance also includes a cash value component, which can grow based on the performance of selected investment options. Universal Life Insurance is ideal for individuals who wish to have more control over their insurance policy and take advantage of potential investment growth, all while ensuring they have the necessary life coverage.

Why Term Life Insurance is Generally Best for Most Canadians

Term Life, Whole Life, and Universal Life Insurance each serve as distinct instruments, designed to cater to varying financial and personal circumstances. The most appropriate choice among these options hinges on an individual's specific needs, goals, and life stage.

That said, Term Life Insurance is often the best fit for most Canadians due to its simplicity, affordability, and adequate coverage for a defined period, typically aligning with the years of highest financial obligation, such as raising children or paying off a mortgage. It provides a significant death benefit at a lower cost compared to Whole or Universal Life Insurance, making it an efficient way to ensure financial security for your beneficiaries.

A professional insurance advisor can assist in evaluating the most appropriate life insurance for you based on your unique personal circumstances.


Navigating the choice between Mortgage Life Insurance and Individual Life Insurance requires a consideration of your financial goals, obligations, and the needs of your dependents. While Mortgage Life Insurance offers a straightforward and convenient solution for covering your mortgage, Individual Life Insurance, particularly Term Life Insurance, provides a more comprehensive and flexible approach to financial protection. With its ability to cover a broad range of financial needs and its cost-effectiveness, Term Life Insurance stands out as the preferred choice for securing the financial well-being of most Canadian families.

Understanding the available insurance options and making informed decisions can significantly impact your family's financial future. Consulting with an insurance advisor can provide personalized insights and guidance tailored to your unique circumstances.

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