Mortgage Insurance and Protection Choices - Protecting Your Home and Family

Mortgage insurance or mortgage protection seems like it can mean more than one thing to the average consumer. I want to save people time and money, and also to make sure they find the right products that will help them feel more secure with a large investment like a home.

Many people think of private mortgage insurance (PMI). This product is usually required by lenders if the homeowner still owes more than 80% on their house. The proceeds are paid to the lender in the event that the borrower cannot make payments. It does protect the lender, but was not designed to provide protection to the homeowner. It can usually be avoided by making sure that you, as a homeowner, owe less than 80% of the value of your home. Sometimes this product is also called lender's mortgage insurance.

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Another popular product is mortgage life insurance. These are term life policies that have a face value or death benefit that will cover the mortgage balance. The benefit will be paid to the policy beneficiaries upon the death of the insured person. Sometimes these policies also have disability or critical illness riders (options) to make them more flexible.

A popular option is the Return of Premium rider (ROP) which will pay the policy owner back the premiums paid in the event the term expires, and the insurance is not collected. For instance, a mortgage life policy may have a 20 year term and a $50 a month premium. If the insured person survives the policy, they can get back a check for $50 times 12 months times 20 years, or $6,000.

Term life policies are popular and affordable ways to cover mortgages in the event of a homeowner's death, and his or her loss of income to the family. However, many of us realize we are more likely to be unemployed than to die in the course of paying off our mortgage. A new and popular US product is called layoff protection or private unemployment protection.

Layoff protection plans pay a cash benefit to the plan member in the event ot a layoff. This money can be used to keep bills current, and is in addition to any state unemployment benefits they are entitled to. It is extra security that a mortgage or rent bill can be paid, loans can be kept current, and other bills can be paid in the event of temporary unemployment.

A final product that most homeowners seek is homeowner's insurance. This is property insurance, intended to cover the actual building in the event of damage. It may also provide liability coverage in case another person is injured on the property.

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