Many people want to know what the best way to "get rid" of mortgage insurance -- either Private Mortgage Insurance (often referred to as PMI) or FHA Mortgage Insurance (acts just like PMI, but payments are made to HUD, not a private mortgage insurance company).
If you want to avoid PMI altogether, you must put 20% down when you purchase the property. In the recent past, many times people would get a 2nd mortgage for that 20%, but many lenders have done away with "piggyback" loans -- so more people are now buying homes and paying the PMI because they were not putting 20% down.
If you only put 5% down and are now wondering "at what point am I able to get rid of PMI" the answer is that when you reach a point where you think you have 20% equity in your property, you should contact your mortgage servicer. They will be able to tell you what their requirements are for "getting rid of PMI" and will usually send you a package of instructions that involve getting an appraisal and completing some forms.
Because the process is different between lenders, you need to speak with your current mortgage servicer to be sure. There is also a chance that they will drop the PMI automatically, but I rarely see that happen.
When dropping PMI, the factors that your lender will consider are the current value of your home and if you've made your mortgage payments on time. Be sure not to spend the money on ordering an appraisal to determine your property value until you have spoken with your lender about the process.
If you have an FHA loan -- two things must happen in order to cancel mortgage insurance -- the UFMIP account must be depleted completely (this takes 60 months from when you took out your loan) and you must have paid down the principal to 78% of your original loan balance. FHA monthly mortgage insurance does not take in to account any property appreciation that may have occured.