Also, if you pay insurance upfront independently of the lending company, you will be expected to do so for your property taxes also.
Escrow accounts are set up to guarantee to the lender that the property will be insured and taxes will be paid. The lender does not make money off of your escrow -- they simply divide your tax bill and insurance quote by 12 and add that to your monthly note.
Your mortgage company should be able to answer all of these questions for you. If you feel like you are being underserved, please give me a call.
Do you want to pay it each year up front on your own and not escrowed?
You can, but sometimes a mortgage company will have you take a hit in the rate (raise the rate), they would rather you escrow it, but it should be an option with your loan, but not every loan is the same. Have you asked your mortgage company?