Insurista, the comprehensive insurance blog

Full width home advertisement

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

rental car damage and liability insurance

Understanding How Insurance Companies Classify the Honda Civic: Sports Car or Standard Vehicle?


The Honda Civic is one of the most popular and best-selling compact cars globally, known for its reliability, efficiency, and affordability. Since its introduction in 1972, over 27.5 million Civics have been sold worldwide.

With the Civic's longevity and diverse range of trims and models available, there is often confusion around whether insurance companies classify it as a regular passenger vehicle or a sports car for insurance purposes. This classification can significantly impact insurance rates, premiums, and coverage options.

Image of the backside of a black color Honda Civic Type-R on the road

This article will provide an in-depth examination of the key criteria insurance companies use to determine if a Civic should be categorized as a sports car or standard vehicle. We'll analyze how factors like engine power, design, safety ratings, and theft risk are evaluated and weighted by insurers.

Infograph about Honda Civic Type-r and Honda Civic sedan

In addition, we'll look at how aftermarket modifications can push a Civic into sports car territory and how different trims like the Civic Type R may be classified. Finally, we'll offer tips on getting the most affordable and comprehensive insurance coverage no matter how your Honda Civic is categorized.

The Origins and Evolution of the Honda Civic

To understand how insurers classify Civic models today, it's helpful to examine the original design philosophy behind the Civic and how the vehicle has evolved over time.

The first-generation Honda Civic was introduced in 1972 as an economical, fuel-efficient compact car. With a 50 HP engine and simple design, it was marketed as a practical vehicle for daily commuting rather than a powerful sports car.

Over successive generations, the Civic grew in size and adopted more powerful engine options while retaining its efficient four-cylinder layout. Performance-oriented models like the Civic Si and Civic Type R were introduced to complement the standard trims.

The tenth-generation Civic released in 2015 represented a significant leap, with sportier styling, upgraded interiors, and new turbocharged engines. The Type R trim set a new high bar for performance, with over 300 HP on tap.

While the Civic has grown more muscular and refined over the decades, the majority of models have stayed true to the original vision as sensible, economical transportation for the everyday driver.

Why Classification Matters for Insurance

Insurance companies classify vehicles like the Civic into broad categories such as minivan, sedan, truck, or sports car. This classification is important because it directly impacts insurance premiums and coverage requirements.

Sports cars are almost always more expensive to insure than standard passenger cars. Some key reasons for this include:

  • Increased risk - Sports cars tend to have high accident and theft rates, which translates to higher risk for insurers. Their powerful engines also correlate to more speeding violations and reckless driving incidents.

  • Higher repair costs - The high-performance parts and body construction materials used on sports cars are more costly to repair and replace after an accident.

  • Limited production - More rare and exotic sports car models may have parts that are expensive and difficult to source for repairs.

  • Higher vehicle value - Sports cars have higher initial vehicle value which ups the claims payout insurers may face.

For these reasons, being classified incorrectly as a sports car when your vehicle isn't one could saddle you with an unfair insurance premium markup. Understanding exactly how each insurer categorizes your Civic is crucial.

Key Criteria Insurance Companies Use for Classification

When assessing whether a vehicle crosses the threshold into sports car territory, insurers evaluate several key technical and design specifications:

Engine Power and Horsepower

One of the prime indicators of a sports car is an exceptionally powerful engine. While insurance companies don't make this cutoff and dry, a good rule of thumb is that sports cars start around 300 horsepower and go up from there.

The most powerful Civic Type R models top out at around 300 HP, so they would fall into sports car range. But standard Civic engines range from 158 HP to 180 HP, which does not stand out as a high power range in today's market.

Power-to-Weight Ratio

The power-to-weight ratio measures how much horsepower an engine produces relative to the vehicle's weight. Most dedicated sports cars have a ratio of 10 pounds per HP or less.

The Civic Type R trims have a ratio right around 10 lbs per HP, but standard Civic models are in the 15 to 16 lbs per HP range. This ratio does not put them in elite sports car company.

0-60 MPH Acceleration

Zero to 60 MPH acceleration is a shorthand way to measure the real world power and launch performance of a vehicle. While thresholds vary, sports cars generally clock 0-60 MPH times of under 5 seconds, with the most extreme examples in the 2-3 second range.

Civic models range from around 6.5 to 7.5 seconds in acceleration tests, with the Type R trims able to breach 5 seconds. This puts regular Civic trims well outside of sports car norms.

Aerodynamic Design Profile

The body design and styling of a vehicle provides visual clues to its performance capabilities. Sports cars almost universally feature enhanced aerodynamics like rear spoilers, pronounced air dams, smooth underbody shields, and tapered or rounded rears.

Here the Civic presents a mixed case. The Type R has aggressive functional aerodynamic add-ons while standard Civic models have ordinary compact car styling. The lack of dedicated aero features on most trims tips the scales away from sports car styling.

Safety Ratings

Since sports cars prioritize performance, they sometimes compromise safety aspects like crash protection and avoidance systems. Models like the Civic Type R lack options such as blind spot monitoring that are now commonplace on many family vehicles.

Meanwhile, standard Civic trims consistently earn top safety marks, like 5-star crash ratings and "Top Safety Pick" designations from the insurance industry (IIHS). This strong safety reputation aligns more closely with passenger cars than sports cars.

Theft Rates

Insurers closely track theft data for all vehicles. High-performance sports cars tend to be frequent targets for theft due to their status, styling, and lack of anti-theft measures.

Civics of all trims have very low theft rates compared to other vehicles. In fact, they are among the least stolen models year after year. Their ordinary styling and lack of ostentatious displays of performance help deter thieves.

Cost to Insure

As a proxy for all the preceding factors, insurers can look at the median cost to insure different vehicles. True high-performance sports cars have extremely expensive average premiums, sometimes $2,000 to $3,000 per year even for older models.

Data compiled by insurers shows the Civic has affordable average premiums in line with other compact econoboxes. The niche Type R is more expensive than other trims but still nowhere near the costs of insuring exotics.

How Customization and Modifications Affect Classification

Thus far, our analysis has focused on factory standard Civics. However, aftermarket modifications can transform an ordinary Civic into more of a sports car and impact how insurers classify the vehicle.

Some common performance modifications that may trigger reclassification include:

  • Engine Swaps - Putting in a larger displacement engine from a different Honda model.
  • Turbocharger or Supercharger Kits - Forced induction mods that increase horsepower.
  • ECU Tuning - Custom engine computer programming to boost power.
  • Lowered Suspension - Dropping the ride height for better handling.
  • Body Kits - Adding non-stock spoilers, splitters and diffusers.
  • Wheels/Tires - Installing sticky high-performance tires.

Heavy modification shows an intent to use the Civic for racing rather than daily driving. Insurers are likely to require proof of modifications and reclassify the car into a higher-risk tier accordingly.

How Different Trims Are Classified

Thus far, we have discussed the Civic generically. But insurance classification can vary for different trim packages:

Civic Sedans and Coupes - The standard sedan and coupe models with naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engines fall squarely into the regular passenger vehicle category. These make up the majority of Civics on the road.

Civic Hatchbacks - The sportier hatchback variants may get slightly higher insurance rates but are still unlikely to be labeled sports cars. Their power and performance stay modest.

Civic Si - The Si trims add some pep with around 200 HP turbocharged engines and sport-tuned suspensions. But their stats remain modest enough to avoid sports car status in most cases.

Civic Type R - The Type R models feature aggressive styling, upgraded brakes and suspensions, very powerful turbocharged engines, and track-ready handling. These trims are the most likely to be classified as sports cars by cautious insurers.

Hybrid Civics - Hybrid variants like the Civic Hybrid and Civic IMA use special powertrains aimed at fuel efficiency over performance. They maintain very standard vehicle ratings for insurance purposes.

Older Civics - Even older Civic Si and Type R models from the 1990s are unlikely to receive sports car ratings due to their low power levels compared to today's models. Their age is also a mitigating factor.

Getting the Best Insurance Rates for Your Civic

Now that we've examined how insurers classify and rate Civics, how can you secure the best insurance coverage at reasonable rates? Here are our top tips:

Shop Multiple Insurers - Take the time to get quotes from several major insurers. Sports car classification and rates can vary significantly between providers for the same Civic. Cast a wide net.

Emphasize Safety Features - Many Civic models come loaded with active safety tech like automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist. Highlight these to insurers.

Check Discounts - Ask each insurer about all applicable discounts like good driver, student, safe driver programs, and multi-policy bundles. These can quickly lower your premiums.

Raise Deductibles - Accepting higher deductibles of $500 or $1000 can substantially reduce monthly payments. Just be sure you have savings to cover the out-of-pocket costs in a claim.

Drop Unnecessary Coverage - On older Civics, dropping collision and comprehensive coverage (which covers theft and some disasters) can save money without sacrificing necessary liability protection.

Check Usage-Based Options - Many insurers now offer usage-based policies using telematics or an app to measure driving habits. These can yield significant discounts for safe Civic drivers.

Provide Modification Details - If your Civic has aftermarket modifications, being upfront about them with insurers can help avoid issues down the road. They may require an inspection.

Which Civics Are Considered Sports Cars?

Given this analysis of classification criteria and insurance consequences, which Honda Civics are most likely to be labeled sports cars by insurers?

Here is a quick rundown:

  • Civic Type R trims - Very likely due to high power, performance, theft risk
  • Heavily modified Civics - Probable if major mods like engine swaps are made
  • Civic Si trims - Possible depending on insurer, but usually stay standard
  • Other standard Civics - Very unlikely to be considered sports cars

The Type R and heavily altered Civics are decidedly in sports car territory for insurers. Standard models should have little trouble qualifying for ordinary passenger car ratings, even the hatchback and Si trims.


Most Honda Civics, even those with mild performance enhancements, will avoid being classified as sports cars by auto insurers. Factors like modest power, high safety ratings, low theft risk, and affordable average claim costs work in favor of the standard Civic.

However, high-performance variants like the Type R and customized street racers may receive the sports car designation and higher resulting rates. Carefully researching how each insurer categorizes your exact Civic can ensure you aren't overpaying for coverage.

Understanding sports car classification nuances allows Civic owners to confidently find insurance policies with suitable coverage levels at the best available pricing. By following our tips and conducting thorough comparison shopping, drivers can feel secure their vehicle has adequate protection at reasonable rates no matter how insurers classify it.

Sources: Car Insurance OSVehicle Car and Driver Automobiles Honda

Other readers were also interested in the following articles:

The Top 6 Most Expensive Luxury Cars to Insure in 2023

What is the cheapest luxury car to insure? Save Money Now!

Luxury Car Insurance Rates Explained

No comments:

Post a Comment

Bottom Ad [Post Page]

Enter URL:
Powered by: