Are you breaking the law?

If your unused car is sitting in the driveway gathering dust and uninsured, you may think you are doing nothing wrong.

However, legislation introduced last year - Continuous Insurance Enforcement - states that unless your car is declared officially 'off the road,' you could land yourself a fine of up to £1,000 and your vehicle could even be seized and destroyed.

We take a look at the measures and see what they mean for you and aim to help you find out where you can perform a car insurance check...

What is Continuous Insurance Enforcement?

Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) came into force to clamp down on uninsured drivers. This growing problem currently costs the car industry £500 million - with law abiding citizens ultimately picking up the shortfall by paying higher premiums.

It was once the case that only uninsured drivers on the road were breaking the law, but this law ensures that even stationary vehicles without insurance are forbidden.

Under the new system, the Motor Insurance Database (the UK's central record of motor insurance) and the DVLA are working together; comparing their records to identify offending vehicles.

What are the penalties if my car is uninsured?

If you are found to be keeping a car that doesn't have insurance, the first step of the process is that you will be sent an Insurance Advisory letter by the Mot or Insurers' Bureau with a warning that a fine will ensue unless action is taken. 

If this is ignored, you will receive a fixed penalty notice of £100 and the possibility of your vehicle being clamped, seized and disposed of along with a court prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

How can I check if my car is insured?

It is very simple to check if your car is insured or not. Just go to and enter your vehicle registration number. This is the Motor Insurance Database which holds information about every vehicle on the road in the UK. This database is also used by the police to identify uninsured vehicles.

Are there any exemptions?

The only exemption is if you have officially declared your car to be off the road by informing the DVLA and making a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). To do this you will need to return your tax disc to the DVLA on a V14 form and declare SORN at the same time. The only other exemptions are if the car has been stolen or recorded scrapped.

How can I avoid a penalty?

To avoid a penalty you need to either insure your vehicle immediately, notify the DVLA that you are no longer the registered keeper or, as above, make a SORN. If you don't do this you face at least a £100 penalty.

Get cheaper car insurance

While car insurance is still a considerable expense, surely it is better to pay for it than to ending up with a large fine, a court prosecution and no car due to it being destroyed.

It is possible, however, to make huge savings by simply shopping around and comparing policies to make sure you're getting the most for your money. Go to our money saving tips page to find more ways of lowering the cost of this unavoidable expense.

†82% of shoppers obtained a quote in 5 minutes or less. Source eDigitalResearch December 2012.