Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the higher premiums they tend to face for car cover, 18 to 34 year-olds are the worst culprits.

Some 29% of this age group admit to driving a vehicle they weren’t insured to, compared to just 6% of the over 55s.

Incredibly, however, almost one in five of those who held their hands up to driving without insurance said it was because they, ‘didn’t know they needed cover’ to get behind the wheel.

But driving without insurance is not only illegal – it could leave you facing a massive bill, or even bankruptcy, if you are involved in an accident.

What’s more, uninsured drivers cost the industry £500million each year, adding an average of £30 to every single motorist’s premium.

Peter Harrison, head of car insurance at MoneySupermarket, said: “Year on year we are still seeing a worrying number of drivers prepared to hit the road without insurance.

“It is illegal to get behind the wheel without adequate cover and should you be involved in a crash when not insured you could face thousands of pounds in liability, a conviction including six points on your license as well as charges of up to £5,000.”

Fortunately, you can find affordable cover, and avoid a potential conviction, by shopping around and using our top tips to reduce your premiums.

Abide by the law

The 2006 Road Safety Act included a new Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) 3 clause.

It states that anyone who is registered as the owner of a vehicle, which is not registered as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification), must have valid car insurance to avoid a penalty.

If you have a car that is taken on the road, no matter how infrequently, insurance of some kind is therefore obligatory.

Shop around for the best deal

The cost of car insurance has risen in recent years – and this trend shows no signs of abating.

From December 2012, a European Court of Justice ruling will outlaw the practice of discriminating by gender when calculating insurance premiums.

Female drivers – who currently pay less for cover than their male counterparts – will probably experience much higher premiums as a result, while male drivers are unlikely to see significant reductions.

And that makes it all the more vital to shop around for the best cover at the lowest price.

“The rising cost of motoring makes it crucial to ensure you aren’t paying over the odds,” Harrison said.

“The average saving using MoneySupermarket is £375, so I urge everyone to do their research and not automatically accept their renewal without checking there isn’t a better alternative.”

Improve your vehicle security

All security improvements should help to lower your car insurance costs.

In fact, some insurers will insist on sophisticated tracking devices before agreeing to insure particularly valuable vehicles.

So fit an approved alarm and immobiliser, such as a Thatcham 1 or Thatcham 2, and watch the cheaper insurance quotes roll in.

Increase your excess

The excess is the amount you agree to pay towards any claim before your insurance kicks in.

Raising the excess you are prepared to pay should therefore help to reduce your premiums, as the insurer will only have to pay out should the total repairs cost more than £500, rather than £300, for example.

Remember, though, that you will have to find this sum at short notice should an accident happen. You should only increase the excess up to amount that you can afford to pay as a result.

Many people are coming unstuck however and raising the excess to more than they can afford, as Mark Hooson explores in his article, Can you afford your excess?

Check your mileage

The number of miles you clock up can have an impact on the size of your premium, so it is important not to overestimate your mileage.

If, for example, you change jobs and have a shorter commute to work, it is a good idea to factor this in when renewing your cover.

Don’t be tempted to lie about your mileage to get cheaper insurance, though, as any inaccuracies on your application could result in claims being rejected.

Minimise optional extras

Extras, such as a courtesy car while yours is being repaired, or cover for legal expenses, will push up your overall premium.

Consequently, it is only worth adding these to your policy if you really need them.

As with a higher excess, the lower the cost to the insurer should you be involved in an accident, the cheaper your cover will be.

Watch where you park

More than 50% of vehicle thefts occur at night, so keeping your car parked in a locked garage overnight will generally help reduce your premiums.

If you don’t have access to a garage, then try to at least park it on a driveway where vandalism, theft and accidental damage is less likely to occur.

Consider Pass Plus

The highest insurance premiums are often reserved for new drivers with little experience.

One way to reduce the cost is to take Driving Standards Agency's Pass Plus course, which is intended to enhance the driving skills of newly qualified motorists, within a year of passing your test.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.