A government crackdown on uninsured drivers has been welcomed by insurers keen to see tough penalties for the crime.

The AA, Zurich and the ABI led calls to use an independent review of UK motor insurance to tackle the £500m cost of accidents involving uninsured drivers.

The figure equates to an additional £30 per year being added to the cost of an average motor policy, which AA Insurance Services managing director Andrew Briscoe described as an unacceptable burden.

He said: "There are around one in 20 drivers without the basic legal requirement of third party insurance. They have become a plague on the normal, law-abiding drivers who take the financial brunt in the event of an accident.

"Better enforcement and a significant increase in the penalty for uninsured driving would be a welcome first step."

Under new legislation, a £200 fixed penalty is incurred for driving without insurance - less than half the average motor premium of £500 per year.

Analysts suggest this is one of the reasons why uninsured driving is running at 5% in the UK compared to 2% in the Netherlands and just 1% in Germany.

But the Department for Transport review, to be carried by Professor David Greenaway of Nottingham University, will take in more than just motoring legislation.

Over the next six months Greenaway will consider a range topics including the principle of insuring the car rather than the driver - a switch that could cost the industry millions in system redesign and paperwork.