Best Underwriting Agency is warning schools to check that they are not breaching recent changes to the Data Protection Act (DPA) when processing insurance claims.

Amendments to the act last year ensured sensitive personal data could not be passed on to third parties without explicit permission from the person concerned.

The amendments came into effect on March 1.

Sensitive personal data is defined as information on a person's race, their political or religious beliefs, sexual orientation and, most importantly, physical or mental health.

Best managing director Gary Salter said that teachers in England took more than 2.5 million days of sick leave in 1999, details of which could be provided to insurers before the DPA changes, but could not be shared now.

“It's important that all those involved in school budgets are aware of the implications of the revised act, and that schools are aware they can be held liable, as can local education authorities (LEA), for being in breach,” Salter said.

“Without obtaining the consent of an individual, a school or LEA could be fined.”