The family of late millionaire businessman Matthew Harding, who died in a helicopter crash three years ago, has launched a £500,000 claim in the high court.

Mr Harding, 42, a director and benefactor of Chelsea football club, was travelling to attend a match with Bolton Wanderers when his helicopter crashed in Cheshire. In July 1998 a High Court judge ruled that under the terms of his insurance policy his family was not eligible for compensation.

The businessman was insured under a group travel policy issued by his own broking firm Benfield, of which he was chairman.

However the policy's underwriters are disputing liability. They claim that Mr Harding had been travelling privately to the Bolton Wanderers football match, whereas he was only covered while travelling on Benfield business.

William Wood QC representing the Harding family at the high court last week, said the policy did not restrict cover to travel solely on Benfield's behalf.

He asserted the policy did not exclude trips made either on the insured person's behalf or for purposes unrelated to Benfield.

Mr Wood claimed that Mr Harding's fateful last flight was a business trip since he had arranged to meet a prospective business client.

Harding is believed to have amassed a personal fortune of £150m after spearheading a management buyout of Benfield and becoming its chairman in 1988. He went on to take the small broking business into the highly profitable re-insurance sector.

Harding it is said, committed more than £26m to Chelsea, becoming its vice-chairman in 1995, to the club's chairman Ken Bates. The case is set to continue.