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For the Realm: 10 Popular 'Game of Thrones' Characters, Ranked By Life Insurance Risk Like Cersei, Daenerys or Jon Snow, you may need life insurance benefits for your loved ones. Except, if Khaleesi dies, who pays out the dragons' benefit?

By Phil Murphy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Never mind the fact that spring has sprung across the North American Continent ... Winter is coming. Winter is here.

If you're a Game of Thrones fan and you live (in your imagination at least) on the continent of Westeros, you know the energy that that-now familiar phrase got with last Sunday's highly anticipated premiere of the final season of this HBO megahit. "Winter is coming" signals the swift and terrifying advance of the White Walkers and their servant-zombie "wights."

And that ... Could. Be. Bad.

Related: How Apple's March 25 Announcement Looks a Lot Like 'The Game of Thrones'

That's why, as the final series began, I took a stab (see what I did there?) at assessing the risk of fans' favorite -- and most loathed -- characters to estimate what their life insurance policy would be/should be as long as they're still alive and kicking (or sword fighting or plotting) at Winterfell, Castle Black, King's Landing or at whichever of the Seven Kingdom castles they presently reside.

We all know that when you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die, and our fan-attachment to certain characters has been and will continue to be problematic (Ned Stark's death in Season One still pains us).

So, the folks from the Seven Kings had best take care: Whether death seems imminent from a wedding gone red or a fire-breathing dragon careening their way, these characters would be wise to have a life insurance policy. We clearly learned this when the Stark parents left their children on their own to fight for the family home, Winterfell.

While the world of George R. R. Martin is purely fictional, let's see what would happen if some of the most popular Game of Thrones characters were to apply for life insurance and what policy they need -- considering the lengthy record of unexpected deaths chalked up to date. As a VP of underwriting in my professional life, I offer herein a list of GOT characters, ranked highest to lowest for their risk of death ...

1. Cersei Lannister

Estimated age: 43

Occupation: Queen and Protector of the Realm

Beneficiaries: Unborn fourth child (maybe), via Jaime

Most of her beneficiaries have violently died, but now that she's pregnant again (she hints), she has the biggest life insurance need. A Lannister always pays his or her debts, and a life insurance policy will act as one form of financial protection to help Cersei's unborn child repay the debts of the realm (assuming the Queen lives to give birth).

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Of course, that policy is going to be pricey given that there is a prophecy saying Cersei will eventually be murdered (and is on Arya's list, who is 64 for 64). She'd need to opt for a term life insurance policy, meaning she'd pay a fixed amount for a fixed period of time. If anything happens to her during that time, her child will have the gold needed to thrive.

Takeaway: If you have debt, children, a spouse, or loved ones who would experience financial hardship as a result of your death, you need life insurance.

2. Jaime Lannister, a.k.a. "The Kingslayer"

Estimated age: 43

Occupation: Lord Commander of the Kingsguard

Beneficiaries: Unborn fourth child, via Cersei

Before Jaime lost his hand, he seemed unkillable. So, now that he's defenseless, with a martyr's mentality and a potential fourth child on the way, he should definitely get a term life insurance policy. He'll be looking at a costly premium, considering his battle track record -- he's higher risk than before he got that golden hand.

Takeaway: Life insurance isn't just for the breadwinner of the family. Both parents provide invaluable support to their family, and a term life insurance policy will ensure that your loved ones are financially protected.

3. Jon Snow

Estimated Age: 22

Occupation: King of the North

Beneficiaries: Sansa, Bran, Arya

Jon Snow knows nothing and will dive headfirst into a dangerous situation without a second thought. Since he has the apparent ability to be resurrected, Jon would benefit from a Return of Premium rider -- a policy add-on that returns the premiums paid if the insured outlives the term of the policy.

Takeaway: If you die during the "term" of the policy, your beneficiary gets the money. If you outlive your policy, it simply expires -- or in some cases, you can pay a little more to ensure premiums are paid back.

4. Tyrion Lannister

Estimated age: 39

Occupation: Hand of the Queen of Dragons

Beneficiaries: None

His life insurance risk wouldn't be acceptable: Tyrion is most likely of all the characters to fail a driving-while-impaired blood test, and if the blood test doesn't trip up his application for life insurance, a prescription drug check certainly would. He's too high-risk for a policy due to his lifestyle choices. (And he's an illustration of why it's good to get a policy when you're healthy). That said, whom would he want to leave the money to anyway?

Takeaway: Bad health means a low chance of getting approved, and if you are approved, your policy will come at a cost. It's important to consider one while you're healthy to save money and avoid the chances a denial.

5. Arya Stark

Estimated age: 18

Occupation: Faceless assassin

Beneficiaries: Sansa, Bran, Jon Snow

A girl has no name -- but she is one of the deadliest characters on the show. Arya has a high probability of finding herself (or deliberately putting herself) into a risky situation (or situations). She's also most likely to commit fraud and her body would likely not even be found, which would be a nightmare for the claims department. However, there's no clear way for anyone to know these things. That's why, since she's young and healthy, she could lock in a term life insurance policy. Let's just hope her insurer has good identity verification.

Takeaway: How much you'll pay for your term life insurance policy depends mostly on your age, health status and how much money you want your beneficiaries to get when you die. When you're young and healthy, it's the most cost-effective way to ensure your family's protection.

6. Daenerys Targaryen

Estimated Age: 22

Occupation: First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons

Beneficiaries: Her two (living) dragons

She walks through fire and rides dragons as her primary mode of transportation, so she would be most likely to receive an "aviation exclusion" rider -- meaning her policy would be voided if she died in a dragon-related accident (but we're certain that won't happen).

If you think of Daenerys's empire as a business, she'd be a prime candidate for Key Man (or Key Person) Life Insurance, a type of life insurance that covers financial losses for an organization that occurs upon the death of a key leader. This helps ensure the continuity of the business for everyone who has a stake in its success.

Takeaway: Jobs that put you at a higher risk of death will impact the cost and availability to you of life insurance.

7. Brienne of Tarth

Estimated Age: 39

Occupation: Warrior of House Tarth, former member of Renley's Rainbow Guard

Beneficiaries: Arya and Sansa (because she promised Catelyn she'd protect them)

Brienne is one of the most likable characters, so she'll probably be one of the first to die. That's beside the point -- she has proven herself multiple times to be one of the strongest warriors in Westeros and is lower in risk compared to that of her fellow fighters. However, she's anything but risk-averse, so her premium for a term policy wouldn't be cheap.

Takeaway: With term life insurance, there are no restrictions or laws about whom you can name as beneficiary and how many beneficiaries you choose.

8. Sansa Stark

Estimated Age: 20

Occupation: Lady of Winterfell

Beneficiaries: Arya, Bran, Jon Snow

Sansa has grown into a force to be reckoned with in the North. Both fans of the show and other characters have underestimated Sansa for the whole series (Ramsay Bolton probably did before his dogs ate him). So we're not betting against her now. She's young, looks after herself and has no desire to confront her enemies in battle. She'd get a solid term policy at a low cost, if she felt it necessary to leave something behind for her sister.

Takeaway: People who decide to buy a term-life insurance policy while they are healthy and young may pay the least amount per month in premiums for a sizable policy amount. Other types of life insurance are more expensive.

9. Sam Tarly

Estimated Age: 25

Occupation: Maester-in-training

Beneficiaries: Gilly, Little Sam

Sam now has a family to worry about. Since he's generally risk-averse and holed up in libraries, he'd be a good candidate for an affordable term-life insurance policy. Term-life insurance is made for people like Sam -- someone who has a family or other loved ones who depend on him, and wants a safety net in the event that something unfortunate occurs.

Takeaway: Term-life insurance isn't an investment. The straightforward nature of the policy means that it is good for only one thing, and that's providing a death benefit to your loved ones in the event of your death.

10. The Night King

Estimated Age: Who the heck knows? Myths are over 8,000 years old -- and he was one of the "First Men"

Occupation: Leader of the White Walkers

Beneficiaries: None

Takeaway: You shouldn't take out life insurance when you don't need it.

There's no need for the Night King to have life insurance (how would his fellow undead even benefit?). Besides, he has no pulse and wouldn't pass an exam.

Related: Top Ten Reasons Why Investment In Life Insurance Is A Good Idea

Overall, term life insurance policies make sense for most characters (and people). They are the most cost-effective insurance category compared to permanent life policies and are simple and straightforward. Here is a full guide of all types of life insurance policies to continue your education.

So, with the threat of the White Walkers looming and leaders like Cersei as unpredictable as ever, we wish all of our favorite characters the very best ... but hope they have their affairs in order. To the King of the North!

Note: All pricing and assumptions are based on the general population of the Seven Kingdoms.

Phil Murphy

VP of Insurance, Ethos Life

Phil Murphy is insurance lead at Ethos Life. Prior to joining Ethos, Murphy was the VP of Underwriting at Munich Re, the largest global reinsurer. He holds an MBA from Depaul.

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