Enter the world of Westeros, Essos, Sothoryos and Ulthos, where dragons and magic exist, and you’re in the HBO series Game of Thrones (GoT), based on the fantasy and science fiction books A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. Learning about how hard life was back then — the gruesome battles, the everyday perils — definitely teaches one how to survive past age 20.
It’s likely that insurance exists in this fairytale land, because insurance has existed since the times of the Romans. Not to mention that all those marriages for power, alliances and money demand complex life insurance policies and estate plans. And so, here are some industry lessons that we can infer from GoT.
(Disclaimer: If you are not caught up on your GoT seasons, do not keep reading, for there are many spoilers coming up. Read at your own risk! Winter is coming.)
1. Make sure your estate plan is in legal order.
Love him or despise him, King Robert Baratheon rules over all of the Seven Kingdoms. After a mysterious accident involving alcohol and a boar leaves him on his deathbed — one in which Queen Cersei is involved indirectly — Lord Stark sends a message to Robert’s two younger brothers, Stannis and Renly. The message states that Robert is not the real father of his kids and that they are the product of incest between Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime. (I know. Eww.)
In the end, even though King Robert signed a letter seconds before dying that would grant temporary custody of the throne to Lord Stark until his oldest son Joffrey came of age (allowing Stark to sort out the whole succession thing), there were no witnesses and the only man present was Stark. Thus, the succession plan is not valid, according to the Queen (who obviously wanted to have her child sit on the throne).
The Lesson? Make sure your estate plans are in legal order and update them as needed because one never knows when a power-hungry queen might plan for alcohol and boars to come together at an unexpected time. (Photo: King Robert Baratheon/HBO.)
2. Disability insurance is a critical protection product for just about every worker.
While everything was falling apart in King’s Landing with Robert’s death, the Lannisters were at war with the Starks. During one of these battles, Jaime is captured by the Starks. Lady Stark ultimately releases him, and tasks Brienne of Tarth, a woman knight, to escort him back to King’s Landing in exchange for Sansa and Arya.
On their way to King’s Landing, Brienne and Jaime are intercepted and captured by another lord’s men. The leader of the men gets tired of listening to Jaime pitch bribes in exchange for freedom, and ultimately cuts off Jaime’s right hand, his “sword” hand. Jaime was one of the greatest swordsmen in all the Seven Kingdoms and was the head of the Kingsguard. Losing his hand means that he no longer knows how to swordfight, posing a threat to his job.
The Lesson? Even though Jaime was a far superior knight to Brienne, there was nothing either could do to prevent him losing a hand (except maybe shutting up?). However, had Jaime purchased a disability insurance policy, he wouldn’t have to worry about getting laid off from his job as head of the Kingsguard, or be forced to follow his father’s wishes in retiring to their home at Casterly Rock. The fact that the Lannisters lost a lot of money during the wars doesn’t help him either; his previous security net has been tossed out the window. (Photo: AP/Peter Morrison; Brienne of Tarth poster and Jaime’s prop hand are part of the HBO and Time Warner Cable GoT exhibition in 2013 in New York.)
3. Whether it’s a financial nest egg or a dragon, you need investments you can count on.
Viserys Targaryen plots to invade Westeros and reclaim his crown as the rightful heir of the Seven Kingdoms. But he lacks all possible resources (armies, boats, money, wit, etc.), so he “sells” his younger sister, Daenerys, in marriage to Khal Drogo. During the wedding ceremony, Daenerys receives a lot of gifts, among them three dragon eggs that have supposedly turned to stone by the passage of time.
Daenerys feels a strange connection to these “rocky” eggs: something draws her in and she takes care of them. It’s not until later that she builds a pyre for her dead husband, that she places the dragon eggs on the pyre and enters the fire. When the fire dies in the morning, she is alive and has three baby dragons around her.
The Lesson? Just like your nest egg will hatch when the time is right (and hopefully when no one’s husband has died or any fires are lit), Daenerys’ dragon eggs hatched, as her intuition told her they would. In addition to intuition, we have talented retirement advisors that will coax your golden egg to hatch into a beautifully crafted retirement fund (dragons not included). Daenerys had to do a lot of adjusting to help keep those dragons, just like one does in order to make sure that the retirement fund lasts as long as possible. (Top photo: AP/Evan Agostini; Petrified dragon eggs and other props, part of the HBO and Time Warner Cable GoT exhibition in 2013 in New York. Above: Daenerys and her biggest teenage dragon, Drogon/HBO.)