What type of life insurance should these Gilmore Girls characters buy?

Life insurance allows you to customize financial protection for your family. Here are the policies that could protect the Gilmore fortune, Luke’s Diner, and Kirk’s livelihood.

Amanda Shih author photo


Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert and a former editor at Policygenius, where she covered life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Updated|5 min read

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Money and family (and family money) are central themes in “Gilmore Girls,” and often a source of stress and conflict for the show’s characters. Stars Hollow and the wealthy Connecticut suburbs the Gilmores navigate are filled with business owners and parents (and one very hapless Kirk), all with their own financial needs and all of whom would benefit from different life insurance plans.

We took a closer look at what kind of life insurance policy — or combination of policies — would be best for the Gilmore family and their extended circle.

Gilmore Girls life insurance - Lorelai

Lorelai Gilmore

Type of coverage: Multiple term life insurance policies

Lorelai’s life is marked by the many responsibilities of raising Rory, running (and eventually owning) an inn, and managing her household. A life insurance policy is vital for Lorelai as a single parent, but she’d benefit most from owning multiple life insurance policies to protect the people who depend on her personally and professionally.

Lorelai should own a term life insurance policy with a death benefit high enough to cover her debts and at least 10-15 times her income to provide for Rory in the event of her death. But after she opens the Dragonfly Inn with Sookie, the two should create a buy-sell agreement that includes a life insurance policy for both.

“It is clear that Lorelai and Sookie are irreplaceable, but these policies would help the inn stay financially stable while searching for their replacement,” says Policygenius sales associate Ben Creed. “Sookie was briefly replaced by Rachael Ray, so I would recommend a large policy since the inn would need to hire a high-quality chef.”

Gilmore Girls life insurance - Rory

Rory Gilmore

Type of coverage: Term life insurance

Rory might not need a life insurance policy immediately after graduating Yale, but by the time “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” ends, 32-year-old Rory is pregnant.

“Although she was able to avoid taking out student loans thanks to Richard and Emily, the prospect of becoming a single parent will require a certain amount of financial protection,” says Creed. “Term life insurance will be the perfect option for Rory because it will allow her to protect her child financially until they are old enough to support themselves.” Rory should try to get herself a policy early in her pregnancy, because related conditions, like weight gain, prenatal diabetes, and postpartum depression can all increase the cost of premiums or postpone your approval.

“Her policy would ideally cover things like childcare, education, a home loan, etc., and would also allow her child to remain financially independent of the rest of the Gilmore family,” adds Creed. “A term policy would allow Rory to cover her family when they need it the most at the most affordable price.”

Gilmore Girls life insurance - Emily & Richard

Emily & Richard Gilmore

Type of coverage: Permanent life insurance

Given the wealth of the Gilmore family’s matriarch and patriarch, Emily and Richard may have saved enough to avoid needing a policy at all. While term life insurance is the right choice for most people, in Emily and Richard’s case, if they did own a life insurance policy, they’d need one tailored to high-net-worth individuals, like a cash value policy.

Cash value policies are one way for high earners who regularly max out traditional retirement accounts to invest in another tax-deferred investment vehicle and grow their retirement savings. And, because the death benefit of a permanent policy would go to Emily (tax-free) after Richard’s death, she could use that payout to cover any estate taxes they might have, then support herself with the sizable assets Richard left behind.

Gilmore Girls life insurance - Luke

Luke Danes

Type of coverage: Key person insurance

Stars Hollow is filled with business owners, from Mrs. Kim and her antique shop to Miss Patty and her dance studio. But Luke is not only essential to the operation of his eponymous diner, he also has employees who rely on the diner’s continued success, so he needs key person insurance.

While you can use the death benefit from a key person policy to fund the search for a replacement, it’s also often used to pay off business debts or compensate employees if the business closes, which might be more likely if Luke passes away. If Luke’s cook, Caesar, were to take over, the key person payout could help him relaunch the diner after the loss of its former owner.

Creed suggests that Luke also consider a personal whole life insurance policy: “A whole life policy would allow Luke to cover his outstanding liabilities while also developing some cash value that would certainly prove to be useful. With the cash value, Luke would be able to take out a loan to cover things like his daughter April’s college education.”

Gilmore Girls life insurance - Kirk

Kirk Gleason

Type of coverage: Accidental death & dismemberment insurance

Kirk might struggle to get an affordable life insurance policy of any kind, given that his ever-changing jobs often put him in physical danger, from skydiving solo after just one lesson to suffering “severe cheese burns” during an attempt to create the world’s largest pizza.

But his hazardous lifestyle is the same reason he needs, at minimum, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) insurance to protect his loved ones. If Kirk became seriously injured, AD&D would provide financial support to his mother and his partner, Lulu, while he’s still alive, which a basic life insurance plan might not offer.

Gilmore Girls life insurance - Sookie

Sookie St. James

Type of coverage: Term life insurance

Sookie is another character highly prone to workplace accidents. Sookie and Lorelai first bonded after Sookie sliced the tip of her finger off while cooking, and she’s frequently seen bandaging cuts and being toted to the hospital.

But unlike Kirk, Sookie needs a life insurance policy to protect her children. Like Rory, she’d receive the most affordable premiums if she bought a policy before her pregnancy, but she would likely pay more than a less accident-prone person regardless. The life insurance company would see the many injuries in her medical history and reasonably assume she’s a higher risk to insure and raise her premiums as a result.

Luckily for Sookie, if she buys coverage at a higher premium when her children are born, she will eventually be able to decrease her coverage and save some money as they grow older and need less financial support from her. But, in the early years, her policy would need to cover the expenses of childcare, schooling, and her own household contributions.

The colorful characters that inhabit Stars Hollow make it clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all life insurance policy, even for one person’s lifetime. Everyone’s financial needs are different, and the people these life insurance policies protect change over time too. The best way to find a policy that fits all of your needs — and history of cheese burn injuries — is to work with an independent broker or agent, who can compare quotes and find the best life insurance company for your specific profile.