How Collaborative Partnering Benefits Your Clients – Part One

By Phil Calhoun   

Many health brokers are excellent advisors in their specialty, health insurance. And, like most advisors, they feel confident when within their specialty areas. On the occasion when a health insurance client looks for help with an issue, and the need extends outside the health insurance specialty area, many advisors lean on colleagues who specialize in specific areas to find their client solutions.  

In this article we will outline how health brokers can build relationships with collaborative partners. This type of work falls in the “Cross-Selling” column we will run regularly in both our monthly and weekly media. This content is designed to provide health insurance professionals with ideas to assist their clients with novel issues beyond their health insurance needs. Insurance is almost always part of the solution for your client’s issues. Long-term care insurance and life insurance, annuities, and disability insurance are the most common insurance lines that arise.  

We make the case that health insurance brokers can write these insurance lines “direct” through a managing general agent (MGA) or choose to partner with a collaborative specialty. 

In future articles we will cover topics ranging from helping business owner clients with estate and succession planning to assisting clients with issues related to loved ones, current or future financial stressors, and succession or retirement planning needs.  

To solve your client’s issues, it is common to connect clients with specialists. The goal is to help them solve their issue and do so with your assistance. Being the solution provider adds greater value to your relationship as their trusted advisor. As issues are identified, the solution often creates an insurance sale.  

Health brokers build a bond of trust with their clients.  

Because of this trust it is natural to uncover other issues that require solutions outside of health insurance.  

Common areas of greatest concern include loved ones, current or future financial stresses, and succession or retirement planning.  

The opportunity is that your clients have many needs and as their trusted advisor you can identify these needs and develop a plan to assist them. In this process, health brokers need to provide solutions outside health insurance. Building on your trusted advisor relationships with clients, the best practice is to assess if you want to do all the heavy work or join forces with an experienced collaborative partner to solve your client’s issues.   

The ideal reference for this collaborative team approach is Danniel Wexler. Danny has taught thousands of insurance professionals on this very topic. Danny often says, “Through my advisory work I cause insurance to be sold when solving client issues.” He loves working in collaboration with insurance brokers. Danny agreed to explain his thoughts on how health brokers can connect with specialists and build collaborative relationships in order to meet their client’s needs. Danny’s inside knowledge gives readers tips on how to work so they can build business by solving client issues and without spending time and money marketing to find prospects. 

In this Q&A session Danny focuses on ways health insurance professionals can help their health clients when solutions outside health insurance are needed.  

Phil: Danny, health brokers looking to do new business can spend time and money marketing to find new clients or do more with existing clients. What are your thoughts about finding new clients or working with current clients, and what are the keys to discovering issues in addition to health benefits? 

Danny: It is my opinion that the number one expectation for all advisors, and especially health insurance professionals, is to consistently focus on doing what is best for your clients. In doing so, you build your existing trusted advisor relationship with your clients. Your relationship opens the door to helping your clients with more issues.  

As far as marketing for leads is concerned, it is far more expensive to acquire new clients than it is to generate additional income from existing clients. Taking a cold lead list from nowhere to then create prospects that become clients is an exceedingly long and often expensive path. The ability to proactively reach out to your clients and identify their issues, then bring in your chosen specialist to assist you to further explore your client’s issues, is more ideal in my opinion.  

To answer the question, “when is the time to get into client issues,” it always is the right time. The absolute best time is when you complete the work on your client’s annual health plan renewal. Another best time is shortly after you have addressed their health care concerns.  

Phil: Great points. So, with a trusted advisor relationship how do we know the client is open to a conversation about other concerns?  

In both my law practice and advisory work, my clients will often share personal issues. Health brokers hear very personal information which can be far more private than what I ever hear. So, when a client shares something personal about their health and wellness and you consistently listen and express your concern, and then help them address the issues expressed as top priority, their trust in you is reinforced.  

Health insurance professionals year after year listen to their client’s concerns and then search for options that are more affordable and provide better coverage. This process proves your worth and the trusting relationship continues to grow. Brokers have told me the ideal time to engage with clients is after solving their needs each year for health coverage. Also, a great time is when a critical issue is managed with a positive result. At this point trust is high and the door is open to ask them if they have any other issues they lose sleep over. Common concerns include their loved ones, current or future financial stresses, and succession or retirement planning.     

Phil: That sounds right. So, then how do health brokers take the next step to open the conversation and explore issues? 

In my law school days, we always started with discovering the client’s issue. Knowing the issue is considered the stepping off point that leads to discovering what issues are most significant. Issues almost always lead to family, money or their business/career. As you can imagine all these issues are linked. It is common to then collect more information which leads to greater clarity and then a follow-up meeting to explore the issue more deeply. Your specialist can join at this point to help identify what options can be developed to solve the issue. The best practice when working with collaborative partners is to collect some relevant client facts along with the issues. With this information you can move to an introduction to your trusted collaborative specialist.  

In our next column, we will review client data collection tools like the Fact Finder and suggest opening questions to help move the client conversation toward an introduction to your collaborative partner. We will also explain ways to manage the introduction with your client and your collaborative partner.  

Thanks to Danniel Wexler for sharing his expertise. We look forward to future articles on collaboration.  

Future articles will cover:  

  • What collaborative partners can provide  
  • 5 Reasons why collaborative specialists help health brokers  
  • How to collect client information needed to personalize the first meeting with you, your client and your collaborative specialist.

Phil Calhoun is owner and publisher of California Broker Magazine. Phil also is a leader in coaching health insurance professionals. He is an active member of several insurance associations including the California Association of Health Insurance Professionals (CAHIP) and local chapters in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego and Inland Empire Health Insurance Professionals. He attends many state and local California chapter meetings. 

Phil’s book, “The Health Broker’s Guide: To Protect Grow and Sell Commissions” is available free at

He offers complementary 15-minute coaching sessions. To schedule a phone call Click Here