Life Alert Review: What To Know Before You Buy

Overall Rating 3/5
Features 3.8/5
Cost 3.5/5
Customer Support & Reviews 2.5/5

Key Takeaways

  • Life Alert is one of the oldest medical alert companies in the industry, but that doesn’t translate to being superior. 
  • Life Alert products are more expensive than most competitors. 
  • Big drawbacks of Life Alert: pricing transparency, three-year contract that can only be canceled under strict circumstances, and missing extra features (like fall detection). 
  • The company maintains and staffs multiple TMA Five Diamond Certified monitoring centers, which offer a low client-to-staff ratio and boast an impressive track record of helping customers. 
  • There are at least 11 other medical alert systems we would recommend over Life Alert. Check them out here.
Written by
Medically Reviewed by
Updated onMay. 21, 2022

Thinking about buying a medical alert system for yourself or your loved one? Life Alert, one of the oldest and most established names in the industry, may be an option on your radar. 

Medical alert systems are “a great tool to help people stay alone and independent,” said Dan Matlock, MD, board-certified geriatric medicine physician at the University of Colorado Hospital. 

Medical alert systems can even save lives. But they are not a one-size-fits-all product. The “best” medical alert system depends on your budget, living situation, health conditions, and other factors. 

There are still some general items to keep in mind when shopping for a medical alert system. Max Mayblum, certified senior advisor and founder and CEO of Givers, recommends medical alert device shoppers consider three factors: usability, coverage, and adherence. “The device you select,” explained Mayblum, “should be simple to operate, work in all parts of the home, and likely to actually be used by the loved one.” 

Price is an important consideration too, as is customer service and product reliability.We scrutinized Life Alert’s products to understand the pros and cons, as well as how Life Alert stacks up to its competitors.

Our Verdict

Life Alert was one of the earliest companies to offer medical alert systems to a nationwide market, and the company still associates itself with the famous “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” TV commercials that made medical alert systems widely known. Since the launch of its systems, Life Alert has been surpassed by competitors in terms of the variety of products they offer. The company still stands out for its customer service, particularly by providing professional installation and by running one of the most effective and experienced call centers in the industry—connecting users to it with the push of an emergency button.

However, Life Alert has a strict cancellation policy. They are not transparent with basic details like cost and product information, and its prices are higher than many competitors. Life Alert did not make our top 11 best medical alert systems picks. There are a number of other products we’d recommend before them.

Pros
  • TMA Five Diamond Certified monitoring centers

  • Free warranty, no equipment fee, and no installation fee

  • Founded in 1987, it’s one of the most experienced companies in the industry

Cons
  • Users must agree to a three-year contract that can only be canceled under strict circumstances, including death, a move to a nursing facility, or serious illness (i.e., one that requires hospice or in-home care).

  • Not transparent with pricing and product details

  • No free trial or refunds

  • Mixed customer reviews

Life Alert Features At A Glance

Package
Monthly Charge
At Home$49.95
Help on the Go$19.95
At Home and Help on the Go$69.85
Connection
At HomeLandline or Cellular
Help on the GoCellular
At Home and Help on the GoCellular (Landline option available for At-Home service)
Fall Detection Available
At HomeNo
Help on the GoNo
At Home and Help on the GoNo

What’s Life Alert? Life Alert Review

Life Alert is a well-established name in the industry. Like most medical alert system brands, Life Alert sells devices in two general categories. 

The first is an at-home system that connects you to a 24/7 monitoring center via a base station or wearable pendant. The second is a mobile pendant using a cellular connection. You’ll use the cell-phone sized microphone and speaker to speak directly with the monitoring center. 

The monitoring centers are staffed by trained personnel who will either get in touch with your designated personal contacts or reach out to local emergency responders, depending on the situation.

Life Alert’s products are simple and straightforward. The company also has a highly experienced monitoring center with a track record of effectively responding during emergencies. Expensive pricing and a three-year contract that can only be canceled under strict conditions are two of its biggest downsides. Combined with its lack of transparency and unfavorable sales tactics, these aspects of Life Alert have come with harsh criticism from some customers and reviewers.

Life Alert Subcriptions

Product Features
Monthly Fee
At Home$49.95
Help on the Go$19.95
At Home and Help on the Go$69.85
Waterproof
At Home
Help on the Go
At Home and Help on the Go
Range
At Home800 ft
Help on the GoUnlimited
At Home and Help on the GoUnlimited
Free Warranty
At Home
Help on the Go
At Home and Help on the Go
Fall Detection Available
At Home
Help on the Go
At Home and Help on the Go
Landline Option
At Home
Help on the Go
At Home and Help on the Go

Life Alert At Home

Life Alert’s at-home model offers two different types of signaling device pendants: one worn as a wristband and one worn around the neck. Both are easy to wear and take on and off. These devices are fully waterproof and do not need to be charged—Life Alert claims they are the only company to offer this feature. They also have a battery that can last up to 10 years.

When you press the at-home wearable help button, it sends a wireless signal to your base station. Life Alert’s wearable pendants have an 800-foot range, meaning the wearable device can connect to the base station from up to 800 feet away. 

Once this signal is sent, the monitoring center will contact you using the base station’s speakerphone in the base station. If you need help or can’t verbally communicate with the agent, they’ll contact either your personal contact list or local emergency responders.

One potential plus about Life Alert: the company offers professional installation through a network of technicians, so installing the system is one less thing you or your caregiver will have to worry about. Unfortunately, this expense is rolled into a steep one-time equipment and installation fee of $198. 

The At Home subscription is $49.95 per month.

Life Alert Help on the Go

The on-the-go version is a device the size of a pager that has two-way communication with the emergency monitoring center. It’s small enough to clip onto a belt, put in your pocket or purse, or wear as a pendant. The device includes GPS monitoring, which allows your location to be shared with the monitoring center. 

The Help on the Go subscription is $19.95 per month with a $198 one-time fee.

Life Alert At Home and Help on the Go Bundle

The At Home and Help on the Go bundle includes both the at-home system and the mobile device. This bundle is $68.85 per month with a $198 one-time fee.

Automatic Fall Detection

There’s a major drawback to Life Alert’s devices: Fall detection technology isn’t part of the home-based system or the on-the-go system—not even for an additional fee. If you fall and aren’t able to press your wearable pendant or you’re far away from the base station, you may not be able to reach the monitoring center for help. 

Check out our best medical alert systems with fall detection review if this feature is non-negotiable.

Extra Features

Life Alert subscriptions are more limited than some of its competitors. Fall detection, motion sensors, and a caregiver app aren’t available. 

Life Alert does have a few noteworthy features, such a waterproof wall button and home intrusion services. 

The wall button can be placed in your bathroom for additional coverage in this high-risk fall area. You’ll be able to reach the monitoring center during an emergency, even if you’re not wearing your personal help button.  Life Alert also offers a home intrusion service that allows you to silently summon help if you have a potential intruder. Your contacted agent will monitor the situation and send emergency services if needed.

Monitoring Center and Services

Life Alert runs multiple call centers on its own, as opposed to contracting this service out to a third party. 

The monitoring centers have been in operation for over 30 years, and Life Alert has worked to maintain a staff-to-customer ratio that doubles that of its biggest competitors to ensure quick, personalized service. These centers respond to more than 2 million calls every year, according to the company.

Life Alert also claims its operators averted 45,095 bad outcomes in 2020 alone.

How Much Does Life Alert Cost?

Pricing
Monthly Fee
At Home$49.95
Help on the Go$19.95
At Home and Help on the Go$69.85
One-Time Annual Payment
 With Annual Payment, One Month Is Free
At Home$549.45
Help on the GoN/A
At Home and Help on the Go$768.35
One-Time Fee
At Home$198.00
Help on the GoN/A
At Home and Help on the Go$198.00
Cost 3.5/5

Compared to Life Alert’s at-home and package offerings, its on-the-go offering is more modestly priced. While Life Alert does provide free shipping and free use of the equipment, there’s also a one-time equipment activation fee. 

The company doesn’t offer a trial option, which makes taking on the service a risk that not everyone will be willing to take—especially given that the company requires users to enter a three-year contract that can only be broken under certain stringent conditions. Life Alert does offer a discount for those who pay a year in advance, as well as a free warranty for its equipment.

What Customers Are Saying About Life Alert

Life Alert’s site is outdated and doesn’t provide helpful pricing or subscription information. You have to call the company to get more information, but it may even be difficult to get pricing and product details over the phone. 

In one instance, the salesperson refused to provide basic cost information to our secret shopper asking questions as a family member would, saying those details could only be shared if the person who would actually use Life Alert was also on the phone.

The company receives mixed feedback in online reviews. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gave Live Alert an A+ rating, and its overall customer review ratings averaged 3.7 out of 5 stars.

Life Alert has 1.8 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, and BestCompany gave it a dismal 2.2 overall rating on a 10-point scale. Customers across review sites praise Life Alert for its swift response time and the attentive, helpful, and caring call center staff, but they criticize the company’s three-year contract and harsh cancellation policy, as well as its pushy sales tactics and rude sales personnel.

Life Alert Alternatives

For a comprehensive list of better Life Alert alternatives, check out our best medical alert systems review.

Bay Alarm Medical is our top pick with an overall rating of 9.62/10 from our team. It’s a more cost-friendly alternative and has features Life Alert doesn’t have, like optional fall detection, a smartwatch option, 1,000 foot protection range from the base station, and more. 

Bay Alarm Medical’s at-home system costs $21.95 per month, which is less than half the price of Life Alert ($49.95 per month). The on-the-go subscription is slightly more than Life Alert at $29.95 per month versus $19.95 per month, but with the price increase comes additional features. 

Bay Alarm Medical’s site is much easier to navigate than Life Alert’s, with all subscription prices and add-on features clearly displayed. You or your caregiver can purchase a medical alert subscription straight from the company’s site. 

The company also offers a risk-free trial period and fall detection ($10 per month), plus an app for caregivers to track and monitor the user. Bay Alarm Medical is a less expensive alternative to Life Alert with more features, making it the superior option in our opinion.

How Life Alert Compares to Other Medical Alert Systems

Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian earned the second-highest spot in our best medical alert system roundup with an overall rating of 9.57/10. If you have a more active lifestyle, this system may be for you. The company offers at-home and mobile options and TMA Five Diamond Certified monitoring centers. Active older adults can choose from two lightweight mobile devices with optional fall detection or the MGMove Smartwatch. 

Medical Guardian’s services, like Life Alert, are more expensive than average. The starting monthly price for at-home systems is $29.95 and $39.95 for on-the-go systems. 

Medical Guardian offers a risk-free trial period, giving users the chance to try the product before committing to a long-term contract. However, Medical Guardian does not offer a free warranty—protection plans cost more. Life Alert does offer a free warranty. 

MobileHelp

Another company in our best medical alert system review, we gave MobileHelp an overall rating of 9.05/10. This brand is great for older adults who stay close to home. The starting price for the at-home system ($19.95 per month) is lower than the industry average and is less than half the cost of Life Alert’s at-home option ($49.95 a month).

MobileHelp offers a truly one-of-a-kind at-home option: a high-tech tablet that includes standard medical alert features like an emergency help button that connects with a monitoring center, advanced features like caregiver tracking and medication reminders, and extras like brain games and a picture gallery. 

The Touch Classic costs $54.95 per month along with a one-time equipment fee of $99.95. MobileHelp offers a free trial period and subscriptions designed for couples or roommates.

LifeFone

Lifefone is another brand featured in our best medical alert system review and has a 8.77/10 overall rating. We named LifeFone as “best on-the-go coverage” due to its lightweight, discreet mobile systems with excellent battery life.

Many reviewers on Trustpilot have commented on the company’s excellent customer service, specifically mentioning that the representatives contact older adults and caregivers when the battery becomes low. LifeFone’s at-home system starts at a lower price point than Life Alert ($29.95 versus $49.95). One advantage of Life Alert is that its monitoring centers are TMA Five Diamond Certified, while LifeFone’s are not. 

You can’t sign up for Life Alert’s services online—you have to call the company’s 1-800 phone number. You’ll purchase your system completely over the phone, unlike most competitors that allow you to purchase your medical alert system online. 

Life Alert will schedule a technician to properly install equipment after you receive it. This service is included in your $198 equipment and installation fee.

You deserve the best products for a better quality of life. We strive to create honest, helpful reviews backed by firsthand shopping, testing, and research. Our content is medically reviewed and unbiased to help you choose the right medical alert system for you or your loved one.

We reviewed Life Alert based on the following criteria:

  • Monthly price and installation fees
  • Warranties, contracts, and hidden fees
  • Monitoring center certifications
  • Comfort and wearability of mobile devices
  • In-home range from base station
  • Water resistance of wearable devices
  • Battery life and recharging requirements
  • Ease of installation and use
  • Expert opinion
  • Customer service
  • Customer reviews from trusted third-party sites 
  • Company reputation

Special features such as automatic fall detection, smartphone apps for family members, and location tracking

Bottom Line

Life Alert doesn’t offer the most-advanced features, but it’s one of the most established and well-known medical alert companies in the industry. It offers a basic at-home subscription and an on-the-go device without many standard features like fall detection, a caregiver app, or health monitoring.  

Life Alert maintains multiple TMA Five Diamond Certified monitoring centers, the gold standard certification awarded by The Monitoring Association. 

The company is known for its higher-than-average prices, pushy sales tactics, and binding three-year contract with a harsh cancellation policy. Keep this in mind if you’re considering Life Alert, and also check out these 11 other companies we recommend over Life Alert. We also suggest learning more about personal emergency response systems in general before making a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Life Alert’s at-home service costs $49.95 a month, its on-the-go service costs $19.95 a month, and a bundle package costs $69.85 a month. There’s also a one-time $198 equipment and installation fee. You can choose monthly or annual payments. If you pay annually, you get one month of service free. The at-home annual service costs $549.45, and a bundle service which includes both at-home and on-the-go plans is $768.35.

Other Medical Alert Systems That We Have Reviewed

Our Comparisons Of Medical Alert Systems

WRITTEN BY

Jenny McCoy is a freelance journalist specializing in health and fitness. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has nearly five years of experience writing for local and national media, with more than 600 bylined articles to date.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY

Jenny is an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner in NYC with a passion for working with aging adults and their family members. Prior to her clinical training at Vanderbilt School of Nursing, she worked in business and medical research at Harvard Business School and Massachusetts General Hospital. As a Caregiving Coach at Givers, Jenny helps family members manage the financial, emotional, and educational stresses of caring for their loved ones who are aging in place.