Life Alert Review

Life Alert � Watch Pendant


Who is Life Alert?

Life Alert is a medical alert industry leader and has been in business since 1987. Life Alert is often the first brand name consumers think of when they hear the term medical alert system. Life Alert is most well known for their TV commercials showing a senior saying "Help I've fallen and I can't get up." When most people think of Life Alert devices for seniors, this is the company that comes to mind thanks to their classic marketing campaign. 

Life Alert claims on their website that they help a senior's life from a potential catastrophe every 11 minutes! They are headquartered in Encino, California and employ over 600 people. Life Alert fields around 2 million calls a year. This makes Life Alert almost twice the size of most medical alert companies. 

Review Summery

When Medical Alert Advice did our product review of Life Alert, we did have difficulty getting detailed product information on their emergency response medical alert systems, including the Life Alert cost, without going through their strict phone sales process. The company does not have any online pricing and has a dated looking website which makes it difficult to compare medical alert systems. Life Alert does own and operate their monitoring center which is TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond Certified.

There are primarily three system types that Life Alert offers:

  1. Life Alert In-Home System: In-home system that you can choose to use cellular service or landline telephone.

  2. Life Alert In-Home System with Help Button: In-home system that does not require a landline telephone and can use cellular service instead. It includes a waterproof HELP Button that is especially useful for emergencies that occur in the bathroom, but the button can be placed anywhere. Per Life Alert, over 80% of emergency calls happen in the bathroom.

  3. Life Alert In-Home, Help Button and Life Alert Mobile:  All the protection of the Life Alert in-home system and HELP Button, plus Life Alert Mobile for on the go coverage. Uses GPS location services to help pinpoint your location in an emergency.

Life Alert's website lists the following Protection Services that they offer. While most are available with all medical alert systems, Life Alert takes the time to explain how each feature could be used in real-life situations. 

  1. Medical Emergencies: This requires the use of a medical alert base-station and a pendant or watch button at your home. This is the cornerstone of a traditional in-home medical alert system. 
  2. Shower Emergencies: A large wireless add-on help button that you can mount in the shower, tub, near a toilet or pretty much anywhere within the medical alert base-station's range. 
  3. Life Alert Mobile: There are really two versions of this Life Alert Protection Service: 
  • Mobile + GPS - This is an emergency button that you can carry with you that alerts the monitoring center that you need help and can also help them locate you using GPS location services. You can't speak to the monitoring center like you can with your in-home system, but it will give you some protection when you're on the go or out of the range of your in-home system.
  • Using your cell phone or smartphone - If you only have a basic cell phone, Life Alert will give you a telephone number that you can pre-program into your cell phone's speed-dial feature to connect you directly to their medical alert monitoring center. Caller-id from your cell phone can help to identify you with the dispatch center. If you have a smartphone, Life Alert has a mobile App that can be used to connect you to the monitoring center as well.


Pros

Their company was built around medical alert monitoring for seniors and they have a long history in the market. They used to offer some other traditional monitoring services including smoke alarms (many states require specific licensing and permits for installation of these devices) and carbon monoxide detection,  but they do not offer these services anymore. They do offer a mobile medical alert system which is great for peace of mind outside of the home. Life Alert does own their own TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond Certified Monitoring Center. They do offer advance payment discounts.

Cons

Life Alert Cost - their base monthly costs are higher than other medical alert options on the market, and their start-up costs are higher than most providers too. You must contact them by phone and there is no online ordering, which can result in conflicting information from their sales reps.

Their website has a dated look with very little information on it. They also have more than one website which can be a bit confusing as well. They have a 3-year contract with limited cancellation options, while most competitors have month-to-month agreements. However, if your loved one were to pass away at home while alone, you would receive a 100% refund of all monies paid to Life Alert up to that point. 

Further, with such limited information about their services online, we had to rely more on what information was provided to us by sales representatives and less on their website. Often, information received from different sales reps is conflicting, so you should carefully read all paperwork before signing-up to be sure you understand what you are getting. That bit of advice goes with all medical alert device providers you may be considering. 

Life Alert does not offer automatic fall detection, wellness monitoring or pill reminders like some other medical alert companies do today.

Rating: 3.5



Compare Device Features:

Pros & Cons To Consider

How did Life Alert do?
Price
Life Alert Review

Cost for Equipment

The cost for equipment and shipping of the basic Life Alert system is between $95 - $198 depending on which program you choose. The most basic package should be an easy self installation. This equipment fee includes all the equipment programming, life-time maintenance of the equipment, installation and activation.

Cost Per Month

The monthly cost of Life Alert systems range between $49.95 to $89.85 per month, depending on which system you choose.

Advance Payment Discounts

Yes, pay annually and get one month free

Monitoring Agreement Term

3 Years and the rate is fixed during the contract term. In addition, if your loved one was to pass away while at home alone, Life Alert would refund 100% of all services that were received, including the installation fee. 

Repairs or Replacement Charges

None, replacements shipped for free if it is an equipment malfunction. It's $49 to replace a lost pendent.
Cancellation Policy & Discounts
Life Alert Review

Cancel at Any Time

No. Can cancel only with proof that 24-hour care is required for your loved one (in-home, nursing home, or a long-term care facility) or if your loved one passes away.

Senior Discount

No

Other Discounts

2 free months of service if you refer a customer to them and they stay with the service for at least 90 days. 
Equipment
Life Alert Review

Approximate Button Range in Typical Home

Up to an 800 ft. radius.

Watch/Button Battery Life

Up to 7 years, per their website, or up to 10 years for Life Alert Mobile and Life Alert HELP Button options.
On one call with a sales rep, we were told all of their equipment had a 10 year battery life.

What Happens if I Lose Power

72 hours of battery backup

Is the Watch/Button Waterproof

Yes

How Can The Button Be Worn

Pendant and wrist. You get both when you order.

UL Certified Equipment

Yes

Does The System Automatically Test Itself To The Monitoring Center

No, but it sends a trouble signal. We were told they provide self-diagnostic equipment.

24 Hour Technical & Customer Support

Yes, except on Sundays
Monitoring Station
Life Alert Review

TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond Certified Monitoring Center

Yes

Typical Response Time When Button Pressed

Approximately 15 - 20 seconds
Other Options & Information
Life Alert Review

How Fast Does System Ship

Ships via UPS and arrives in approx. 3 business days. With professionally installed systems, you will also receive a phone call to schedule the installation of the equipment.

Do You Need Separate Systems For Mom & Dad

No. Additional $10 per month which includes the service and additional pendant
Optional Advanced Features
Life Alert Review

Activity or Inactivity Monitoring

No

Senior Fall Detection

No

Cellular or No Phone Line

Yes. $10.00 additional per month

Non-GPS Mobile Alert System For Protection On The Go

No

Smoke or Carbon Monoxide Protection

Not anymore

GPS Medical Alert Tracking System

Yes, with their Life Alert Mobile system. 
Special Offers
Life Alert Review

Special Offers For Our Visitors

None at this time


Monthly Costs & Fees 

The monthly cost of the basic Life Alert system is $49.95. There is also a one-time setup fee of $95-$198, as mentioned above. 

The Life Alert In-Home system with Help Button cost is $69.90 per month, while the Life Alert system with Mobile cost is $89.85 per month.
 
The first month is prorated and then they bill on the 3rd of the month after that. For a quick comparison, other medical alert companies such as Medical Guardian and LifeStation charge significantly less for their basic landline system. Their monthly cost is $29.95 or less vs. $49.95. They are also cheaper for their cellular and Mobile GPS options ranging from $36.95-$39.95 per month vs. $49.95-$69.95.
 
Also, keep in mind you are signing a 3-year contract with Life Alert, so you must be comfortable with the monthly rate. We suggest calling Life Alert to negotiate the fees and monthly payment. Since they do not have published rates, it is possible for you to find a better deal with them simply by asking.


What We Like About Life Alert

Installed By Company - Although these systems are typically very easy to install yourself (see our Basic Installation & Set-Up video) some might find it convenient to have it professionally installed, especially if you live a long distance from your loved one. Keep in mind you will be paying for the installation. Most medical alert device systems are very simple to install, in some instances as easy as plugging it in! 

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Options - Life Alert provides solutions for monitoring smoke and carbon monoxide.  Life Alert used to provide smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring however this long time service is not being offered anymore.

Mobile Options - Life Alert Mobile  is an emergency pendant that can be used outside of the home utilizing mobile technology. It provides on-the-go coverage and GPS location services. For active seniors, this could be considered a must. 

No Phone Line Option - Most households today do not carry the expense of having a landline. Life Alert offers a cellular option in case your home is without traditional landline phone service. The monthly cost for this system may be slightly higher than the traditional landline medical alert device.

Smartphone App - If you have a smartphone, you can install this app to connect you with their call center. Essentially you are turning your smartphone into a medical alert device. Please note that when we downloaded the Life Alert App, it did contain outdated information. 

Discount For Advanced Payments - If you pay annually, you can receive one month free.

Company Owned TMA (CSAA) Five Diamond Certified Monitoring Center - Life Alert's emergency response center is TMA (CSAA) Certified. There are many advantages to having this certification, such as standard training for all call center operators and annual review of the monitoring center's performance. Medical Alert Advice highly recommends this certification. 

Can Dispatch Paramedics Directly - We were told Life Alert is the only medical alert company that can dispatch paramedics directly from their monitoring center and do not have to contact 911 first. Unfortunately, we were not able to verify this claim.
 

What We Dislike About Life Alert

Life Alert Cost - We found the Life Alert start-up costs to be higher than most in the industry, for similar services. They also do not seem to follow a set pricing strategy when it comes to the installation charges or credit for a self-installation option, which makes it difficult to compare medical alert systems.

Cancellation Policy - Life Alert requires you to sign a 3-year contract. Not only is this a big commitment, it is also very rare in the medical alert industry. Most companies are month-to-month nowadays to allow customers to easily try out their services. In rare cases, a company will ask for a one-year contract. Based on what other companies are doing, we feel that having customers sign a 3-year contract is out of the ordinary and will turn off a lot of potential users.

No Automatic System Tests - Most system consoles will automatically test weekly or monthly to the monitoring station, but per the Life Alert sales reps, they do not offer automatic testing. The Life Alert system will send a trouble signal if there is an issue. 

No Activity Monitoring - Knowing that your loved one is up and about each day can be a huge relief. Some medical alert companies offer activity monitoring which requires the user to press a button once every 24 hours or track activity with additional sensors placed throughout the home. This is a great option that is not offered by Life Alert. 

No Fall Detector Option - Automatic fall detection is not a full proof system; however, it is a very useful technology for seniors who may be diabetic or prone to fainting. If you are worried about your loved one falling, then finding a company who offers automatic fall detection would be right for you. 

Unpublished Rates - With their rates not being published online, the quoted cost of life alert service could vary depending on the sales rep you speak with. In past calls, when we told the rep we spoke with some competitors, the one-time charge for enrollment, shipping etc. would be substantially lowered. Since Life Alert is not consistent with their pricing, it makes it hard to compare to other companies. We suggest calling Life Alert yourself to try and negotiate the best rate possible.


What Others Are Saying About Life Alert 

Life Alert's website has plenty of video and written testimonials. Medical Alert Advice searched the internet for non-biased reviews and we found a sample of both negative and positive reviews on Life Alert's services. 

Reoccurring complaints we found were mostly on their advertising and sales tactics. Life Alert is notorious for their "hard sell" approach and with little information about their service offerings online, they practically force you to call in for information where you will encounter a well-trained sales rep. They also will ask you for personal information and follow-up with you multiple times to see if you want their services. 

We also saw quite a few complaints about their 3-year contract. Although the contract is clearly stated, some users felt like their circumstances should have been covered under the cancellation policy. For example, one BBB complaint details her mother's dementia diagnosis. Life Alert required a doctor's note in order to cancel their services, which the family provided. Life Alert was not satisfied with the note and would not cancel the contract. Other complaints we've seen are that elderly loved ones where confused or couldn't read the fine print and did not know they were locked into a long-term agreement. 

Most positive reviews speak about Life Alert's quick response times in helping their loved one in an emergency situation. They are generally pleased with how the call center agents stay on the line until help arrives and the overall quality of the monitoring service. 

Life Alert has been Better Business Bureau Accredited since 1987. They have an A+ rating at the time of this review with 277 complaints, 40 reviews, and less than a 2 star rating. 


Bottom Line

If you feel more comfortable working with a medical alert company that is one of the most well-known brands in the industry and don't mind paying a bit of a premium for their service, then Life Alert may be the right choice for you. You will have to keep in mind that you will be signing a multi-year contract while most other well known medical alert providers typically have 1 to 3 month service agreements. However, it is important to note that the contract comes with an important distinction: If your loved one happens to pass away at home alone during the agreement, then you would receive a 100% refund on all services paid. They also cannot raise prices during your 3-year contract term, but many other medical alert providers will not either. 

When you compare Life Alert's emergency response review, you will notice they do a fair job, however if you are initially signing-up for their service you will have to deal with an aggressive sales team. Since there's little information on their website, when you call to get even basic information, you will be asked to at least provide your phone number and also answer an extensive list of questions before they answer even one of yours. For many people, this may not be the shopping experience they are looking for. You could be on the phone for quite a while and may have to make multiple calls to get the best price. We were on the phone at least 15 minutes before we were given any pricing information. 

Since most seniors typically only require an in-home medical alert monitoring system that has a simple wireless button to press for help, two-way talking communication with the monitoring station, and automatic system testing of the main unit, then know that most other reputable companies can provide these service as well.

If you don't mind paying more for a household name in the medical alert industry, then Life Alert may be a good option for you. 
 

Although our experience with this company had these results, your experience may be different. If you're interested in this company's services, contact them to judge for yourself

 Also, check out our GreatCall Review here.

Modified: 2018-12-09