Life Alert has been in the business of saving people’s lives since 1987. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” you’re at least somewhat familiar with their work.
Over the decades, the company has had hundreds of thousands of customers and claims to save a life from a potential catastrophe every 10 minutes with their medical alert system.
If you’re in the market for one of these devices, Life Alert probably seems like the obvious choice, but take a few minutes to read this review so you can make the most informed decision possible.
How Life Alert Works
Users wear the Life Alert device around their neck or as a wristband. The pendant features a simple button that can be pushed in the event of an emergency. It wirelessly connects to a base console unit which, in turn, calls up a trained emergency responder to speak to the user and assess the situation.
Within the device is a speakerphone feature that allows the user and emergency responder to communicate. The button is waterproof so wearers can take it into the shower with them. It comes with a guarantee from Life Alert.
Help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Aside from the basic offerings you’d expect from a medical alert system, the company provides other services too like smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detection. Mobile and cell phone alerts are available as well.
Like we mentioned above, Life Alert is not new to this industry. The company handles more than two million calls every year, which helps explain why their staff-per-user ratio is roughly 200% that of a traditional security company.
600 Life Alert employees work in one of eight offices located across New York, New Jersey, Florida and California. Their headquarters are in Encino, just outside of Los Angeles.
In 2004, ACNielsen did a study on Life Alert. It found that 87% of the company’s customers pointed to their device as a main or important reason behind their decision to continue living alone at their own home.
Former Surgeon General Everett Koop once endorsed the Life Alert brand.
How Much Does Life Alert Cost?
Life Alert costs $29.95 a month for their basic plan. There is also an installation fee to get the device up and running. This costs between $95 and $115 depending on your unique situation.
That being said, there have been reports of instances where the sales representative gave quotes that got all the way up to $295. We can’t claim that’s a common experience, but it’s worth preparing for just in case. Our advice would be that if a salesperson tries quoting you that high, you simply tell them you’ve done your research and know that anything above $100 is unreasonable (for example, LifeStation won’t charge you a dime).
Fortunately, there are no activation fees.
However, if you’re interested in the additional features we mentioned above (smoke, fire and CO detection), you’ll need to pay $49.95.
You’ll need to sign a three-year contract to use Life Alert. While they may allow cancellations, you’ll have to meet some pretty specific conditions first. If the user dies at home alone, for example, they’ll generally allow a cancellation. The same goes for instances where the person moves into a long-term elderly care facility or something similar.
Make sure you read through the entire contract before signing it to ensure you’re aware of any other stipulations that may have been added since the time of this writing. You’ll find all of the terms spelled out there.
One other thing to consider: There may be a clause that says you’ll automatically renew your service—complete with a three-year contract—if you do not cancel within six months of the initial agreement expiring.
In-House Monitoring Center - Life Alert has their own dispatch center based here in the United States. That’s a big benefit for a couple of reasons. First, it ensures that the dispatcher who answers a user’s call will speak perfect English and understand it without issue. Secondly, it also means that there is no disconnect between Life Alert and the people manning the phone. They can pull off far better quality control measures than those companies that outsource their calls to a third party.
Their dispatcher center is UL-certified as well, which means it meets a number of very high standards, including those that have to do with security and redundancy (meaning something like a power outage in the area isn’t going to keep them from answering an emergency call). Employees are also trained to stay on the line with a caller until emergency responders arrive.
It’s also great that they include the option of those extra features we covered above. That’s just one more level of safety for users and it’s a big one at that. While any user could click their button for help from a dispatcher, if they get the other alarm signals, they can just be connected to, say, the fire department immediately.
3 Year Contract Length - Life Alert’s insistence on a three-year contract seems a bit excessive, even if they do offer some amazing services. The potential automatic renewal clause is also a bit of an annoyance, to say the least.
Lack of Payment Plan Options - Their monthly payment isn’t even that bad. However, it’s a bit odd that they don’t offer payment options. Many would gladly pay for a year in advance—or even the full three—if it meant they got some kind of discount out of the deal. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option.
There is no doubt that Life Alert makes a fantastic product that could end up saving the user’s life someday. Even if you never end up using it, the monthly price is extremely reasonable.
Our advice, though, would be to really do your research first. Once you sign a contract with this company, you won’t be able to cancel it. Therefore, you want to be 100% sure this is the right medical alert system before making a final decision.