Life Alert Review: What to Know Before You Buy
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 a widely understood concept. Since the launch of its systems, Life Alert has been surpassed by its 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 with the push of an emergency button.
However, Life Alert has a concerningly strict cancellation policy. They are not transparent with basic details like cost and product information, and its prices are higher than many competitors. Notably, Life Alert did not make our Top 10 Best Medical Alert Systems for 2022, which means there are a number of other products we’d recommend before them.
- Experienced, highly trained call center personnel – It staffs multiple, highly regarded TMA Five Diamond–certified monitoring centers, which offer a low client-to-staff ratio and boast an impressive track record of helping customers in need.
- Free warranty, no equipment fee, and no installation fee – This means customers will avoid hidden costs and extra fees.
- One of the longest-standing, most experienced companies in the industry – Founded in 1987, Life Alert was one of the earliest companies to offer medical alert systems to a nationwide market, so they have years (and in some cases, decades) more experience with life alert systems than its competitors.
- Expensive – Life Alert is more expensive than many of its competitors. Moreover, 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 – The company does not list pricing and basic product details on its website. Instead, you must call them to obtain this information. Even then, they can be cagey and evasive.
- No free trial offered; no refunds offered – Unlike many of its competitors, which offer money-back guarantees, Life Alert does not offer a 30-day trial period of its products. Instead, as we mentioned, customers are locked into a three-year contract, which can only be canceled under strict conditions.
- Mixed reviews – In online reviews, Life Alert receives mixed feedback, both from customers and expert reviewing sites. Some give Life Alert products high praise, specifically citing its fast response times in emergency situations and emphatically answering the question: Does Life Alert work? Others, however, bash the company’s pushy sales tactics and binding contract.
At a GlanceA Checklist of Standard Features.
|Package||At Home||Help on the Go||At Home and Help on the Go|
|Connection||Landline or Cellular||Cellular||Cellular (Landline option available for At-Home service)|
|Fall Detection Available||No||No||No|
Thinking about buying a medical alert system for yourself or your loved oned? Life Alert, one of the oldest and most established names in the industry, may be an option on your radar. There’s a lot to weigh when making this decision.
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. And, in a worst-case scenario, they can make a huge difference in someone’s health outcome—in some instances even going as far as saving a life. But they are not a one-size-fits-all product. The “best” medical alert system depends on a person’s budget, living situation, health concerns, and more.
That said, there are 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 (a debit card for family caregivers), 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.” Of course, price is an important consideration too, as is customer service and product reliability.
With all that in mind, we scrutinized Life Alert’s medical alert system products to understand the pros and cons, as well as how Life Alert stacks up to its competitors. Here’s the information you need to determine whether Life Alert could be a smart choice for you.
What’s Life Alert? Life Alert Review
Life Alert is a well-established name in the industry. Like most medical alert system brands on the market, its products break down into two categories. The first is a home-based system that connects the user to a call center via a signaling device (in Life Alert’s case, a pendant that can be worn around the wrist or neck, and a base station or console that then makes the call to the center. The second system is a cellular pendant that eliminates the need for a console and allows the user to speak directly with the call center via a cell phone-sized microphone and speaker. Behind these communication systems, there’s a call center staffed by trained personnel who will either get in touch with personal contacts—such as friends, neighbors, or family members—or contact local emergency responders, depending on the situation.
Life Alert’s offerings are simple and straightforward. And while this may be the hallmark of an older company, the upside is a highly experienced call center with a track record of effectively responding during emergencies. One big downside, however, is its expensive pricing and three-year contract that can only be canceled under strict conditions. Combined with its lack of transparency and unfavorable sales tactics, these aspects of Life Alert have earned the company harsh criticism from some customers and reviewers.
- Life Alert is one of the longest-standing companies in the industry, but that tenure doesn’t translate to superiority.
- Life Alert products are more expensive than average, and its lack of transparency, three-year contract that can only be canceled under strict circumstances, and lack of extra features (like fall detection) earn the company low marks in our books.
- A big plus of Life Alert, however, is that it maintains and staffs multiple highly regarded TMA Five Diamond-certified monitoring centers, which offer a low client-to-staff ratio and boast an impressive track record of helping customers in need.
- There are at least 10 other medical alert systems we would recommend over Life Alert. Check them out here.
Why You Can Trust Our Expert Review
Our experts independently research and recommend products we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We’ve spent collectively more than 1,700 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. To make our picks, here’s what we did:
- Engaged in ongoing independent research
- Consulted with geriatricians and adult caregivers
- Mystery shopped the brands
- Surveyed medical alert system users
- Tested various medical alert systems
- Interviewed experts in the field
- Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and
- Consumer Reports
Where to Sign Up for Life Alert
Customers must call Life Alert’s 800 number to sign up for its services; you cannot sign up online. Be prepared to provide significant personal information as part of the sign-up process, including medical history, date of birth, and multiple points of contact. Very few (and perhaps no) other companies require this information to purchase a life alert system. Also worth noting: You cannot install Life Alert yourself and must schedule an installation appointment with one of its technicians, which could be a pro or con depending on your situation and preferences. Because of the pandemic, these installation appointments can be done over the phone.
How We Wrote This Life Alert Review
We received Life Alert based on the following criteria:
- Price of installation and monthly service
- Warranties, contracts, and (whether it has any) hidden fees
- Reliability of monitoring center
- Comfort and wearability of mobile devices
- In-home range of equipment
- Water resistance of wearable devices
- Battery life and recharging requirements
- Ease of installation and use
- Expert opinion
- Customer service accessibility and performance
- Customer satisfaction reviews
- Company reputation
- Special features such as automatic fall detection, smartphone apps for family members, and location tracking