Life Alert Review 2024: Complete Expert Analysis

Dec 14, 2023
Fact Checked
Life Alert requires a three-year contract, doesn’t offer fall detection, and charges high monthly fees.

Why we don’t recommend Life Alert

Life Alert has too many drawbacks compared to better medical alert systems: a high cancellation fee, a restrictive contract, no fall detection, expensive monitoring and installation fees, and no pricing information on its website.

Our Reviews Team recommends Medical Guardian as a better alternative to Life Alert. Medical Guardian offers lower prices, more devices, optional fall detection, transparent online information, a caregiver app, and a 30-day trial period.

Read on to learn about our poor shopping experience with Life Alert and other top medical alert systems we recommend instead.

Why you can trust our expert review

2,500+
Hours of Research
1
Surveys Deployed
13
Brands Tested
9
Experts Consulted

Our Reviews Team spent more than 2,500 hours conducting in-depth research on medical alert systems. During our process, we:

Read more about our medical alert systems review methodology.

Pros and cons of Life Alert

Pros Monitoring centers are owned and operated by Life Alert Wall button and mobile system batteries last up to 10 years No increase in monthly fees Established brand that’s been in business for more than 30 years
Cons Three-year contract and penalty fee for canceling service unless the user passes away or has moved to a 24-hour nursing facility High monthly monitoring fees ($49.95–$98.95) Fall detection not available Pricing and service information not listed on the website Difficult to get pricing information from sales representative without sharing personal information or medical history

Table 1 Comparison of Life Alert models, as of December 2023

Life Alert SystemAt-HomeAt-Home + Wall Button*At-Home + Wall Button + On-the-Go
Monthly fee$49.95 $79.90 $98.85
Activation fee$197 $197 $197
Device typeAt-homeAt-homeAt-home, on-the-go
Device range (feet)800N/A800 (mobile system works anywhere with a connection)
Connection typeCellular, landlineCellularCellular
Location trackingN/AN/AYes
WearabilityHelp button bracelet or wristbandHelp button bracelet or wristbandNecklace
Voice activationNoNoNo
Water resistant or waterproofWaterproof wearable help buttonWaterproofWaterproof
Caregiver alertsYesYesYes

*This package can include the at-home system and wall button or the at-home system and on-the-go system

Table 2 Life Alert vs. other medical alert systems, as of December 2023

BrandLife AlertMobileHelpMedical GuardianBay Alarm MedicalADTLifeFone
Score (out of 5)*1.524.34.64.73.74.6
Starting monthly cost$49.95$19.95$29.95$27.95$29.99$29.95
At-home device range (feet)800600–1,4001,300–1,4001,000300–6001,300
Connection typeCellular, landlineCellular, landlineCellular, landlineCellular, landlineCellular, landlineCellular, landline
Fall detection (cost per month)N/AYes, $11Yes, $10Yes, $10Yes, $11Yes, $5
Battery lifeUp to 10 yearsUp to 3 daysUp to 5 daysUp to 5 daysUp to 40 hoursUp to 10 days
Response time (seconds)N/A25–501–251–255025–50
Location trackingYesYesYesYesYesYes
Water resistant or waterproof mobile systemWaterproofWater resistantWater resistantWater resistantWater resistantWater resistant
WarrantyYesNoNoYesYesYes

Recommended Life Alert alternatives

MobileHelp

MobileHelp Medical Alert system
Pros
30-day trial period
No equipment or activation fees
Telehealth add-on available
Free lockbox with every order
Cons
Fall detection is $11 per month (above the $10 per month average)
600-foot range for select at-home systems

MobileHelp packages

MobileHelp offers eight packages, including packages bundling two medical alert systems for one monthly price:

Fall detection is available for all systems for an additional $11 per month.

MobileHelp offers eight different packages, including a unique smart tablet base station, as well as one of the longest at-home system ranges at 1,400 feet. Optional features like medication reminders and telehealth services help make MobileHelp services part of a holistic care plan for users and caregivers.

Read our full MobileHelp review to learn why it earned the title “Best All-Around System” from our Reviews Team.

Medical Guardian

Medical Guardian medical alert unboxed
Pros
1,300–1,400-foot at-home range
Smartwatch option
30-day money-back guarantee
Cons
No warranty (protection plan costs extra)
Telehealth features not available

Medical Guardian packages

Medical Guardian offers two at-home and mobile systems, as well as a smartwatch option. Choose from the following packages:

Fall detection is available for $10 per month for all systems.

Our Reviews Team recommended Medical Guardian over Life Alert in a previous review, and we continue to recommend Medical Guardian as the best alternative to Life Alert. Medical Guardian offers an extensive at-home system range of up to 1,400 feet, lower prices, transparent online information, a caregiver app, and a 30-day trial period.

In a survey conducted by our Reviews Team of 1,000 medical alert system users, we found that Medical Guardian was the most popular option among our respondents, with 43% of respondents reporting they use Medical Guardian, compared to 16.5% respondents reporting they use Life Alert. Of the respondents who used Life Alert, 8% said they had a poor experience, compared to 2% who said the same thing for Medical Guardian. Read our Medical Guardian review to learn more.

Bay Alarm Medical

Bay Alarm 360 Bundle
Pros
30-day trial period
Fall detection available ($10 per month)
At-home, on-the-go, and smartwatch options available
Cons
One-time equipment fee for some systems ($0–$159)
Device protection plan depends on the package ($2.95–$4.95 per month)

Bay Alarm Medical packages

Bay Alarm Medical has four types of equipment—an at-home base station, two mobile systems, and a smartwatch—and offers a variety of packages for each system. The four main systems are:

Fall detection is available for $10 per month on all systems.

Bay Alarm Medical offers a variety of medical alert systems, including a smartwatch and two separate on-the-go devices. The brand’s mobile systems are some of the lowest priced compared to Life Alert and other brands. Low monthly fees combined with packages bundling two medical alert systems for one price have earned Bay Alarm Medical the title “Best for the Price” from our Reviews Team.

See our Bay Alarm Medical review for a detailed overview of all packages, accessories, and services.

ADT

ADT health medical alert system
Pros
30-day trial period
Free next-day shipping
No equipment or activation fees
Well-known brand
Cons
Short at-home range (300–600 feet)
Fall detection not available for at-home landline system
Fall detection is $11 per month (average is $10 per month)

ADT packages

ADT offers three medical alert packages, making it a good choice for shoppers who may get overwhelmed with too many options:

Fall detection is available with the Medical Alert Plus and On-the-Go for $11 per month.

Our Reviews Team named ADT “Best for No Extra Fees” since the brand doesn’t charge activation fees or equipment fees and offers free shipping. Read our full ADT review to learn more about the well-known security brand’s medical alert packages and services.

Life Alert review: shopping experience

Our Reviews Team called customer service to learn more about pricing and services for this Life Alert review. This is the only way to begin shopping for a Life Alert system since its website doesn’t have pricing information and you can’t purchase your package online.

As soon as we mentioned we had questions about Life Alert products during our phone call, we were asked if we’d like a brochure mailed to our home. Our Reviews Team made it clear we didn’t want to wait to receive answers from a product brochure, so we were transferred to a “product specialist,” or sales representative.

During our first call, the product specialist was friendly, empathetic, and knowledgeable. They asked us a few questions to better understand the situation and to help us shop for the right system. The representative walked us through each Life Alert medical alert system and its function, as well as costs and service fees.

While this call was helpful and provided a majority of the information in this article, it lasted more than 30 minutes.

Front cover of a Life Alert brochure stating, “We save a life from a catastrophe every 11 minutes.”
Our Reviews Team received a product brochure within two weeks after our call with Life Alert. There is no pricing information in the brochure.

Our Reviews Team called Life Alert customer service a second time to verify the information we received in our initial call. This time, the sales representative refused to answer our direct questions about product range, costs, or prices. They told us, “This is not how we do things.”

The representative said they could only give us information if we went through a 45-minute information session on a “specific loved one.”

We called a third time to try and get answers but were transferred to the billing department, service department, and, finally, the marketing department. Our Reviews Team left a message with the marketing department and hasn’t received a response as of this writing.

Our Reviews Team had poor experiences during calls with Life Alert when contacting the company in the past as well. We’ve spoken with sales representatives who were pushy, pressured us to buy, or did not directly address questions about prices or contracts.

Navigating the Life Alert website

The Life Alert website is outdated, cluttered, and confusing to navigate. The navigation bar at the top of the website includes general phrases like Why Life Alert Is The Best and Avoid A Retirement Home that don’t tell visitors the type of pages they lead to.

Life Alert homepage with the claim “Saving a life from a catastrophe every 11 minutes” surrounded by images of emergency responders and older adults using Life Alert systems.
The Life Alert homepage is cluttered with images and has minimal informational content.

If you’re visiting the website on your phone, the navigation menu is completely different from what you’ll see on a desktop. Our Reviews Team likes that the mobile menu has more specific navigation labels, like Medical Emergencies, How It Works, and About Life Alert, but we’d like to see the more helpful mobile menus on the desktop site.

There is no pricing or subscription information displayed on the Life Alert website. Even specific product pages, such as the on-the-go system page, do not have pricing information.

How to pay

You can only purchase your Life Alert package over the phone, which often requires listening to a 30- to 45-minute sales pitch. An option to purchase your system online is not available.

Life Alert accepts payments in the form of cash, credit card, or check.

Contract and cancellation penalty

When our Reviews Team asked about the brand’s strict three-year contract in the past, we were told the contract could only be terminated if the user dies or a loved one can prove the user is receiving 24-hour nursing care.

During a more recent call with a Life Alert sales representative, they told us the contract was a service agreement that guarantees your monthly prices don’t increase within the first three years of service.

The representative assured us that users can get out of the contract, but they would be penalized with a fee. This penalty fee equals two months of monitoring fees. Depending on the package you choose, it would cost almost $100–$200 to cancel your Life Alert service.

Our Reviews Team could not find any supporting information about this penalty fee or policy online, in the mail-in brochure, or during other calls with the Life Alert sales team.

It’s important to note that no other medical alert system our Reviews Team has tested requires a contract.

Life Alert customer reviews

Life Alert has 4.1 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot based on 47 reviews. Positive Life Alert reviews from customers cite pleasant, helpful monitoring center staff, a knowledgeable sales team, and great customer service. Many reviewers explicitly mentioned they never felt pressured to buy when speaking with a salesperson. One reviewer called out how quickly Life Alert dispatched emergency services to her home when her mother had a stroke.

Common issues in negative reviews include caregivers receiving monthly bills after the user passed away, dealing with rude, pushy sales representatives, and overall poor customer service. The most common complaint across negative reviews on Trustpilot was difficulty getting out of the three-year contract.

Life Alert has 3.45 out of 5 stars on Better Business Bureau (BBB) based on 164 customer reviews. The company is also accredited by BBB with an A+ rating, meaning Life Alert works to respond to every customer complaint.

Positive BBB reviews praised the company’s quick response during an emergency. Some reviewers cited specific accidents where emergency services were dispatched in less than 10 minutes. Other positive reviews were more general and stated that Life Alert services helped them stay independent and feel safe in their homes.

The majority of negative Life Alert reviews cited the same issues mentioned on Trustpilot, including difficulty getting out of the contract and speaking with rude, pushy sales representatives. A handful of reviewers had issues getting out of the three-year contract when their loved one entered a 24-hour nursing facility. Some reviewers weren’t pleased with the requirement to send a death certificate to cancel their loved one’s service.

Life Alert responded to multiple BBB reviews and complaints stating they were either untrue or had been resolved. While we appreciate that the company responds to almost all customers, some of the responses were defensive or accusatory.

Based on our Reviews Team’s experience, most medical alert companies responding to negative reviews on review sites like Trustpilot and BBB will send a customer support email address to encourage the reviewer to continue the conversation privately.

Life Alert cost vs. alternative brands

The cost of a Life Alert device is higher than all of our other top medical alert system picks. While Life Alert charges $49.95 for a starting monthly fee, ADT, Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Guardian, and MobileHelp all start at under $30 per month.

Plus, Life Alert does not offer fall detection, which we feel is an important option when you’re an older adult shopping for a medical alert device. The other brands mentioned above all offer fall detection for an additional $10–$11 per month, making the total starting costs with fall detection for those brands less than Life Alert without fall detection.

Who should consider Life Alert?

Life Alert may be a top option if you prioritize industry experience and brand recognition when shopping for a medical alert system. The brand’s three equipment types—at-home base station, wall button, and mobile system—may be an advantage if you don’t need a wide variety of options, or if you like the idea of a long battery life or the unique two-way speaker in the wall button.

Choosing Life Alert requires signing a three-year contract. If you’ve never used a medical alert system and are unsure if you want to commit to one without a trial period or money-back guarantee, Life Alert may not be the right option for you.

If you’re at a higher risk of falling, our Reviews team does not recommend Life Alert since fall detection is not available with any of its packages. Medical alert systems with fall detection are designed to contact a monitoring center automatically when the built-in sensor detects downward motion.

While fall detection isn’t 100% accurate, two recent studies report 80%–93% accuracy. A 2020 research survey1 reported an average accuracy rate of 93% for fall detection devices, while a 2019 review2 that analyzed seven systematic reviews reported an 86.4% average or greater rate for detecting falls.

Fall detection is not designed to prevent falls, but it can alert emergency services and help you get medical attention quickly after a fall. Lying on the floor for more than an hour after a fall may lead to serious health consequences, including muscle damage, pressure sores, and dehydration, according to research from Cambridge University.3

Help assess your risk of falling by speaking with a health care professional who specializes in older adult care and taking NCOA’s Falls Free CheckUp.

Life Alert Review: Bottom line

Life Alert is a well-known medical alert company that has been in business for more than 30 years. Although it’s one of the oldest brands in the industry, after researching the company for this review our Reviews Team doesn’t recommend Life Alert medical alert devices due to the brand’s three-year contract, high monthly fees and equipment costs, lack of transparent product and pricing information online, and absence of fall detection options.

Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp, and ADT are some of our Reviews Team’s top medical alert system options and are excellent alternatives to Life Alert. Starting monthly fees for all four brands are lower than the lowest-priced package from Life Alert ($49.95 per month), the equipment can be purchased online, there are more device options and features, and you aren’t locked into a contract.

Here’s a breakdown of starting monthly fees for the four alternative medical alert systems we reviewed:

All medical alert brands listed above offer a refund when you return your equipment within the first 30 days, so you can try out your system without being penalized if you decide not to keep it.

Frequently asked questions

During an emergency, you would press the Life Alert button to connect to a 24/7 monitoring center. Monitoring center staff will speak with you through the device speaker to assess the situation and dispatch emergency responders to your location. Life Alert offers an at-home system and on-the-go device to use outside the home, which is how most medical alert systems work.

Life Alert monthly prices range from $49.95–$98.85 with a $198 activation fee that includes shipping and a lifetime warranty. If you choose to have your equipment professionally installed there is also a $197 fee, but the company will waive this fee if you install the equipment yourself. These prices are not available on the Life Alert website—you must call the company to receive pricing information.

No. Traditional Medicare (Part A and B) does not cover medical alert system costs. Some Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) may cover partial or full Life Alert costs. Check with your insurance provider since Medicare Advantage coverage varies by state and by plan.

Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp, and ADT are better alternatives to Life Alert because these brands offer lower costs, no contract requirements, and transparent pricing information available online. Life Alert requires users to sign a three-year contract that can only be terminated if the user dies or a loved one can prove the user is receiving 24-hour nursing care. A sales representative told our Reviews Team that users can get out of the contract by paying a penalty fee covering two months of monitoring fees, but we were not able to verify this information online or in other calls with Life Alert.

Life Alert monthly prices and equipment fees are more expensive compared to other popular medical alert systems.

No, Life Alert does not require Wi-Fi to connect to the monitoring center. The at-home system uses cellular or landline connection, while the wall button and mobile system have a 4G LTE cellular network connection.

Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp, and LifeFone are some of the best medical alert systems recommended by our Reviews Team. The best alert system will be different for everyone, and you should consider your budget, lifestyle, caregiving needs, and other considerations when shopping for a medical alert system.

Yes. Most popular medical alert systems, including Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical, MobileHelp, and ADT are less expensive than Life Alert.

  • Life Alert monthly fees: $49.95–$98.85 with $198–$395 in potential additional costs
  • Medical Guardian monthly fees: $29.95–44.95 with $0–$195 equipment fees
  • Bay Alarm Medical monthly fees: $24.95–$51.95 with $0–159 equipment fees
  • MobileHelp monthly fees: $19.95–$54.95 with $0 equipment fees
  • ADT monthly fees: $29.99–$39.99 with $0 equipment fees

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

Sources

  1. Ramachandran, Karuppiah, et al. A Survey on Recent Advances in Wearable Fall Detection Systems. BioMed Research International. Jan. 13, 2020. Found on the internet at https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2020/2167160/
  2. Warrington, Daniel Joseph, et al. Are wearable devices effective for preventing and detecting falls: an umbrella review (a review of systematic reviews). BMC Public Health. Nov. 14, 2021. Found on the internet at https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-021-12169-7
  3. Lord, Menz, et al. Falls in Older People: Risk Factors and Strategies for Prevention. Cambridge University Press. 2001. Found on the internet at https://www.stayonyourfeet.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Falls-in-Older-People-Risk-Factors-and-Strategies.pdf.
Emily Breaux headshot
Emily Breaux Author
Emily Breaux is a writer with a background in education. She has written on multiple health care and technology topics, as well as for the higher education and hospitality industries. She specializes in medical alert systems and enjoys writing about hearing aids, health insurance, and wellness topics specifically for older adults.
Christopher Norman Headshot
Christopher Norman Medical Reviewer
Christopher Norman is a Board-Certified Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and Holistic Nurse. As a nurse’s aide, registered nurse and now nurse practitioner, he has loved working with older adults since 2004.
Kathleen Cameron
Kathleen Cameron Reviewer
Kathleen Cameron, BSPharm, MPH, has more than 25 years of experience in the health care field as a pharmacist, researcher, and program director focusing on falls prevention, geriatric pharmacotherapy, mental health, long-term services and supports, and caregiving. Cameron is Senior Director of the NCOA Center for Healthy Aging, where she provides subject matter expertise on health care programmatic and policy related issues and oversees the Modernizing Senior Center Resource Center.
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