Life Alert is one of the oldest and most established brands in the medical alert system business. While it may be the best-known name, it is not necessarily the best service. Life Alert is much more expensive than most of its competitors, requires a long-term contract and potential customers must call a salesperson to receive basic information such as price points.
- Written by Christian Simmons
Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.Read More
- Edited ByLamia Chowdhury
Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.Read More
- Reviewed ByEsther Kane, C.D.S.
Esther Kane, C.D.S.
Senior Safety Expert
Esther Kane is a senior safety expert and certified Senior Home Safety Specialist. As a retired occupational therapist and certified CARES® Dementia Specialist™, Esther works as a consultant and educator for seniors and their caregivers. She is also the co-owner of Senior Safety Advice.Read More
- Published: July 12, 2022
- Updated: May 23, 2023
- 5 min read time
- This page features 3 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
What Is Life Alert?
In part thanks to its well-known commercials, Life Alert may be considered the premier brand of the medical alert system industry. Even the term “life alert” is sometimes used interchangeably to describe any kind of alert service.
Life Alert was one of the first companies in the scene and has been selling alert devices to seniors since 1987. But despite their time in the industry and brand awareness, they may be several years removed from being the best product out there.
Many competitors have innovated in various directions and Life Alert has struggled to keep up. Lively, for example, offers Jitterbug smart phones and mobile apps, while companies like Bay Alarm Medical sell smartwatches and other high-tech options.
Life Alert still largely only sells alert pendants that can be connected to an operator through a base speaker at the touch of a button. For some seniors, that may be all they are looking for.
But with so many technological advances in the last few decades, especially as the industry has grown, most competitors offer a much larger range of products and services that better integrate with modern society and modern technology.
Life Alert's lack of transparent pricing, high cost, and requirement to speak to a salesperson to receive cost information, as well as the three-year contract for service, make it less appealing compared to its competitors.
How Do Life Alert’s Medical Alert Systems Work?
Life Alert’s medical alert system works similarly to many other companies. It starts with you wearing a pendant that can typically be worn around your neck or on your wrist.
The pendant has a button on it that is connected to the Life Alert speaker you place in your home. If you have some sort of medical emergency or fall, you can press the button and immediately be connected to a Life Alert emergency operator through the speaker.
They can then contact your family or emergency services depending on your situation. If you are too far away from the speaker for them to hear you or you can’t talk, they typically contact emergency services if the button was pressed without a verbal response.
- Includes an alert button that can be pressed at any time
- 800-foot range from the speaker
The pendants have a range of 800 feet, meaning they will work as long as you remain within 800 feet of the base unit. They are also waterproof.
Life Alert has some other auxiliary versions of its product as well, like an alert button that you can stick to the wall of your shower so you can easily press it if you have any kind of emergency.
How Much Does a Life Alert System Cost?
The cost of a Life Alert system can be hard to nail down due to a lack of transparency from the company. Life Alert does not list any kind of price or cost publicly on its website. Instead, it directs you to call them and speak to a salesperson.
This appears to be the only way to get cost information directly from Life Alert. This differs from its competitors, as many of them not only post full cost information online but allow customers to purchase items directly from the website.
According to the U.S. News & World Report, you will be charged a one-time equipment fee of $198 and then a monthly fee that can range from $69.99 to $89.99 depending on the package that you select.
It should be noted that this is much more expensive than many of Life Alert’s competitors. Some companies have monthly fees in the $20-to-$30 range, and the equipment fee is also much lower for most competitor devices.
Life Alert also requires the signing of a three-year contract to receive services, meaning, you will have to pay the company for three years even if you decide at some point that you no longer want Life Alert or want to switch to a different service.
Some of Life Alert’s competitors also include contracts of some form, but typically not as long as three years.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Life Alert?
There are some pros and potential benefits to opting for Life Alert over some of its competitors. The company remains perhaps the most established in the industry and is one of the few that can say it has decades of experience providing alert systems to seniors.
Life Alert is also a very reliable service that can help keep you safe. You should have no issue getting the help you need if you have an emergency and press your alert button at any time of day or night.
But there are some serious potential drawbacks that must be considered as well.
The lack of transparency in pricing and the requirement to speak to a salesperson in order to receive cost information is a serious drawback, especially compared to competitors.
Many people do not want to have to speak with a salesperson to order a product, especially in an industry that often allows immediate purchases of devices directly from company websites.
The price of a Life Alert system is also a major con, especially given the relative simplicity of the technology compared to some competitors. You will have to pay much more, both upfront and each month, if you opt for a Life Alert device.
The long-term contracts are another drawback, since you essentially become locked into paying a hefty monthly fee for three years with little control over the contract.
3 Cited Research Articles
- Hampshire, K., Bitler, T. (2022, March 24). Life Alert Overview and Prices. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/360-reviews/services/medical-alert-system/life-alert
- Better Business Bureau. (n.d.). Life Alert Emergency Response, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/encino/profile/medical-alarm/life-alert-emergency-response-inc-1216-23351
- Life Alert. (n.d.). Life Alert. Retrieved from https://www.lifealert.com/index.aspx