Life Alert is a brand with a long history in the world of medical alert systems. It was founded in 1987 and is the brand that rose to fame thanks to the TV commercial with a senior saying, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” That slogan has firmly secured Life Alert in many Americans’ minds as being the go-to brand for medical alert devices.
While the company has been around a long time, it has done a good job of remaining relevant and improving its services. Life Alert claims its contact centers answer two million calls per year and help save lives every 11 minutes. The brand offers in-home landline products and an on-the-go product with GPS and cellular features.
This guide looks at the services offered by Life Alert, the company’s pricing and who their products are best suited for.
Life Alert's Device Options
Life Alert offers three devices:
- An In-Home system with a base station and basic wearables
- An In-Home system with an extra wall-mounted button for the bathtub or shower
- The Life Alert Mobile LTE and GPS-equipped wearable
Both in-home products come with a waterproof wearable. The base station requires a landline for communication and has a backup battery with an average life of 72 hours. The base station range is around 800 feet, which is better than that offered by most rival manufacturers.
The mobile device is a basic cellular medical alert system (suitable for use outside the home, making it ideal for active seniors. It provides two-way communication with the contact center any time, anywhere.
Life Alert's Plans
All three of Life Alert’s plans require an up-front fee for the device’s purchase, which is $95 for the In-Home device and $96 for the other two devices. Each plan also requires a monthly fee: Life Alert’s most basic in-home plan costs $49 per month, making it one of the most expensive providers on the market today. There’s an additional $19 monthly fee for an extra wall-mounted button that’s specifically built to be used around water, so it can be placed directly in the shower or bathtub, or it can be placed wherever it’s most convenient. The mobile service also costs $19 per month.
Life Alert requires customers to sign up for a three-year contract. Users may cancel the contract without penalty for qualifying reasons, such as moving into a nursing home. If someone wishes to cancel a contract early for a different reason, for example: to use a different provider, they have to pay the remaining months.
Medicare doesn’t explicitly cover life Alert; however, those who qualify for Medicaid or Medicare Advantage may be able to receive reimbursement for part of the cost of a medical alert system, including Life Alert. Many insurance companies offer discounts on Life Alert products for those who can demonstrate an assessed need or increased risk of falling.
Extra Services Offered by Life Alert
It’s interesting to note that Life Alert does not offer fall detection with any of its products. The company believes that fall detection technology is unreliable and says that customers report feeling frustrated at the number of false alarms triggered by the technology. Overall, the company’s offering is quite bare-bones. Life Alert does not offer multilingual helplines or free spouse monitoring.
It does, however, have a mobile app that turns a smartphone into an alert button. Clients can call the helpline in an emergency using the button or use the line as a virtual escort if they’re out alone and feel unsafe. The contact center agent stays on the line until the caller gets to their destination or feels safe enough to hang up. Life Alert maintains and runs its own monitoring centers, all based in the United States, so 24/7 support can be dispatched quickly.
Customer Reviews of Life Alert
Life Alert may be no-frills compared to some other popular medical alert systems, but the brand still has many fans.
What Customers Like
Customers praise Life Alert for having easy-to-use devices and a contact center with rapid response times. One reviewer says that they really believe their mother is still alive due to the company’s quick action when she reported a stroke.
The hardware is easy to use, reliable and waterproof. The wall-mounted alert button for the bathroom is a good option for seniors that might forget to take a help pendant into the bath or shower with them.
What Customers Don’t Like
The company has faced criticism because of the long-term contracts it imposes. Many rivals offer month-to-month billing or the option for users to sign three, six or twelve-month contracts. Life Alert’s three-year contract is one of the least friendly out of those offered by major manufacturers. This, combined with higher than average pricing, makes it hard to recommend the product to those on a budget.
Customers can be released from the contract if they move into a long-term care facility. Some families feel the extra hassle of arranging for a contract cancellation during a period of significant transition in a senior’s life is too much for them.
Who Should Consider Life Alert
Life Alert is more expensive than most rivals, and their contract terms are not particularly friendly. However, there are some seniors for whom Life Alert makes sense. The brand has been providing medical alert devices for more than three decades and has the advantage of being well-known and familiar to seniors. The value of brand recognition and trust is something that should not be underestimated.
The devices work well and are reliable, and the operators on the helpline are U.S. based and well trained. However, medical alert devices are only useful if the senior carries the device with them and is willing to push the button in times of distress.