Is Life Alert Worth the Cost?
- Life Alert costs start at $70 per month, a great deal more than other medical alert systems.
- You'll need to pay a one-time installation fee of $198.
- A three-year contract is required with Life Alert.
- Life Alert does not offer free trial period or money-back guarantee.
The Life Alert website is frustratingly vague when it comes to pricing. Although you can find information about the pendant buttons and base units, Life Alert costs aren't published on the site. You have to call the company and request a brochure to get pricing information. Even then, the company is coy about costs.
That may be by design. When Health editors researched the company, we learned that Life Alert is among the most expensive. The basic home system starts at $70 a month while comprehensive home coverage systems and home and on-the-go packages start at $90 a month. There's also a one-time installation fee of $198. Life Alert requires a three-year service commitment.
The company's high prices were one of the reasons Life Alert didn't make our list of best medical alert systems this year. However, Life Alert is one of the most recognized names in personal emergency response systems. The call monitoring center earned TMA Five Diamond certification, the highest available rating.
If you're comparing medical alert systems for yourself or a loved one, here's what you should know about Life Alert costs, equipment, and service.
Life Alert pros
- Above-average call center response times with US-based, 24/7 monitoring
- No need to charge or replace batteries
- Wall-mounted and on-the-go devices
- Doesn't require a landline or in-home WiFi
- Free app
Life Alert cons
- High monthly monitoring and installation costs
- Three-year commitment required
- No free trial period
- No automatic fall detection
- Range of only 800 feet
What do you get with a Life Alert system?
Life Alert offers three service packages:
- Basic or "modified" in-home monitoring: This system consists of a base unit and wearable waterproof pendant with a range of 800 feet. The base system is compatible with either a landline or cellular phone. At $69.90 a month, this is the lowest Life Alert cost.
- Complete in-home monitoring: In addition to the base unit and pendant, you also get a wall-mounted help button. Most people place the button in the bathroom where the majority of household falls occur. You never need to charge or replace the batteries in the help button. This service starts at $89.85 a month, about twice as much as Medical Guardian, our top-ranked medical alert system.
- In-home and GPS monitoring: This system includes the base unit, help button, and wearable GPS pendant so you can contact the help center even when you're away from home. Battery life is an impressive seven to 10 years; most people never need to replace their batteries. Prices start at $89.95 a month, more than double the $39.95 a month for the similar service Bay Alarm plan.
Additional Life Alert features and services
- Spouse monitoring: Life Alert allows you to add a spouse to your monitoring plan for an extra $10 a month. You'll also need to buy an additional pendant for $49.
- Extra wall buttons: You can also add extra wall-mounted help buttons if you want protection in other areas of your home. The cost for each additional help button is $19.95.
- Life Alert app: If you buy a Life Alert plan, you can use the Life Alert app free of charge. You can connect with the Life Alert call center by tapping a button on the app.
- Replacement pendant: If you lose or damage your pendant button, you can buy a replacement for $49.
The Life Alert prices include a full lifetime warranty. The company replaces defective equipment at no cost to you.
Although Life Alert costs are among the highest, there is one nice perk: Your monthly monitoring fees are locked for life. As long as you're covered by your Life Alert service contract, your monthly fees will never go up.
Life Alert costs: the bottom line
Thanks to endless "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials, the name Life Alert is synonymous with personal emergency monitoring systems. The company has a long-standing reputation for high-quality medical alert systems.
While Life Alert is among the most recognized names in the industry, it's not known for budget-friendly pricing. Even its lowest-priced service is more than double the cost of comparable highly rated medical alert systems.
We are also troubled by the long-term commitment. Most medical alert companies offer monthly services with no contract cancellation fees or penalties. You can end or change your plan as your needs and circumstances change.
Life Alert only lets you out of your contract if your loved one dies, enters inpatient care, or requires round-the-clock, in-home care. A simple phone call notification won't suffice; you'll need a doctor's statement to cancel.
Another red flag is the lack of a free trial period. For many people, buying a home medical alert system is a carefully considered and emotional decision. You or your loved one may decide it's not the right time after trying it at home.
For this reason, most medical alert companies offer a free trial period. Life Alert, however, doesn't give you the option to test the waters before you commit. Once you place the order, you're locked into your contract.
Ultimately, if you're considering a medical alert system, Life Alert is probably not the most economical option. Even though its call center gets high marks for quality, the company's lack of price transparency is worrisome. You may want to consider other alarm systems, especially if you're watching your budget.
How to buy Life Alert
Unlike most medical alert systems, Life Alert doesn't give you the option to buy online. You have to call the company and speak to a sales representative.
It's difficult to get information about pricing, products, and plans from the reps at the information call center. When Health editors asked for details about Life Alert cost, the rep informed us that she was only able to handle brochure requests and we would have to read the brochure for prices and ordering information. You have to give your personal information to get the brochure.
If you decide to order a Life Alert system, you need to speak to the sales department. You'll be able to choose your monitoring plan, equipment, and extra coverage at that time. Reps may have some ability to negotiate the activation fee, so be sure to bring it up during the call.
Life Alert uses UPS to ship its monitoring systems; most people get their equipment in about three business days. If you choose professional installation, allow shipping time when you schedule your appointment. Installation is included in your activation fee.
Frequently asked questions about Life Alert
How much is Life Alert installation?
Life Alert charges a one-time installation and activation fee. The fee is the same whether you have the device professionally installed or go the DIY route. You aren't charged until the device is activated in your home.
Most company information suggests the activation fee is $198, but some online reviews mention fees as low as $95 or even $0 depending on the plan. Health editors weren't able to verify those lower costs, however.
Do I have to sign a contract with Life Alert?
Life Alert requires a three-year service commitment. You can get out of the contract if you or your covered loved one is admitted to a hospital or nursing home. If you transition to 24-hour in-home care, you can also cancel your contract.
Keep in mind, you'll need a letter from your doctor to document the reason you're canceling your service. Without it, you'll have to continue to pay your monthly fees.
Does Life Alert have a free trial period?
Life Alert does not offer a money-back trial period. Once you sign a contract, you're locked into your service fees for three years.
How much is shipping?
Shipping is included in the cost of your Life Alert monitoring plan. The company also covers the cost of shipping if you need to replace defective equipment covered by the warranty.
Does Life Alert have fall detection?
Currently, there is no option for fall detection with Life Alert monitoring systems. Most medical alert systems offer fall detection although you may pay an additional fee each month.
Does Life Alert offer deals or discounts?
Life Alert doesn't advertise any special pricing on its website, but some reviewers claim they have been able to get discounted monitoring and installation fees. It never hurts to ask your sales rep about deals and discounts when you call for information.
Of note? If you choose annual billing instead of monthly, you get one month of monitoring service free.
Does Medicare cover Life Alert?
Original Medicare doesn't cover medical alert systems. However, several Medicare Advantage plans may pay some or all of the costs of personal emergency response services. You may have to use a service approved by your plan, however.
Sheila Olson has over two decades of experience writing about Medicare, health, and personal finance. Her work has been featured on sites such as Investopedia, The Motley Fool, and Boomer Benefits. Sheila holds a MPH (Master of Public Health) from Northern Arizona University.