The decision to buy a medical alert system can be overwhelming, and doing so isn’t easily accessible for many people. So, we researched dozens of companies to find the best providers based on quality and reliability to help you make the best decision for yourself or a loved one.
Bay Alarm does a good job of removing any obstacles that may keep seniors from getting the protection they need to live safely and independently at home. They're also among the least expensive on the market. And, the brand also offers a variety of monitors to suit every lifestyle. Whether you’re often on the go and want protection that travels with you everywhere, or you’re most interested in subtle design so no one knows you wear an alert, Bay Alarm has a device that will suit your needs. These are just some of the reasons why they make our top list.
Here's more about why we think Bay Alarm is one of the best choices in personal emergency response systems.
Cost is often the first concern among seniors when choosing an emergency monitoring system. The good news is that you can get a Bay Alarm in-home medical alert system for as little as $19.95 a month if you have a landline or internet phone, or for $29.95 if you want a model compatible with a cellular phone.
Additional services such as on-the-go monitoring, GPS tracking, driver protection, and a caregiver app are available at an additional cost. Bay Alarm offers three service bundles for $39.95 a month.
Unlike many medical alert systems, Bay Alarm does not charge any activation or upfront fees.
There are no long-term contracts, which means you can cancel your service at any time without penalty. There is also a 30-day no-obligation free trial period.
If you have a spouse or roommate, they can use your monitoring system and protection plan for free if they buy a separate personal help button for $35.
Bay Alarm offers a lifetime rate guarantee. You pay the same monthly fee for as long as you have the service. If you are on a fixed income and are worried about your budget, this is an invaluable perk.
Original Medicare doesn’t cover personal medical alert systems. The good news is that some Medicare Advantage plans may cover some or all of the costs depending on the system and vendor. If you have Medicare Advantage, check the expanded benefits section for personal emergency response system benefits.
It is also important to note that if you have a health savings account, you can use it to pay for a medical alert system. Under current guidelines, personal monitoring systems are qualified expenses for HSA funds.
Bay Alarm has two types of systems:
You can buy either system separately, or you can bundle services to get both in-home and on-the-go protection. In other words, you don’t have to have the home system to use the mobile devices.
Bay Alarm’s basic protection system costs $19.95 a month. It includes a landline alarm unit and a small personal help button that can be worn either as a pendant or around your wrist. The button is waterproof, so you can bathe, shower, and swim while wearing it.
The personal help buttons have a range of 1,000 feet (one-fifth of a mile) from the in-home unit. This is the longest range of all devices tested. Bay Alarm monitors the battery life of your system and mails you a new help button free of charge when your battery is about to expire.
The preferred system is $24.95 and includes two five-inch wall-mounted help buttons with the alarm unit and personal button. The help buttons can be placed in areas where falls are more likely to occur, such as the bathroom, kitchen, or stairs. If you have a larger home, the platinum system could be a great fit, as it provides four help buttons and costs $29.95 a month.
It’s important to note that the personal help button and the wall-mounted help buttons don’t have two-way communication capabilities. Pushing the buttons only initiates a call to the call center. When that occurs, the operator then calls your home or cell phone. If you don’t answer, the operator alerts first responders.
You don’t need to sign up for cellular service to get a cellular alarm unit. Bay Alarm comes with AT&T service and uses the 4G LTE network. This places Bay Alarm at an advantage over other services that use older 3G equipment.
It’s also important to note the 3G network is being phased out in February 2022. This means if your medical alert isn’t 4G, you’ll need to upgrade your equipment in a year or so. Bay Alarm is a step ahead of the game in this area especially, since their cellular devices already use 4G technology.
If you choose a cellular unit, it will add $10 to the monthly cost of each plan.
Bay Alarm has three different mobile devices that each come with AT&T service. Each device includes GPS and 24/7 monitoring with two-way voice connection to the call center.
The mobile devices have extraordinarily precise GPS location capabilities thanks to 4G LTE. In field tests, the devices could be tracked not only to a specific address or building but even to a particular room within the building. This is extremely helpful for first responders trying to find you in the event of an emergency.
The GPS button is a mobile version of the home base unit. It measures about 3 inches in length and one-half inch in thickness. It’s available in black or white and comes with a lanyard, although it also fits comfortably in a pocket if you don’t want to wear it around your neck.
The GPS button is rechargeable and holds a charge for about three days. It’s water-resistant but not fully waterproof like the personal button. This means you can shower with it, but you shouldn’t wear it in the bath or swimming pool.
The button costs $79, and you can keep it even if you cancel your service. The cost of monthly monitoring is $24.95.
Additional GPS button features include:
The caregiver tracking app is useful for monitoring a loved one’s daily activities and locations. It’s also handy if you misplace the device. When this happens, you can simply use your cell phone or web app to pinpoint its location.
If you’re concerned about others knowing you use a medical alert system, the SOS smartwatch is the device for you. It looks just like other high-tech watches on the market and blends in effortlessly. It also has fitness tracking capabilities to help you reach your health goals, as well as a discreet help button and two-way voice connectivity.
The SOS watch has a battery life of between 14 and 18 hours, depending on your daily activity. It charges while you sleep. You don’t need a smartphone to use the SOS watch.
The watch costs $179 and the monitoring fee is $24.95.
By our research, SplitSecond is one of the most innovative medical alert devices on the market. It plugs into the 12-volt outlet of any vehicle and provides real-time trip monitoring and crash detection. If the device detects that you’ve been in an accident, it automatically alerts Bay Alarm with your exact location. You can also use the help button to talk to the emergency response center.
The car alert comes with an app that shows travel history, route information, and vehicle location. If you forget where you parked your car, your smartphone app can guide you to it. It also has a driver profile section where you can record your health information. Bay Alarm automatically sends your health data to the first responders so they are better prepared to help you.
The SplitSecond medical alert is free of charge as long as you pay for monthly monitoring. If you cancel your service, you have to return the device. Car alert monitoring costs $29.95 a month and includes the caregiver app.
Service bundles can save you as much as $120 a year. Bay Alarm offers three different bundles for $39.95 a month each, which are listed below. If you don’t see a combination that works for you among these three, give them a call. The company is well-known for creating custom service plans.
Bundle A: In-home personal monitoring system plus the GPS help button
Bundle B: In-home personal monitoring system plus the SOS smartwatch (which is discounted to $149, providing a $30 savings)
Bundle C: In-home personal monitoring system plus the SplitSecond car device and caregiver app
Bay Alarm medical alert systems are incredibly easy to set up. If you have a landline, simply plug a phone cord from the wall outlet to the device and another one from the device to your home phone. You can use your phone as you normally would when it is plugged into the alert system.
There is no setup involved with the cellular unit. Just plug it in and turn it on.
The alarm units have a test and learn button that lets you place a test call to the call center to make sure the device is working properly. Lights on the front of the device alert you if the electricity or phone lines are disconnected. The unit can run for up to 36 hours if you happen to lose power.
Bay Alarm is one of the only companies that allows you to set up multiple notification profiles. You can ask the call center to contact a neighbor to check on you before calling first responders, for example. You can also include names and numbers of family members you want Bay Alarm to notify if you have an emergency.
A personal lockbox is one of those thoughtful accessories you never think you need until it’s too late. When first responders come to your home, they will use any means necessary to get in to help you. If your door is locked, they can and will break it down to get to you.
For a one-time fee of $30, you can buy a Bay Alarm lockbox with a four-digit code known only to you and the call center. If Bay Alarm calls first responders on your behalf, the operator gives them the lockbox code so they can safely unlock your door and avoid damaging your home.
One of the most important things to consider about a medical alert system is the quality of its emergency response center. Bay Alarm’s call center gets superior ratings from both consumers and industry testing organizations.
Independent testing shows that the average response time is about 45 seconds, which is among the quickest of all companies tested. The call centers are based in the United States and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Bay Alarm received the highest five-diamond rating from The Monitoring Association. Centers that achieve this distinction demonstrate a commitment to the highest standards of customer care. They are randomly and periodically inspected for quality by independent inspectors.
Bay Alarm partners with a translation service for customers who don’t speak English. Currently, their translators help customers in over 170 different languages. This is great news if English isn’t your loved one’s primary language, as they can still use Bay Alarm medical alert services.
The opinions of actual customers can tell a lot about the quality of a company. Bay Alarm got 4.7 out of 5 stars over nearly 5,000 reviews on Google. Consumer Affairs recorded a perfect five out of five stars over 144 reviews in the past 12 months.
The company has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. It has received just 16 complaints since 2017, nearly all related to billing disputes as opposed to quality of service.
Bay Alarm is that rare company that manages to provide exceptional service while keeping costs low. For that reason alone, it deserves to be at the top of your list if you’re shopping for medical alert systems.
The company is also leading the way in innovative solutions for aging safely at home. Its SplitSecond device received a 2019 innovation award from the Consumer Technology Association. The SOS smartwatch is particularly well-suited for active adults, and its clever design is quite stylish, removing the stigma often associated with wearing an emergency alert. The company also released a new line of jewelry-like pendants to disguise the personal help button.
If you are thinking of buying a personal monitoring system for yourself or a loved one but aren’t quite sure you’re ready, you can give Bay Alarm a free trial run. With no upfront equipment fees or activation costs, it’s easy to set up an in-home system to see if Bay Alarm is right for you.
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.