Bay Alarm Medical is a big name in the medical alert business. For years they’ve earned some of our highest ratings, and our latest check-up confirms that Bay Alarm is still among the best. We recently tested their full lineup for seniors, which includes a unique in-car alert system, plus the typical medical alert buttons: GPS buttons, wearable in-home buttons, and wall buttons. While response times weren’t ultra-speedy, emergency help was always live within 30 to 45 seconds. Also, two people can share a monitoring plan, and service can cost half what it would elsewhere.
It’s worth mentioning that Bay Alarm Medical has AARP’s endorsement.1 This backing gives us a little extra peace of mind since AARP doesn’t hand out endorsements willy-nilly! Also, there are medical alert discounts for people with AARP membership. Overall, Bay Alarm Medical offers a mix of high-quality plans with moderate pricing. But we did discover a few things we discovered that you’ll want to consider. So, let’s jump in and see how these alert systems measure up against other options out there.
We like how Bay Alarm Medical is a family-owned company. While stockholders can sway the direction of some brands, Bay Alarm Medical holds fast to its roots. This level of perseverance is apparent in how they treat their customers, and with a bit of sleuthing, we found their employees are equally satisfied as well.2 Of all the anonymous reviewers who’ve worked there, about 85% would recommend Bay Alarm Medical to a friend. Even more impressive, 100% of employees approve of the CEO! We like supporting these kinds of companies.
Like any AARP-age person, Bay Alarm Medical has weathered a lot of storms. Bay Alarm Medical is a subdivision of Bay Alarm, a home security provider founded just after WWII. Everett Westphal founded Bay Alarm in the San Francisco Bay area in 1946. Later, his sons took charge of the company, and they established the Bay Alarm Medical section known today.
In 2016, the Westphal brothers were inducted into the Security Sales and Integration Industry Hall of Fame.3 In case you don’t follow those awards like the Emmys, the honor signifies that Bay Alarm Medical has been run by people who are well-respected for their professionalism and achievements. Their in-car system is a perfect example of a product in the achievements category. The company now serves about 130,000 accounts and maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.4
In our experience, signing up with Bay Alarm Medical was simple. It only took a few minutes for us to choose a plan online. You can also get started by phone, but we like the design of Bay Alarm Medical’s website, so that’s where we went to order our alert system. The homepage shows a cheery cartoon of a subscriber and his caregiver. The whole site uses easy-to-read font sizes, and it is almost effortless to find the products, services, and support materials you want.
We did have a small complaint about the chatbox, though. If you want instant answers from an online agent, you need to enter your name and email address, which seemed somewhat invasive. We closed that box and instead found answers from the extensive Bay Alarm Medical FAQ section.5
FYI: Bay Alarm Medical lets you avoid long-term contracts. When you return the equipment, they’ll immediately stop charging you a monthly monitoring fee.
Setting up medical alert equipment is usually pretty easy. With Bay Alarm Medical systems, you plug a base unit into a phone jack on your wall or the 12-volt outlet in a vehicle, then follow the prompts for a connection. For the in-home systems, you can easily repeat the process for setup at a new location like an office, hotel, or relative’s house. This process works as long as the location has a landline. The 4G LTE GPS button, of course, works anywhere covered by the AT&T 4G LTE cellular network.
For the best range, you’ll want to set the in-home base unit in a central part of your home. It has a 1,000-ft range, which is above average compared to the competition. We also got a four-pack of wall buttons that you can use to call for help. These panic buttons were easy to set up with peel-and-stick adhesive strips, and their batteries are supposed to last for five years. Green status lights let you know that the equipment is ready to serve.
Did You Know: Bay Alarm Medical’s in-home alert pendants can keep a charge for up to five years! A green light shows that power is strong. When your battery power gets low, the company will send you replacement equipment for free.
Using a medical alert device is easy. For the in-home wearables from Bay Alarm Medical, there are two or three ways to get help during emergencies:
As for the mobile GPS button, it has a two-way voice built-in. This gadget is surprisingly small, which we like! It can fit into your front pocket, and a slip-away cover helps ensure that you won’t accidentally push the button. Although, if you do, you can easily cancel the call.
Note, this on-the-go button requires an almost-daily charge, unlike the home-only devices. A charge might only last for 32 hours if you’re especially active.
Pro Tip: Automatic fall detection can be life-saving, but the technology isn’t perfect from any brand. In case of emergency, a person should press their medical alert button, if possible.6
When we compare medical alert devices from different brands, we notice some are bulkier than others. We like how the Bay Alarm Medical in-home options are relatively lightweight and sleek. They’re waterproof too so that you can wear one in the shower or tub, as well as while washing dishes.
The GPS button is likewise small and lightweight. We think it’s most comfortably kept in a pocket instead of worn around the neck. This on-the-go device is safe to wear in a drizzle, but it’s only water-resistant, whereas the indoor-only pendants are entirely waterproof. This feature helps explain why you might want an in-home device, as well as one with GPS.
With Bay Alarm Medical, you only pay for monitoring, not the basic equipment. The only equipment charge from Bay Alarm Medical would be for an optional Bella pendant or a second button for another adult.
Each device has a 24-7 connection to emergency operators. Bay Alarm Medical’s monitoring center operates out of California (hence the name Bay Alarm). In case of extra-heavy traffic or power outages at the center, they can forward your calls to operators in Washington or Utah, so there is always coverage.
The typical wait time for help is about 30 to 45 seconds, which could be faster. Every second seems longer when you’re worried. Still, you can count on Bay Alarm Medical to be there, and they’ll automatically have location data based on your address or GPS signals.
FYI: Bay Alarm Medical didn’t offer the fastest response times we’ve experienced, but we found their agents and service to be reliable and consistent.
Our experts care a lot about customer service. After all, choosing a medical alert company is a big decision, plus you’re probably looking for a long-term relationship. In our experience, Bay Alarm Medical is a definite leader in terms of customer service. As mentioned above, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Emergency help is, of course, available 24-7. You can get help by phone or online chat. Regular customer service hours are 6 am to 6 pm PST Monday through Friday, and from 8 am to 4:30 pm on weekends. They also have several helpful videos on their website, too.
Since there are no long-term contracts required, you can cancel without paying a penalty. To cancel, we first had to call the company to let them know. They gave us “power down” instructions and instructed us on how to return our devices to their office. It’s smart to return the equipment before your next bill date to avoid any additional charges. Also, keep in mind, our account wasn’t completely canceled until they received our equipment in working condition and it was fully processed. This was slightly irritating; we think the return should be complete upon postmarking the equipment return.
Another thing to remember is the 30-day money-back guarantee that Bay offers. It’s the only way to get a full refund, so we highly recommend setting up and trying the equipment as soon as it arrives. Finally, as far as we know, Bay Alarm Medical doesn’t charge restocking fees. These things are important to consider when researching alert devices. Whether you or your loved one is aging at home, there’s enough to worry about. So you don’t want to be weighed down by cancellation penalties and restocking fees, too.
Bay Alarm Medical offers three main choices: in-home units, mobile GPS buttons, or a combination of both. Prices below are for one option only. If you choose more than one, a discount will automatically appear in your online shopping cart.
The prices below are for monitoring and remember that two people can share a single monitoring account. This combination is a nice touch, and it’s not something we see all the time. Equipment is free for the first person. For a second person, there’s a one-time equipment fee. For example, a second in-home button costs $34.95. Also, feel free to check out our Bay Alarm Medical pricing page for more details.
Here’s the full lineup of Bay Alarm Medical alert systems:
A Standard Protection package includes a base unit and your choice of a lanyard button (a neck pendant) or wrist button. Starting at $19.95 per month, we can say it’s one of the best deals in the industry, especially if two people share a plan. Keep in mind that the price bumps up to $29.95 per month for cellular monitoring (if you don’t have a landline). You can also add fall protection for an extra $10 per month. The basic features include:
It’s natural to worry when your teen or elderly parent takes the wheel. With this scenario in mind, Bay Alarm Medical offers an in-car alert system. We figure that it’s already inspiring the competition, but for now, this technology is fairly unique to this brand. Sensors detect if a vehicle is involved in a fender bender or more serious trouble, and instantly, the Bay Alarm Medical call center gets notice. The technology works even more quickly than a regular Bay Alarm Medical alert system, and you can include caregiver tracking as an option. Features of the In-Car Medical Alert include:
Pro Tip: Caregivers can connect to Bay Alarm Medical accounts via the mobile app. The caregiver connection ($5 per month) allows live GPS tracking and trip history logs for in-car alert systems and the 4G LTE GPS buttons.
A slight disappointment is that important features like non-landline service and fall detection cost extra. On the other hand, we think Bay Alarm Medical prices are pretty low and are especially good deals if you’re protecting two people on one account. Here are special benefits and optional add-ons:
Above we covered main features like signal range and two-way talk. Now let’s look at optional add-ons:
Equipment Protection — Bay Alarm Medical ships equipment for free. However, if you lose your base unit in a flood, or if a power surge fries your device, then you’ll be on the hook to pay for replacements. Optional protection costs $5 per month. We tend not to choose this sort of add-on, but it might be right for you.
Fall Detection — Fall detection can be a lifesaver. For an extra $10 per month, you can add this feature to an in-home or on-the-go neck pendant. The science isn’t 100% accurate, but generally, it can sense a fall and automatically call for help. We think it’s worthwhile. After all, protection in case of falls is a big reason why many people shop for medical alert devices in the first place!
Lockbox — When rescue workers are called to action, they might break down doors to save the day! It would be better if they had a house key. A lockbox lets you set a key aside in case of emergencies. Essentially, it’s a combination lock with storage space, and it can attach to a door or gate. Bay Alarm Medical will tell the combination to paramedics during dispatch. The lockbox is either free or costs $34.95, depending on which medical alert device(s) you order.
Free Monitoring for Spouse — The shared monitoring deal makes Bay Alarm Medical a best buy for many couples. Your first in-home button is free, and you only pay for monitoring ($19.95 per month and up). For no extra monitoring charge, a second adult (at the same address) can share the plan, and you’ll only pay a one-time fee of $34.95 for the second button. We found this inclusion to be a great feature, as most alert brands we’ve tested charge for spouse monitoring.
Wall Buttons — Wall buttons give emergency backup when you aren’t wearing a medical alert device. You can place these devices in high-risk fall areas like the shower, stairway, and kitchen. Pushing a button will call for help and allows two-way voice communication through the base station, just like a medical alert pendant. Bay Alarm Medical will monitor one button for $3 per month or four buttons for $10 per month.
GPS Tracking for Caregivers — Caregiver Tracking is a $5 per month upgrade. It lets a caregiver check on you or your loved one’s location with a mobile app, including live location and trip history. This system works with the 4G LTE GPS button and Bay Alarm Medical’s in-car alert system. We like how Caregiver Tracking can add peace of mind if an older family member is starting to show a cognitive decline, or if a teen is starting behind the wheel. You can even set boundary alerts for when a person leaves a specified area.
Vial of Life — Vial of Life is a simple way to share medical history in case of an emergency. It’s a sheet of personal medical info that’s kept in a protective plastic sheet with a magnet for attaching to a refrigerator door. Bay Alarm Medical gives you one free Vial of Life kit per account. Each additional kit is $8.95. You will want an extra kit if both you and your spouse have alert coverage, or if you have an extra-large home.
Call Circle — If you like, Bay Alarm Medical can contact certain people in addition to emergency workers. You can also specify whether Bay should call 911 before or after they call a personal contact. You can set up personalized instructions with the Client Information Form you get during the sign-up process.
Did You Know: Vial of Life is a dramatic term that simply refers to a sheet of information about someone’s medical essentials.7 With your free Vial of Life kit, Bay Alarm Medical can ensure paramedics will know where to find important information about the person they’re helping.
We enjoyed our latest round of Bay Alarm Medical testing. It feels good to work with a trustworthy company, and they have systems to meet just about anyone’s emergency backup needs. Keep in mind that if you or your loved one is especially frail or isolated, unlike some other services, Bay doesn’t offer daily check-in calls to verify your safety. With that said, Bay does offer caregiver GPS tracking, and that’s enough peace of mind for most seniors and caregivers.
Again, the pricing is very competitive. Equipment is free, and two adults can share a monitoring plan. Also, Bay Alarm Medical guarantees that your rates won’t increase, even though you won’t be signing a long-term contract. We really like how they don’t play games with surprise fees or by making cancellations a hassle. Our one frustration was with a 35-second wait for an emergency operator. Beeps let us know that the system was working, but still, we felt a little impatient.
All in all, with Bay Alarm Medical, you know that a professional will field your call. The combination of corporate transparency, high-quality equipment, and fair prices makes this choice a perennial favorite of ours. You can try service free for 30 days. If you decide to cancel, you’ll only pay return shipping for the free equipment.
Choosing a medical alert brand is a serious decision. It’s important to get a plan that gives users and caregivers true peace of mind. We hope that this in-depth Bay Alarm Medical review has brought you closer to that goal.
Dahm, Tom. (2019, December 26). Senior Organizations Endorse Medical Alert Devices. Bay Alarm Medical.
Working at Bay Alarm Medical. (2020). Glassdoor.
Bay Alarm. (2016, April 6). Bay Alarm Brothers Inducted Into Security Sales and Integration Industry Hall of Fame.
Bay Alarm Medical: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (2020, January 30). BBB.
Bay Alarm Medical. (2020). Frequently Asked Questions.
Li, Q., Stankovic, J. A., Hanson, M. A., Barth, A. T., Lach, J. & Zhou, G. (2009, August 28). Accurate, Fast Fall Detection Using Gyroscopes and Accelerometer-Derived Posture Information. Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Sixth International Workshop on Wearable and Implantable Body Sensor Networks, 138-143.
Northeast District Department of Health. (2020). NDDH Vial of Life Program.