In a previous article, we covered the history of cryonics – the practice of preserving the dead at extremely low temperatures in the hope of reviving them later. We also discussed some of the practical challenges of these endeavours. Now it’s finally time to take a look at the cryonics companies themselves. Who are the main players, what do they offer and, perhaps most pressingly for many, how much do they charge?
Before we get into the details of how each cryonics company differs, it’s helpful to cover some common ground and explain some general points:
Cryopreservation methods: While there are some differences in the exact procedures used, all companies on this list use vitrification (as explained in this article) to cryopreserve their clients.
Membership: While some companies will accept last-minute cryopreservation requests, most require prior membership so that appropriate preparations can be made to ensure that clients are cryopreserved as rapidly as possible. However, it should be noted that membership of different companies doesn’t always mean the same thing. Some people become members just to support the organisation or have DNA preserved, while for other companies’ membership means the person has also signed up to be cryopreserved.
Patients: Cryonicists believe that a person who is considered dead by current medical criteria will not necessarily be beyond help in the future. Thus, frozen bodies are commonly referred to as patients. The patient numbers in this article do not include cryopreserved pets.
Costs: Prices for cryopreservation usually include a membership fee, a separate fee to cover medical standby/transportation teams, and a cryopreservation fee paid at time of death. This last fee can be up to $200 000, and most people pay this by making the cryonics company the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Much of this money often goes into low risk investments to ensure that the costs of cryopreservation can be covered indefinitely, and to protect against any potential legal challenges. Unless otherwise stated, all companies on this list are non-profit organisations.
Services provided: Whole-body cryopreservation, brain-only cryopreservation, pet cryopreservation, transportation.
Area of operation: United States (international membership is allowed, but services outside the US are limited). Details can be found here.
Membership costs: $17-$100/month (dependant on age)
Other costs: $200 000 (whole-body) or $80 000 (brain) at time of death.
Alcor is the largest cryonics company in terms of membership, and is the self-proclaimed World-leader in cryonics. Founded in 1972 and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Alcor seeks to ‘bring cryonics to the world’ not only by helping people get cryopreserved, but also by advancing cryonics research and raising public awareness.
Membership costs anywhere between $17 and $100 per month depending on age. Whole-body cryopreservation requires a further $200k in life insurance, while brain cryopreservation requires a minimum of $80k. Upon death and cryopreservation of a member, a significant portion of these funds are placed into an independent patient care trust that will pay for storage costs indefinitely.
Alcor will attempt to get a standby team to a dying person’s bedside before they die, allowing the necessary preparations to be made so that they can be swiftly transferred to the cryonics facility in Scottsdale Arizona. This location is not random: it has good airport access and favourable weather for transportation year-round, has a low crime rate, and is within the lowest risk zone in the US for natural disasters.
Services provided: Whole-body cryopreservation, pet cryopreservation, transportation.
Area of operation: Europe (with worldwide coverage in case of death abroad)
Membership cost: €25/month
Other costs: €20+/month, €200 000 at time of death
While some other companies offer services in Europe, Tomorrow Biostasis is the only Europe-based cryonics provider. Founded in 2019, they are a very young company, but are growing quickly. They are currently the only cryonics company with standby teams in Europe, and will also attempt work with local medical professionals to help mitigate damage until their teams arrive, should a member die unexpectedly. Another advantage is that the sign-up process can be fully completed online.
Membership costs €25/month, with an additional €200 000 required at time of death, usually paid through life insurance. A separate monthly fee is needed to fund transportation and standby teams, which are located in Berlin and Amsterdam at the time of writing (October 2022). This starts at €20/month and varies based on age and health. Like Alcor, funds for continued cryopreservation come from an independent patient care trust.
If you live in Western Europe, Tomorrow Biostasis will attempt to dispatch ambulances to your location prior to death (a map on their website shows estimated arrival times). Depending on the circumstances, they may instead send a team by plane (this includes if you are dying/die outside of Europe).
Services provided: Whole-body cryopreservation, DNA/tissue preservation, pet preservation, memorabilia storage, 3rd party transportation.
Area of operation: Worldwide
Membership cost: Lifetime $1250 payment or $120 yearly
Other costs: $28 000 (lifetime members) or $35 000 (yearly members) payment at time of death. Up to $95 000 optional 3rd party transportation service (cost may depend on membership status and location).
The Cryonics Institute is one of the oldest surviving cyronics companies, founded by ‘father of cyronics’ Robert Ettinger in 1976 (you can read more about him in our article on the history of cryonics). Based in Clinton, Michigan, they have nearly as many members as Alcor. While they don’t offer brain cryopreservation, this could be seen as irrelevant given their affordability.
A lifetime member pays $1250 upfront and $28k upon death, which makes CI’s whole-body cryopreservation quite a bit cheaper than other companies’ brain cryopreservation, let alone their whole-body options. CI assures members that this doesn’t affect the quality of the services they provide, and that the low price is simply a result of not forcing people to pay above what they deem adequate to cover their costs.
One important difference between CI and competitors is that medical standby teams are not incorporated into their services. CI believes that such services do not guarantee successful suspension and can lull members into a false sense of security. Instead, they encourage members to take a more active role in preparing for their demise, such as through local arrangements with funeral directors willing provide cool down and transportation. CI does offer US members standby and transport services via a 3rd party cryopreservation company, Suspended Animation. This can raise the price tag considerably, though CI still remains one of the most affordable options on this list.
Services provided: Whole-body preservation, brain preservation, pet preservation
Area of operation: Worldwide
Costs: $46 000 (whole-body) or $23 000 (brain), case-by-case transportation.
KrioRus was founded in 2003, making it the first cryonics company in Eurasia. Though based in Moscow, KrioRus claims that ”despite the difficult international situation, cryonics company KrioRus continues to cryopreserve people all over the globe”. An exception on this list, KrioRus is not a non-profit organisation. This, according to co-founders, is a purely pragmatic decision, as setting up a non-profit in Russia is more complicated than elsewhere, and in practice most funds are invested back into cryonics.
KrioRus is one of the more affordable companies on this list, though notably they do not allow members to pay via life insurance. Whole-body preservation costs $46k, while brain preservation costs half of that amount. Currently, transportation is considered on a case-by-case basis, with price depending on the type of transport and distance.
While other companies are not necessarily free of controversies, KrioRus’s recent past could be considered particularly tumultuous. The company is currently dealing with the aftermath of an incident in which one co-founder ‘kidnapped’ some of the cryopreserved patients and tried to move them to a new location, which even resulted in some confusion over a brain that was separated from its documentation. ”We’re currently attempting to ascertain whose brain this is” is not a sentence you generally want to hear from the ex-general director of your cryonics provider. Nevertheless, KrioRus remains the largest cryonics provider outside the United States, and may be the best or only option for substantial number of people.
Members: Not public
Patients: Not public
Services provided: Whole-body preservation
Area of operation: Unites States (limited services in Europe, travel to US recommended)
Membership cost: $376/year for four years, $300/year thereafter
Other costs: $28 000 to $155 000
The American Cryonics Society can boast to being the oldest surviving cryonics company, and to having patients in its care for longer than any other provider, which could by itself be considered a selling point. Unlike other companies, ACS mainly relies on contracts with Suspended Animation and the Cryonics Institute in order to carry out standby/transport and cryopreservation storage, respectively.
One of ACS’s main advantages is the number of options it provides, allowing members to choose which vitrification procedure they want to receive and whether they want to pay for a standby team. As a result, the price range for the fee to be paid upon death is wide.
ACS also emphasises its fiscal responsibility, with conservatively managed trusts and research funds and multiple ”fail-safes” in place to prevent mismanagement or misuse of authority within the company. This program, they say, also ensures that patients would remain cryopreserved even if ACS were to shut down for some reason.
Services provided: Whole body cryopreservation
Area of operation: United States
Costs: $150 000 at time of death.
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Trans-Time has been around since 1972. For whatever reason, detailed information about their services is quite difficult to find online, and indeed much of the information above comes from the Cryonics Institute website rather than Trans-Time’s own site.
Trans-Time costs $150 000, and this seems to be a one-off fee that pays for standby, transport and vitrification. For more details on their services and pricing, it may be necessary to contact Trans-Time directly.
That concludes our round up of cryonics providers. This list is not exhaustive, but does include the main cryonics companies operating in Europe and America. There are some more noteworthy omissions such as Suspended Animation which, while technically a cryonics company, does not perform advanced vitrification and primarily provides standby and transportation to other companies’ facilities. There are also a few Chinese cryonics companies, but these currently don’t operate outside of China and are unlikely to be of interest to the majority of readers.
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