Carol Hucker's $100,000 camel fall

1Cover customer Carol Hucker, 63, suffered grave injuries after falling off a camel in the Sahara Desert. Despite sustaining a punctured lung, broken ribs, and a fractured wrist, Carol managed to return home safely, but required nearly $100,000 in medical treatment. While Carol was covered with 1Cover, she warns fellow Aussies to secure their safety and finances when travelling abroad.


Carol Hucker

Carol (pictured right) on a previous holiday


Carol had been anticipating her whirlwind overseas trip for over a decade.
The holiday, which included stops in Morocco, Paris, New York and Iceland, was intended to be a 21st birthday gift for Carole’s niece, Olivia.
To truly maximize their trip, the pair had pre-booked an array of attractions and tours, including Broadway shows, sporting games and even a camel ride experience through the Sahara Desert.
Carol says the first leg of their journey in Morocco had been ‘great.’ 
“Morocco’s just a really nice place to visit,” she says. “And we were really excited about going to the Sahara Desert. I’d ridden camels in China and Jordan, and I've never had any problems whatsoever.”
However, just a short while into the ride, Carol’s trip veered wildly off course.

“We'd been travelling on the camel for about 20 minutes to the camp and the guide asked if I’d like to get off and travel by car and I said, ‘yes’. Then for some reason he started pulling at my leg and I started to lose my balance and I just fell off.”
According to her niece Olivia, Carol was breathing, but had been completely knocked out and was unresponsive for several minutes. Upon regaining consciousness Carol says she felt severely nauseous and struggled to sit up.
“My niece was screaming out for help, saying we need medical help, but there was no reception. We were in the middle of the Sahara Desert. There's nothing there. There's no phone.”
As the group were unable to contact emergency services or her travel insurer, 1Cover, due to the lack of reception, Carol was transported by jeep to the nearest camp despite needing urgent medical attention.
By the following morning, Carol’s pain levels had escalated, and her guide agreed to drive her to a country hospital where she received X-rays and CT scans.
“They said, you've got six broken ribs. You've got a punctured lung; you've got a shattered collarbone and a fractured left wrist.”
“I was totally shocked when I got the diagnosis. I didn’t know what it exactly meant to me and what was going to happen regarding continuation of travel. The medical team were more concerned about the punctured lung and internal bleeding.”
Carol was then able to speak to 1Cover who helped organize transport to a major hospital in Casablanca where her condition was monitored.
“I was in ICU for two days because they didn't know whether the internal bleeding was going to increase or not. After that I was moved to a normal ward.”

“Basically, they did multiple X-rays of my collarbone and gave me anticoagulation medication to prevent blood clots. All in all, I was in hospital for 11 days.”

After being discharged Carol was repatriated home via a commercial flight with two nurse escorts in business class, which she says went ‘really smoothly.’
“The two nurses from England were just fantastic. They were really caring, and they were constantly looking out for my welfare, giving me oxygen all the way. And there was an ambulance at the airport waiting for me. It was a huge relief to get home.”  
Carol went into surgery for her collarbone not long after returning home. Several months later, Carol says her lung has healed well due to physical therapy, but she may require follow-up surgery.
“So, I've got nine screws and a plate in my collarbone. The doctor doesn't know whether he’ll need to do another operation because now I have osteoporosis.” 



Carol Hucker 2

Carol on the camel, before the accident

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Carol's $100,000 claim, covered by 1Cover

The total cost of Carol’s medical repatriation came to roughly $80,000 on top of a $15,500 hospital bill. The remainder of Carol’s holiday, including her unused flights, accommodation and pre-booked shows and tour fees were all covered too, amounting to a trip expense of over $100,000.While Carol never travels without travel insurance, she says she couldn’t have anticipated the costs involved following her accident.
“I usually always take travel insurance because I nominate other conditions that I need covered. But that condition was fine, falling off a camel wasn't. I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t been able to access travel insurance.” 
Carol and Olivia’s joint policy only cost $812 but Carol’s ambulance transport, 11 days in hospital including ICU, and repatriation came to a whopping $96,840.
Carol advises fellow travellers not to skimp on cover. 
“Be responsible and take it. You can’t expect what you’ll need it for. One minute you could just be having this normal day and taking pictures and just doing everything like normal tourists do. You never know what could happen.”

Advice when travelling through remote locations

While touring or trekking through remote or exotic locations, it's easy to get swept away in the adventure of it all. However, tourists should always ensure they are contactible and have access to emergency services. Whether you're travelling alone or in a tour group make sure you have these provisions in place.

  • Research your options

    Research your destination and which tour company you choose to go with. Most people aren’t aware of the risks of travelling in geographically isolated locations. If you are in danger or injure yourself, you may not have access to emergency services. 

  • Book wisely

    More established companies may have military or satellite radio networks and access to better emergency support systems. These tour groups may be more costly but ultimately worth it, as evidenced through Carol’s story

  • Take travel insurance

    Carol's case in an example of how important it is to pack travel insurance. Given the severity of Carol’s injuries, she required round-the-clock care during her flight back home. Moreover, the medical expenses incurred overseas far exceeded what the average Australian could afford without travel insurance.

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Natalie Smith

Natalie wrote this article, as Head of Marketing at 1Cover she's got over 10 years of insurance experience under her belt and can answer your trickiest travel insurance questions. Natalie has written about all types of travel insurance from tips and tricks, money saving ideas, pre-existing illnesses and more.  Learn more about Natalie.