Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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To operate an airboat there are specific registration and safety rules that must be followed. The laws vary from state to state but there are some general guidelines that apply in almost all states and should be adhered to in order to operate your air boat safely and effectively.

Get online insurance quotes to operate your airboat safely by entering your zip code now!

Safety equipment are both needed. The following article provides additional information about what is required to operate an air boat.

The Right Safety Equipment is Required to Operate an Air Boat

Air boats are fun vehicles to ride in and drive, but they are also very susceptible to capsizing and sinking. This is due to the lack of flotation of air boats and how easy it is for them to lose their balance. Airboats also cannot go in reverse as other boats can which makes it harder to avoid a potentially dangerous situation in the water.

Airboat operators also have to be careful about the water, sand, and debris that can be thrown through the propeller towards other boaters. Because of this, there is safety equipment that is required on all boats including airboats.

  • Life jackets are the first requirement. Though having life jackets on a boat is required by law, it is only required by law that children under the age of 18 wear the lifejackets. Even though it is not required by law, it is a good idea to have everyone on your airboat wear a life jacket for their own protection. Life jackets must be appropriate to the size of the wearer. For example, you will not be following the law if a child is wearing an adult sized life jacket.
  • Another required piece of safety equipment is a fire extinguisher. A fire extinguisher can be used to put our any engine fires or other flames that are cased by sparks, cigarette ashes, or other means. Along these lines, another requirement are flame control devices. This type of device allows a flame to be dispersed instead of causing an explosion. Navigation lights are also a requirement. This allows a boat to operate in the dark in a safe manner and alerts other boaters to the airboat’s location.
  • Having the right type of flags on your airboat is also a requirement. Every boat operator is required to have a diver down flag. This flag alerts other drivers that a diver is in the area and also serves as a reminder to the driver not to accidentally leave without their diver. An orange flag 10” by 12” or larger flying 10 feet above the airboat is also required in most states. This just alerts those in the area to the boat’s arriving and departure.
  • A sound device and distress signal must also be carried on the airboat. The sound device is a way to alert or attract other boats and the distress signal alerts those in the area to a need for help.

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The Right Type of Registration is Required to Operate an Airboat

You must have your airboat registered with your state in order to operate the boat in public waters. If you only plan on using the boat in private waters or ponds, registration is not required. Also, non-motorized vessels such as canoes or kayaks do not need to be registered.

Your registration certificate must be in the boat at all times so if you are stopped by the Coast Guard or the local police, you can show legal proof of ownership and operation. The cost for registration is usually determined by the vehicle’s size as well as state law.

You will most likely receive decals once you register your airboat. The decals must be affixed to both sides of the boat and clearly visible to law enforcement. If your decals are too small, you can paint the numbers on the sides of the boat.

Since airboats are dangerous, many boat insurance companies will not provide coverage for airboats. However, there are other types of coverage such as general personal liability that you can get that at the very least protects you from a lawsuit if someone is injured in or because of your airboat.

Some states with many waterways and a larger percentage of airboats, do offer insurance to airboat operators. To search for airboat insurance or personal liability insurance, you can use an online comparison tool. Enter your zip code to get online airboat insurance quotes now!