You're on a tight budget this vacation season. Should you get travel insurance?

Policies vary, but most help cover costs if your trip is canceled due to weather, your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen, or you need emergency medical care. For peace of mind, you'll pay 5 percent to 10 percent of the total cost of your trip.

"The cost depends on what's covered, under what circumstances, your destination and the length of the trip," says Michael Feighan, senior vice president of Chubb Accident & Health in New Jersey.

Choose wisely. "Contact a licensed travel insurance agent or use comparison websites that filter plans by type, coverage or provider. Read reviews written by travelers who submitted claims," says Lynne Peters of InsureMyTrip.com.

Check websites like TripInsuranceStore and Squaremouth. "Don't purchase from smaller, no-name vendors," says Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo.

Check what coverage you have with your credit card.

Know what you're getting. A comprehensive policy provides benefits such as trip cancellation coverage, 24/7 emergency assistance and medical evacuation.

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Be clear about what's included. "We're seeing more disputes between travelers and their travel suppliers over what part of their claims are covered under policies. Review the policy wording carefully," says Bill McGovern, president of McGovern Associates in Garden City.

"Pre-existing medical conditions may be excluded," warns Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com.

Is travel insurance a worthy investment? Says Joyce Mariner, owner of an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise in Merrick, "Pay a little now or a lot later."