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Apple upgrades iPhone AppleCare coverage, price

You may need to do some math to figure out if the new AppleCare+ plan, which now includes accidental-damage coverage, is worth the cost.

The new AppleCare+ policy covers accidental damage.
The new AppleCare+ policy covers accidental damage. Screenshot by Rick Broida

So you ran over your shiny new iPhone 4S with the car. Or dropped it in the potty. Or got there too late as your toddler took a hammer to it. These things happen. Like, for real.

Replacing a busted iPhone can cost a small fortune, as you're not subsidizing it with that juicy two-year contract the carriers love. If you're the clumsy or unlucky type, you might possibly want to consider an insurance policy.

Apple has just the one. The company's new iPhone AppleCare+ plan extends your one-year warranty and 90 days of tech support to two full years. And the "plus" part adds coverage for two incidents of accidental damage (like, say, a fatal run through the washing machine).

Now for the bad news. Whereas the original AppleCare cost $69, AppleCare+ will run you $99. Plus, there's a $49 fee for each accidental-damage replacement. That's still far less than you'd pay to buy a new handset outright (to say nothing of two handsets, Mr. Clumsy), but it still seems a hefty investment for a phone that may have cost you only $199, $99, or even $0 to buy.

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The worse news: you must buy AppleCare+ at the same time you buy your iPhone. In the good old days, you could wait until the very last day of your one-year warranty before deciding to spring for insurance.

It's worth noting that Apple's prices are about on par with what you'd pay for an extended warranty from SquareTrade.

The question is, are these policies worth the investment? If you've ever made good use of one, let's hear from you in the comments. Or if you bought a warranty and never used it, tell me how you feel about that, too.