With the holidays approaching, I know more than one family will be getting a new Mac. Many first time buyers whom I've guided through the purchase of their first Mac ask me, "is AppleCare worth it?"
For your new Mac, absolutely; I speak from first-hand experience. Now, I'm a pretty capable guy. I can fix application problems, recover data, and reinstall operating systems like a champ. I've replaced power supplies, installed memory, and upgraded hard disks. I thought I didn't need AppleCare. That is, until I bought my iMac G5 a few years ago.
It was a great computer, but it had some manufacturing defects that reared their ugly heads well after the standard one year warranty expired. Turns out I needed a new logic board (or motherboard, for our PC friends). Outside of the one year warranty, that was a $900 proposition.