Fund that comes into existence because premiums for ordinary life insurance policies in their early years are higher than necessary for the pure cost of protection. These excess premiums, plus the interest credited, create the net level reserve. When an insured dies, the reserve comprises part of the death benefit. The net premium is calculated according to this fundamental actuarial equation: present value of future premiums = present value of future benefits.
This relationship holds only at the point of issue of a life insurance policy. Thereafter, future benefits will exceed future premiums because fewer premiums are left to be paid and benefits are coming closer to being due. The reserve makes up the difference between the future benefits and future premiums at any point. This reserve can be calculated on either a prospective or retrospective basis, but it is important to note that the various state minimum reserve valuation laws are stated in terms of the prospective basis.