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Most companies will do it for two years but check! I held mine for 10 months with Highway but a mate who was with the AA lost his after 6 months, I think this is the same with Elephant too (but Im not 100%).
When he went to renew they said hed lost the lot as he hadnt been insured for 6 months, he ranted and raved, threatened to get the ombudsman involved and eventually got a proof of his no claims and went elsewhere. I dont know if this is legal or if he was just speaking to a numb nut on the phone but I phoned Elephant when we were preparing to go travelling and they said the same thing - so I changed insurers for a year before we left.